The Far Green Country (2018) Movie Script

Emerson once said, "Life is
a journey, not a destination."
When I was young, I understood that
differently than I do now.
Life has a way of
putting bumps in the road
just when you least expect them.
I guess it's through
these trials that we grow,
so long as we can push through them.
My name is Kelly.
I'm a wife, a mother, an adventurer,
though life hasn't felt
so adventurous these days.
I spend most of my time folding laundry
and scrubbing food off the floor.
The world feels no larger
than the four walls around me.
It hasn't always been this way, though.
Before we met each other, my husband
was an extreme whitewater
kayaker, and was working
for a ski movie company
filming extreme sports.
Meanwhile, I was guiding
wilderness trips in Colorado,
doing volunteer work in Africa,
where I summited Mount Kilimanjaro
and did safaris in the Serengeti
and in Ngorongoro Crater.
I backpacked through
southeast Asia, Australia,
and New Zealand, then studied for my EM and started as a NOLS
wilderness medicine instructor.
Right after we got
married, Eli and I drove
a 15-passenger van 3,000
miles to southern Mexico
to do volunteer work in Oaxaca.
We traveled three times to Uganda
in service of organizations bringing hope,
fresh water, and education
to remote villagers.
We did a safari together,
visited my ranger friend
in Australia, tromped through Tasmania,
backpacked New Zealand,
hiked to Machu Picchu,
and spent many days in
America's back country.
Then our world began to crumble.
In a three-month period,
we miscarried at 11 weeks,
had an accident that forced us
to amputate our puppy's leg,
and then moved across states.
A year later, the joy of
giving birth to our first child
was overshadowed by a
traumatic 56-hour labor
ending with a fourth-degree episiotomy,
a vacuum extraction, and
a torn umbilical cord.
Along with physical wounds,
I was left with PTSD
that manifested itself in night terrors
and inescapable, obsessive anxiety
that required EMDR therapy.
Then came 12 months of health issues
with our baby boy that
added massive stress.
And on top of all that,
our marriage was seriously struggling.
Life at home was full of loneliness,
isolation, and exhaustion.
I barely recognized myself anymore.
And I did not want to
have any more children.
I needed a change, a
chance to explore again
and reclaim the joy and
hope that my husband and I
had shared in our early days.
I wanted to share it with my son.
So we did it.
We scrounged up all we could
and paid $15,000 for a
1995 Fleetwood Bounder,
our 32-foot Class A motorhome.
We packed up our house, handed
the keys over to the renters,
and drove out the driveway, not knowing
if or when we would return.
This story's about us, but
it's told from my perspective,
because I was the catalyst for the trip,
in a good way and bad way.
- Right?
- Yeah.
- I was the one who...
- You can have credit for it.
I needed to escape my reality.
Howard Thurman said, "Don't
ask what the world needs.
"Ask what makes you come
alive, and go do it,
"because what the world needs
"is people who have come alive."
What can I say?
I come alive on the road,
and in beautiful places.
And at this point in my journey,
I needed to come back to life.
Life on the road is not
all it's cracked up to be,
and I learned that very quickly,
living in such tight quarters
with a two-year-old and a dog.
We have a really small kitchen,
so we kind of bump into each
other a little bit, you know?
Our table is right next
to our stove and our sink,
and that's the hallway that
connects the back to the front,
the bathroom to the front door,
and so it's tight quarters.
Eating healthy
is important for us,
and not many gas stations
sell organic food.
So we stopped at every Costco
we could find along the way,
and tried to buy enough stuff
to make it to our next stop.
The challenge was finding a place for it.
How is it?
Oh my God, is that a
tiger in the car area?
I need to hide!
Oh my goodness, that's so
scary, a black leopard!
For sleeping, we gave
Dakota the back bedroom.
It was a sacrifice for us,
but it did make a great play area for him.
And the bed popped up to create
a little nest for him on the floor.
