professor me

On our year-long road trip, in addition to being “dad” to Keaton, I am also her math teacher. 

Prior to actually executing in this role, I went through a range of emotions.  I was nervous and overwhelmed.  I was unsure about how we’d define her curriculum, anxious about how she’d accept and work with me as an instructor vs. a parent.  

I settled myself a bit once Sharaun and I made the decision that, for math, we’d stick tightly to the California “common core” curriculum for 7th grade.  Since we don’t intend to continue homeschool after this year of travel, we wanted to be sure that when she’s plugged back into the public school system she had learned the same things in the same ways with the same approaches as her peers.  

We’re now in week two of road-school, and are finishing up our first unit, which is focused on operations with rational numbers.  A good bit is review for her, but based on our work so far it’s welcomed review.  We’ve had more good days than bad, and all my nerves and overwhelmedness and anxiety is gone. 

It’s not that it’s a piece of cake – there’s a lot of preparation and a fair amount of just-me time investment required.  But… I am finding myself really, truly enjoying it all… both the preparation and the actual teaching parts.  I also feel myself developing a feel for it… and being more comfortable tailoring what we’re doing to how Keaton seems to be responding and learning (or not).

Case in point, we had a pretty terrible day on Tuesday this week. The lesson was two hours of tears and frustration and plain just not getting it.  Prior to that day, we had been on-track to review the unit today and test on it tomorrow.  But Keaton didn’t have it… she was still getting tripped-up, and she got more and more down on it all with each successive wrong answer or hang-up.  

So, we changed the plan.  We spent this morning doing a bunch of review drills, hitting the key skills in repetition, working together if needed.  Oh man, did it help.  Just taking the time to do a little more work, to slow down, to get a string of right answers under her belt, to gain a little confidence.  What’s more, I think I’m going to do the same thing with tomorrow’s lesson, too. 

After all, I’m the teacher.

getting used to it

Nothing in an RV is easy to get.

Everything is forever behind everything else.  No matter what it is that you need, it’s guaranteed to be under, behind, or inside three or four other cumbersome-to-move things you don’t.  This is Law #1 of full-time RVing.  

To get the shoes I wanted to wear for church this morning, I had to pull-out the shoe-storage bin and paw to the back, where, of course, the brown ones were.  

Keaton wanted to ride her bike after dinner, but you can’t just get her bike… you must remove all bikes.  Can’t ride without a helmet, but that bin is four-deep in the (thankfully) cavernous rear storage space.  

Ran out of toilet paper?  Not enough room under the bathroom sink so that’s a walk outside to the paper bin.   Same for extra paper plates or napkins.  

Living in this tiny space if full of “excuse mes,” “sorry, I’m in heres,” and “did someone move my X?”  But, you know what… 

I am getting used to it.  We are getting used to it. 



Laundry day in Crescent City, CA.  High on the Northern Pacific coast.  

Dude walks in, 6ft tall and then some.  Gray hair, missing on top but still a bundled into a ponytail in back.  Sweatpants, too big.  Two front teeth nowhere to be found.  

Seeing my Grateful Dead shirt, “The Grateful Dead?”  Without giving me time to respond, I watch him pause for a moment to look me over a bit, which I assumed was him getting a mental fix on just how old I might be.  Then, like an old friend, “I have a Grateful Dead story for you.”  I’m intrigued.  I show as much on my face and make the right noises to spur him on.  

“I don’t really like the Dead; has nothing to do with their music either, I like the music.  I’ll tell you.  I grew up in the Bay.  Back in… oh… ’69 or ’70 or maybe ’71 I saw the Dead at the Avalon.”  I make some happy/encouraging response, we’re talking classic stuff here… some of those shows are legendary. 

“Anyway, there was this big barrel of water at the show.  I had two, maybe three very small cups, and I was shot.  The Dead put acid in the water; spiked it.  Without my permission.  That’s just not cool, man.”  I agree that dosing someone unbeknownst to them is, definitely, not cool man.  

He told me more.  About being so loopy he sat behind the wheel of his Volkswagen bus and couldn’t will himself to drive.  About living in the Bay.  About seeing Quicksilver, Canned Heat, Airplane.  About selling his parents Silicon Valley home for $1M after they died, the home they bought for $16k and that’s now worth $2M just six year later.  About working for Coors for 20 years in Colorado (“I was a liar and a drunk then, though; was a different time.”)

I have no reason to doubt my new buddy.  So what if he mis-remembered where the Dead’s infamous “acid punch show” really happened, I like to think he really was there and really was too messed-up to get his bus moving afterward.  

Laundromats have consistently been one of the most unpredictably cool and interesting parts of our previous trips, and this one is proving no different.



We walked down to the sea today.

