Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

In 2001, after being married for less than two years and having added a child number four to our growing family, Dave and I decided to move from Boise, Idaho (where each of us had spent a good chunk of our lives) to his hometown of Bath, New York. We made the decision before 9/11 but arrived only a month after, when everyone – even in our small village five hours from the city – was still numb. We grieved and healed along with the rest of New York and the country. We made Bath our home, bought a house, and started traveling in the area. I even returned to school.

My mom, in the meantime, had been diagnosed with cancer. As her health deteriorated, the longing to be near her grew stronger.

So in 2005, we once again packed everything up – except for our oldest son who had graduated and joined the military but including child number 5, who had been born in New York – and, turning down a fellowship offer from Cornell University, headed to a grad program at University of Nevada in Reno (my hometown). Living in Reno would put me in much closer proximity to my mom, who still lived in Boise.

In 2006, as Mom’s health continued to decline and I was spending more time flying back and forth than attending the political science classes I detested at UNR, Reno was no longer close enough. In the space of a week shortly after the new year, we’d packed and moved back to Boise.

My mom passed away three weeks after we arrived. I cherish the time my kids and I had with her, and loved being back in my old stomping ground. The thing is, we’d left Boise on purpose, to escape the growth and chaos of the big city it was becoming. We longed for small town life. So, we decided to move back to New York, but our then-16 year old daughter insisted we stay long enough for her to graduate from high school. We never really unpacked everything, and saved all of our boxes. We knew the two and a half years in Boise was a transient stop.

In 2008, shortly after the twins’ graduation, we packed and once again made the cross-country move to Bath, New York.

If you’re keeping track, that’s three cross-country moves plus a Reno to Boise move in the space of 7 years.

It’s now 2012. I have been in the same place for four whole years.

It’s unnatural.

I’m restless.

I can feel deep in my bones that I should be moving.

But do you know what a pain it is to pack up a house and move that far? And how expensive it is?

Besides, I love my home, our community, and our life here.

So to feed my gypsy soul and allow me to reconnect with the family on the other side of the Mississippi, we’re not moving…but by the time we’re done, it will feel like it although I’m quite certain it will cost less).

Dave is THRILLED <~~ note the drips of sarcasm that are falling from this statement.

This summer when the kids get out of school, Dave and I are loading up the family (minus Derek, who is still in the Army, and minus Kira, who says she loves us but not enough to be stuck in a car with us for a month) and setting out on a journey.

It’s not much different than one our ancestors might have taken, except the ride will be much more comfortable, as will the food and the lodging. We will be leaving New York and traveling 6,540 miles through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa, then back through Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and home to New York. 18 states. 33 days. 6,540 miles.

It’s a once in a lifetime trip made possible by a year of frugal living (we can make the toilet paper stretch if we all limit ourselves to three squares) and saving (empty your pockets into the jar on your way in the house) along with the flexibility I have to work every day while we’re on the road.

(Oh how I love my job).

(Currently seeking mobile internet access solutions).

At least I don’t have to pack up and sell a house this time, right?

I’ve already started compiling my “things I must remember to pack” list – and hoping I will find a way to make everything (plus a wheelchair) fit in our minivan (we are removing one seat).

I’d love to hear from you about your favorite travel products and must-haves when on vacation, as well as your suggestions for things you must have when traveling.

We’ll be blogging, tweeting, and posting on Facebook and Google about our journey – sharing amazing pictures of everything from Pike’s Peak to Mount Rushmore – and talking about the travel gear and products that make it easier to travel with two kids and an adult disabled child who relies on a wheelchair for mobility.

The countdown is on…we leave in less than 10 weeks.

Keep your fingers crossed that the gas prices don’t get much higher.

(For those of you who might think, wow, she’s advertising to the whole world that her house will be empty for a month, it won’t be. Our dear friends from Florida will be escaping the summer heat and making good use of the house in our absence!)

Comment below with your favorite travel tips, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book, “Bed & Breakfast and Country Inns” which includes a certificate for a second night free at one of more than 1,400 participating bed & breakfast and country inns in the U.S.