It has been a little less then 8 weeks since we left Seattle, in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago and other ways it feels like we just left. We decided to make this move, into a van, and travel for many different reasons. One of those reasons- connections. We were traveling quite a bit before, almost all of it for races, and we would try and see friends and family any chance we could, although admittedly that did not happen often. When we decided to travel full time, visiting people, from our past and present, friends and family, was a priority for us.
So, over the past 8 weeks we have done just that. We started in northern California by visiting some friends of David’s from Seattle. Jason, Helen and their 3 kids live in Napa. Jason is the owner of Holman Cellars . He gave us a private wine tasting and education that most people would envy as well as a tour of his new tasting room. He and Helen opened their home to us and made us feel like family. We spent an afternoon at a little league game and had a wonderful visit amid the chaos of 3 young kids.
The next visit was with my cousins, Janet and Ken, who also opened up their home to us. David and I had spent some time with them several years ago, but we were thrilled to be back and spend some more time getting to know them better. From there we went to a family wedding in LA where we spent time with my parents, more cousins and other relatives that I have not seen in years and that David has never met. This was a weekend filled with getting to know my family better and invitations to visit them in various regions of the country.
Next stop was Arizona, where we spent some time with our dear friends Joan and Russ. She is near and dear to me and friends like her are a rare breed. We spent time hiking in the desert, sharing stories of our travels and planning our next big running adventure together. The timing was perfect and we were also able to visit with my Aunt Irene and Uncle Eddie while we were there. Although they are not blood relatives, they were my second set of parents growing up. Although I don’t get to see them often, they are still a huge part of my life. In fact, David and I got engaged at their amazing bed and breakfast in southern Vermont, Cold Moon Farm. We spent almost a week enjoying the Arizona sunshine and the company of our friends that are family.
On to North and South Carolina where we got to spend time with David’s children. His son and wife, DJ and Maryssa, in North Carolina and his daughter, Dee, her husband, Brad, and their darling 6 month old son, Tucker Jay, in South Carolina. During that visit we made a quick trip to Boston (that is a blog for the future), for the marathon, but returned to South Carolina to spend the remainder of the week with his daughter and her family. This time was so important to us both, we got to meet our grandson for the first time and spend some important quality time with Dee and Brad.
While passing though both North and South Carolina, I was able to stop and visit with 2 of my collage roommates. Sue and I last saw each other about 8 years ago. We spent time talking about the olds days, who we have seen, who we keep in contact with and what is happening in our lives currently. Jane and I last saw each other at least 15 years ago, possibly more. It was so much fun catching up after all this time, hanging out in her backyard on a beautiful spring day, talking about our college days (I was the first friend Jane met at Tulane) and what the future looks like for us. Although these visits were short, they were meaningful and fulfilling.
After South Carolina we were heading to Alabama. One of my closest high school friends, Duke, is retiring from the military after 25 years and we were invited. If we were in Seattle and working, it would be unlikely that we would have been able to make the trip. But, as soon as we got the invitation we knew we needed to make it happen. This is a huge part of why we are traveling. We realized we drive right through Atlanta on the way to Alabama, so of course we stopped to see some other cousins of mine, Karen and Elliott. Elliott was in Seattle about 2 years ago but I have not seen Karen in almost 10 years. In addition, David had never met either of them. Elliott and I spent quite a lot of time together on the Jersey Shore, many, many years ago. It was so nice to spend some time catching up on their lives and for them to get to know David.
What I did not realize was that Duke, my high school friend, actually lives outside Atlanta. So off we went to spend some time with him and his family before the chaos of his retirement weekend. I knew this would be my only opportunity to really get to know Alison, catch up on our lives, meet his kids and talk about life. We had a blast talking about our high school days, looking at the yearbook, finding old classmates on Facebook and just hanging out. He was the first friend I had at Peddie, one of my closest friends there and I will forever cherish that.
In between all of these visits, we have had much needed time to ourselves, time for us to enjoy the quiet and solitude of traveling in a van. We absolutely love visiting with friends and family and would not trade it for anything, but it is also nice to go “home”, to our routine that is not much of a routine these days, but just the way we like it.
“When connections are real, they simply never die. They can be buried or ignored or walked away from, but never broken. If you’ve deeply resonated with another person or place, the connection remains despite any distance, time, situation, lack of presence, or circumstance. If you’re doubtful then just try it-go and revisit a person or place and see if there is any sense at all of the space between now and then. If it was truly real, you’ll be instantly swept back into the moment it was before it left-during the same year and place with the same wonder and hope, comfort and heartbeat. Real connections live on forever.” -Victoria Erickson