We did so on the way back from a longer walk around a good portion of the grounds here at the state park. That walk itself came after quite the bustling RV morning, including the momentous first day of home-school for the kids & a father/son bike ride.

Momentous as it all was, and it really was, in the grand scheme, it was being beside the ocean that I’ll ultimately take from today. I told Sharaun, who stayed safely just above the closer-to-the-crash rocks the kids & I clambered down to, that I could sit there and stare at the bubbling foamy chaos for hours.

So rough. The rocks taking beating after beating. The waves, unrelenting, smashing at them over and over again, throwing huge plumes of spray into the air and filling the little nooks and crannies of the rough shore with froth. Occasionally a swell of the tide would see the sea cover entirely over all but the most massive upshots of rock, making them temporarily disappear underneath boiling swirls of white.

It was chilly and there really was no “shore” to speak of. The mountains simply crumble into the sea, quite abruptly. You can look back a hundred yards from where you climbed down and see a redwood forest and ferns. The ocean has literally beaten the cliffs into a tumble of rocks.

It was fantastic for every second of the twenty minutes or so we spent there before heading back to the RV for dinner. Ever-changing, almost hypnotic, kind of like watching a campfire or a snow fall.


wonder and anxiety

We left home Friday morning.

We were about an hour and a half behind schedule, which, honestly, was pretty darn good. Sharaun, in true Sharaun form, propped her phone up on the roots of the tree in the yard and had the family pose in the RV doorframe for an auto-timed picture. I’m glad she did because it came out fantastic and it’ll be an awesome memory.

In the RV, I cranked the engine and paired my phone with the stereo to get some music going. Radiohead’s Last Flowers was on. It’s a little piano-driven number which, at times, sounds quite sad. Oh man, I cried. I just sat there, askew in the driver’s seat, engine running, and cried. Sharaun cried. We laughed at the luck of getting such a dirge as our shuffled-up departure track. Crying was important, though, so I saw the Lord’s hand in it all once again.

We swung by Mom’s house to say one last goodbye. More quick hugs, a bit more tears. Then Costco for gas and a lunch stop for burgers before we hit the road.

And then we were gone.

A Labor Day weekend trip with friends began our journey and marked the last few days of summer for the kids. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we start school. We’re camped at Patrick’s Point State Park on the Northern California coast. I anticipate we’ll stay here a couple nights at least, long enough to hopefully feel-out how the day’s routine is going to go. Although, I’m likely fooling myself… as I suspect we won’t really lock into that routine for quite a while.

There were moments today, on the road, where I felt waves of wonder. Big sweeping landscapes unfolding below and beside us, tacky roadside tourist traps, a laugh shared with a child. There were also moments where I felt waves of anxiety. Why does the house battery gauge show only a third left when we were plugged in all night? Is this pull-out level enough to boil the water I need for my instant noodle lunch? The bike rack is totally going to bottom-out right now…

Until tomorrow then. Goodnight.

everything’s weird

Waking up & walking out of the bedroom this morning, I sighed.  

“What’s wrong?,” Sharaun asked, still just sitting up in bed herself.  

“I don’t know…  Everything’s weird,” I said, walking over to giver her a hug.

“Yeah, it is.”

Everything is weird, y’all.  Our lives are in transition, and so is our stuff, and our house.  It may seem silly, but the absolute mess that causes gets to me.  I take comfort when where I live is neat and clean, and right now our house is anything but.  Boxes from our new tenants are everywhere, our stuff is everywhere as we sort, inventory, and dither, stuff for my upcoming John Muir hike is, you guessed it, everywhere.  

We are completely uprooting our lives and going on the road for a year, I’m not naive enough to think that transition won’t be messy – but that doesn’t mean the messiness can’t bother me. 

I’m not the best at transitions.  Right now I just want to be doing what’s next, to have already started the new routine.  The fact that I feel this way is one of the main things I look forward to adjusting this year.  I want to be more comfortable during transitions… I’ll definitely need the skill upon returning to work.



When I was a kid my mother’s parents lived in a log cabin house atop a certain mountain in sunny Southern California.  It was a bit of “community,” I think  Several houses spread wide across the hilltops, some owned some rented, one person sort of “head” of the thing (maybe the owner of the majority of the rentals, I think).  

There was, down the road a ways from their place, a community pool.  When we’d go visit them, we’d all go down and spend time there.  There were never many people there, the total population on the mountain couldn’t have been that large.  The pool had a diving board, and for a long time that diving board was my great challenge.

I’d walk over to it, get scared, and walk back.  I’d maybe walk out on it, get scared, and walk back.  Maybe bounce it a little, get scared, walk back.  You get the idea. 

The feeling out on the end, knowing it’d be fun, knowing I’d be OK, wanting so bad to do it but chickening out… 

And, then, you finally did it.  Woohoo.  So worth it.