Why would one Owensboro family pack up seven people’s worth of luggage in a 6 x 12 trailer and embark on a six-month road trip across America?
The idea originated as a chance for mom and dad, Marilyn and Brad, to visit churches and promote their new endeavor, Grace Marriage Coaching, while traveling the country and making family memories they will never forget.
Still, Brad admits it took some convincing.
“I told him, we can go as a family. You can write (for the Grace Marriage program) while we’re on the road and we can see the country as a family,” Marilyn said.
Her other reasoning was that the two oldest Rhoads kids, Madeline and Kate Bradley, will be off to college in a few years and this might be the only chance the whole family could do something like this together.
The real question became, “Why not?”
So after a lot of planning, Brad conceded and the Rhoads’ set out on January 1.
The general plan is to stay in one place for a week and take day trips from home base. Ideally, they rent a house, stay with friends or family along the route, camp in a national park, or stay in a hotel as a last resort. “With seven of us, we need two hotel rooms. It’s actually cheaper to rent a house through VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner),” Marilyn explained.
When Owensboro Living caught up with the Rhoads’ this week, the family was in Flagstaff, Arizona. In the first two months, Brad says he’s put 7,700 miles on their vehicle.
The youngest three are being home schooled during the trip, while Madeline and Kate Bradley are virtual students at DCHS. “Daviess County has just been incredible,” Marilyn commented. “They really worked with the girls and scheduled the fall semester purposefully so their spring semesters would have classes that are easier to cover online.”
The daily schedule is school work in the morning, sightseeing in the afternoon.
So far, a few of their adventures include hanging out at the beach in January, going to an NBA game, snow tubing, hiking to a volcano, visiting family and friends, taking tours of college campuses, and snow skiing.
The day before our phone call, Marilyn and Madeline hiked seven miles almost straight down into the Grand Canyon and 10 miles back up on the return route. Although they were both very sore, Marilyn described it as the prettiest hike she’s ever done.
What’s it like to travel for six months?
Madeline says the time has gone by fast. She had a lot of fun in Florida and she especially liked Big Bend National Park in Texas, but she has really enjoyed their stay in Flagstaff.
Kate Bradley says it’s been a lot of fun, but she’s starting to miss her friends a lot. Her favorite part so far has been the Grand Canyon or snow tubing.
Brad noticed that Matthew (9) has turned his sister, Rachel (5), into a basketball fan, watching games together and trading basketball cards. (Read the blog from Feb. 26 for more about that.)
Marilyn called their time together priceless. “Our oldest is 16 and our youngest is 5. At home, we’re all running different directions all the time. So all of us being together is definitely my favorite part.”
Brad says the trip has exceeded his expectations by far. He is continuing to write and develop the program during down time, but the Grace Marriage board advised Brad and Marilyn to ease back on church visits during this trip. “We are leading a marriage retreat in Washington state, which we booked before we left, but the board decided I should focus on my family and becoming a better father and husband through this trip, which I’m very grateful for.” That way, the program can grow more organically, they said.
The result is even more family time.
“This has been a unique benefit as a father to be around our kids all the time like this. I’ll probably spend more time with them collectively these six months than the rest of their lives combined,” Brad said, letting the realization of what he just said sink in. “So, I’m very thankful to the Lord that he gave us this opportunity. And I’m glad I gave in to Marilyn and finally agreed to do this. It’s been an amazing experience.”
Follow the Rhoads’ adventures on their blog at rhoadsfamilyadventure.com.
Read more about Grace Marriage here.