My husband and I both grew up on land and have always had it in the back of our minds that we would some day end up doing the same with our family. There was something about the freedom of being able to roam, the sense of autonomy it allows, and the beauty of having nature so accessible that we wanted our children to have a similar experience. However, the busyness of life, college, kids and running a business put us in cities for most of the last nine years and at times it seemed we’d never get away from it.
In an effort to “get away” last summer, we bought an old popup camper and took it up the west coast from San Diego through Washington state and looped back around through Idaho and Utah. It was mostly for pleasure, but we also had it in the back of our minds that we were going to be on the lookout for our dream land. We’d spent so many hours looking at farms online months before, but we knew that, without more context, we’d never actually take anything we were finding seriously. Furthermore, we’d never get that context without visiting these places in person.
We stayed at campsites on the beach, in the Redwoods, in the mountains, and, sometimes, by the freeway. Each landscape helped us to envision life in these different places. We’d watch how our children interacted with each environment we were in and we got to know the practical elements of each area as well, like schools, real estate, people, etc.
One stop happened to be in McMinnville, Oregon. This is the city my brother lives in with his family, his wife being native to the little town of 33,000 people. We were excited to spend time with family, but this was one area we honestly hadn’t even looked at real estate. I guess we felt it was “their town” and we didn’t want to intrude.
Despite our best efforts, day by day, we fell in love. The quaint downtown and charming bookstore, the rolling hills, the friendly people, the slower pace, the trees, the farms, it had so many things we wanted. When my sister-in-law insisted we look at one property before we left, I knew we were in trouble. It was a fixer-upper on ten acres of land right on the edge of town. As we trudged up the property on an old dirt road, looked out on to the valley, our little ones ran from tree to tree, and I knew we were home.
Fast forward four months and we are back, renovating and still salivating over the view, this time for good. Or at least until the next time we “get inspired.” Sometimes our travels pull us out of the context of our daily lives just enough to relax or to give us some new excitement. This is so necessary and good and, holy moly, I want to make that kind of travel happen more often in our family. But, every once in a while, my favorite kind of travel with my family is the kind that is a little quieter and even closer to home, because it has the power to keep us in the context of our daily lives, often inspiring us to totally reinvent what that looks like.