The Gordon family is Stu, Anne, Sage, Alena and Jacob. We’re from Bend, Oregon, USA. In spring 2013, we sowed the seed of an idea to travel the world as a family, visiting places that had always intrigued us. We started with a lot of questions about an epic trip like this, and not many answers. The hurdles and obstacles seemed enormous. Our to-do-list grew like Jack’s beanstalk. But the idea had a life of its own, and slowly we chipped away at that list until we made it happen. We’d like to share with you some of the things we learned along the way as well as the excitement of new people and places we encounter during the coming year.
Stu is a professional photographer who specializes in landscape and travel photography. You can view his images on his website: www.chasingthelight.zenfolio.com. He will be posting some images to our website as we travel, but the vast majority of his photographs from this trip will not be edited until we return home in June 2015.
Anne is a life coach and writer. She is combining her love of family, travel and coaching into writing a book about the RTW trip, which she began in Nov. 2013. She says the book really started when the family decided to make the trip. It tracks what the experience has been like for her, as a mother and coach, to plan and take an epic journey with her family. It is a travel memoir that celebrates personal transformation and the theme of “home.” “Home” being “wherever you are.”
Sage is 13 at the start of our RTW and is just completing 7th grade at Cascade Middle School in Bend. He is passionate about sports, especially basketball. He played on 3 basketball teams this last year. Although he’s sad about missing his 8th grade basketball season, he’s excited to be hitting the road and seeing new places in the coming year. He’s always been a great traveler. When he was two year’s old he practically slept with his backpack on when he knew we were boarding a plane early the next day. Sage is threatening to carry his basketball around the world. Knowing his determination, we wouldn’t put it passed him.
Alena is about to turn 10 at the end of July. She’ll be celebrating her birthday in Stratford Upon Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace in England. In June she will have completed her 4th grade year at Amity Creek Elementary in Bend. She loves art and caring for animals. She is infatuated with Paris (so are a lot of others, for that matter). She’s really looking forward to getting her hair done at a Paris salon and doing some shopping with her mom. Initially we didn’t have Paris on our itinerary. When Stu told her we weren’t going to Paris, you’d think her world just came to an end. In tears, she told her mom, “Dad said we’re not going to Paris.” Anne realized at that moment Paris had to be added to the itinerary. After all, she is the family’s budding artist.
Jacob is 8 years old and in June will finish the second grade at Amity Creek Elementary in Bend. Jacob loves music, dancing, playing video games and anything that has to do with the military. He’s hoping to find someplace to play paintball on our RTW journey.
Anne’s niece Jacquelyn Little will be traveling with us to help homeschool the children. Jacquelyn is from Glen Ellen, California, and graduated from Santa Clara University in June 2014 receiving a Master’s Degree in Education. Jacquelyn is a natural born teacher, and we are so fortunate to have her traveling with us. She is fluent in spanish and loves to travel. In fact, she was going to take a year off to travel after she graduated, so it was a perfect match to have her come with us! She will be meeting up with us the first week of August in Paris!
We have always shared a love for travel and believed that travel can be transformative. We took our first big trip in the spring of 2002 with our son Sage, who at the time was 18 months old, when we flew to Japan to study the martial art Aikido for 6 weeks in rural Japan. We were immersed in the culture and the language and loved it. It was an experience we will never forget.
In 2003, a year before Alena was born, we purchased a Winnebago RV so that we could have an easy way of traveling with young children. Our goal was to visit at least one new National Park each year in the Western United States. We visited Olympic National Park in Washington State, Yellowstone National Park and Teton National Park in Wyoming, Crater Lake in Oregon, and Redwood National Park in California. In summer of 2013 we were en route to Glacier National Park and were within 2 hours of the park when we ran into RV trouble and unfortunately had to turn around and come home.
Over the last 10 years we’ve also been to numerous forested and recreational areas in the western United States and Canada including: Big Sur, CA, Eastern & Southern Oregon, Oregon Coast, Mt. Shasta, CA, Victoria, BC and Vancouver Island, BC.
Alena has celebrated all but two of her birthdays on the road in a new location every year. We have created so many memories together over the last 10 years in our “FUN BUS” (our RV’s license plate) that at first it was a hard decision to trade it in to help pay for a trip around the world. Jacob, in particular, was so sad when we told him we had to sell it, that he would think of creative ways that we could keep it, like lemonade and garage sales. We won’t be surprised if he gets his own RV someday…
During those long road trips we discussed how we could do more extensive travel with our children. It was a conversation we revisited over and over again whenever we encountered a family or friend who just took a great trip with their children or when we read about families traveling in the National Geographic Traveler, Afar or Travel & Leisure magazines.
We have always wanted to do extended travel with the children when they reached the right age, but we felt restricted by their school schedule. We couldn’t fit in the types of trips we wanted to do abroad and have them coincide with the the school year. Also, we wanted to take this trip before Sage entered high school because he wants to play high school sports, especially basketball. So if we wanted to make our dream a reality we recognized that we would need to homeschool the children and complete the trip before the fall of 2015.
Through our travels we want to deepened our bond as a family. We want to create life-long memories together. We want our children to experience what it’s like to be natural learners, to be naturally curious about the world around them, and the joy that brings with it. We want them to learn without even realizing they’re being taught.
We are looking forward to seeing how this trip might build character and be life-changing for all off us. As we travel from place to place we want to experience the world with “fresh eyes,” like a young child would. As parents, we can’t wait to see the look in our children’s faces when they see the Eiffel Tower for the first time, or see elephants in the wild for the first time, or walk on a glacier for the first time.
And last but not least, we want to have a great time. Just like our RV was our “Fun Bus,” we want to play and enjoy each other as we travel around the world.
We planned our entire itinerary, transportation and accommodations, in advance of beginning our trip. We know that despite any well-laid plans, anything can happen. This adventure is a huge leap of faith for us. Despite our extensive research and planning, we have no idea what to expect. In this way, really this trip is no different than life itself. We really feel like explorers as we embark on our voyage.