What’s up? I’m finally getting around to a little bit more of a personal podcast episode today. I wanted to talk to you about my big adventure across the country, sort of how that came about, what I thought, some of my takeaways from it all.
It was really my first trip since March, when this whole Coronavirus quarantine thing hit. So I thought I would just kind of give you a little behind the scenes of what’s been going on in my world, and it’s also sort of my excuse for why I haven’t been podcasting.
So back in the summer my Digital Insiders were really hankering for an in-person visit, the Coronavirus had kind of waned a little bit, sort of, in certain parts of the country. And I started to think, “Okay, maybe we could get together safely.” But as luck would have it, of course we saw that summer surge, and that just wasn’t going to happen.
So I was really thinking hard, well how can we safely meet? What can we do? And I knew immediately that whatever we had to do would have to be outside, and in order to be outside together for multiple days you need to have great weather. I didn’t want to have a lot of rain and bugs, heat, humidity or super, super cold. So I started looking around for climates that have very little rain and great temperatures, and sure enough the only one that works in October is the high desert. So basically a million miles from my house here in Connecticut.
So I reached out to Julia who is in Digital Insiders and I asked her about the area, because she’s in Colorado, only a couple of hours away from that high desert area, and I said, “Is this a great place?” And she said, “Oh my gosh, yes. I’ve been here.” She actually traveled in an RV and lived on the road for two years, so she knew everything there was to know about that area.
So before I had too much time to talk myself out of it, I had booked this giant group campsite in Moab. And it is 33 hours from my house, driving time. And not only that, but it was going to be a dry camping experience. There would be no water, no showers, no electricity. There would be drop toilets, so that’s a plus. And here’s the kicker, no cell service.
So I booked it, I didn’t really think much about it, and I told everybody, and everybody was super excited, and we had about 45 people reserve immediately. And I said, “Bring your own food, bring your own shelter, we will be outside the entire time so it is a safe venture for everyone and no one feels at risk.” And that was that.
I really didn’t think about it much until about two weeks before the trip. Thankfully, thank God, my husband was thinking about it, because he had all the tools, the camping tools. But about two weeks before I thought, this is nuts. I was a little scared, we had never, Alex and I had never driven an RV, rented an RV nothing. I mean I’ve done some dry camping, but man. We were going to bring William, who is my 5 year old, and we were going to try to, I was going to try to work on the road, and school on the road. I just started to get a little nervous. And I made the mistake of Googling, to kind of get some RV tips, and realized pretty quickly that we had been extremely over ambitious in our estimates of how far we could drive.
So we decided we’d leave on a Wednesday and arrive in Utah on Sunday, we would camp from Sunday to Thursday, and then we would drive home Thursday and be home by Sunday, which makes it about a 12 day trip, roundtrip. So it was crazy. And I’m here and alive to tell the tale. And if you follow me on Instagram you probably saw a lot of the highlights. I’m not going to lie about 3 hours into the trip, realizing that an RV is nothing like a plane. I had all these grand visions of being able to work and school and cut vegetables. And about 3 hours in I realized, “Oh, no, no, no, this is not that. This is like a ride at Disneyworld, and I am about to vomit all over my son because I’m so carsick.”
So thankfully I figured it out and I didn’t vomit, and I also didn’t work. I mean, I did my Voxers, but I really wasn’t able to do much else. So it was kind of an unintended consequence of 66 hours of driving over 8 days, was I had a lot of time to think. And it was glorious.
I don’t think I would have willingly put myself in that situation ahead of time. But it was what it was and it ended up being the best thing for me. So one of the advantages I say that I’ve found out about RVing is that, especially when you get carsick and you can’t really do much, is that it gives you an incredible amount of time to reflect. There’s nothing to do, you’re on the open road, you look out the window, talk to the people you’re with, and it was so good for my mental health. In fact, despite the fact that it was an incredibly exhausting trip, I came back more emotionally and mentally refreshed and calm than I have in a long time.
4 days in Moab with Digital Insiders was incredible. We had a fantastic time. Basically we all hung out in the early morning hours, it was chilly in the desert, but it was amazing. Had tea, coffee, talked and we all sort of scattered, did our own thing, whether it was hiking or crazy, life-risking UTV drives along Hell’s Revenge, and then we’d all get back together in the evening, have our dinner, be around the campfire, talk, sing, hang out, and we did that for 4 days with no cell phone service. So it was just a lot of connecting with the people you’re with. And I really, I do recommend if you have never gone off the grid, that you try.
I will say that I did drive, 5 or 6 miles each day to go get my twitter updates. But that was just because we were in Moab right as the president was getting sick, so it was very hard not to know what was going on. The drive home was crazy and if you decide to take a road trip, do not do what we did, which was think that we could do a 12 hour drive in one day. A 12 hour drive is actually a 16 hour drive when you include stops, sanity stops. So that day was brutal. On the way back we left Moab on Thursday at 10am, we arrived in Kansas around 9 pm. The next morning we left at 5:30 in the morning, around 5:30 or 6, we left Good…I think it was Goodland, Kansas and we made it all the way across Kansas, all the way across Missouri, all the way across Illinois and into Indiana. We arrived in Indiana at 1:30 in the morning.
We also had, we lost two hours because of two time zones, so it was really like 11:30. But still it was about 12, it was a long time. And then we woke up in Terre Haut, I think that’s how you say it, Indiana. We stayed there in the morning just to try and get our bearings, and we drove until 9 pm just to get to Pennsylvania, slept at a truck stop for about 5 hours, Got up at 3 in the morning and went from Pennsylvania home. It was crazy.
So the moral of the story is that you should go off the grid, you should try RVing. You should not try RVing across the country as your first RV trip, thinking you can do 12 hour days, that is nuts. That’s where I’ve been and I would encourage you, if you are a leader in any kind of group community, look out for your people. It has been a very, very hard year, it is hard to not see people, figure out ways in which you can do it safely, and ways in which you can still get that much needed connection. Because we desperately need it and we’re heading into a rough fall and winter, there’s no doubt about it.
So whatever you can do in the next several weeks to connect with the people that you serve and connect with your students, go ahead and do it. Because even though it’s hard and crazy and very inconvenient, it is always worth it. Talk to you soon.