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The Dean Family
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Charlie and Kim Dean from Gloucester, VA
daughter Morgan (age 10) and son Chad (age 3)

I met this beautiful family while visiting Sequoia National Park and I was fascinated with their story. Following a "labor dispute" with his former employer, Kim suggested buying an RV and traveling around for a month before he went back to work. She said at the time she was only kidding, but that's exactly what they did (except one month turned into two...)

It made sense to them to take advantage of having the time to do what they never could before. When their time off as a family was dictated by vacations of no more than 2 weeks, they could not travel very far from home. Deciding to live for the day and go back to work later, they had several goals for their family adventure.

They wanted to go from the east to the west coast and dip their feet in the Pacific Ocean. Charlie wanted to see man-made as well as natural wonders, so their destinations included Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Sequoias, Grand Canyon, San Diego, Route 66, South Dakota, and Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

They told me how important frugal RVing is for a family on the road on a limited budget. As an example, they showed me their trip "Atlas" - a US Today weather map. Click on it to see their outlined route.
Now age 10 and in 5th grade, Morgan has been home schooled since grade 3. She says the only bad thing about the arrangement is she gets no snow days off. Her mom says among the good things: not having to be on a school bus at 6:15 - getting home at almost dark and then having homework. She always gets enough rest because she can wake up on her own schedule.
Their home schooling co-op has an extensive support network with varied activities and field trips, so she sees her friends every day. This is quite the talented young lady - she designed and completed this quilt, is an avid "scrapper" logging family memories and photos in scrapbooks and is an active participant in the Presidential Physical Fitness Program. She made a crocheted pot holder for me during their visit and it is now one of my treasured mementoes from the great friends I have met on the road.

The highlight of the trip for the youngest, Chad, was to celebrate his 3rd birthday with a visit with Thomas the Tank Engine for a big event in Perris, CA. However, he did say he also really liked the "Mountain Heads" (Mount Rushmore)

I'm willing to bet this family trip will be the topic of treasured memories for the rest of their lives and I am proud to have known this adventurous group of fine folks.
After we parted ways, they sent these pics of their further travels before returning home. Morgan looks like she's enjoying the treats found at the Thomas the Train festival.
Chad had a blast at what turned out to be a huge event. He was even interviewed by 2 college girls writing for a news channel doing a piece on Educational TV shows, so he's now a TV star!

When I heard from the Deans upon their return, they said, "We keep recommending this trip to our friends, because 2 months out of a lifetime is nothing, and all that stuff at home was there when we got home...Kim wants to go back out, she wanted to leave a week after we got home. As for me I want to go back out, but I have to go back to work, ugh, but we will be back."

I am rarely jealous of families with small children now that my girls are grown, but I would have loved to have this kind of experience with my kids at such an age. What a fantastic family to expose their kids to such terrific learning and life experiences!
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