Great Expectations… It’s not going according to plan!!

I started writing this blog a week and then a month after arriving to town. Now at 3 months in we have even more perspective on uprooting from Mesa, Arizona and moving across the country to Brevard, North Carolina. It’s been quite a ride so far. Here is how moving to town started out…


Beautiful horse and view at NM rest stop


So the ride across the country was fast and good. We threw in some fun family experiences like Meow Wolf (a trippy art museum for all ages) in Santa Fe, NM, playing catch in a field in the tiny postage stamp town of Adrian, TX off route 66, playing in the water on the Wibit at Eufaula, OK (the water was sooooo hot it kept feeling like we were swimming into people’s pee) and having a meal at Braums’s ice cream and burger place, but after that it was too hot and humid and we booked it. Actually we had a memorable dinner at Village Inn in Arkansas where we learned about “frogging”, “noodling” catfish and that cow tipping was real (not just a funny scene in the movie Cars).

Then we booked it. Drive, drive, drive!!


Filled in the lower 48 states!!


When we crossed back into North Carolina we were in the Appalachian Mountains. It was so exciting. We were cheering all as a family. As we rolled into Brevard it was amazing to be back. But then as we turned onto the street where we were renting a house out everything starting going wrong. The first street was too narrow to turn down and the second one looked too steep. We tried to come at it from a different angle, I yelled, we measured and in the end we couldn’t drive up the hill. It was such a let down.

What should have been a joyous return to Brevard became a mad dash to unpack what we thought we immediately needed before the sunset. Imagine our not so happy children (including our 5 year old) taking bags up a too steep hill to our rental home while the RV sat in the country road with hazards on for 1 1/2 hours. We pulled mattresses right out of the RV, food, clothing, toiletries and minimal toys. The landlord was very understanding and our saving grace. He helped us move some items and even let us park our RV until we could “work something (else) out”. Google maps and a Facebook Messenger video chat with the landlord wasn’t enough to prepare us and avoid this unfortunate situation that we didn’t fit. Our vision was that we would roll into town and slowly unpack over the next few days. Nope! it’s now people. Move, move, move!!

After that first crazy night reacting to our new temporary home we started focusing on the next step. James walked to town and bought a kitchen table and chairs from a moving sale. Then we bought our bikes in town at a local bike shop call Next Venture. Now we were mobile. Because remember we moved to town with no car, now no RV close by and only two bikes had survived our trip around North America the year before we only had our feet.  So getting a fleet of bikes locally felt amazing and got us where we needed to go much faster.


Thrift Shopping for back to school on bike-so many great finds

The third day was our friends’ son’s birthday party at the local park. Several of us just had our bathing suits get warn out so, I took a chance and scored cute ones from the local thrift shop and arrived in style. It was so great to be greeted by our first Brevardian friends at the pool on a hot day in July.


After that is was a mixture of OMG there are cockroaches in the house (Thank you landlord for paying for that to be fixed!!) and more responsibilities. I registered all the kids for public school. We went to the library to connect with our friends there and got invited to Oscar Blues Brewery and to hear live music. It was another beautiful summer night out.


So thankful our strong kids can ride the 6 miles round trip to Oskar Blues Brewery

After that I confidently got hired on as a caregiver in town which ended up being a bad fit for me. After about three weeks I was done and looking forward to jobs that would fit our lifestyle better and would use my Psychology degree.

Our Argentina friends told us they were pregnant and we all realized that our trip down there for an extended holiday was not going to workout this time. Noooooo! This was another huge disappointment, but realized that.  There is a silver lining here. We decided to dig deeper into our community from the get go.

After suffering through a lot of starts and stops with our great expectations not going according to plan my friend asked me on the day of the Total Eclipse here in town, Yvette, why do you have a positive attitude through this? How do you have the vision to know that it will be all okay? It was a great question. I really was biking through town with a smile on my face even though we were away from the RV, I had my job fall through, bugs needed to be killed in the rental and things just hadn’t fallen junto place as expected. I said that I am blessed with extended supportive family. I know that you don’t need much to be happy and things will turn around. This is why I love to give my time and money to others. Many don’t have it as good as us.20170811_071135.jpg


The kids making eclipse art at the farmer’s market in town

Now with three months in town and even one trip out of town under our belt the dust has settled. We are in another new place and have a new dog. I will have to write a separate blog just for that. Job hunting continues on for me, but James has found a full time job since moving here. I am really glad I stayed positive through all the bumps when we first rolled into town. My family needed it.




