“Life Is All About The Adventure”
On August 2nd, 2017 we hit the road- Starting the 4,500 mile road trip from Panama City, Florida to Wasilla, Alaska, with our 6 month old baby boy in tow. I can easily say that it was one of the most memorable, beautiful & courageous moments we have experienced together, as a family.
Trust me when I say, coming to the conclusion to up-root & leave our family & friends behind was not an easy feat. Once we broke the news about the move, we heard things like “You can’t make a trip like that with a baby!” & “How are you going to stand being so far from family?” Hearing such things did add to the anxiety a bit & made my fiancé & I second-guess our choice about 50 times. But let me tell you some of the key thoughts that helped us come to our final decision:
- Since the day we met, Jon & I have talked about traveling together. That is among one of the many reasons we fell for each other- Our great sense of adventure. (To us, it made the whole experience even more exciting, knowing that our new party member would experience it with us!) And traveling by car, across two countries, is the ultimate road trip, if you ask me!
2. He & I had lived the majority of our lives in Florida & once we had our son, we came to the conclusion that it was not the greatest city to raise him in. (Our personal opinion so please don’t take offense). Along with the citizens not being too friendly, feeling cramped with so many people around & the very large & increasing crime-rate, this all added up to not making us feel very comfortable having him grow up in such an area. We have always strived to live outside of the city, surrounded by mountains, where there is not an overwhelming population size & we were lucky to find that in Alaska.
3. Although we know, first hand, how hard it can be to move away from family, especially to completely different states, you have to remember that you can’t hold your whole life back based on where your family may be. This was a huge one to understand. Granted- We will eventually work our way back to our family (We want Atlas to have plenty of time with them) but parting ways & spreading your wings to see new places , new people & new scenery is always a chance you should take when you have the opportunity. Our family was nothing but supportive once we laid all this out to them.
4. We love the fact that we will be able to show Atlas pictures & tell him the story of us moving with just a few clothes, some cash & our dreams to Alaska, before he was even a year old! Atlas has been able to see more places, already, than a lot of people have seen in their whole lives.
5. Life is all about TAKING CHANCES! We had no idea how things would go for us once we arrived. We sold everything we had, including our two cars, to make the move. Luckily, we have my dad & his partner living up here, who helped to support us while we got established. But nonetheless, we hadn’t a clue how we would fit in, whether the atmosphere was completely right for our little family, where our income was coming from or if we’d be able to support ourselves. But we took the gigantic leap, had faith in our decision & can happily say that the pieces have fallen right where we dreamed they would!
While we made our way up North, we were fortunate enough to spend time with family along the way. We stayed with my cousin & his expecting wife, in Tennessee. Atlas & I were able to meet Jons’ father, little sister & grandfather for the first time. We visited the Mall Of America & met up with a friend of Jons, in Minnesota. Lastly, we stayed at my grandmothers (who had yet to meet Atlas or Jon) in Wisconsin for a few days, where we met up with my father who would join us for the rest of the journey.
I must say, once we headed toward the Canadian border, Jon & I had no idea what to expect. All the times I envisioned a border splitting two countries, I imagined a never-ending fence shooting both ways & a team of heavily armed guards inspecting each car. I know this sounds silly to anyone who has crossed the US-Canadian border before, but hey, this Mama has a wild imagination. Nonetheless, much to my surprise, it was nothing like I expected. It was dry, barren land with no endless fence or intimidating guards. There were no other “crossers” but us & it was just a tiny building with a guard in the window asking for our information. Once our identities were confirmed, we were on our way into Canada. Unfortunately, the route we were on didn’t take us up towards Toronto or Ontario to see the main places everyone talks about but once we inched closer to the Alaskan border & came through British Columbia & the Yukon, our jaws were dropped the entire way. To this day, Jon & I agree that we have not ever seen a more beautiful, breath-taking sunset than the one we seen in the Yukon. The trees, the fresh air, the wildlife- It was like living in a dream.
Later came the hot springs. & I have to say, if you ever drive through British Colombia, you have to stop in at the springs. Once you park, you walk down a 1/2-mile wooden path, through the dense forest until you reach the water. The naturally-occurring springs & the ambiance it creates, make you feel like you’re in the Chronicles of Narnia, literally. Breathing in the steam & soaking in the comfortably-hot water was an amazing way to spend some time out of the car & a chance to look at something other than the road. Plus, Atlas was enjoying dipping his toes in & watching all the people swim around!
Once we finished washing away all tension & cramps caused by sitting in a car for 2 days, we were back on the road. What was to come, was one of the neatest parts of the entire trip! Once we hit the Yukon, we hit a strip of road that had no turns & no signs- We were far out. The road looked like it stretched, straight-out for a million miles. But soon we started to notice little specks off in the distance. As we approached, we all thought that the speck, now turning rather large, was a huge boulder. But upon further inspection, we soon realized it was a buffalo! One after another, the buffalo herd kept growing in size. 10, 30, 50, 70, 100 buffalo! Needless to say, Atlas was completely infatuated with the big, furry beasts. I, luckily, snapped a picture of him, along with his cheeky grin & the giant buffalo in the background. There was a sea of them on either side of the highway for probably 50-100 miles. It was incredible to see!
Two long, exciting & exhausting weeks later we finally arrived to Alaska. Since our arrival, the past 6 months have been filled with laughter, sight-seeing, dog-sled races, snowmobiling, ice skating, amazing food, the Northern Lights, beautiful mountain views & moving into our new home! We are so blessed & fortunate to have this opportunity & to be able to live the lives that we do! Our little family has welcomed Alaska into our lives & received the same open-arms from this incredible state & its citizens. We do not regret for a single second making this choice for our little family & I hope that if you & your family are offered any opportunity to move, that you do it.
I know it is scary leaving your safety & security net. I miss ours, everyday. But you have to remember that there are plenty of ways to stay in touch & to visit- Whether you want to go back home for a couple weeks or if your family & friends want to make their way to you. It is so important not to let anyones anxious assumptions stop you from living your days to the fullest & offering your babe an even better, more beautiful life. It is up to you & your partner. You have chosen to walk through this life together with your precious baby & choosing what is best for you all, will always be YOUR decision & right. Take life by the horns & don’t take anything too seriously. Enjoy the journey!
Atlas & The Buffalo