Almost 5 years ago, my dad told us that we had one month to sell everything we had, leave our home, and travel around the western United States.

I was seven at the time and didn’t totally know what was going on. But I didn’t want to leave because I didn’t want to leave my friends and my things and my home where I’d grown up. We had a fun going away party from all our friends who were sad to see us go. I cried when we drove away from our neighborhood, as I realized we were actually leaving.

My parents told us we could take one bag with our clothes and favorite things. I think I had more than one bag, though, but all of our stuff ended up fitting in our car. We stayed in hotels, a few houses, a yurt, and couple campsites.

We visited National Parks all around the Western US. And at each one we would go on a hike and explore different trails. And of course, my mom had to take lots of pictures, because that’s what she does.

Since we didn’t stay in places for a long time, we didn’t have enough time to really get to know friends too well, so we usually just hung out with each other. We had a lot of fun together as a family.  We would take hikes in the dark with our flashlights, eat great food, and learned to snowboard together. I realized that you don’t really need a lot of stuff to be happy. We made so many memories with just each other exploring the outdoors

We got to visit around 38 National Parks. My favorite national park was Glacier. We went paddleboarding on lake McDonald and it was beautiful, you could see all the way down because the water was so clear. I also loved sleeping in the yurt – it was one of the highlights of Glacier.

Since I was homeschooled, we went to a bunch of different places to do our schoolwork. We would sometimes read and work in the car, at a coffee shop, or out in nature. We listened to a lot of Audio books together and learned about all the places we visited.

Although I was sad to leave my home at the time, I am now so happy that I left Austin. I would have never imagined that I would be living in the mountains, snowboarding, and going to school here. So I’m so glad that my dad made that decision.