As readers of our regular family blog will know, we are leaving for our big 6 month trip across America in about 2 weeks time. Rather than blogging on our regular blog I have decided to keep a special travel blog that our friends and family can read, and that we can look back on in years to come.
2007 was an extremely strange year for us in many ways, and has ended with the closing down of our beloved CD shop here in the town. Whilst we are sad that this way of life has come to an end for us, we are also excited by the change in our lives. We have both been self employed since the children were born. Whilst this has been a blessing to us in so many ways, it has also been a real tie and burden in other ways. So before deciding what to do with the next few years, we decided to take a 6 month life gap. We had so many ideas of what we could do for 6 months, some more adventurous than others. Dan wanted to spend 6 months at home doing nothing but resting, whilst I wanted to trek across Africa with nothing but a tent and some cooking equipment! After a year of talking and deliberating we decided that the best thing for our family (considering our needs and the ages of our children - 12, 11 and 4) was to take a 4 - 6 month RV trek across America.
We had various reasons for chosing this. Firstly there is no language barrier, which certainly makes things easier when driving a strange and unusual vehicle through unknown terrain. Secondly, it has the facilities in every state to cater for families travelling in RV's. Thirdly, it is possible to hire RVs for long periods of time, for far less money than possible in Europe. And of course America is a beautiful and vast country. It has absolutely everything you could want to see, from mountains, lakes, swamps, to mountains, deserts, snow, and so much more.
Because we couldn't decide whether to close our shop or not, we left the decision to the very last minute, and now I have appoximately 3 weeks to plan and prepare for the trip. As you can imagine, 1 week into it I am starting to lose my marbles. There are roughly 6 million things that need doing before we go, and I have ticked off about 3 million of them so far. But I am glad to say that yesterday we were granted our American travel visa's and have permission to stay longer than the average traveller.
The application process for the 5 non-immigrant travel visa's we needed was phenomenal. The amount of forms, information, proof of funds, proof of just reason to return to the UK that we had to provide took me almost a full week to gather together. I needed letters from the childrens schools proving they were reserving their places until their return. Bank statements, proof we owned a house, and lots lots more. Eventually we made it to the visa interviews in Belfast and met a very nice American man who asked us a few questions about what we do for a living, where we were going, about the kids schools and asked a bit about RV travel. He was kind enough to give us some weather advice and then told us we had the visas.
Dan has finally cleared out the shop premises so now we have the job of packing up the house, leaving it clean, and planning our route, all of which I will talk about in the next few posts. As you can imagine, the feeling in our house at the moment is one of excitement (except from me - its more a feeling of lunatic stress!)