We embarked from our home base of Austin, TX at the beginning of January to take our most ambitious RV trip to date. The aptly-named Grand Loop Trip would take us west to California through New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, then north to Seattle before cutting east to North Dakota and going back south to Texas. It would take eleven months and more than 5,700 miles.
Alas, our epic Grand Loop Trip is not to be.
While it would make this a better story if I could say this change was unexpected, I can’t. But though it may not have been an unexpected surprise for us, it still can be for you! Hopefully you don’t lose interest altogether.
See, we kind of knew this might happen. And while we were fully ready to complete our Grand Loop Trip and looking forward to all our stops along the way, we were also fully ready to alter the itinerary for the sake of something a little…better.
We’re Having a Baby Nomad
We’ve been talking and praying about adding a nomad to our number for many years, and we felt the timing was right. I’ve started my second trimester now, so we’re going to need to get back to Austin soon for those every-two-weeks appointments on the horizon.
P.S. In case you can’t read the goofy stickers on our banner, it’s a boy! We’ll be sharing his name with everyone after his birth.
Baby Nomad/Grand Loop Trip FAQ
You may have questions. Fortunately, I’m a planner, so I’ve got answers. Feel free to add other questions to the comments.
Are you going to stop RVing now?
Let’s get this one out of the way: no.
When are you going to stop RVing?
Our answer to this is the same as it’s always been: we love RVing and plan to do this indefinitely.
We know from fellow RVers that children can thrive in RVs, and some even continue RVing through high school. We can’t see that far ahead, but we don’t see any reason why we can’t stay on the road full-time until Baby Nomad is at least through 8th Grade. I was home schooled through high school, so I’m confident and excited about the possibilities.
How much of your Grand Loop Trip will you get to finish?
We’re nearly half-way into our Grand Loop Trip right now–at about 2,500 miles in idyllic Ashland, OR. We want to keep our date with Grandma (Eric’s mom) in Seattle this summer, where we’ll spend a month with her and our kids. Once that wraps up at the end of July, we’re going to high-tail it down to Austin.
But won’t that take months at your regular travel rate?
It’s a good 2,100 miles from Seattle to Austin, so it would take us four months at our regular rate of 250 miles every two weeks. And that distance is through a mountainous route we would probably want to avoid!
Since that was unequivocally not going to work, we had to look at other options. We looked into hiring someone to drive Meriwether for us, but the options are limited and it’s hard to hand someone the keys to your home, all your earthly belongings, your cat and you dragon.
Fortunately, my dad is a natural gas transporter with years of long-distance, oversize-vehicle experience. He’s actually going to take a week off work this summer to drive Meriwether, while we go ahead with Smaug, our Jeep. There’s no one more capable who we trust more, so this is a huge gift we’re beyond-words grateful for!
How is your life going to change?
This is another one that’s hard to answer, other than to say we know it will change! There will be many practical adjustments that affect our day-to-day, from rearranging the space inside Meriwether to restructuring our work schedule. We have more questions than answers, but we’re grateful that children develop over time, and that we’ll have time to figure out each phase before we move into a new one.
There’s a wealth of information out there now for traveling families. One of the most well-known resources is Fulltime Families, a fabulous organization and support system. We know we’ll be relying on that community more than ever and look forward to sharing our own hard-earned/humorous experiences.
Will you ever finish your Grand Loop Trip?
As I sit outside in the breezy shade overlooking Emigrant Lake, I have to say this trip has been amazing. While we have a lot to look forward to between here and Seattle, we’re going to miss a lot on what would’ve been the return leg of our trip.
We won’t need to retrace our tire tracks again, but we hope to work the other destinations into a future trip. Maybe when we do summer in Utah (which is firmly on our living list), we’ll go north to Montana to see Glacier National Park. We also need to get to Medora, ND/Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Badlands of South Dakota, Omaha and Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge & Visitors Center in Oklahoma.
I’m always itching to see the places of my dreams, but I have to remind myself there’s time. We’ll get there!
What’s next for RV Wanderlust?
We should be back in the Central Texas area by August 1. We’ll meet my dad and Meriwether in San Marcos, TX, where we plan to stay for at least a month. Depending on how I’m feeling and how everything is going, we may hop around the state parks and campgrounds in Texas Hill Country, gradually closing the distance between us and Austin as my due date gets closer.
When Baby Nomad is born, we’ll do it in reverse. He’ll have frequent doctor appointments, so we won’t go far at first. But as he gets older, we’ll start moving farther away, probably just driving the Jeep in for appointments.
We won’t know when we’ll be able to leave for our first real trip until we get real-time advice from a pediatrician (which will obviously be months from now), but we’d like to be in Florida by November 2017. Everything is tentative at this point, but Texas Hill Country is arguably our favorite region on earth, so we’re jazzed about visiting our old haunts and discovering new places. I would give almost anything for some Texas BBQ right now. (And no, I have not had a single weird food craving. Unless Taco Bell for your birthday meal is weird.)