Ocean Family Road Trip

Vanlife Magazine

Here’s a little piece I wrote for Vanlife Magazine


We are Ocean family road trip, a family of 5 that’s come from a New Zealand beach town to be nomads in forests of the American West.

We started this knowing the challenges would force us to grow and adapt. Fate would have it that our first major decision would do just that. The class A RV we had arranged via Craigslist to pick up got sold 10 minutes before we arrived,(after a 4-hour drive). An hour later, we were the proud owners of a 19ft ’84 schoolie, fitted out with solid wood, built by a master mechanic. We added solar, named her Shelby Rite and hit the road. We felt like we’d won the lottery. We are free; our time is our own. Our route? West. Our income? Savings and hope. Our kid’s curriculum? National parks, books from the thrift shop, and experience.

Early on we felt little kinship with other full timers. At Descend on Bend we found our tribe, and have since been on amazing camping trips with other intrepid families we met there. Baja Oasis hot springs were the gnarliest roads Shelby’s taken, Pat was white knuckles and talking to Shelby the whole time. The experience and the hot springs payoff were worth it all.

Listening to a female mountain lion scream for a mate in Cleveland NF, CA, our first bear sighting in Unitas NF in UT, watching bald eagles fish from the shore in the San Juan Islands, we will never forget. We saw a pack of wolves fighting a grizzly bear over an elk carcass in Yellowstone. They ended up sharing the meal, more life lessons from the road. These experiences stand out because not only they are rare in America, they are impossible in NZ.

Currently, we are in Montana, working at a lodge and living in the employee RV park for the summer. We are saving for five flights to New Zealand and for shipping a bus home.

Are we going to settle back down? No way, the South Island of New Zealand beckons.

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