He sure loved snuggling in at night.
Our sleeping situation, however,
was a little less ideal.
Eli and I shared the foldout couch,
which lost its comfort
with every passing night
and had to be converted back and forth
between bed and sofa every day.
Our amazing and shedding
dog Tassie got the floor
right underneath our couch.
Everyone could hear
everything, all the time.
The smoke alarm went off
almost every time we cooked,
despite having the windows open.
And we had to pull in a foldout chair
to fit the three of us, which we stashed
behind the driver's seat
when we weren't using it.
Living in a small space
means keeping it simple.
That means paper plates, and sometimes
washing and reusing paper plates.
Low on storage space,
we kept a number of pans
and Tupperware in the oven.
We found it worked better as a cabinet.
At least we had a bathroom,
and that's about all I can say about that.
I'm thankful that Eli took
ownership of the systems.
When it comes to technical stuff,
I had rather just not think about it.
Over here I have nothing.
Learning the systems is
kind of the big hurdle,
you know, learning how
to empty your tanks,
where you can fill them up and dump them,
learning how to keep them clean
so your sensors work so you
can have an accurate reading
on how full your gray tank
is or your black tank.
I put a high priority
on clean, safe drinking water.
Drinking water out of an old plastic tank,
filling up at random gas
stations and roadside spigots,
it was a challenge for me.
An additional challenge we faced
was moving our film and video business
from the studio and equipment
trailer into the Bounder.
Eli stashed his gear down below,
in a compartment right
next to Dakota's toys,
and then bought a laptop
and used the side table
and front seat as his workstation,
converting it back and
forth each time we traveled.
Being a video production company,
I can take my work on the road.
It's not easy, let me tell you.
I left the comfort of a
beautiful home studio.
I'm basically able to do what
I do because I have internet,
but without a hard-line
connection to broadband,
sometimes it's terribly frustrating
to try and download a
song or even an email.
You transitioned well.
I think it was probably hard for you.
I know, I think I hid
most of my transitioning.
Then, while he was working,
Dakota and I would drive
the campgrounds on his quad,
explore the trails and creeks,
or sometimes we'd just
hang out in the Bounder.
Eli's first job was a
10-day shoot in Colorado,
so over the next couple months,
we journeyed east from Oregon,
through northern Idaho and Montana.
We explored Yellowstone National Park,
then headed south and
visited countless friends
and beautiful places in Colorado
before turning back up north again
to Grand Teton National
Park and Yellowstone.
How are you doing, Dakota?
Oh, are you using your binoculars?
What do you see?
I see a big head and big eyes.
Cool, I love your binoculars!
We've seen herds of pronghorn
just cruising out across
the Wyoming plains.
And we've seen bull moose pretty up close
in the marshes east of the Tetons.
We've seen grizzly bear twice.
The first time we saw the grizzly,
he was eating an elk carcass, literally
pulling chunks of meat
off the elk carcass,
defending it against a wolf
who was waiting for his turn.
And after the grizzly left,
we sat and watched the wolf
chew away at this elk carcass for hours.
And everywhere we went, Dakota,
his signature story was,
"A grizzly bear eating an
elk carcass and a wolf."
And people would look at
him like, "You saw what?"
Dakota's at this age
where everything is new,
and he's experiencing
things for the first time,
like seeing a grizzly bear in the wild
or seeing a bald eagle or catching a fish.
And to be able to introduce
him to wild places
and just watch his eyes get so big.
And the overwhelming joy
of being able to experience
these things with him for the
first time was so, so sweet.
I hadn't foreseen how
lonely it could be at times
on the road, away from the people we love.
I think the biggest loss
of going on the road
was taking Dakota away from
home, 'cause he gets weekly
if not daily interaction
with his grandparents.
Dakota had his share of homesickness.
Do you want to go to Yellowstone?
Because I wanna go
back to the Prairie Nest.
