Cynthia's Thoughts

Don’t You Wanna Curve Away

Listening to: Coldplay – Strawberry Swing

After seven months of travelling, I grew weary of thinking about Brooklin as we drove more and more north. I was apprehensive about coming back to our friends and family after such a short time away. I felt like we weren’t done travelling and I wasn’t done learning what God was trying to teach me. I didn’t know how to explain how we spent our time over the last seven months, I didn’t know what conclusions to draw for anyone, I didn’t know how to respond to everyone’s reactions over our homecoming. Honestly, I was more excited to see my Auntie Janie (Who was fostering our cats… And I say “was” because she informed me that they’re officially her cats now and won’t let us have them back. I knew that would happen, she loves cats too much and our cats are the best cats in the world. And I don’t think you’re understanding me—they are literally the best cats in the whole world.) and our cats than I was to go back to Brooklin.

Nini and Bubba

Once we were back in town though, our friends and family welcomed us back with excitement, everyone respected our lack of total understanding about our future and we felt more loved than ever. It felt like we didn’t even leave (in a good way), like we had been living among them for the last seven years. It was comforting to be in a location we knew well and in a community that meant so much to us.

We planned to stay parked at Bob and Kathy’s again for the next two months. We rejoined our bible studies and reconnected with friends, it was a very welcome change from not having this kind of community for the last seven months. We started working on renovations at church, which lasted much longer than we anticipated. Our two month stay doubled and we ended up living in Brooklin for four months. And my heart truly started to grown weary… Brooklin had grown to be an emotional burden for me. I started to question why we made the decision to start this chaos in the first place. I started to feel irresponsible for the choice we made to sell our house, buy a trailer and travel. Because we weren’t travelling at all. I started to feel self-conscience about our lack of travel, even though we had no good reason to move on yet. I remember seeing some campers parked for the night at the Walmart in Ajax—I felt my heart yearn. I missed the adventure and discovery, I missed waking up in a new place, I missed the freedom.

I was happy to start packing up our trailer to move again—putting everything away in it’s place to become nomads again. When we finally hitched up the trailer to pull away from BobKat’s and head to Belleville, it was comforting.

I’m currently reading the book, I Am Second. It’s of real people’s conversion stories, how Jesus worked in their lives to save them from a life of emptiness and searching. One of the stories referenced the Olympic runner, Eric Liddell, who is the subject of the movie, Chariots of Fire. He said, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” Sincerely, this is what I feel when we’re travelling—When we travel, I feel God’s pleasure. There’s a surreal peace I am supernaturally blessed with when we are living on the road.  When I reflect back on our months of travelling and the excitement about all of the opportunities we had at our fingertips, it’s still not lost on me. I find myself without real roots in this world, and while it scares the colour out of most everyone I know, it’s encouraging, inspiring and freeing to me.

Our last year of learning to live in a small space and then learning how to live on the road has had many challenges. I’ve been given many opportunities for growth of wisdom and faith, for simplifying homeschool and family life, for embracing motherhood and God’s will for me. It’s been a year of hardships and crying, of discipline and frustration, of adventure and apprehension. Our last year hasn’t looked at all like I had imagined, in fact, I told Luke that this past year has filled our head with more confusion about our future than when we first started. But, I realize that God had (and has) many other plans for me… Just as our verse for this entire journey points out—I can make my plans, but God determines my steps. There’s freedom in that surrender, as backwards as it may seem to some…

When I remember that I am not in control, it challenges me to trust in Him and it frees me to take life as it happens, to not take offence over not being able to do everything I wanted to do, it frees me to not have to make plans at all. I can look ahead and find freedom and comfort in trusting that God has plans for me, plans for good and not disaster, to give me a future and a hope.

We were looking into a bog in Western Brook Pond, Newfoundland.
Luke's Thoughts

One Year Has Passed.

One year has passed since we first left our home town. We have spent roughly half of it on the road. We had time off in Gettysburg (10 days), about a month in Port Orange, Florida, another 3 weeks in Albany, Georgia after the Twister, and 4 months parked back in our Home town of Brooklin, Ontario.
I think as new full time travellers it was essential to both Cynthia and I that we did take those breaks at certain times. It made it easier to long for the road again.

So how has it been for me this past year?