We are moving… eek!

I can’t sleep tonight because we are moving. In 10 days we will be heading to a family reunion in our RV. After all that fun then we are gathering up the rest of our gear and heading east. I kept thinking I had until later on this month to finish up things with my in-laws we are staying with, but no. We are moving in 10 days!

I have moved a lot I my life. I changed schools every few years when I lived in Massachusetts. When I was 12 my parents relocated my little brother and I to Scottsdale, Arizona. When I was 18 and off to college I moved 5 times in two years before marrying James and moving into our newly purchased home together. James also is no stranger to moving. He lived in Saudi Arabia during his elementary school years. And traveled between three sets of parents due to divorce and remarriage once back in the states.

With our children the moving cycle continued. We changed schools for Dylan every year to help find the best fit for him until we decided to homeschool him and his siblings.

When we hit the road last year in our RV we moved A LOT. We did not stay anywhere too long. We were on the road every few days constantly moving.

James and I are no strangers to moving, but what we are about to do we have never done before. We are uprooting from our parents and siblings and moving across the country to “stay”. I say it in air quotes because we are travelers now. We’ve got the bug and it is going to stay inside us.

I am nervous and scared, well maybe scared is too strong of a word… I am laying here worried about so much: setting up utilities in our new rental house, becoming registered voters for the state of NC, getting a new job in a new field of work (I am going to become a caregiver), keeping health insurance,   registering the kids for school, making friends and becoming engaged with our new community. And we are going to do it without any handholding from parents like in the past!

We are going to hug family goodbye without knowing when we will see them again.




Following our gypsy hearts is going to be so good, sad, exciting, worrying and inspiring to others.

Wish us luck that I/we can be present these next 10 days in anticipation of the move. We have a lot on our minds and on our plate!




Cleaning up in Ashland… with the Fays

One year ago we met up with a family that dared to live in an RV like us on the road… for the 3rd time. We met the Fays on the beach of California. We both were visiting family/friends that couldn’t accommodate our large crew at their homes so we parked front row on the beach just three spots away from eachother.  It didn’t take long for us to meet eachother and connect.

Next thing we knew we were in Yosemite National Park together hiking with our combined 10 children and it was great!


Well this post is about our third time meeting up. We reconnected in Ashland, Wisconsin. We got to see Krista’s father’s church where we got the opportunity to give back and feed the less fortunate of their congregation. We also were even invited to pick out items from the churches massive closet for our growing children.

When we walked around town the good fortune continued. There happened to be free ice creams being handed out at the awesome historic bank. The bankers treated the kids and gave them a tour of the vault.


kids curbside with ice cream at the bank

Then another day we were walking from the church to the beach dressed to swim with the Fay kids and a man came up to us needing help. His boat had started drifting back into Lake Superior. Well, you know James lives for moments like this. We walked right into the water and retrieved his boat. As a thank you he jetted us across the lake to meet our friends. It was the coolest entrance ever to approach lake side as opposed to sandy beach side. Krista didn’t believe it was us until we were 10 feet in front of her!

In town we also bought the vinyl for what would become our #wanderingbrooks sticker for the side of the RV and scored some killer deals at the thrift shop. Like $.50-$1 prices! Krista and I both have a love for good deals with all these kids we have to clothe.

But, probably my favorite time was when we got our kids to bed and then stayed up by the fire and talked together as couples about what was important to us in life and sharing our stories from the past. These kinds of moments really recharged my battery. These are the times that I really craved while on the road with my husband and 4 kids.

It’s kinda funny that our lives are so similar. We didn’t just have our 7th child like them, but we both have sold/are selling our permanent home that we were renting last year on the road. And we are both hitting the road again/soon in our RVs.