What do you want
to do at the Prairie Nest?
I wanna ride my mini John Deere.
I bet Papa is gonna let
me ride in Honey Bee.
Honey Bee is
my dad's vintage Model A,
and our son has spent many
hours with his grandpa,
trying to get that old car to start.
Dad, it started up, huh?
Yeah, I got
a little air problem.
The Prairie
Nest is my parents' farm,
which served as our base camp
when we'd visit our hometown.
There was enough room
there to park the Bounder
and spread out a little.
And Dakota loved riding
all my dad's tractors.
We'll go back there
in October or November, okay?
I want to go back to the
Prairie Nest right now!
It's just us, Kelly, Dakota and myself.
That is why it is sweet
to have friends out there.
It was always wonderful to
roll up into our friends' homes
and be able to reconnect,
tell them about our journeys
and our adventures, and
that was just special.
Just getting that meal time
and some late night time,
evenings after the kids go to sleep.
When can you do sleepovers?
I mean, it was so fun to
just be living with people.
I hadn't ridden a horse
bareback for years,
so when our friends in
Oregon's Wallowa Mountains
offered for me to ride their gelding,
it was a special opportunity to share
in their life and passions.
Kelly has gotten a lot of
time with her girlfriends.
She has a lot of friends in Colorado,
so we spent a month
and a half in Colorado.
I did a big job.
While I was gone, Kelly stayed
with her friend, Ashley.
For her to be able to do that
and live in community with a good friend,
that was a huge gift, and
we couldn't have had that
without being in this motorhome lifestyle.
We stayed a week with some dear friends
and helped with their daughter's wedding,
and that was sweet time,
both being at the wedding
and also just being with them
for that time, for that week.
Our friends are our destinations.
We shoot for where our friends are at
and create community there.
With the motorhome we're able
to not impose too much in their home.
Dakota has his own
space, he can take a nap,
he can sleep well, we're not concerned
about changing his environment,
and that just seems to work really well.
In the twilight
I reach for the stars
If they'll tell me what happens now
When dark cloud spreads cross my sky
Can you make it so I can see
If I've fallen down
Would you pull me up
Good job hiking
the mountain, Dakota!
Look at you, you're such a big hiker!
Will your arms reach round
Can you hold me now
Then maybe I won't fall
As the weather changed,
I could almost taste
the bitter chill of winter,
and the struggles of years past.
Seasons change
The leaves of your spirit
Have colors like I've never seen
If I live today
Will time change the secrets
Of loving so I will know
When I married my husband
and exchanged vows in the
setting of celebration,
I could never have known
the struggle and fortitude
it would take to uphold those vows.
Over nearly 10 years of marriage,
Eli and I experienced incredible
highs and devastating lows.
I remember our pastor
telling us during the wedding
that marriage would be harder
than any peak I'd climbed.
And I appreciated his metaphor,
as I'd suffered through some
tough days in the mountains.
But now those days pale in comparison
to the suffering I'd experienced
during seasons of pain
and betrayal in marriage,
seasons that were so absent of love,
belonging and connection.
It's staggering that in a relationship
as intimate as marriage,
that I could feel so alone.
We've both been at that
point of saying we're done,
we want to walk out, and that's intense.
I never ever thought I'd be at that point.
That's the fickle thing
about relationship.
It can feel so doomed, and
then she says something loving,
I do the same, and all of a sudden
we're in a different place.
So, with all that to
say, one of the reasons
we left our house is to help our marriage.
While still in our house,
Eli started writing me
notes with these pictures
of a motorhome in various
mountain settings.
It was an invitation to dream together,
to pursue my longing to be
united on a shared adventure,
to road trip like we
did in our early days.
Where do you go when it glows
When the night is coming to a close
The sky is painted red
But the darkness it can't settle yet
Leaving Colorado and Wyoming,
we headed north during autumn
to explore Glacier National Park
and the parks of the Canadian Rockies:
Kootenay, Banff, Jasper, and Yoho.
