We spent three nights at one of our favorite camp grounds in the US, Fontainebleau State Park. The park costs $18 a night for a paved drive, Elect/Water hook ups and sits on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It’s about a 40 minute drive from the park to downtown New Orleans. Perfect for a day trip in to the French Quarter for Beignets and music and back out to the quiet of the beach.
Click the link below for musings about our time in New Orleans from our Daughter’s perspective.
Jana from The Hollands kindly offered to do an interview with me! They travel the world singing and bringing joy to people everywhere. Enjoy it and let us know what you think!
What inspired to you to hit the road and do full time RVing…or I guess “Busing” in your case!
At the end of 2010 we, The Hollands! (Americana Folk Band and family) recognized a huge disconnect in our marriage, family, spirituality, global footprint and finances. Typical to most middle American families, we were working full time, pursuing our musical passion, school committee’s, organizing neighborhood gatherings and with what energy we had left, dreaming about a slower more deliberate pace. A pace that included deeper connectivity, reconciliation and purpose. Thus began the process to align all of those areas in our lives.
We started by casting a dream/vision for a life that was simpler, less fragmented and community driven. We released our possessions, bought a bus and began a journey converting it into a home on wheels, learning to home school, connecting with communities across the US and Australia and making music.
How has this decision affected your life? Your Family? Your lifestyle? Your values?
A paradigm shift has taken place in our ideology about most things in our life, especially “wants” verses “needs.” The effect has been more than noticeable. Downsizing from 2000 sq ft home to 300 sq ft bus has been quite the process. I would say especially for our children, ages 17 and 12. (girl and a boy) They share a 7 x 71/2 bunk room and each have 4 drawers and shared closet. We left in a bus that was unfinished and have been building it on the road. The first year we had no plumbing, but somehow found plenty of toilets to use. I will say, however, that when the plumbing was finally installed we celebrated.
Through this process our family has grown tremendously closer. We live in a small space and the four of us are together 24/7 so it’s obvious when the harmony is off. We respect each others space and process but the commitment to finding that harmony again moves much quicker than when we used to live in a large home, all going our different directions.
We’ve also found a deeper connection with our music, performing over 90 shows a year, writing new material, and having other musicians travel/tour with us. It’s proving to be a very good education for us all.
I’m not sure our pace is much slower than our former lifestyle, but it is much more purposeful. Over the past two years we have traveled to 32 states and all but a handful of nights were spent parked with “host” families. We’ve connected with most, if not all of the ‘host” families through our social media networks or from referrals from friends. Those times when we did not find a host family or needed time to ourselves we stayed at State Parks or RV Parks.
Our greatest joy on this journey has been being invited into the lives of so many families, to share in community and see all sorts of different ways to do life, from carnivores to vegans, Republicans, Democrats, Anarchists and everything in-between, a plethora of religious ideals to those who claim no faith. We’ve had the opportunity to try all sorts of foods, music, sports, outdoors activities, etc… We’ve been invited to share sacred space, learn new customs and rituals, and have heard stories of trials, pain, betrayal, hope, joy and faith.
What does a normal day look like for you?
It looks different every single day. There is no normal.
What advice would you give to the beginner full time traveler or RVer?
If you are a family, the most important thing we could advise is to move forward with purpose. Discuss as a family what your hope is in traveling, are you looking for the crux to be educational, service, rest, exploration, tourist, or a combination of those. Revisit that conversation regularly. Dialog about your strengths and weakness as individuals and as a family whole, decide to use those strengths for the greater good, lift each other up in your weakness and be open to the entering the unknown. Be open to moving upstream.
Hospitality is in our makeup and we are always looking for ways to engage that gift. Recently we began dreaming about hosting kinfolk on our bus, inviting friends and muso’s to travel with us. When we would put out the offer, most people would smile, saying that it would be amazing, but not take it any further.
And then we met Chaz Jones. A twenty year old student from Lafayette, LA. We met him in 2012 at Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, IL. He stayed in touch with us, sending us little notes of encouragement and even financial support to help keep us on our way. Then in March of this year he invited us to his community in Louisiana and we accepted his offer. We shared in song, story and meals. We met his mentors and other students, we mentioned our longing for others to travel with us and he said he was interested. He continued to declare his desire and we began conversations on the road to making our vision and his commitment a reality.
Some of the questions we explored were, “What would bus life look like? Expectations from our end and expectations from his end. Specifically regarding finances, roles and boundaries.”
We let him know that there was no expectations for compensation to or from travelers. If a fellow traveler felt so inclined to give a monetary gift, we would graciously accept but it was not expected. Likewise, we don’t have a budget to pay folks to join us but hope that the experience, as well as, covering the costs of room/board/fuel would suffice. The only concession would be if a person had really strict dietary issues that require expensive foods, they would have to bring funds to cover those needs. But, if we have the ingredients on board, it would be available to all. We did however, suggest having spending money, for shops, thrifting, movies or special attractions, etc…
And as for roles and boundaries. Our hope would be that travelers would participate, on what ever level they can, within the daily life on board, offering a helping hand, finding ways to be involved either in the music, bus logistics, or sharing of other gifts and talents.
We let him know that its real life out here, we are in a small space (300 sq feet), we are working out family dynamics, we don’t have hot running water or air conditioning, we all have our own personal junk but we are committed to finding harmony. The only other relational request would be for patience and openness to communicate desires, observations, and to see this experience as an opportunity to see God’s faithfulness in the daily restoration “the body.”
In late July, Chaz took a greyhound bus from Lafayette, LA to Lansing, Michigan and met us at a performance we shared with our good friends, The Illalogical Spoon. He’ll be riding with us until mid-September. Chaz plays Banjo and has been a welcome addition to The Hollands! as well as to our family. Glad to have you on board Chaz!
It’s been an interesting process to navigate the waters of healthcare while traveling. Thank the Lord, most of our aliments have been minor and we have found homeopathic resources to take care of our needs. However, when our frames don’t cooperate, we have to seek the guidance of professionals and generally pay cash out-of-pocket.
There are free clinics in most cities but we have found that unless you are a resident of those communities the access to those clinics is not available. Then there are the walk in clinics at Walmart and Target that work well for minor issues that need a little extra support. But, our lifeline really comes from a handful of generous and compassionate care givers across the country, from Nurses, Physical Therapists, Massage Therapist, and Chiropractic Doctors who have graciously given of their time and talents to help keep us healthy and on our way.
We are especially grateful for kinfolk like Dr. Randal Arnold and his son, Dr. Levi Arnold at Peninsula Chiropractic for joining us in our missional call and gifting us with excellent care while we were in Wisconsin. It is because of God’s faithfulness through folks like the Arnold family that we keep rolling on, health in our bodies and our faith grows a little stronger.