Three years ago, Vesna and Mike started assessing their lives – including the hours they weren’t spending on their passions – and determining what truly matters. After a trip to visit family in Europe and living minimally for three weeks, they came home to a mortgage and a load of Muda (Japanese for “waste”): a house full of things that they neither needed nor used. And so was born their idea of becoming nomadic, beginning with a five-month purge in selling everything they owned. The house was the last to go, and since January, Vesna & Mike have been on the road with their three kids and a pop-up trailer. They work and live their passions and can’t wait to wake up each morning. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Vesna, Mike, and their three kids as they travel around Western USA.
This post was originally published in 2011. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Day One – Sunday
4:45AM Wake up before the kids are up and get a bit of work done.
7AM Everyone’s awake and time to pack up the trailer and take it down for the first time in 3 weeks.
11AM Trailer is ready to go, breakfast is eaten and everyone is in the van. Good bye San Diego! We’ll miss you!
8PM After a few longer stops, a jaunt through part of the desert, and seeing people who made it through the desert from Mexico on foot being arrested, we arrive in Gila Bend in Arizona. It’s one of the only places we found online that will take RV’ers under 55 years of age. We pass it the first time and the road is a bit deceptive with the lights and the buildings set far back from the road. So, we end up in the lane going in the opposite direction – face to face with an 18 wheeler. It’s a tad scary, but we manage to pull back into our lane just in time. This is our first set-up in the dark. Then, it’s off to bed.
Day 2 – Monday
4:45AM We wake up and do a bit of work.
7AM Kids are up, breakfast is made and we’re taking in the sights/sounds of the desert.
10AM Trailer has been all packed up, we’ve left the park, and heading in to Phoenix to pick up a new lens we purchased on Craig’s list.
12NOON Lens purchased, stop at a grocery store for Cliff Bars and other food-like snacks before heading out to see an old skydiver friend and his family.
1PM On the road towards Eloy. We call the skydiving center there to see if we can get some wind tunnel time for the two older boys. No such luck, they’re fully booked for the day. So, keep driving.
2PM Whilst Mike’s driving, I’m online searching for places that will take campers who are under the age of 55. Very little luck. I find a place in Benson, and we head there for another one-nighter.
4PM We show up at the RV park in Benson and are greeted by a fellow Canadian walking his dog. This is the first Canadian we’ve run into since January.
5PM We set up as the sun sets, everyone eats, reads, works, and gets ready for bed.
7:30PM The boys are all asleep and we are deciding whether we’re going to see the town of Tombstone or just hit the road first thing.
Day 3 – Tuesday
4:45AM We wake up and do a bit of work.
7AM Tombstone it is. We step outside the trailer to a beautiful view of mountains all around us. Breathtaking! The great thing about setting up at night/dusk is not knowing the scenery until the next morning when you look out and are stunned at the beauty! Breakfast is made (green shakes for us, oats for the boys). The trailer is taken down, but before we go, we spend some time online reading and learning about the town of Tombstone so the boys have a good idea of the history about where we’re going. One more stop at the grocery store and we’re off.
10AM We arrive at Boothill Cemetery. It is amazing to see the old tombstone carvings and names we recognize. Mike is asked to take pictures of a group of people traveling together. Turns out they too are from Canada. Ontario actually. In fact, they are from the Kitchener/Waterloo area. Not only that, but one of the couples are the parents of a kindergarten teacher at the school our kids were attending! WOW. Small world!
11AM We arrive at Tombstone – the town. After a bit of a disagreement on where to park the van and trailer (not so easy to find a parking spot as one would imagine!), we enjoy the sights and sounds of an old west type town. The place is amazing. Mike and the two older boys check out the site of the fight at the OK Corral. I figured the youngest wouldn’t be interested, so we just wander around.
2PM Snacks are had and we head off to see the original silver mine that was uncovered by the town’s founder, Ed Schieffelin. Taking the mine tour is incredible. The kids are a bit nervous at first, but what an amazing experience.
3PM We head out on the road and pick Deming, New Mexico as our next one-nighter destination. There have been plenty of border patrol stops ever since we left California. It’s somehow creepy and gets my back up a little with the kids in the back. Online, the RV resort looked like it was nestled in a valley with no civilization around for miles, and was supposed to be family friendly.
