Homeschooling on the Road

School house in the Redwoods

When Bob and I were considering going on this adventure, one of the first things that stopped us in our tracks was Liv’s education. We knew we wouldn’t be able to leave until September, so we’d have to pull her out of school for an extended period of time. Homeschooling Liv seemed doable for the short period of time we planned on being gone, but would her school allow it? Would they be on board with our plan? After speaking with Liv’s Principal, many of our concerns were alleviated. He advised us that the easiest way to take this two-month absence would be to unenroll Liv from school and then re-enroll her upon our return.

Third grade started mid-August for Liv. She was able to spend a few weeks in the classroom before we took off on September 1st. This time not only gave her a jump start on the academic side of third grade but also helped Liv make friends in her class and get to know the daily routine. Amazingly, Liv’s teacher was totally on board with our plan as well. We really lucked out with such a remarkably thoughtful, kind teacher. Taking Liv out of school for the first part of the year would have been much more challenging had her school not been so supportive and helpful. Before we left, we met with Liv’s teacher and talked about what we would be working on with her while we were away. We were given Liv’s math, cursive and spelling workbooks. Liv also packed many age appropriate reading books and writing notebooks.

Liv’s teacher was enthusiastic about her blog and said she’d try to read it to the class while we were gone. Knowing her class would read her blog was a real incentive for Liv to focus on her writing.  We also promised to have Liv write postcards to the class from the various states we visited. This way, Liv could continue to feel connected to her classmates while she was on the road and her class would have a better idea of what she is up to while away. So far, sending postcards back to the classroom has been a really fun activity on the road. For Bob and me it feels kind of retro (in the best way possible) and Liv loves picking out a card at each of our stops. As an added benefit, it helps rein in the interest in purchasing junk from gift shops, instead was can just focus finding the perfect card.

Before we left I thought we’d have a more regimented schedule for school work. I imagined Liv grabbing her backpack, walking around the campsite and sitting down at her table to begin her school day. The reality of life on the road has been less structured. We work on memorizing state capitals, multiplication tables and spelling as we drive but once we get to our campsite, we’re more focused on enjoying our new surroundings than schoolwork. By the time we get back to the campsite in the late afternoon, Liv is often too tired to focus very long or retain new information well. We’re working on breaking schoolwork up into smaller sections throughout the day. Morning work before our daily outing, shorter afternoon work before dinner and independent reading before bedtime in the tent.

There are some clear benefits to homeschooling Liv on the road. Both parents working one on one with our child has allowed us to better understand the specifics of what she is learning. We can reinforce definitions and new ideas while on a hiking trail or make connections to academic concepts while exploring a new place. While we were both working full time, we would ask Liv questions at dinner about what she learned that day, but rarely would she share mundane specifics. On the road, class time blends into the rest of the day and there are teaching moments in all that we do.

We met a nice man hiking in the Redwoods. He was interested in our travels and as we described our game plan he nodded and smiled. He said “Classroom time is important, but these experiences are priceless. She’ll remember this forever and it will shape her as a human being.” I couldn’t agree more.

Checking out the lava rocks while on a hike in Lassen

Cooking While Camping

I love to cook and I really want to continue to cook with whole food ingredients as much as possible while on the road. Healthy eating and staying active is something Guy and I want to focus on while we drive around the US with our daughter.

Our new GigaTent Pack N Go Prep Station allows us to create an efficient kitchen in any camp space. Cooking in the wilderness can be overwhelming, but this prep station allows me to stay organized and on track when I’m meal prepping and cooking. It stores to a manageable size for car camping and sets up easily in minutes. I’ve got to say, so far this piece of equipment is one of my favorites. The duel table top surfaces allowed for plenty of prep space and the center table top is a perfect size for my Camp Chef Rainier Camper’s Combo Stove. In the past, we’ve used a camp table as the catch-all kitchen area and it always seem to collect everything from fishing gear to shoes. Not the ideal food-prep space! I love having a small but dedicated kitchen space now. This is so helpful when it’s time to chop veggies or prepare from-scratch dinners in the wilderness.

While camping at Red Feather Lakes with friends, I wanted to make a meal that could feed plenty of people. I decided to try to make enchiladas over a fire with coals in my Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven (an awesome gift from my good friend, Joel). Lodge sells parchment paper liners that are a godsend when cooking one pot meals over the fire. I once made the mistake of cooking jambalaya in the woods and it took our camping group hours of scrubbing out the charred rice and sausage bits from the bottom. From now on, if I don’t have those parchment liners, my Dutch oven isn’t coming!

The chicken enchiladas were a huge hit. We heated up the leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg on top. It was a truly awesome breakfast!

Generally when we camp we’re gone for a few days at a time. I’m used to being able to plan ahead by prepping food in my kitchen and meal plan before we go. Once we are on our more extensive car camping adventure I’m going to need to come up with more creative, in-the-woods food prep ideas. It’s all part of the adventure!

Let the adventures begin!

There have been so many moments when Bob and I have dreamed of leaving work and going on an epic adventure together. After lots of hard work, setbacks and challenges we have finally done it! We’re in the final steps of selling our business and at the same time we are in planning mode for one of the biggest adventures of our lives.

While co-owning and managing a sign shop in our home town of Boulder, Colorado work has trumped fun more often than not. Our daughter, Olivia, is growing up before our eyes and time seems to be slipping away faster with each year. We made this radical decision to sell our business so that we could spend more time doing what we love: biking, hiking, camping, traveling and hanging out together.

The first big adventure we’re planning is a road trip through the beautiful United States of America. We plan to visit as many US National and State Parks as we can over the Fall of 2017. This blog is intended to document our journey navigating all of the needed gear, guides, and roadblocks along the way. We plan to share thoughts and ideas from all of our perspectives- the guy, the gal, the girl and even the dog.

We hope you enjoy!