Pandemic-inspired street journey: Akron household swaps home for RV, excursions nation whereas working, education remotely
AKRON, Ohio – What do you get when you combine a severe case of wanderlust with a global health pandemic that disrupts school and work significantly? For Akron parents Shane Wynn and Josh Gippin, the answer was simple: an epic road trip across the United States.
Last month, the two of them left their house, bought a mobile home and drove east. Also present: daughter Hannah, a sixth grader at Miller South School in Akron; Son Malcolm, a third grader at the King Community Learning Center; and for part of the trip, Josh’s mother, Michelle Gippin, who recently moved out of her Akron home.
Wynn said the family had already considered going on a cross-country road trip, but the logistics – work, school, home, other responsibilities – were daunting. The pandemic has addressed many of these issues. Both kids are practically going to school this year, and Wynn’s work as a photographer and Gippins as a videographer had largely dried up in recent months
“We should just go out here and take the kids to study remotely while we travel across the United States,” suggested Gippin one night over whiskey. Wynn’s answer: “When do we go?”
They left September 10th after renting their home, buying a 21-foot RV, and loading it with essentials.
“We have 6 USB sockets and 6 sockets. We have cameras and drones, hotspots and laptops. But with all that technology we’re still pioneers, ”Wynn writes on her blog“ Where the Wynns Take You ”. “We are exposed to the changes in weather that a rain cloud brings to determine our day. We have to keep looking for fresh water. We ration, we plan, we watch the radar. “
Since leaving, they have explored dozens of cities, parks, campsites, and historic sites from Akron, New York to Newport, Rhode Island.
One place they didn’t stop: Massachusetts after finding out that all five had to take a $ 250 per resident Covid test to participate.
Wynn agreed to answer a few questions about the adventure from somewhere in Connecticut (or was it New York?)
Was everyone on board from the start? Did someone have to convince?
Josh had previously mentioned the idea of traveling around the US with the kids and studying on the go, but the kids didn’t want to miss school and we didn’t want to lose the momentum we had built in our careers. Both factors were no longer a problem with COVID.
The kids were very excited about the idea of getting a trailer, although Hannah wasn’t that excited about letting her cats stay for 9 months. Josh and I originally went back and forth as we were seriously looking at the implications and feasibility of the trip. We discussed determinants like: Can we rent the house (cats included)? Are we comfortable starting a Patreon campaign (asking subscribers to pay to access the blog)? Could I get a small business management loan (Josh had already secured one)?
So you keep working during your travels?
We keep working. In fact, that linchpin was a way to redefine ourselves to keep working when our revenue streams dried up as a result of COVID. We are both self-employed. Our work depends on personal interaction and participation in events. We were both able to get SBA loans and use the funding to buy the equipment needed for our travels across the US. We started a Patreon page to share content with supporters and fans along the way. The 70 customers can choose levels from 5 to 200 US dollars per month and receive different discounts accordingly. We hope to have finished products at the end of the trip that we may be able to market in the future. This can take the form of a photo series, a documentary film, a documentary series, a book. We focus on the process and let the end result define itself.
How do you map your trip? How do you decide where and when to go? How much is planned and how much is spontaneous?
Mapping is a tedious and time consuming task. All in all, it takes about a full day to plan a week’s trip. We coordinate many factors such as:
* Children’s schooling and access to reliable internet connections during the week.
* Find campsites that accept our Passport America discount.
* Access to water, electricity and septic tank when boondocking on weekends.
* Proximity to provisions and supplies.
* Crossing small towns for day visits and parking with a trailer attached.
* COVID travel restrictions and policies that vary by state.
* And the big one … weather!
The rough plan was / is to travel through New England to Maine before the weather got too cold, then drive back along the coast and return home for two weeks over Thanksgiving. We will then leave again, head south and west, avoid winter and end our journey on the west coast. We plan about a week in advance as advance planning is required due to all COVID restrictions. However, we don’t plan too far in advance to allow flexibility.
We have certain goals in mind that also determine our movements. For example, we want to be near Washington DC before the election. We think we could celebrate Christmas in New Orleans. We have special educational institutions that we would like to visit with the children.
Highlights so far?
Each of us would answer this differently. I (Shane) loved Jordan Pond and Sand Beach in Acadia National Park in Maine. Hannah loved the shops and lobster stew in Freeport, Maine. Michelle liked the little town of Mystic, Connecticut, and all of the port cities we visited. Malcolm liked Cadillac Mountain in Acadia and visited an alpaca farm in Sydney, Maine. Josh loved the Archipelago of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River.
Were there any surprises? Unexpected positives and negatives? What would you do differently?
Surprises: We couldn’t visit Massachusetts. They had the strictest COVID restrictions so we had to get all 5 COVID tests ($ 250 each without a prescription) and provide documentation of our travels in the last two weeks prior to entry. The equipment of some campsites is questionable at best, sometimes the water is just a trickle, the WiFi almost never works and many of the shower houses and laundry facilities are closed due to COVID.
Things that initially didn’t work in the camper (we’ve since figured it out): the stove, the heater, the toilet (got clogged more than once), water (smelled like hibernation).
Unexpected Positive Results: Stay at Harvest Hosts, a membership that offers overnight boondocking access to 1,000+ wineries, breweries, farms and museums for only $ 75 per year. Discover our ability to emotionally adapt and process emotions and conflicts as a whole unit.
Unexpected Negatives: We expected this to be a huge challenge, but the intensity came as a surprise. The level of emotions, both good and bad, can seem overwhelming at times. The children are really homesick. The “noise pollution” in the mobile home is obscene. But the joy that comes with simply figuring out the solution to something is immense and can make you goofy with joy.
The element of the unknown and a new experience every day is so exciting and some of the things we see will take your breath away.
Five people living in this little motorhome – how are you all not crazy? (Everyone wants to know!)
Headphones, books, wine, walks and borders. We’re definitely going crazy! Sometimes you go for a walk. Maybe you wrap yourself in blankets and read a book outside, or go to the KIA for some privacy on a phone call. You can volunteer to do the laundry as then you can be alone for a while! We all have headphones. Sometimes it leads to a kind of mania, drama and a lot of laughter. Luckily we are a very cozy family that helps.
What are you hoping for from this trip?
This is the first opportunity to fully document our children’s lives and a great chance for them to get to know and learn about this country in person at this very important moment in history. The journey is as challenging as it is rewarding, but we hope that it will give our children character and resilience and expand their self-image. We want to bring back a huge pile of content that reflects our unique multi-generation journey and the US at this time of COVID and political unrest. We want to create art with this content and share it with the world.
To follow the adventures of Shane Wynn and his family: patreon.com/wherethewynnstakeyou/posts
Read more: RV travel grew in popularity before the coronavirus pandemic made it even more attractive