A Major Move & An Opportunity

My family recently undertook an epic road trip – a major undertaking as we made the move from Alaska to Wisconsin. And, if I’m being honest, we’re not quite finished yet as we wait to close on our new home. We did it all ourselves, a departure from our years of military moves, when I happily sipped champagne while the movers did their thing (this was my husband’s idea to keep me out of the movers’ way, and it became a tradition).

My husband went ahead, driving more or less through the night to knock out the 3,500 miles with our pets and worldly possessions as quickly as possible.

I took a more leisurely route. I had a 3.5-year-old after all and believe strongly in sanity breaks. And I had all kinds of great plans to connect with Hike it Baby branches along the route. I joined all the groups well in advance of our trip, reached out to each community for ideas and started making tentative plans.

And you know what? It was fun! I reconnected with a few people who hiked with me when they lived in Anchorage and had some great conversations.

How to Road Trip HiB-style (even if you don’t hike while on the road) by Erin Pennings for Hike it Baby

Gathering Support from our Hike it Baby Community

As time for the road trip approached, however, most of the plans remained tentative. And that was ok, because as I really sat down to map out the hours, the reality was that I had scheduled myself too tightly to make many of them work. But, along the way, we planned to stay with members of our national Hike it Baby community.

And honestly? That was the best part! I love the automatic connection that comes from Hike it Baby. I know that by reaching out, there’s a group of people who love getting their kids outside, who love exploring and we can easily connect over it. In fact, I found that you don’t have to go on a single hike while on a road trip to really enjoy that sense of community. I mean, hiking remains a goal, and it certainly was mine, but there were two things I forgot to factor into my plans: warnings for some bad weather conditions, and just as importantly: my child’s willingness (or lack thereof) to cooperate.

Children necessitate learning how to let go

I’ve written about it before – the art of letting go on a hike with a strong-willed child. But, I needed to re-learn it again, in terms of a road trip. Because as stressful as moving was to me, I had a solid understanding of the end game – the entire plan. And as many times as I tried to explain it to my son, the reality was that he couldn’t quite wrap his head around it. Even still, after we’ve been in Wisconsin for a few weeks, he doesn’t quite understand the concept of the distance we traveled or just how far away our old house is (or even that it now belongs to another family).

A few times during our travels, he broke down and cried that he didn’t want a new house or new friends, and he didn’t like hotels. He just wanted our old house in Anchorage with our animals. And in that respect, I understood his emotions. Completely. Change is hard. And midway through the road trip, “we” decided not to go sightseeing in the Black Hills, but instead to just pressed on to see Daddy. But those few nights when we stayed with our Hike it Baby family, he got to play! With toys and with friends. That sense of normalcy brought back my sunshine boy. Words cannot express how much that continues to mean to me. And it’s all possible because one day over two years ago, we decided to meet up with a group for a hike.

How to Road Trip HiB-style (even if you don’t hike while on the road) by Erin Pennings for Hike it Baby

A new Branch, A new Start

I’ve joined up with a relatively new branch here in Green Bay, and I’m really excited for new friends. Hike it Baby gave me my mommy village. It also gave me some of my closest friends in Anchorage – and we miss them so much. But just as importantly, HiB will prove one of the best ways for us to get involved in our new community here, explore the area and forge new friendships. We plan to make the most of it!

Along the way, Hike it Baby has meant more than just getting outside. It’s meant community and, possibly more important for our family, a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos. And while our HiB-style road trip was a bust in terms of actually getting outside, the friendships made it worthwhile. If I could do it over, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photos courtesy of Ali Chandra and Shanti Hodges

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