Since we left Virginia we had a wonderful visit through the Great Smokey Mountains and Nashville and then made our way through Atlanta, visiting the Georgia Aquarium and then on to Savannah, Georgia where we enjoyed lots of sun and started to feel some warm weather. Today we arrived in St. Augustine, Florida and although it is warm, it is currently raining. Our journey that started about three and half months ago has taken us as far North as Alaska and now we travel South through Florida. Before we took off for this trip my life was consumed with getting ready for the trip. Now here we are on the trip and I am filling my time with exploring, seeing new towns, being present with my family and finding balance in my life, while on the road and also trying to figure out how I will bring it back to real life as well.
I have touched on this in other posts, but it is also something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. The question of How To Stay Balanced On the Road? – I’m not just talking about holding a yoga pose in our tiny camper space, although that is tricky. What I am referring to is balancing your real life with your traveler life. Some of the struggles that I face on the road come in various forms, one that I deal with 3+ times a day is what to eat. I try hard to eat healthy and cook healthy meals for my family, but we also want to explore and see new places and try new things. When we are in a new town, like Savannah – where we just left, of course I wanted to try Shrimp and Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes and Georgia Pecan Pie. On the flip side, I don’t want to eat so much that I can’t fit into the one pair of jeans I brought. This is a challenge because for most people on vacation, you are able to splurge a little because it is just a week or 2 week vacation, and you can get right back on track when you get home. For us, this is a nine month vacation, but if we splurged for nine months – I might look pregnant by the time I get home. So, we have to learn some balance. Some of my tricks have been to only have one big meal a day – that way we can splurge a little, but not every meal. The other day, I knew I needed to get my pecan pie craving out of my head, so I ordered a salad for lunch and pecan pie for desert. And then a light simple dinner back at the campground. This isn’t always the case but we try to keep it simple most the time. Another trick is to try and buy locally, we stayed at a Harvest Host farm in Georgia, where our host grows organic vegetables (www.mockingbirdhill.farm) and focuses on sustainable living and art. It was a beautiful farm, we were able to get up early and walk around the farm and surrounding woods and the girls helped feed the chickens and the goats. From the farm we purchased some sweet potatoes – which made a lovely addition to our dinner a few nights ago, I used a new camper tool the girls convinced me to buy back in Delaware - a mini spiralizer – I wasn’t sure I would use it but I spiralized the sweet potatoes and have made some other yummy dinners with it – the most favorite was pad thai with zucchini noodles.
The other struggle is getting enough movement in on our daily routine, especially on our driving days. I have recently joined a virtual challenge with some friends from my boot camp class back home, where we are “Streaking” until New Year’s Day – the challenge is to do at least 15 minutes of exercise each day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. So far I have only missed one day when we were driving towards Tennessee and I chose to do my work out after the drive instead of before and then it was pouring rain when we got in and a glass of wine was a lot more enticing than my 15 minute workout. But now I have learned to get it done early, I have also found a few workouts– mostly strength training that I can actually do in the camper – so rain and weather are no excuse. We also try and walk each day, maybe for 20 minutes, maybe for a few hours, depending on where we are. I have found that running in the areas we are camping can be difficult. Around our last rural area, on the farm, our host mentioned that there may be a pack of wild dogs to be careful of, which deterred me from venturing out in to the woods too far – considering our only means of protection is bear spray. Also, a lot of the KOA’s we have been staying near are close to highways and I have found that running on the side of a road with no shoulder is scary and not the way I want to enjoy my run. Running around the campground is also a bit strange (but I have done it), for the most part I prefer to hang by my site and do my cardio workout from my iPhone, I still get strange looks, but at least the other patrons don’t think I’m being chased by something. I will continue to seek out places to get my run in, I was able to run while in Nashville through Sophia & Yuki’s safe neighborhood and now that we are in St. Augustine, our camp ground is close to the beach where we can run and I found a yoga class which is also a short walk away. I also am planning on signing up for a half marathon (with my friend Amber) when I get back in June, so I will do my best to train or plan to run very slowly.
The other challenge that comes up a lot is finding enough personal (and couple) time alone. When living in such a small space with your family of four, you realize how much you value your alone time. Showering, walking to the campground bathroom and even doing laundry – alone – is now a treat! Limited personal time or space can also lead to rattled nerves and lost tempers (me more than Andrew) but this is also something I am working on. Each morning I do my best to carve out some personal time for myself – starting with 15 minutes of meditation. Headphones on, world out. Then I move on to my 15 minutes of workout and then sit down with my tea. I have to schedule these pockets of time in the morning before the rest of the family gets up, so even if Andrew says, as he often does, “We need to get an early start tomorrow” I know, I have to give myself an extra 30 minutes for my “me” time before we are loading up and moving on. Couple time on the other hand is few and far between, luckily our kids are older so we can leave them on their own and take a walk or let them go play on their own, but our last date night just the two of us was over a month ago when we sat in a hotel bar and had a drink while the girls watched a movie in the hotel room we were staying in Bangor, ME. As we head towards DisneyWorld and a DisneyCruise – both adventures with our extended families, we will likely find more alone time while the kids enjoy cousin and grandparent time.
I know this isn't the usual fun trip recap, but it is something that has been on my mind lately and getting it out is helpful for me. I would also love to hear suggestions and feedback from others on the road (or not) – feel free to comment with any tricks on healthy eating, creative ways to get your exercise or ideas on how to fit in date night in the camper – all are welcome!
Overall, we are making it work. It has been three and half months and we have a pretty good routine down. We still have kinks to work out along the way and new challenges pop up each day but in the end we figure out how to deal with whatever comes our way. We will do our best to stay balanced and try to remember these skills when we return home so we can bring back some of the simplicity and presence from the road into our real life. In the end the main goal of the trip is to connect as a family and see as much of this country as we can, right now I think we are meeting our goals and having a great time while we do.