Monday, June 27, 2011

Exodus Family

When I first stumbled upon the Exodus Family on twitter I was not only impressed with their travel bug ways and the adventurous lifestyle they live, I was truly astonished to hear they do it all with a wee one in tow!

This three person family tackles traveling, hiking, camping, and living as a three person unit. They're fun with tons of personality. Truly great to read about their travels across the US.

Below you will see our interview where the Exodus Family offers tips for getting out as a family and their trip across the States. Don't forget to check out their blog, read about their trip, and check in on twitter. Good peeps I tell ya. Good peeps.

Tell us a little bit about the Exodus family…

Exodus Family came about when Rolf and I first met. We were both nature loving nomadic spirits. We knew we wanted to start a family early in our relationship and we knew we wanted to keep of love of adventure and travel alive. We found out we were pregnant one month before leaving for a ten-week trek through Australia so it was the perfect beginning to “Exodus Family." Rolf loves testing his survival skills, learning about plants and animals, and working on bushcraft. Jen loves trail running, endurance sports, and finding peace in nature. Tayden loves the calmness of nature and learning about all the new textures, scents, sights, and sounds.

Tell us a little bit about what inspires you to bring your son along on your outdoor adventures…

Rolf and I both love being outside, it gives us a sense of freedom and peace. We want Tayden to grow up loving nature just like we did. Furthermore, Tayden is 100% allergic to the indoors! He loves being outside and he too even at his young age finds a calmness in nature. We also believe that a child is able to learn a lot about who they are as a person by being in nature and experiencing life outside.

How long have you both been living this outdoorsy lifestyle?

This is a hard question to put a number to. We both grew up outdoors so we have been enjoying outdoor activities for many years. Rolf has a few years on me and has had some pretty epic adventures, but we both enjoy nature in our own ways. Rolf loves long survival desert hikes and I love being out for exceptionally long trail runs. We both like to test our limits and love to try new outdoor sports. We are definitely novice level in many areas!

Tell us a little bit about Expedition America 2011. What made you decide to do such a big trip?

Rolf and I knew that regardless of parenthood we would still dedicate our time to exploring the world. With the birth of a baby comes changes to exploration, but it is still a possible feat. When Tayden was approaching his first birthday, Rolf and I were making plans for our next big adventure. We needed something that would be an easy transition for Tayden so he would grow to love exploration and something that felt comfortable as a family.

After discussing some ideas and reading Last Child in the Woods, Rolf and I decided the best option was to explore America’s wilderness areas and take this opportunity to bring youth back to nature. Our mission is to inspire, motivate, educate, and empower other families to get outside and explore America.

We realized that so many families dream of far off destinations and they forget the beauty that is in America. America is filled with natural wonders and we felt it would be the perfect setting to introduce Tayden to all there is to see and explore.

To find the ideal route, Rolf and I pinpointed some key areas in the United States that we had to see and explore, we knew we wanted to explore every state over the course of one year, so playing a quick game of connect the dots we found a route that will wind us 37,000 miles throughout the US and take us through all the amazing wilderness areas from Alaska to Maine.

This is by no means a family vacation, it has taken an exceptional amount of time and planning to figure out the best plan as a family and the best way to reach thousands of people so that we can in fact raise awareness, bring support to our charities and partners, and inspire more families to reconnect with nature.

Rolf and I look forward to the families we will meet on the trail, the friendships formed, learning about nature, and teaching Tayden and other kids the value of spending time outside. This is going to be a life changing trip for Exodus Family and one we hope to share with other families across America.

As for the duration of the trip it turned into a year since there are 50 states to cover and 52 weeks in the year, we figured with some extra play in some states and a little less in others we would be looking at right around 1 year to complete this journey. We wanted to make sure we had ample time to really explore different areas that we may never get back to see, spend time with friends and family, meet new friends on the trail, and not feel like we have deadlines that must be met. Most importantly though it is a time for us to reconnect as a family and enjoy every moment together as we learn and experience life and watch Tayden grow.

What is the longest trip you’ve completed as a family to date?

Our longest journey to date was a 10-week trek throughout Australia. We flew to Oz when I was 8 weeks pregnant and spent time in the Outback, Sydney, Perth, Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef, on a deserted island, the Daintree Rainforest, and on a 40’ catamaran. We basically did anything my pregnant body could endure while in Australia. As for our longest journey with Tayden it has been a weekend camping trip when he was 8-months old. This will definitely be the biggest adventure to date.

Often people dream of taking a year off to travel or have a great adventure/trip, but feel like they can’t or shouldn’t leave their full time work. How do you guys balance what you do for work with having fun?

This is a common question for many families who have decided to leave the typical “American dream” to pursue their own dream. Rolf and I have never been people of great needs or wants. We live a pretty simple life, I am a stay-at-home mom, and Rolf works at Whole Foods so there is not much for us to “leave” so to speak. As a family we have to prioritize what is most important to us and exploration and time together is top of our list so we make everything else in our lives work into that type of lifestyle.

We also figure that work will always be there and that our time to travel and explore will be limited.

Any advice or inspiration for families who dream of going on trips like your Expedition America?

Just find your passion, dream and envision what you would love to do, and make it a reality. So many people say “I wish” I could do that and we say “what is stopping you”. The only difference between us and others is that we decided to take the big leap to make our dream a reality. You just have to do it! Make the commitment and go with your heart and dream.

Any tips for families who may just want to try a day trip or an overnight with young children?

If it is your first outing with a young child take it slow, let them learn and explore. As parents don’t have any grand expectations, you may be out for 5 minutes or 5 hours. We have taken many trips that we had big expectations for such as snowshoeing for the day or an overnight camping trip, but when we arrived to our destination, Tayden was not feeling it so we had to go home.

A crying baby just tortures everyone involved so make sure the baby is comfortable and happy, that you have enough extra gear for the kids to stay comfortable, and don’t force anything it will take the fun away from the kids and make them shy away from outdoor adventures.

Also be sure to educate yourself about nature, know the “rules” (how to stay warm, make shelter, find food, bears and wildlife, and any other dangers you could encounter). When it comes to safety you can never have too much food or water. Take the necessities for yourself, but make sure this is a fun trip for all involved and it doesn’t turn into a survival situation.

Just for fun…

If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

Rolf wants to be able to talk to animals. I always thought being a mom was a superpower :-)

Favorite place to camp/hike/paddle/bike?

Colorado is a pretty epic state and has AMAZING trails and views so we are lucky to live in such a great state, but Australia is probably still our number one since it was so unique. Prefer uphill or downhill? We both agree on uphill!

Favorite person to ride/hike/camp with?

Rolf of course! Even though we are married we really do love spending all of our time together.

If you were a piece of outdoor equipment or clothing what would it be and why?

Rolf and I both said hammock. I wish we had different choices, but we both love the idea of being under a beautiful tree with a nice brook flowing beneath us and the sun shining down. Plus we would bring rest to the hikers!

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