Written by: Anna Sibal
11/15/2013 9:30 AM
Most parents try to expand their children's horizons as much as they can. Many parents attempt to achieve this by enrolling their kids in summer camps or special classes, or by taking them to out-of-town camping road trips on holidays. Such parents hope that by exposing their kids to new experiences and adventures and to other people much different from them, they'd be teaching their kids important life skills that will serve them well when they grow up.
Troy and Kari Marrs, a Wyoming couple originally from Texas, took this idea and brought it one level up. They have always been fascinated by the idea of traveling full time in an RV and planned to spend their retirement that way. But they also thought that their girls - Kalyn, Hannah and Megan, who were 12, 10 and 8 years old respectively at the start of their great adventure - could use the experience of traveling across the U.S. too.
And so, after almost a year of careful planning, the Marrs family set on their great adventure tour that lasted from December 2011 to February 2013. They documented their travels on their family website and Facebook page.
Planning the Adventure
Coming up with the idea to go on a grand, cross-country adventure is very easy. Taking the steps to make this idea come to life is an entirely different endeavor altogether. For Troy and Kari Marrs, they had two major hurdles they had to overcome before they could set off on their long road trip. One is to find and fund the home-on-wheels that is most suitable for the family's needs. The other is to come up with a plan to home-school their girls so they won't get behind.
The solution to the first hurdle was a tough pill to swallow - selling their home in Laramie, Wyoming and getting rid of their possessions. As Troy stated in his blog "We had a beautiful home that we remodeled ourselves making it perfect for our family. Our master bedroom and a big sunroom overlooked a perfect view of the snowcapped mountains." For Kari, it was an ordeal to go through their stuff, organize them and put them in storage.
Addressing the second challenge turned out to be much easier for them. Kari is a teacher in the public school system, licensed to teach in both Texas and Wyoming. Moreover, the prospect of homeschooling is not new to them. Until a couple of years before the family undertook their grand adventure tour, Kari homeschooled the kids. So it was only a matter of letting the girls engage in as many school activities as they can, as these activities would be something they'd miss once they embark on their journey.
Home on Wheels
After solving their two major challenges, the Marrs got to the task of finding the RV that will serve as their home-on-wheels for the rest of the year. They had a number of choices, but they eventually settled on a used 2003 Monaco Executive 43DS Motor Coach. They were the second owners of this RV unit.
Of course, they had to do a number of modifications to their new RV to make it a perfect home. Among the changes they made was transforming the bonus room that the Monaco coach comes with from a walk-in closet to a triple bunk room for the girls. This particular task was a two-day DIY endeavor that got Troy installing bunk beds and storage space for the sisters.
Other modifications included making the RV more energy-efficient. Troy had 400 watts of solar panels installed on the RV's roof and replaced the RV's existing interior lighting with low-wattage LED and fluorescent lights. Thus, the Marrs family's home on wheels became self-contained, allowing them to stay comfortable even while boondocking.
The Great Adventure Tour
So, finally, on December 2011, shortly after Christmas, the Marrs family set out from Laramie, WY.
The family first went East and visited places like Graceland in Memphis, TN; the Science Museum in Mobile, AL; and the Smithsonian and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. They also had quite the fun in Florida, going to Disney World, swimming with the manatees, exploring the Everglades, watching the butterflies at Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, going on a NASA tour at Cape Canaveral, among others. They visited a number of National Parks and Federal Public Lands such as Hot Springs National Park. They stopped at New York, saw the 9/11 Monument and caught a performance of Godspell on Broadway. They even went to see the glaciers in Alaska.
Except for a few northeastern states and Hawaii, the Marrs family was able to cover the US map on their great adventure tour. Aside from sightseeing and learning more about the history, geography and diverse cultural heritage of the country, the girls learned a few fun skills along the way. The elder girls, Kalyn and Hannah, were encouraged to keep their own blogs, where they posted about their adventures and uploaded photos and videos. The girls discovered the responsibility of caring for a new family dog. The family also met other full-time RVing families who, like them, thought it would be a better educational experience to go on long, cross-country road trips in RVs.
Here is a short video the family made to showcase the highlights of their tour:
The Adventure Comes to an End
Just like any road trip, the Marrs family's great adventure tour had to come to an end. The end came on February 2013. After more than a year on the road, the family decided to settle in Houston, TX, a city the family once called home and where they have relatives. They sold their RV and went back to being landowners again.
You can read more about the Marrs family's Great Adventure Tour on their website and Facebook page.
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