Ricky installing our hammock

Ricky is a contractor and they are hitting the road flipping houses. They are hoping to move to Missouri or Tennessee, but are flipping houses as a means of income and to be together and teach their children really important life skills. We are chillin in Northern Arizona to escape the heat and wait out a family reunion, but are relocating to the bikeable/walkable town of Brevard, NC to live the life that is important to us. We are getting approved now for land out there to remodel an old home into the home of our dreams. We can’t wait to meet and play again with these fellow “crazy” RVers and just bask in the life living simply.

Until next time friends!!



Boquillas Crossing- the perfect little Mexican Adventure

James and I heard on the radio that there was a spot in Big Bend National Park, Texas where you could cross the Rio Grand River in a rowboat to get to Mexico. We looked at each other and said we HAVE to do that!

The night drive to the boundary of the park was great. I saw many bunnies scurry across the road, deer and even a golden eagle sitting in the middle of the street. I carefully slowed the RV to a stop as he looked at me from over his shoulder and then decided it was best he fly off.

The next day as we drove into the park we saw a javelina rooting around on the side of the road. We hiked, explored ruins and dinosaur bones in the brand new fossil exhibit. It is a must see. One fossil is a replica of pre-historic alligators that were 20 feet long!

If you decide to take on this quick adventure like we did plan to stay overnight. The stars out there are amazing.  Bring clothes for hiking in Texas and cash for spending in Mexico.


This area of the country used to have a translucent border, but when 9/11 happened in 2001 the border was closed. It was terrible for the people of Boquillas. The closest Mexican town to them is 250km away. The culture and livelihood there for many hundreds of years depended on the ability to cross over the Rio Grande River whenever. The border opened back up in 2013 and the towns people are eager to have it stay this way.




We crossed the river in a rowboat and then had two options: walk the mile into town or take a donkey. We went for the fun option.




I was so excited on the donkey that I was quoting the movie Shrek and didn’t notice for the first 1/4 of a mile that we had a guide. He walked behind the donkeys the whole way to keep them in line. Then he tide them to a tree on the outskirts of town. If the donkeys had wanted to they could have easily yanked and gotten free, but they seemed happy enough to wait for us.


We walked into town and had a choice of two restaurants. We ate at the one on the right and chatted with our guide. There was no menu. We had a few choices between tacos. We also had a few beers and sodas to choose from. All of it was delicious and inexpensive! We asked about the historical commerce of the town. He said candelilla wax producers which we had to go back and research later.


This is not locally desired now. The town is completely dependent on tourism.

Since we were travelling with our children we asked about the school. We learned that there are thirty-three children that go to the one room schoolhouse. There is only one teacher so he teaches in shifts. The younger kids attend in the morning and then the older ones swap in later. When we were allowed in to visit we saw kids playing with a ball while others were being taught inside. Our kids were fascinated and sad to see their broken playground equipment.

We finished our tour talking about their newly gifted solar panels. Our guide said that they were a big help to the town that he was proud of. They used to have a windmill, but it had been damaged from too much wind.

When we rode the donkeys back it was the end of the day and many donkeys had already been taken back home. We saw one being “walked” while the owner held his reign and drove along carefully next to him. It was a site to see. Then we got to the river and saw the rowboat loaded up with groceries from Texas. Since the town’s in Texas are closer Mexican citizens with Visas bring home groceries and gas for the town every weekend. Can you imagine and see how fragile this town is now with a closed border?

As we said our goodbyes I got a hug from a chatty local named Thomas who had also visitef with us earlier at the restaurant and he told me he loved me. I told him we had a great time and we were excited to tell others about our experience.

So, go see Thomas and have your own little adventure in Mexico too!




Recycling on the Road

I love recycling. It hurts me to throw items that could be recycled into the trash while we travel, so I haven’t for 10 months. Yes! You can travel and recycle. I am going to tell you how we do it.

The secret is I wash my recycling out right away so I can keep it in a storage bag under the RV whenever recycling isn’t near me. This part is critical because if you are carting around rotting food in a plastic bag under the RV on a hot day you can only imagine the stench.