I love getting out into
beauty and wilderness,
whether backpacking or traveling overseas.
These remote settings force
me out of my daily routine
and provide a respite from
this fast-paced culture
that causes so much stress.
These places allow me to pause,
to be present to each moment as it passes,
to make room in my life to attend
to the vulnerable places inside me.
It seems the best environment
to cultivate change.
I think a lot of people
get stuck in the same spot,
the same job, the same routine.
It's funny to think that
that's actually what I crave,
yet here I am saying that
I've changed on this journey,
and I probably wouldn't have
made the same changes at home.
It also really forced us to unplug,
as we were often far from
cell towers and internet.
It was like a detox from technology,
and allowed us to enjoy a
slower, more simple pace of life.
I was pretty lonely, pretty isolated.
I think I was dealing with
some post-partum depression.
And so, being able to be
on the road was amazing,
because we were all in one place,
and it just allowed Eli and
I to be reunited together
on an adventure, which
was very, very, I think,
a huge rescue for our
marriage and for our life.
The simple pace also allowed us to connect
with other travelers in the campgrounds.
That's how we met this Australian
couple, John and Linda.
They reminded me that I can never be
too old to live adventurously.
Well originally we sold our business,
and we were just gonna do
what most Australians do
and grab a caravan and
drive around Australia.
And then we saw an ad for
a guy who wanted to travel
across to Europe, going through China.
So we thought, well that sounds like fun.
We'll go onboard with that,
so that's how it all
started, 11 years ago.
We shipped to Singapore, drove
through Malaysia, Thailand,
Cambodia, Laos, rode across
China, through the Stans,
and then basically across the Caspian Sea
and we were in Europe.
Probably China was a real surprise.
We had kind of a bit of trepidation
about going into a communist country,
but the Chinese were so
friendly, so interested.
Our first motorhome was just
a front wheel drive Fiat,
so it lasted up okay, but we
were limited where we could go.
You couldn't go down by a
riverbed or up a dirt track,
so we decided we wanted
a four wheel drive one,
and we bought an Isuzu cab chassis
and had 'em build the back on
and modified it to our needs.
I love the Australian mindset.
I learned it in college when
I did a semester abroad there,
working as a park ranger:
to invest more in experience
than material things.
So then we shifted over to Lima.
Took us three weeks to
get it out of customs.
We have confidence that,
if something happens,
we can fix it, or we can
talk our way out of it.
We ended up in a situation in Bolivia.
There was a big strike,
and we kind of drove
into the middle of it, and the
guys were throwing dynamite
and all this, and my wife's
like packing it, you know?
I said, "Ah, it'll be all right."
We spent a day there,
mixed with the locals,
and played their games, and
drunk their rocket fuel,
and then they showed us a way
we can get past and carry on.
Nah, we just have confidence in ourselves
and trust that everything
will work out right, you know?
My accountant said once,
"If you have a passport
"and a credit card, you can
go anywhere."
With fresh inspiration
from our new friends,
we continued north to the Canadian border,
passports in hand, 'cause, hey,
with a passport and a credit
card, you can go anywhere.
Mark Twain said, "20 years from now,
"you'll be more disappointed
by the things you didn't do
"than by the ones you did."
Eli is a bit crazy.
He literally swims in any body of water,
no matter how cold it is.
I think he just wants my attention,
even though he says he truly loves it,
floating down ice-cold glacial snow melt.
There are glacial lakes up there
that are as turquoise blue
as you could ever imagine,
surrounded by towering,
beautiful granite peaks.
One of the lakes is up in
the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
Both Kelly and I got some time up there,
just to be and to look around
and breathe in the beauty
there, the majesty of it all.
She came back to me after her
walk and said, "I'm going in."
And that is so unlike anyone, really,
because people just don't
swim in these lakes.
They're frigid.
