8 Months Of Family Caravaning (And We Still Love Each Other)
On Sunday we said goodbye to Paul’s dad and stepmom after more than 8 months caravaning together. Yes, you read that right. 8 months!!!! This is by far the longest caravan we’ve ever done and most definitely the longest time I’ve spent with family, my own or extended, since I was around 17 years old (that’s errmmmm….several years ago in case you were wondering).
From here they’re headed East (to Miami) while we’re headed back to the coast (for June) and then who-knows-where after that. Eventually we’ll meet again in FL over Christmas, but that’s not going to be until the end of the year.
It was a long 8 months that sped by into which we packed an amazing amount of stuff. And the truth is it went GREAT. Really! A fabulous, easy, smooth 8 months that we were honestly deeply sad to see the end of. It was full of adventure, wonderfully relaxed and deepened our family relationship in ways I never expected. Who would’ve thunk?
But I have to admit I wasn’t completely confident it was going to go so well when we first started.
We’d done a few longer caravans in the years before this (with different RV buddies including Alex&Ellen, Technomadia, and the Wandertopia boys), so we had some basics that we knew would help make it work.
We liked each other (that’s key for any caravan, obviously) and we all made the decision up-front that ours was going to be a “loose” caravan. What that meant is from the on-set we agreed to driving to campgrounds at our own pace (using FindMyFriends App to keep track of each other), occasional dinners and happy hours together (but not every night), occasional sightseeing outings together (but not all the time) and the occasional week or two where we (or they) might jump ahead to a different spot. Basically all the tips I detailed in my post “3 Tips To RV Caravaning With Friends (Without Driving Each Other Nuts)“.
But we still weren’t sure if we were going to be happy spending so much time together.
You see, caravaning with family adds extra layers of complexity compared to caravaning with friends. In some ways it can be easier (you all know each other so well that it all goes seamlessly), but in other ways it can be harder (you all know each other so well that you all drive each other nuts!). Being the very independent Danish gal I am, I wondered if I would find it too “confining” to be together with the tightly-bound Cuban side of the family for that long. Cultural differences can be interesting in a mixed relationship, and can surprise you even after 20 or so years together. Apart from holidays, we’d never spent this much time immersed in either of our extended family units, so who knew what that was going to be like?
In the end, it all went soooo much better than I ever could have imagined. We truly enjoyed each others company, and by keeping it deliberately loose we never felt confined or limited by being together. There was never any feeling of obligation, so everything we did together was purely because we really wanted to. Isn’t that the best way to be together? In any relationship?
So what did we do?
We first met-up at Albuquerque, NM for the Balloon Fiesta in the start of October 2015. Paul’s dad and Ana drove from Florida while we met them coming down from South Dakota (right after renewing our licenses). After a fabulous two weeks there we moseyed on West together passing through the Painted Hills, AZ and stopping for a longer stay at the Grand Canyon, AZ. From there we headed down to Prescott, AZ and then slowly over towards San Diego, CA where I flew home and Paul’s mom flew out to join the crew. After Christmas together we parted ways briefly while they explored the desert and we drove to Benson, AZ to get our big “beastly” solar/battery upgrade. We met-up again there, parted again briefly, then caravaned up the entire CA/OR coast together until our final stop in Portland, OR. What a ride!!!
When we finally said goodbye I have to admit it wasn’t without sadness. Spending this quality time together has been once-in-a-lifetime special. It’s the kind of thing that’s hard to appreciate properly until it’s over. As people we try to “live in the moment”, but as human beings we invariably fail to some extent. The art of appreciating joy, of fully immersing yourself whatever is happening right now is an incredibly tricky thing. There’s always something to distract you, and the petty details of mundane life tend to get in the way no matter what you do. I like to think we did a good job of it here, but I know we’ll look back on this time with an extra pinch of nostalgia nonetheless.
See ya down the road guys. We love you & will miss you terribly!