Then you wait with an ever watchful eye as to where to drop off. Here’s a list:

  • National Parks are great at recycling. Really great, like some even compost.
  • Friends’ Houses!!-Yeah, don’t be afraid to ask, even new friends

The rest is a list of hit or miss depending on where you are in the country

  • Rest Stops
  • Gas Stations
  • RV campgrounds
  • Grocery stores
  • City Parks

I usually can drop items off every two to three days. But we just went through an area where it was challenging to recycle. We held onto our items for three weeks. If you fold and smush you can do it! I was really challenged in my recycling faith and almost gave up. We called recycling businesses that turned us away for not being a paying customer, grocery stores that would remove “outside” items from their bin and we were turned away from a recycling center because we weren’t residents. Thank you to Fayette County Recycle Center in La Grange, Texas for accepting my items (including old batteries!) Your friendly service was really refreshing. We feel so much lighter and happy about not making a lot of trash!

The pic below is from the last time we had to hold onto something awhile. In Yellowstone National Park and they had a huge lot for dropping off items. It was glorious!


In between recycling opportunities if you have kids like me you can always do a recycled arts craft with them to kill boredom and give your items a second use.

When we first started out I asked a seasoned RV-er and they said, “Just throw it in the bin. Everyone else does.” It didn’t sit well with me, so I started doing like I did back at home-sorting my trash and recycling. And I haven’t looked back.


I hope this helps you on your next trip!

Oops!… Did I do that?!

So recently I broke a mirror with my butt. Yeah… Let me tell the whole story.

My mom was flying into Seattle to meet us on our road trip. It was our first time since we left Arizona that we would get to see her. Mom and I had never been apart from each other for this long (five months), so it was a big deal. Usually we see each other two or three times a week.

I was rushing around to clean the RV and prep for our first overnight guest when the accident happened. I lifted up the queen size mattress to access the storage underneath when my left hand slipped and it forced me back. I hadn’t fully slid out the two feet that our master bedroom can extend to so I got squished between the mattress and closet behind me.  I heard a “crack” and I knew what I had done right away. I sighed, turned around and saw a huge break in my closet mirror door. Gah!

What to do!?… So at first there was discussion to just tape the crack to prevent spreading and leave it at that, but that didn’t sit well with me. The next day I saw Cash tumble on my bed and almost kicked the mirror. I said to myself, “That’s it. It’s coming out!” James was out working, so I looked through his tool box (which I never do) and got to work.


The crack!!



Dylan and I looking at how the crack distorts my face

I was able to carefully remove the glass all still in tact and flip the backing around so that the door still had a covering.


All fixed

(Since then I have actually taken the backing off since it was flimsy without the mirror and now we have easier access to our jackets.) I am brilliant!

Needless to say James was impressed, my Aunt Connie joked that I was literally a “hard ass” which I found hilarious and I was mostly proud of myself for fixing my silly mistake on my own.

That was my “Oops” story! If you have any I would love to hear them. Comment back or reply on my Facebook wall.






Goldilocks Town

Our logo on the side of our Damon Daybreak RV says, “Wandering Brooks- 1 year, 4 kids, endless possibilities…” This blog is about that last part. In the last seven months as we have traveled around the US and Canada and have reconnected with family and met new friends I finally allowed my heart and mind to move. Yes, move. We are leaving Arizona after my 23 years in the Valley and James’24. But where you say?! We don’t know and we would like your input.

Let’s me tell you a little bit about why we would like to leave the desert. Arizona is ranked number 48, towards the bottom for education. Our kids are 12, 10, 8 and 4 so we would really like to get them in a better state for learning.

As we traveled in the National Parks this year whenever there was a river, ocean, lake or snow James and the kids could not wait to get in. We actually bought a kayak while we were in Michigan. It’s blowup so it fits right under the RV for storage. It’s been so fun. Then when we were up in the mountains there was sometimes snow (even in the summer). James and the kids would change course to run and grab some for snowball fights or building snowmen.

Another amazing side effect of traveling away from the desert has been my soft skin. I have eczema and so does Dylan. Since I have been in Arizona so long I literally have not felt my skin feel so good as an adult. I couldn’t believe it and the farther away we drove this summer the more I would rub my hands in amazement.