But the thing about them
is they're so beautiful,
and they look so inviting,
that to really experience it
there's that allure of
you've gotta just dive in.
Really, really, really cold!
Can believe you did it!
No! 'Cus it's really cold!
I had to just go for
it, and I'm glad I did.
It's like many things in life:
This trip wouldn't have happened
had we not taken the risk and dove in.
Both marriage and parenting
require jumping in
to our own frigid and dark places.
One might say that anything worth doing
in this life is like that.
Theodore Roosevelt
states it so eloquently:
"It is not the critic who counts,
"not the man who points out
how the strong man stumbles
"or where the doer of deeds
could have done them better.
"The credit belongs to the man
who is actually in the arena,
"whose face is marred by
dust, and sweat, and blood,
"who spends himself in a worthy cause,
"who at the best knows in the end
"the triumph of high achievement,
"and who at the worst, if he fails,
"at least fails while daring greatly,
"so that his place shall never be
"with those cold and timid souls
"who neither know victory nor defeat."
Here we are coming down the
switchbacks from Takakkaw Falls.
You can see it's pretty tight here.
I guess the tour buses
actually back up and down.
There's the switchbacks right there.
One, two, three.
Yay! We did it!
That was intense.
We thought we had failed
on numerous occasions
and feel like we escaped
disaster on every one of them.
We had to dump our black tank.
A little bit chilly out, but you know,
didn't really think a whole lot about it.
Cold air had gotten in
there and frozen water
in that sewer intake and clogged it up.
It hit a certain point, and it
just started coming back up.
I went straight to the black
tank and turned it off,
but the whole tube was still full then,
so the stench was horrible.
It was bad.
It was really bad.
The worst part is it just felt horrible.
I mean, there was just poop everywhere.
It's one of the most disgusting things
about living in a motorhome
is that you literally have
to handle your own poop.
Like I said in the beginning,
I'm glad Eli took care of the systems.
Well I'm about
to saw into the toilet.
It's all moldy 'cause it
had a leak in the back.
The valve was leaking for months, I guess.
I got my tools here.
Black tank is plugged up
with a trash bag right now.
And you can see this completely moldy,
nasty piece of wood here,
in the back especially.
Seven o'clock p.m.
Kelly is sleeping at our
friend's house with Dakota.
And I'm gonna go for it and
try to get this thing replaced.
Slide it in like so.
Bring in this piece, drop it in like that.
Now this piece like this.
There it is, a new toilet base.
The weather
didn't always cooperate,
so we made most of our
decisions at the last minute.
There's Waterton!
Once we were caught in a snowstorm
coming down a Canadian pass 300 miles
north of the border, with no cell service.
We scraped our rear end numerous times.
We've definitely had some conflict
over driving the big motorhome.
I mean, it's a 32-footer.
With the bikes in the back,
it's probably about 35, 36 feet.
We've had some encounters in parking lots.
There was a time when
I ran into the gas pump
and hooked the bumper of the
Bounder around the gas pump,
and that was slightly stressful.
That was a rough day.
Sorry for being hard on you.
Yeah, you didn't deal with
me too warmly on that moment.
I've had my share
of mistakes in fixing things
or not doing things right as well.
Eli and I have some
pretty massive differences.
I'm an extrovert, he's an introvert.
I'm a thinker, you're a feeler.
Yeah, oh yeah.
I'm all about simplifying,
getting rid of things,
living in small spaces;
my husband, not so much.
Being in cramped quarters
can be challenging at times.
I like having some space,
a little place of my own.
I don't have that in this life.
I have like a cubby of my
own up in the upper cabinet.
Give me a house anywhere.
Just stay in the same house.
20, 30 years, I'll be there.
Kelly, she doesn't like that idea.
She has a really hard
time staying in one place.
I really have a massive free spirit,
like I wanna move, I wanna
change, I wanna go places.
And Eli would love to just
stay in the same house
for the rest of our life.