8PM We head north of Deming on a country road that soon turns to gravel. Street and house lights disappear and we are covered by darkness. Our minivan and trailer goes on bumping for miles on end. The boys are a bit scared…and we are a tad nervous. I picture us getting a flat in this wilderness. Or perhaps the web site was out of date and the RV place no longer existed? We drive for quite a way into the mountains before we see a hint of light. There are RVs parked, but everything is very dark and very quiet. The gate welcomes us to an ‘adult community’. GULP! Well, I am not going back down that road in search of something else, so I find someone in the common area and she gives me some info for picking out a site in the dark. We pick one, set up, and go to sleep.
Day 4 – Wednesday
4:45AM Get up and do some work.
8AM Kids are awake and fed and we take a peek outside. It’s dusty and sandy, but warm and beautiful! The hills and mountains are all around. The woman at the front desk says that kids are definitely welcome. The ‘adult’ part is for the people who live there. WHEW!
12NOON After doing laundry, getting work done, and settling up for a second night, we head out to the nearest hill where there are supposed to be grinding holes and petroglyphs. We hike up the rocky, sandy and cactus-covered hill and find them. It is quite a sight. Mike decides we should hike to the top of the hill since the view from where we are is pretty amazing – the top should be even better. It is! We aren’t the highest peak around, but we are pretty high and can see for miles and miles. Hills and flatland everywhere. The town of Deming is pretty much on the horizon. I am pretty nervous near the top and picture one of the boys getting their leg caught between a couple of rocks. But, we all make it down ok.
6PM More work is finished and the boys relax a bit. After dinner, we go outside to look at the stars in the complete blackness of night. Just incredible. Listening to the coyotes is quite amazing as well.
8PM Off to bed for the kids and we get ready for take-down and pack-up in the morning. Plus, a bit of work.
Day 5 – Thursday
4:45AM Up and doing some work.
8AM Breakfast is had and time to take everything down.
10AM After a stop to the local clinic for a small issue with our oldest, we’re on the road to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We decide against going to White Sands (we’ll catch that on the next round), but are curious to see the border patrols south of Las Cruces and into Texas. Turns out we should have gone to White Sands as there is not much going on.
3PM Arrive at an RV resort in Carlsbad and meet up with a fellow RV’ing family we’d met on Twitter. We set up to camp for a day or two and hang out with them and their kids. Definitely a good time.
Day 6 – Friday
4:45AM Up and doing work. We also spend some time online learning about how the caverns were discovered and reading about it all to the boys.
8AM Head to Carlsbad Caverns. AMAZING!!!!!! I wish we were there for the bats, but that’s later on in the year. The kids love the caverns, as do we.
3PM The kids spend the rest of the day playing with the children from the traveling family. Laundry is done, and some work is being done.
8PM We’ve eaten and spend the evening in the games room with the other family. Neither family can decide where to go next. They are heading west, and we are heading east, but all are undecided as to the next destination. In the end, we decide that we’re all going to stay one more night before heading out.
Day 7 – Saturday
4:45AM Wake up and do some work. Also finally get a work-out in. Not the ideal conditions, nor do I finish it, but it’s a good beginning.
7AM Book the site for another evening, as does the other family.
11AM We’ve done some work, and the youngest is ready for sleep, so Mike takes the two older children back to the caverns to do their first Junior Ranger thing. I spend some time with the youngest doing laundry, working whilst he naps, and gets a ton of hugs and kisses.
6PM The boys are back and everyone eats and the kids hang out and play for a bit.
8PM The youngest is in bed and the older two are watching a movie whilst we go and socialize with the other parents in a ‘real’ trailer.
10PM After some great conversation, we head back to the trailer and to bed to pack up for the next day. We had planned to head out to Big Bend park in Texas, but we change our minds due to lack of internet coverage and the workload that needs to get done – we need to be plugged in. Instead we will head to San Antonio for a night and then off to Mustang Island State Park in Corpus Christi for a few days of surf and regrouping.
When I read this submission, I suggested that the 4:45am wake-ups to get work done before the kids awake would be tough, but Vesna enthusiastically replied that it’s not difficult at all, especially given that they love what they do. Vesna & Mike and their three kids (and trailer!) should be back in southern Ontario by May/June and then off to Europe for a spell. They write about their travels at Mudakiller, and while they travel they run a software testing business called Worx4You. Feel free to follow them @worx4you.