For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to leave.
When I was younger, it was to leave Indiana and never come back. In high school, it was to leave Indianapolis for a bigger city. In my twenties, it was to leave home and travel as much as possible.
I’ve always had the bug–to explore, to see new places, to adventure outside of the everyday.
I was lucky enough to marry a man who also has that itch. (As I re-read that sentence, it’s making me laugh that it sorta sounds like Chris has some kind of infection he needs medication for and so I’m leaving it as-is for my own personal enjoyment.) Since we got married, we’ve either been traveling or making plans to travel. Learning about a new place, making a list of places to see, and talking about a trip just breathes life into a typical Tuesday full of laundry, errands, and cranky kids.
The last few years, as our girls have gotten older, we’ve been traveling more (Washington, DC, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, to name a few). Taking our kids to the ocean for the first time, watching Ellie as she gazed out of the St. Louis Arch with bulging eyes, and finding breathtaking waterfalls in upstate New York while hiking are some of my favorite memories.
We are the best versions of ourselves while traveling: kind, patient, adventurous, not rushed.
Maybe that’s what keeps us going, not so much that we love to see new places, but that we become better versions of ourselves in those places.
Whatever it is, we’re ready for more: more states, more views, more miles, more adventures.
Which is what led us to buy a camper in March; our goal of all fifty states with the girls before they leave us is something we think about constantly and we figured the best, easiest way for us to make our dream a reality is with a camper. Traveling can be extremely expensive and so we decided forking over the cash for an RV would make the next decade of travel more attainable for us.
So in March, we bought Betsy Ross.
I had her name picked out before we even knew what we were buying. Sure, I could have spent my time researching brands and reading Consumer Reports, but I was more focused on just the right name for a camper we might, sometime in the future, buy.
Although it’s debated whether or not Betsy Ross really sewed the first flag, I felt like the sentiment of all those stars and stripes would fit well as a camper name. Because if our goal is fifty states, what better representation?
If you’re not following this logic, you’re not alone. My husband, Chris Graham, has not yet adopted this name and keeps calling the camper The Dunking Dutchman. WHICH IS THE DUMBEST NAME EVER. See, our camper is a 2001 Dutchman Lite and because we’re from Indiana, Chris thinks of Rik Smits who used to play for the Pacers when he hears “Dutchman.” So he keeps calling my precious camper The Dunking Dutchman which is so disrespectful it’s not even funny.
ANYWAY. Betsy Ross is our key to the open road. Since she arrived in our driveway (to the shegrin of our neighbors…), I’ve been remodeling her. She’s not old, she’s just experienced. She’s not completely finished yet, but on Wednesday, I’ll share some before and after shots and show you how far she’s come.
She’s looking quite beautiful, if I do say so myself.
Once she’s ready, we’re taking off. We’ve got a few short-distance trips planned in June to make sure we know what-the-heck we’re doing (because right now, we have NO idea what we’re doing, actually), and then in July we head west for seventeen days. Our plan is Missouri (yes, we were there last summer but we’re making a stop to hit the City Museum again because that place is incredible and one day last year was not enough), South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa. It’s going to be epic. Yellowstone National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Old Faithful, camping with buffalos, hiking in the Black Hills, and a million other things my little mind can’t even fathom.
Just thinking about it makes me giddy.
And this is just the beginning. Betsy Ross and the Grahams (that includes my favorite pup, Blue, of course) are mobile and coming to a state near you. For spring break this year, we did not take a family trip because we were making such a big purchase–so the travel bug is extra strong right now. I feel like we’ve been home forever, and we just need to go on an adventure. (Okay, yes, recently I went to Vegas with friends and Chris went to New Orleans, but that wasn’t a family trip so it doesn’t count.)
Twenty years ago, Indiana was not good enough for me. I needed to leave this place and never come back. Now, at thirty four, Indiana is my home. I love coming back here. I love our seasons, our cities, our people. But traveling is still my first love and there’s lots to see–and the Grahams are almost ready to explore.
(Side note: for those of you that followed my series on debt-free living, yes, we paid cash for Betsy Ross. Want to make your savings account super depressing? Make a big purchase. But we refused to go into debt again so this was the only [and best] option. But it still hurt.)