Anyway, it presents challenges for us,
'cause it's highly stressful
for him to have to have change.
It actually, to be totally honest,
can cause some major stress and conflict
that we've had to work through
and continue to work
through in our marriage.
He checks out, I turn
cold, get controlling,
he lets his anger fly.
We'd see that whether we were living
in a motorhome or not.
It happened plenty in our house.
It's happened plenty on the road.
We live in a 300-square-foot box.
There's no room that I can go retreat to,
no closet that I can go hide in.
We have to face our issues head-to-head,
and we just have to work it out.
Yeah, we work it out all right,
right in front of our son.
Dakota is very in tune with
how Kelly and I are doing.
We can see literally his anxiety level.
We could see him being affected
by our fighting or our anger.
That's one of the hardest things
that I've experienced in life,
is seeing my issues affect
him, or our issues affect him.
But we'd see that whether we were living
in a motorhome or not.
One of our
marriage counselors told us
that conflict is actually a gift,
because it is required for
a relationship to grow.
Though not totally convinced,
it was enough anyway
to keep me moving toward
connection despite the dysfunction.
After we left behind the
towering mountains of Canada,
Eli's work took us toward Seattle.
We ferried the Bounder
across the Puget Sound
and explored Olympic National Park
before returning to our hometown
for the first time in over three months.
The national parks were our
amazing home away from home.
The campgrounds are beautiful, peaceful,
and the most affordable option out there.
The children's programs
and visitor centers
were so interactive and helped us
teach Dakota about the natural world.
And the scenery and
trails are breathtaking.
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Dakota
Happy birthday to you
Can you blow 'em out?
Blow 'em out.
Keep blowing.
- Yay!
- Good job!
Dadda, I want Monkey to see it.
Where are we Dakota?
We're at the Prairie Nest.
Oh my gosh, it's
been a long time, huh?
Dakota was quite the adventurer
on that first leg of our journey,
but we knew how much he
missed his grandparents,
so it was a sweet time
for him to experience
his third birthday in Central Oregon.
Happy birthday to you.
We planned to stay a week or two.
We had to find new tenants
and get the house ready for winter.
Eli had a film shoot to take care of.
And we had to dig a few
things out of storage.
But the day before we were to leave,
the unexpected happened.
Temperatures plummeted to -10
degrees Fahrenheit overnight,
dumping over a foot of snow.
The temperature didn't get
above freezing for two weeks.
Despite the beauty and
wonder of the ice and snow,
it was a little too cold for us
in that foam and metal
box we called the Bounder.
Dadda, what's that?
It's funny ice, huh, Dadda?
It's around and around and
around and around and around.
But more troubling
were the frozen pipes.
No water, no sewer, and the concern that,
if left unattended, our Bounder
would be a sopping mess when they thawed.
How do you thaw out pipes when it's
five degrees high and negative five low?
Eli had to get creative.
It was tense, it was
stressful, it was an adventure.
It actually gave me an opportunity
to put my fix-it mind to work,
and I rigged up something
with a little six-inch space heater,
and some heating conduit,
and some insulation,
and I blasted warm air into the subfloor
of our Bounder for a
week, 10 days straight.
It thawed the pipes out within an hour.
We endured about a week, 10
days of subzero temperatures
at night, with temperatures
not getting anywhere close
to the non-freezing level
for that whole time.
Thankfully things thawed out,
and we saw a window to get out.
The storm was coming, but we
prayed, we drove really slow,
like 10 to 15 miles an hour,
and we got out in time.
We didn't have a clear plan
of where we were headed,
but we knew we had to
move south for the winter
if our Bounder was going to make it.
It felt so good to be
escaping the chill of winter.
But what's that saying?
Out of the frying pan and into the fire?
It is just pouring rain.
We had to take Tassie out for walks,
and then we had to get out
of the house sometimes too,
so we'd go out in the pouring rain.
