Featured Families: The Baxters
We love to meet fellow families who have decided to take on some nomadic family adventures. Meet the Baxters, a family ready to take on a new life of travel. Who would have thought a rainbow would have turned their world upside down, and be the reason to go full-time. Read the Baxters exciting and inspirational interview below.
Family Name(s): Kendra, Bella and Gary Baxter
Home Country: United States of America
Favourite quote that sums you up: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
1. What has inspired you to make a life change?
My husband, my daughter, and I are planning our escape from the ordinary. My husband travelled the United States extensively as a boy. As he grew into adulthood, he continued his travels and has visited many countries worldwide. I worked as a travel agent for a time and that was when the wanderlust truly took hold of me.
We always enjoyed taking as many family vacations as possible; however, we had become increasingly reluctant to return home at the end of those vacations. I was holding it together fairly well until fall of last year. We decided to drive from our home in Mobile, Alabama to Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. The distance is 1,622.2 miles, one-way. The distance didn’t even make us flinch. I made reservations, packed our belongings, buckled up our daughter, and practically made my husband jump into our moving car as I picked him up from work. We were all so very excited! We were hitting the open road and it felt great!
The Grand Canyon did not disappoint. It was wondrous. Everything was going just fine, I probably would have been reasonably content to return home and continue our ordinary life, but something profound happened there. A storm came up, it began raining and the wind got gusty. We ducked inside one of the public buildings for shelter and then someone said, “Rainbow.” I took my daughter’s hand, stepped outside, and was instantly moved to tears. There was a double rainbow that was more brilliant and vivid than I had ever seen in my life. It arced from inside the South Rim of the Grand Canyon directly over the building we had just exited. I will never be the same. My daughter was so excited; she was positively vibrating with energy. That was the moment I knew we would be full-timers.
2. Was living a nomadic life something you had always imagined doing?
We had talked about doing something big after we got our finances in order. Our discussions about our future would bounce from buying or building a home to becoming full-timers. I never liked the idea of settling down in one place, as so many of our friends have moved away. However, our future living arrangement was still very much up in the air until that fateful afternoon at the Grand Canyon.
3. How will you be travelling around? Show us your ride or tell us about your plans!
We have had a good six months to research the best RV option for our family. We looked at travel trailers and decided the extra cost of a truck to pull one is just too much. The cost of the truck can easily exceed the cost of a quality travel trailer. No, thank you. We have looked at Class A motorhomes and they are tempting. The biggest drawback about Class A is that it can sometimes be a challenge to find a mechanic who can work on the engine. We are going to be travelling through a lot of small towns. We have decided on a Class C. I believe a Class C will give us adequate space and fit into more camping sites. It should also be easier to find a mechanic in the event of a breakdown.
4. Where are you starting out and how long do you plan to travel for? What’s next?
February 2018 is our launch window. We intend to explore the United States. We will buy our RV just in time to spend spring in the state of Tennessee. We have been looking forward to seeing the synchronous fireflies which typically appear between late May and mid-June in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The event is so fleeting that we have missed it previous years, as we have either arrived too early or too late. That sort of thing will no longer be a problem for us. My husband is very optimistic that we will be able to live this lifestyle for many years. I can’t imagine giving up the freedom we will enjoy. We intend to be full-timers as long as possible.
5. Are there any destinations you are most excited about seeing together?
My husband is very excited to see Yellowstone National Park. I think it is one of the few places he hasn’t seen yet. Beyond that, he is so looking forward to introducing my daughter and me to all the beautiful places he discovered with his parents as a child. Bella is looking forward to spending time with the friends she has made in Tennessee. I must get back to the Grand Canyon and I would like to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico.
6. What do you think you will miss from your life before you took the plunge?
We will miss living in close proximity to our three adult daughters and their children. However, we will be visiting them and we hope they will choose to spend some of their vacations with us.
7. Have you thought about schooling and education? How do you see this working for your family?
I have homeschooled our daughter since she was four years old. There are so many wonderful curriculums available for homeschooling families. She uses the books and activities we purchase at the beginning of each school year, as well as an online homeschooling curriculum to add variety. We access the online curriculum via our tablet which uses data from our unlimited cellular data plan. Everything is portable. We regularly take her to historical sites, zoos, national parks, and a NASA rocket-testing facility. The education she receives is exciting, fun, and comprehensive.
8. What does the future hold for you and your family?
My husband’s job allows us great flexibility. We intend to visit each of the lower forty-eight states and possibly Alaska. Each state contains so many amazing places to visit, we want to see as many as time will allow. We have been blessed with an opportunity and the true tragedy would be to squander it. A great adventure awaits our family.
9. What advice would you give other parents dreaming of living this sort of life?
I cannot count the number of times we have met our children’s friends and were surprised to find that they had never been outside their own hometown. Meaningful learning comes through exploration and experience. Spending time with your growing child is a privilege and a joy. Don’t let yourself grow old wishing you had.
10. Any final words?
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett