Sometimes you just have to go for it. Maybe it’s not exactly how you have dreamed it up in your head, but if you jump – if you “begin anywhere” – you can go on from there.
For several years, Patrick, Tulsi and I have been *talking* about getting a dreamy VW pop-top, OR a fun-n-funky gypsy wagon, a vintage trailer OR even a school bus, and hitting the open road. Have you thought of, or done, the same? When this little trailer came up for sale this Spring in Santa Fe, we jumped on it. (Plus, Tulsi had a very similar looking one glued to her “vision board” so it was bound to be.) We had been planning to return to the Redwoods in Northern CA to do fundraising events with Luna & Me, and when our plans expanded into a book tour, we decided to take the camper, aka the Magic Turtle. Tulsi and I decorated it to feel like home with flower-embroidered curtains, a felted mobile, dried marigold strands, and a photo collage/”Beloved board” of our family and friends. In July, we set off on our maiden voyage for 5 weeks and traveled over 4,500 miles across 10 gorgeous states: New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
What a magical country we live in!
There is so much I love about traveling. Spontaneity, and how one experience can lead you to another completely unplanned moment. I especially crave the open road – through vast landscapes with enormous skies, along windy rivers that change color at every bend, and through old towns that whisper stories as you pass by. It nurtures my creative spirit. I love the feeling of freedom and calmness – no rushing – space to think and breathe. And even though we moved around a lot, being outside nearly all day every day grounded us. If it was hot and we passed by a river, we stopped, played with rocks, splashed, made tea, and dunked in frigid waters while screaming in pure delight, heart racing, laughing, and feeling 1000% alive.
We camped nearly every night in our Magic Turtle – on empty ocean beaches with driftwood playgrounds and sea stack Giants, down mysterious National Forest dirt roads, sweet state parks, high mountain meadows, even our friends’ backyard. Our camper was cozy (6’3″x6’3″x13′) and ideal for road travel since we could pull it with our little Suburu Outback, and we could stop anywhere – the base of a golden and crimson arch in Moab or a small town park/playground – cook a meal easily and run off to explore. Oh, it was really dreamy. I couldn’t stop smiling.
A few of the MANY highlights …
– On our first night out, we pulled into a meadow on a stunning high mountain pass in New Mexico when a wild rain + thunderstorm burst from the skies seconds after we got into the Turtle. We were dry, cozy, had a lovely, “home-cooked” meal by candlelight, and slept all night to sweet rain music (my favorite!).
– the postcard Tulsi mailed to Oso the 2nd day away
– We spent 5 special days at the Mendocino Woodlands State Park at a Sufi camp. Patrick taught Ayurveda/chai classes and led a Hindu ceremony while Tulsi, Narayan and I played at the ‘kids’ camp’. Every morning, the entire camp gathered for dances of universal peace and then the kids ran through a circular tunnel made of their elders’ joined hands, and off we went to explore. We discovered a red-legged frog in a creek and “stumbled upon” a nest of featherless baby hummingbirds camouflaged under a spiderweb atop green furry moss, in the nook of a redwood tree!
– One of my favorite dances of universal peace was to this beautiful tune by Tom Chapin, which Blue now loves to fall asleep to. Such a pretty lullabye.
“This pretty planet spinning through space, You’re a garden, you’re a harbor, you’re a holy place,
Golden sun going down, Gentle blue giant spin us around,
All through the night, Safe til the morning light.”
– Luna & Me came full circle when we returned to Humboldt County, CA where we journeyed 2 years earlier to visit Luna and research/camp in the redwood forest. This time, we did 3 wonderful and successful fundraising events with Sanctuary Forest, caretakers of The Luna Preserve. What a fun and dedicated group of people doing great work for the environment!
– I loved connecting with the kids at events and visiting amazing indie bookstores!
– reconnecting with old friends, meeting friends I had only known via blogs/fb before, and encountering a lot of really kind-hearted people
– reading A Wrinkle in Time aloud in the car, on the beach, by the light of the campfire… love, love, love!
– reading, reading, and more reading!
– camping on the Southern Oregon Coast! The beaches are public, and we had the most magical beach to ourselves. We rolled out of bed onto cool, soft sand and explored in our jammies with not a care in the world.
– fairy-like Ferry rides from island to island in the Puget Sound and learning that Orca whales breathe in unison while traveling together!
– long hike with 2 kids to wild hot springs in Idaho
– witnessing a young bat swimming in a lake and flapping its way to shore where it rested and dried (and we admired)
– simply being together in nature
Maybe we’re just lucky, but we have two of the best travelers, Ever. Tulsi is such a free-spirited, ‘wild child’, and she flourished on this trip. She made us laugh non-stop, and made new friends easily even though she says she’s shy. She met new, and sometimes scary/challenging opportunities, with courage and wonder, and from these, she grew stronger, wiser, more confident, and more compassionate. I love watching her grow. And Narayan Blue radiates so much love and light from his brilliant blue eyes and joyous smile. It was awesome to watch him investigate every rock, pine cone, beach, and salty, worn piece driftwood. His favorite word for the trip was “MAMA!” which melted my heart. He learned to crawl forward during our travels and was a social butterfly making everyone he met, smile. Isn’t it a joy watching our children bring joy to others (friends and strangers alike) just by being themselves?
We learned a few things from this “trial excursion” with our camper: we could easily go for longer (we seem to have little needs but being in nature), no agenda would be fun, we appreciated the simplicity of having little ‘stuff” with us, the camper was grounding for the kids and made camping/road-tripping easy, and we couldn’t get enough of the ocean (lakes, creeks, rivers, too!). We are ready for more. With homeschooling again this year, we are already planning field-trips with the Turtle!
Here’s another favorite song (from the Shaker tradition and one we danced to in Mendocino) that seems to sum up the way our little family lives (or at least it’s what we strive for, and what makes us happiest) whether on the road or at our homestead. It’s a helpful mantra, too, when (like now) life speeds up a bit. :)
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.