Tucker showing off his just...
Tucker showing off his just completed shelter
When we joined up with relatives who were also traveling by RV for a few months, Chris and I had a real dilemma, since our relatives (retired Oregon ranchers) traveled with handguns and shotguns as a matter of course. After some debate, weighing the pros and cons, we decided to have their great-uncle teach them proper NRA-approved gun safety lessons. I couldn't have been more thrilled at the outcome, since rather than thinking guns were cool or sexy, by the time they had been through all of that, they decided that real guns were a heck of a lot of trouble to have to deal with and they would rather target practice with BB guns. As the mother to three very adventurous boys, that was music to my ears.
So far, this trip has been a learning experience for all of us in the most unexpected ways. We have gone into this trip anticipating the hands-on accumulation of facts and figures. Ecosystems, birds, Lewis and Clark, plains Indians—you name it, they've learned it. Road-schooling, though, has also provided them with an opportunity to learn necessary life skills.
Liam, learning to shoot a...
Liam, learning to shoot a 40-pound compound bow
I added their acquired skills and experiences to their school portfolio and was amazed: starting and cooking over fires, existing on the most minimal of water, twice watching us help other campers/hikers in medical crisis, building mud ovens, driving a car, conquering fear, showing kindness, persevering towards a goal, archery, firearms, juggling, bike repair, teaching younger children new skills, respecting differing opinions and ideas, learning when to be cautious and when to push their boundaries, and…well, the list goes on!
Recently, Liam was confronted by his crying exhausted 5-year-old cousin pleading for “Lee-lam” to carry her as her twin was being carried by their dad at the end of a difficult hike. Liam started to carry her, but Chris, concerned, stopped him. He was afraid they were too heavy and Liam would become exhausted, meaning we would have three tired people to get out instead of just two. Liam and I did the math, deciding their 40 pounds were as much as an overloaded backpack, but definitely within his capabilities, so Chris and I decided to let him use his best judgment in the situation.
Now it's one of my most treasured memories of this boy-child of mine turning into a young man. Without an eye roll or complaint he picked her up and proceeded to alternate carrying her and her sister the remaining two miles of a hot, sandy 6-mile trail.
Making an adobe mud oven for...
Making an adobe mud oven for pizza under menacing skies
I wanted to stop right there in the middle of the trail and bawl like a baby at this lovely young man, kind and compassionate, camouflaged by layers of typical obnoxious teenaged attitude. Maybe stuffing five people into a 40-foot bus for a year wasn't such a crazy idea after all!