Well, I see no end in sight just yet. We’ve done one US leg, and one Canadian leg (each leg is 6 months), and I’m not aching to settle down. Quite to the contrary, I’m excited to move on. Maybe that is because we’ve spent the last 4 months parked in one place, a familiar place only minutes from our old home.
Last week was the first time we moved the trailer. We shifted to our friends property 2 hours from where we used to live and all the feeling of being back on the road came to me. Good feelings of exploring, but also some bad feeling of uncertainty that accompanies rouge travel, like the where and how. Even though we knew where our friends lived, parking on the lot would be a challenge. All the hooks ups had to sorted out as well. These were the things I got used to eventually when on the road, but now they seemed new again.
We will be parked here till November, at which time we are going to visit Hawaii for 6 months, leaving the trailer and truck parked somewhere safe. We don’t know where just yet, but that will be another 6 months of not trailer-travelling. I’m sure when we return we’ll be hankering to get on the road again.

If you read some of my older blogs you will have learned about the challenges I encountered early on in our journey, like being the kids all the time, losing my identity and rebuilding it in these new circumstance, something that could be very positive. Cynthia says I am more involved as a father and I seek my hobbies and interests less and less over things we can all do together. I have a lot more work to do to get the right balance here but I have come to some important revelations along the way.

I realized that it’s hard for me to know what I’m supposed to be doing once this journey is over in regards to job/career. I’ve been in multimedia for a couple of decades and it defined me and my work. I had to drop my main client when I left for this journey but I retained a smaller one to keep some income, but I was mostly living off savings we had for this journey. There was a problem though. Although I had severed the lines that bound me to this vocation I found little purpose and satisfaction in, this one small client was a safety line that was not cut. This little line, although seen as a safe bet, ended up preventing me from moving on to the open seas to discover something new. The client was too small to bring in any significant monetary benefit while it’s pull to the counter was strongly felt each time a project request was made. It was a chore to me, there was no love in it, my work was not the best it could be, so I passed the client onto a friend after my return to home soil. The last thread was severed and I am no longer a multimedia man. I felt free from definition. It was a good move so far.

Since I started this journey I have thought about what I may end up doing for a job when all the travelling is done. I have always had an interest in the outdoors and equipment for hiking, camping, personal road trips, etc. I have a good size arsenal of gear and am always looking at new ways to lighten or improve my kit. I started taking some audioless videos of the gear I own, imagining a voiceover I would do to explain why it was good. I did this at the many beautiful, natural places we visited because I thought that maybe I would vlog about these things on my own outdoor channel and it would lead into making my own gear one day, and I didn’t want to waste these outdoor locations I was already visiting. I thought that if the good Lord said to me “I want you to do this” then it would be great to already have the shots. I collected hundreds of clips over the last year but most of them at the expense of spending time with my family enjoying those beautiful locations fully, or by getting frustrated when the time was limited to get my shots or things were not going my way. When parked at my friends for the last 4 months I was making such a video and my frustration boiled over for whatever reason. I started thinking about how long it would take to make these videos and edit them in the end, and that turned me right off. It seemed wrong. It seemed like I was trying to take the reins from God on this. What started off as a few clips and a “maybe I’ll do this” turned into a full blown commitment I wasn’t willing to make, yet I was stressed like I already made it. It would be something that would swallow my time from my family and cloud my mind from discovery. I planned on editing the footage in Hawaii. The though made me cringe. I would waste Hawaii indoors editing? I made the decision to stop taking the clips and stored the files away. It felt right, I felt back on on track, and I learned that I have an anger issue.

I discovered long ago that frustration and anger usually come from something I am not getting. It can be unrelated to the moment of anger but walking around with this sense that I am being let down or something is unfair or a sense of entitlement to one thing or another moves me to react angrily with those around me. I have to change this. I must work actively on it and pray for a change to my heart. I wasn’t always like this but I had it in me for decades. It reared it’s ugly head a few times. My parents seemed like angry people to me and I didn’t want that in myself, but it was there, loud and clear.
What am I not getting that makes me so angry? I’m not sure, but this uncertainty in my life currently doesn’t help. But that is life, It is uncertain for everyone. I believe a great portion of this journey will be to learn to avoid anger in tough and uncertain situations.

This leads me to my final thoughts for this post: refocusing myself on God. I honestly thought I would drift closer to God as I figured some things out on this journey but that didn’t really happen. I got lazy, I stopped studying His Word, I made compromised, and I lead myself.
It’s funny buy I just noticed the slogan we chose for this blog “We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps” Psalm 16:9. It sounds so great for a family wanting to be led by God as they travel, but to live it out is extremely difficult, I found. I need to restore my commitment to that verse and let the Lord actually determine the steps I take, no matter what plans I make. Perhaps stopping the the vlog clips were a part of doing that. Either way, He must come first, He must be the object of my affections and He must lead me to new pastures from which I am to drink. I must stop trying to control what I clearly cannot.