James and Dylan have asthma. It’s so bad in AZ that our pediatrician walked around with samples in his pockets to show young parents what daily and emergency medicine they would need to administer to their children.

Now the fun stuff. We need your help! We want a state with seasons, a small town, good schools, affordable living, eco friendly, diverse population, bike friendly and ideally “near” family and friends. We are not getting rid of the RV after this year of travel so we can always drive to events. We are looking to buy a 4 bedroom home, but don’t need large rooms or a large yard this time. We want to be able to garden and have dogs and chickens again, but not necessarily a game of kickball in the backyard. There’s always the park for that. We love local parks.

We have been taking online tests, asking friends/family and we are now driving to towns that we are starting to consider. We head out from Maryland tomorrow. So if you know of a town in the mid-atlantic on down please show it out. Help us find our next home!

Goldilocks Town search- not too big, not too small, just right.

Love, James and Yvette


Not so happy campers… and how to prevent them

Traveling with four kids across the country is challenging even when things are going well. I’ve been snapping pictures of my unhappy campers and learning along the way how to make the most of this trip. Here are some lessons I have learned:

Alora needs to have space from her brothers sometimes.20160629_112144

James needs time to fiddle and fix uninterrupted.


Sometimes I just don’t want to be shopping at Walmart and that’s okay.


When we make big travel changes and don’t tell Alora, she hates that. Now we keep her involved in the conversation. This was her after we decided not to do Alaska this trip.


Sometimes life overwhelms James and he has a tantrum. In that case he just needs to be left alone until he can be reset.


Dylan doesn’t like hiking. He will revolt in the cold and rain. Just don’t do it. It’s hard to notice him frowning in this photo because the scenery was so beautiful, but we decided to pick our battles and went back to the RV to wait out the rain.


Cash pushes buttons and will continue to do so. It’s part of what makes him great. Siblings beware.

20160717_171218 (1).jpg

Alora is a beautiful crocodile tear crier. This was because kids destroyed her building on the beach. She REALLY loves to play in water. If you are taking her to the beach you better let her get wet and play for a long time. Otherwise just keep moving down the road.


And this is the only staged photo. All others were intense moments during parenting. Whatever it is that makes your campers unhappy learn it, remember it, respect it and avoid it when possible. You will have a much better vacation because of it.




As James, the kids and I travel about in the RV we have had a lot of trouble with the radio. It does not know how to scan, so we have to click repetitively and slowly to find a clear station. And when we do find a station it does not stay clear for very long because we are traveling. We also travel with only one cd which has about an hour of Zumba music on it and can’t stream music because it would eat up our data too fast. Gah!

I have noticed that there are vast areas across the US that have no radio signal or just a few stations. When we did pick something up it was most likely country or christian. It’s a good thing I have developed an ear for country music. “Hunting, fishing, lovin’ everyday…” I have listened to A LOT of Country music since we started traveling. It’s to the point now that our Argentinean friends playfully tease me and know if a country song is on they need to crank it up for me.

I also really enjoy listening to National Public Radio, which is really hard to find in rural areas.  I was telling family about my radio problems when it hit me about what this means. VAST POPULATIONS AROUND THE US ONLY LISTEN TO COUNTRY AND CHRISTIAN RADIO. Let’s think about this for a moment…

“Shut Up and Dance!!!”

I have always lived in the city where I have had access to a many radio stations.

“Give it away, give it away, give it away now…”

If I had lived in a place with no radio or only one or two choices I would be different.

“Work, work, work, work, work…”

I love listening to the radio for news and music.

“That girl is poison…”

I have a lot of genres that I enjoy.

“Dame mas gasolina…”

What do you think about this? I mean really… how are people going to get an appreciation for Hip Hip, Reggaeton, Michael Jackson (yes, he’s his own category) if they can’t even hear it?

James said to me that “young people don’t listen to the radio”, but I said nah! They do,…right?! So with my BA in Psychology spirit I decided to take a small survey of my relatives that fit the age group of “young people”, 12-21 years old.