It was fun.
We'd get completely drenched, come back,
and have soaking wet clothes, hang 'em up,
cook some food, steam, it's cold outside,
older motorhome, not insulated so well,
condensation, moisture on our windows.
We've had some mold
growing around the edges.
We have to wipe that off
with Clorox every day.
This thing is soaking wet.
It's terrible.
Mmm, yum.
It was kind of crazy there
when it was raining so much.
Here we are!
Where we at?
The laundromat, woo!
What's this? What's this water.
Don't touch too
much, bud, come on in.
I have a love-hate
relationship with laundromats.
They're sort of a necessary
evil while living on the road,
but I tried to make the most of it,
having fun with Dakota while
doing our family chores.
Aside from the muddy clothes
and the moldy windows,
we enjoyed exploring
Redwood National Park,
then continued south on Highway 1,
past Mendocino and Monterey, settling down
on California's Big Sur
coastline for Christmas.
Look at that tree, Dadda!
- Oh my God!
- Look at the other one!
Wow, that one's huge!
It's giant!
Look at that one!
Oh my gosh, look at that one!
- Look!
- Wow!
"We have grown dull
"toward this world in which we live.
"We have forgotten that it is not normal
"or scientific in any sense of the word.
"It is fantastic, it is
fairytale through and through.
"At what point did we
lose our wonder at it all?
"Even so, once in a while
something will come along
"and shock us right out of
our dullness and resignation.
"We come around a corner, and
there before us is a peacock,
"a stag with horns as big as he.
"Perhaps we come upon a waterfall,
"the clouds have made a rainbow
in a circle around the sun,
"and for a moment we realize
that we were born into a world
"as astonishing as any fairytale."
I love this John Eldredge quote
that speaks of the wonder
that I want to live with,
that childlike amazement
at nature and life.
It's so easy to become complacent,
numbed by the everyday
ordinariness of mundane routine.
Being a new parent, exhausted
and in survival mode,
I was just trying to get
through one day at a time.
As I watch my son explore
the world around him,
I begin to notice more
and take time to remember
the seasons of awe I had as a child.
Highway 1 along the Big
Sur is a 100-mile stretch
along rocky bluffs
littered with hairpin turns
and steep drop-offs.
Three-car accident.
They just took the
people of the crash back.
It seems like it'll take like an hour.
There's still one
more ambulance and a firetruck.
As we hoped for the best for
the rescue crews and victims,
it seemed like a great time
to cook up a little dinner
for our family in our
luxurious kitchen on wheels,
and get in a little playtime before bed.
My house, it's red.
Take me to the breaking
of a beautiful dawn
Take me to the place where we came from
Take me to the end so I can see the start
There's only one way
to mend a broken heart
Take me to the place where
I don't feel so small
Take me where I don't
need to stand so tall
Take me to the edge so I can fall apart
There's only one way
to mend a broken heart
Kelly loves whale watching.
We'd be driving along and see a spout.
We'd just pull over at a little turnout,
and she'd hang out the
window with her binoculars
and watch the whales.
Take me where love is not for sale
Take me where our hearts are not so frail
Take me where the fire
still owns its spark
And there's only one way
to mend a broken heart
Teach me how to see when I close my eyes
In the beginning I said
I didn't ever want to have kids again,
a combination of the
trauma from Dakota's birth,
along with the struggles
we've faced in marriage.
But the desire to have a second
kept coming back to me in the recent days.
Maybe it was the romance of the ocean,
the sunsets with the hubby,
or the desire to give Dakota
the gift of being a big brother.
Maybe with Christmas approaching
I was hoping for my own Christmas miracle.
Either way, it felt good to at least
have the desire back again.
Show me to the wisdom of the evening star
And there's only one way
to mend a broken heart
Take me to the place where I feel no shame
Take me where courage doesn't need a name
Learning how to cry is the hardest part
There's only one way
to mend a broken heart
Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the Bounder
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse, thankfully.
