Day 13- Elephant Butte, New Mexico November 12, 2017

This morning we waved goodbye to George and Suzie. It was fantastic that we had the opportunity to get to know them a little bit. We are hoping that we will be able to meet up with them again down the road.

We had a really great visit with our neighbours this morning as well. They live in the area and they were able to share lots of great information with us about what to see and do in the south west.  We were on our way to do laundry and had this visit instead, which was way more fun. Laundry tomorrow 😦

We took the kids to the beach for a quick swim in the late afternoon and were able to spot several fish jumping out of the water.

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Took time to take a family photo on the beach

Tonight we made Instant pot chicken and rice burrito bowls. It was a hit with almost everyone (which is a feat unto itself) followed up with a bowl of iced cream before bed.

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Found this recipie on Pintrest, 20 minutes to yummy goodness

The icing on the cake tonight was the spectacular sunset. All in all it was a great day making friends and enjoying the beautiful fall weather.  We are delighted to find the people here to be extremely friendly and laid back.  So glad to be here.

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Spectacular sunset
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The stars last night were amazing

A large family….whaaa??

We are a large family.  What exactly does that mean you ask?  We have more than the average amount of kids.  We have more kids than what qualifies as a family pass at the movies (generally this is four kids).  We have more kids than you can fit in the average SUV.

We have seven kids.

According to Stats Canada, in 2011 the average family in Canada had 1.1 kids.  It is amazing to note how quickly our ideas of what constitutes a large family has changed.  When our grand parents were kids, families commonly had a dozen children or more.  Now if you have more that three kids people look at you like there is something wrong with your mental state.

We chose to have lots of kids, even though our families, friends, doctors and society told us we were making a mistake.  We weathered comments of “don’t you know were babies come from?” and “how can you afford that?” and even “are you catholic or something?”.

We decided, even before we were married, that we wanted a large family.  We have been blessed beyond our expectations and would not trade any of it for anything in the world.  Is it easy?  Of course not, but anything worth having isn’t.

It is challenging.  We fail as often as we succeed.  The hardest part is to not be selfish.  To think of your family members before yourself and to put their needs above your own is extremely difficult, especially in our western society.  Everything around us screams at us to put ourselves first.  We are learning day by day to leave that behind.

Now we are a family of nine, sharing 240 square feet and one toilet. We are way beyond living in a tiny home, we are in a micro home. This forces us into a whole new dynamic and creates challenges for us to overcome. Privacy is nearly impossible, we are constantly tripping over one another and yet we are closer as a family.

We don’t know how long we are going to be living like this, but we are having the time of our lives.

Day 12

We are really enjoying our time here at Elephant Butte.  We can’t get over how beautiful it is here.  I has been great to be stopped for a while and relax.  We are still trying to get our trailer and bus organized so as to make life easier.  I’m sure this will be a work in progress forever.

We enjoyed our coffee outside this morning looking over the lake.  We had visits from some cute fluffy bunnies and the quail.

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The kids named him Peter.

The excitement for today was overflowing our grey water tank.  I had already decided that we needed to go an dump our tanks, but did not realize how badly until the sink in the kitchen wouldn’t drain after doing the breakfast dishes and discovering our bath tub was half full (sigh).  Fortunately it was the grey and not the black, although I’m sure it wasn’t far behind.

Had a great visit with a full-time couple George and Suzie from Canada who gave us some great advice and encouragement. (a link to their blog here: geosuzie.blogspot.com).  We are headed in the same general direction and hope to run into them again.

The park today was much busier as it is the weekend and the weather is so great.  We decided to keep the kids close to the camper today as they had three days in a row of sunshine and swimming and there are some sunburns and general irritability amongst them.  We have one more full day here for sure, but still have the option of staying a few more if we want to.  It would be very easy to just stay here, (Eowyn asked me if we could stay here forever today) but there is so much more out there to go and see.

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The sunset this evening.

Day 11

We are on day 11 of our American Adventure. Currently we are at Elephant Butte Lake Park in New Mexico. It’s a beautiful sunshiny day. This morning we took a walk down to the lake. The kids saw some geckos, lots of quail, rabbits and roadrunners hanging out here too. We’ve chosen to stay here for five days because it is so awesome.

Our journey began October 30 when we left Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. We crossed the US border that day into Montana and ended up camping at an RV park in Glendive Montana. The next day we drove to Sundance Wyoming, past the Devils Tower. That night it snowed and we felt an urgency to move on.

We drove to Douglas Wyoming out of the snow and into strong winds that forced us to stop and get a spot at a KOA campground. It was quite nice, but again we woke up to snow the next morning. We moved on that day all the way through Colorado to Raton New Mexico. Finally, we found warm weather.  It was 20 degrees celcius by 10 o’clock that morning and the kids made some new friends at the playground.  We packed up and drove down to Edgewood New Mexico, where we spent a few days at the Route 66 RV park. We did a little exploring, did some laundry in Alburquerque and rested. We decided to head south from there and ended up here in Elephant Butte Park.

We ended up in the state park by a happy accident.  I had called an RV park in Truth or Consequences to find a place for the night.  They had room so we drove over there.  After I payed, found out that this park was a 55+ park and we would have to keep the kids couped up in the trailer while we were there.  The lady running the office was super friendly and recommended that we try the state park.  We are glad we did.

Going Minimal, Going Mobile

About a year or more ago, both Laurel and I felt a strong urge to sell everything and move into our travel trailer.  As a large family this at first seemed absurd and in the realm of never gonna happen.  As time progressed, our attitudes about it began to change and we began to actively push to achieve this goal.

The first step was to start researching.  To our surprise, we found plenty of other large families living full-time in their RV’s, some larger than ours!  We became avid YouTube followers of several of these families and thoroughly enjoyed their adventures.  We got the “bug” and began to prepare.

We had to become minimalist.  This was by far the hardest step for us to take.  I personally had been hanging onto stuff since my childhood that had no use or value in my life now, but was insanely hard to part with.  But, as with most things in life, the more we parted with things, the easier it became.

We also had to put a hitch on our bus and wire it to pull our trailer.  We bought a trailer in 2010 when we had 4 kids and had hardly used it.  Now we have 7 kids and our life to fit into this thing.  We found space-saving hacks on Pintrest, we actively looked at all we had to determine if it would fit in or if it was even necessary.

Fortunately our kids were all on board for this adventure.  They downsized their own stuff and helped us to do the same.  They had lots of “practice” nights out in the trailer, waiting for the day to come.

So, on September 13, 2017 we set out on our journey.  Our trailer was packed, our bus was full, we waved goodbye to family and hit the highway at last.  Now, two weeks into this trip I am finally able to sit down and write about it.  We’ve had some adventures, we’ve met up with old friends.  We got stuck in a driveway, and enjoyed the journey.

We’ve learned lots already about ourselves, our family and our faith.  Hope to be able to share some of that with all of you.

To be Continued…