I am currently writing this from my mom’s cottage up in Manitoulin Island. We are with her for a month or so. I’m hoping to get some time to reflect up here and do some good reading. A good detox of all sorts would benefit me greatly.

Me on our first night in Newfoundland, very early in our trip. I took this photo reflection in the morning after sleeping by the ocean shore in the middle of nowhere. We were vulnerable but for the first time I felt excited by the prospects of the places we may visit on this journey.
General Posts

Back on the Road? Kind of…

After returning to Canada and our home town of Booklin, Ontario on March 28th, we planned on sticking around this area for the next 6 months.

Originally, our plan was to come up through the States somewhere around Minnesota. We would cross Canada west that summer, and re-enter the States for winter around Vancouver, but, like often, plans change.

We were hoping to visit all the States on this journey, and that included Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska we could do when we visit the west coast but Hawaii would be more difficult, we needed to dedicate time off the road to make it happen.

We had been to Hawaii on 4 vacations over the past 6 years. We were intimately familiar with it and, more importantly, we longed to visit for an extended period one of these days. Our kids had been with us on two of the trips but both times they were very young and remember little, if anything.

Our thinking was that we would slip Hawaii into the schedule as the summer ended in Canada, and that would constitute our 6 months in the States for that leg of the journey. This would mean we would get to experience Hawaii like never before; 4 islands in 6 months. Now that is intimate!

What this would mean for the Canadian leg was that crossing Canada west may not be the best idea. If we crossed and parked somewhere on the west coast, then flew to Hawaii, returning 6 months later, we would still have to remain in Canada for 6 months before we were allowed to re-enter the States, and since we already crossed the country that meant lagging on the west for the whole summer. It was better to come back to Ontario, visit family and friends here, travel around a bit in this province (it sure is big enough), and then return here after Hawaii, giving us 6 months to cross the country west next year.

Another major reason to come back to our home town was the needs of our home church, Renaissance Baptist in Brooklin. There were plans to renovate the small aging church and we wanted to help out since we were the only family without jobs and with a lot of free time.

This was going to be a major break from travelling for sure, and our friends Bob and Kathy opened their driveway up to us once again, only this time it ended up being for 4 months!

We didn’t plan on staying in Brooklin so long but the church renovations we wanted to do took much longer. Much of those 4 months were spent planning and executing the renovations to some of the aging spots in the church building. It was tough but rewarding for us and we would spend long days together helping out, while our children played in the various kids rooms.

We wish we could have stayed longer to make more changes but our time came to move on.

It wasn’t all work though. For Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1st, we went to Ottawa and spent almost a week with our friend Aaron. Again, void of the trailer. We just brought our mattresses and camped out in his cool basement.

In the first week of August we moved the trailed for the first time in 4 months. It was a nice change being on the road again, kind of, even if only for a few hours. We stopped by a Walmart to get groceries and were instantly reminded of the nights we would spend in parking lots. We thought about spending the night, for old times sake, but we had to make our way to our next destination, which was the home our friends Nick and Melissa’s and their 5 children in Bellville, Ontario.

We were supposed to be there months prior but the church renovation plans changed all that. They set us up on their property next to the driveway, where we would remain parked here till we left for Hawaii in November. Where we would leave trailer and truck for the winter was still up in the air.

We got re-acquainted with our friends but would soon be leaving in a week to visit Luke’s mom on Manitoulin Island, some 7 hours north. The trailer would remain with Nick and Melissa. We would be gone for a month to spend some time with Luke’s mom, as we were not able to do that so far this year. Our time on Manitoulin Island was to be peaceful, reflective and calm, or at least we hoped it would be. After the months of hard work at the church it was a welcome change.

An example of one of the rooms we renovated together. Before and After. The lights and floor need to be done but the new space is open and bright with all pipes and wires covered.
Luke's Thoughts

Comfort and Familiarity.

We are back in Canada and taking it easy parked at a friends house in our home town of Brooklin.

Although my wife wrestled with emotions about returning here, mainly having to answer people’s questions and the tugging that will happen at the strings of our family dynamic as it has become normalized the last few months, I was quite excited to see the old stomping grounds and visit with friends again.