Here’s the question I asked and how it went:

“Hey. I’m doing research for my blog and I was wondering if you could answer two quick questions for me. Do you listen to the radio? If so, what type of music do you listen to?”

Well guess what!?… The results came back 50/50. Half of my young relatives listen to the radio/ half use other methods like iTunes and Pandora and YouTube. Interestingly enough only one person listened to country like me. And if we are talking about the breakdown of geographic location all lived in major cities. So, if I were to run this survey again I would ask the same questions, but ask “young people” in areas where radio choices were slim. Now that would be interesting! 🙂

Let me know yours thoughts.




Chicago Linchpin

Life presents you with opportunities. You can’t control anything in life except how you react to those moments…

Chicago started out great. We had a personal tour guide around Lincoln Park Zoo, with our friend’s dad, Rick. I approached armed with my Phoenix Zoo Reciprocal Membership card ready to see what discount I would receive on tickets only to be pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s a free zoo paid for by private donors! Our guide was so patient with our kids and questions. We saw a sloth and hippo up close for the first time! After the zoo we thanked Rick and our adventure began.

We knew we wanted to eat Chicago Style deep dish pizza and see “The Bean”. Besides that we were up for wandering. We got an Uber and stumbled upon a free blues concert. The venue was large, grassy, beautiful and everyone seemed to be having a good time. We decided to get closer, and closer, and squirmed up to the front to sit. James, our son, was the the most quiet and appreciative of the performance. We have never taken the kids to a blues show before. Daddy James and I could not believe how amazing the band was.


I liked Lee Fields & The Expressions on Facebook immediately and sat through the encore and then finally we were on our way to The Bean. That was cool. Copa America was also going on so we saw a bunch of excited football/soccer fans shouting the “Ole” song below us. Then we were drawn to fountains that were large, had images of peoples faces that would spout out water and there was a model photo shoot going on around them. I mean really… Chicago had so much culture going on!!

After one kid falling into the fountain and multiple annoying trips to the bathroom because that’s what happens when you roll with 4 kids and a lot of walking when ended up at Giordano’s, a Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza restaurant! We got our table, selected the pizza we wanted, cringed when we saw it took 45 minutes to cook and then looked at our watches. It was 10:30pm and we were supposed to get back to our RV by 11pm because of parking.

We stared into each other’s eyes and decided at the same time “Fuck it”. We have since described this as our “Linchpin Moment”. This is when we really started embracing the adventure, stopped trying to control everything and see what comes our way. We had a super yummy dinner. Two kids fell asleep before the pizza came. We carried them out to the Uber after dinner and the older two dragged their feet behind us. We were able to safely get back to our RV and uneventfully drive out early the next morning once the gates were open again.

Deciding to enjoy the moment was the linchpin.  It caused a series of changes in our plans and we ended up parking in a truck marshalling parking lot.  James took a walk around the parking lot to find the safest path to bike to city sights. While walking, James saw another RV in the lot and he glimpsed some kids bouncing around in the front. He just kept walking but then he saw their bikes and thought, maybe they’re traveling like us.  As he walked up toward their RV, a man stepped out.  He had seen James walk by and thought “I must meet this man.”  It turns out they are another family traveling in an RV, like us. They are only towing bicycles, like us. They have 4 kids (3 boys, 1 girl) like us. They work from the road, like us. They blog, like us. They homeschool, like us. And most freaky of all they started traveling for a year with their family April 1st just like us!!


The next few days we played around Chicago together and James really connected with Juan, the father. We spoke a lot of Spanish since they are from Argentina originally and Cata and the kids are still learning. It was fun and tiring to think all day in Spanish and to compare travel experiences. When we parted ways to drive to our previous commitments it was too soon and sad.


Here is all of us riding out to see the Chicago sights

We went to the Blues Festival & enjoyed free samples of pizza that came with mustaches!


Cooling off in a fountain


That linchpin moment has changed everything.  I write this to you now as we are about to reconnect with our friends again 6 1/2 weeks later (it’s been too long!) so we can travel together.

Our adventurous spirit brought us to a great family that is fun and we will continue to make memories with as we wander west. I am so glad we decided to sit and eat that pizza in Giordano’s.