My head nods as I work on my computer. The clock on the wall at my mom's house chimes one. I should go to sleep.
But crawling into bed the baby is restless and my mind is active thinking of what else needs to be done before our departure on our Epic Expedition.
We've started many adventures before. The night before my stomach is usually in knots- excited, anxious, nervous.
This time I don't feel any of that. We won't be hauling our luggage to the airport and boarding a plane which will abandon us in a foreign land.
Instead we'll progressively drive out of Homer, a place we've lived for 11 months, and not come back.
Our life will continue as usual- eating, sleeping, reading, writing, playing - we'll just be doing it out of our truck, and changing locations everyday.
Our purpose in taking this trip is to live simply and frugally, to explore and discover the world as a family, and to photograph and write about our journey.
I don't have those butterflies, or feel afraid or uncertain. I'm just calmly confident.
At 3:00 am, our cell phone rings. Greg takes a dear friend to the hospital. Kidney stones.
The first day of our big adventure begins.
At 5:30 a.m. he's at our house collecting the last of our stuff.
Packing. Loading. Finishing the 'lasts' at grandma's house- laundry, baths, smoothies.
The sun shines, it's a beautiful day. Errands. Pictures. Goodbyes. Melancholy, tears, kisses.
Hefting our overloaded trailer onto the truck hitch, we're finally on our way.
The clock reads 2:00 p.m., the odometer registers 98,475, and we have 250 gallons of waste vegetable oil for fuel (giving us a 3,000 mile range thanks to our sponsor) - how far will we travel on this Epic Expedition?
We make it a mile out of town to the overlook of Kachemak Bay and the Homer Spit, for a photo and a potty break.
Back on the road, Jack Johnson sings on our makeshift stereo, "feeling like my life is finally mine...we just continue to drive."
"You better call grandma Sue to tell her we're coming to Utah today," suggests Kimball (5).
Stopping to refuel our veggie tank. Stopping to snap more photos like tourists. Stopping to readjust the tarp on the trailer.
"When are we going on our trip?" inquires Aaliyah (4) who traveled to seven countries by the time she was a year old.
"We're on it!"
"But when are we going on the airplane?"
"We're not taking that kind of trip this time."
The next day she asks, more than once,
"What country are we in?" "Are we in Thailand now?" "Are we in Utah now?"
"No, we're still in Alaska."
The first few days of our trip is a thin line between love and hate - loving the freedom, the adventure, the experience; hating the cold, the clutter, the cramped conditions.
There's a learning curve when venturing to become a nomad - how do you live comfortably in your truck?
We encounter cold and sleepless nights, Alaska size mosquitoes (Alaska has bigger mosquitoes than any third world country- what's up with that?), downpours, dirty clothes, getting lost, incredible vistas, bonding time, wildlife viewing, increased faith, new friends, and living on purpose - spending time doing the things we want to do.
Realizing how much we dislike camping in the cold, and that most campgrounds and attractions are still closed in Alaska in April, we move a little faster through Alaska than we'd planned - despite our original intentions.
Soldotna, Portage Glacier, Anchorage, Denali and Mt. McKinley, then Fairbanks. Only a few more days and we'll cross the border to the Yukon.
When I was asked recently about advice I'd give to others planning big adventures, I said:
The most important part is to plan it, dream it, then do it.
It doesn't matter if you don't know how your dream will ever happen, begin acting as if it will, and one day soon you'll find yourself living it.
We never had all the lights green. There's always a lot of gray and even dark areas.
But if you move ahead, believing that you'll find or make a way to make it happen, all the pieces fall into place, one by one.
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