The stockings were hung by
the cupboards with care,
in hopes that Saint Nicholas
soon would be there.
How does it feel?
Can I walk outside?
Of course, we can hike
today in your new shoes.
And little did we know,
I had a Christmas gift
growing inside of me.
How are you doing today?
All right.
How about yourself?
We're good. Thanks for being here.
No problem.
This is what I was talking about here.
That's supposed to be flat?
It's supposed
to be a little smooth, yeah.
Yeah, so this
is definitely needed.
Metal to metal, yeah.
There was grooves all around the rotor.
You could see where the
back of the brake pad
was just grinding into that rotor.
Super dangerous, and I'm so thankful
that we didn't have any
accidents because of it.
And thankfully,
we found a mechanic
who was willing to work on such a big rig.
But we had to stay overnight at the shop
in an industrial aree in north LA.
It makes it all the more wonderful
to tell those stories in retrospect,
- 'cause they're just...
- Yeah, you can actually laugh
- when it's over.
- Funny.
After it's over.
It's not funny in the midst of it.
We drove away after a full
rear brake replacement,
only to start hearing
another screeching sound
from the right rear wheels.
Shortly after that, we spent another night
in front of an RV mechanic shop
while they diagnosed a generator issue.
Needless to say, we spent a lot
of time sitting on the curb,
wondering what would become
of our 20-year-old home on wheels,
and how long we'd have to keep living
in front of mechanics' garages.
I'm driving, and suddenly I start hearing
this high-pitched grinding noise somewhere
underneath somewhere,
and I was like, "Oh, no!"
That was right before the
vinegar fell, or the oil bottle.
Oh, the olive oil bottle falls out,
literally smashes my iPhone into bits
and falls onto the floor.
Were you laughing?
Not at all.
Like I said, in the
moment it's not pretty.
But afterwards it's funny, if we survive.
I think I realized maybe
the only difference
between a road block and an
adventure was my perspective,
'cause if everything
went exactly as planned,
it wouldn't be much of an adventure.
Leaving the cities behind,
it was time to spend
the rest of the winter
in the souther deserts.
We had booked another job in
Colorado for the springtime,
so that gave us three months
to work our way out there.
We camped in Joshua Tree National Park,
Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley,
then continued east
through Zion, Bryce Canyon,
Capitol Reef, Canyonlands,
and Arches National Parks.
Like this, raise your right hand.
I promise...
To be the best Junior Ranger...
That I can be.
That I can be.
And where are you going?
To the Visitor Center to
get my Junior Ranger badge!
Well I can't wait.
Bye-bye, what's your name again?
Ranger Dakota.
Dakota was really excited
about the Junior Ranger programs.
And I loved that he was
so proud of his badges.
It's been amazing to see
Kelly in these national parks
come alive with everything
having to do with rangers
and introducing that to Dakota.
What map are you looking at?
Oh, cool!
What are all the animals you see on there?
I'll show you, Mamma.
Bison calf.
What other animals to you see?
What is it?
A big grizzly.
Those badges mean so much to him.
Junior Ranger, Joshua Tree National Park.
Another raven statue.
And another lizard statue.
- Wow!
- See that one?
Yeah, I didn't
even notice that one.
Wow, look at how long!
And another bighorn sheep.
That one's a big one, isn't it?
He learned so much on this trip.
His brain is like a sponge
soaking up information everywhere we go.
As a parent, I want to teach
him through experience,
getting out there and
really learning firsthand.
I. L.
It's a beautiful thing.
You know, he's done almost
every ranger program.
So they give little booklets that have
different quizzes and animal pictures,
and you have to mix and
match and color animals,
and Kelly does a lot of it with him,
and then when he fills it out,
he goes down to the ranger
station or the visitors center,
and he hands over the booklet,
and they give him a badge.
There's your badge right there.
You're done, congratulations!
There's a bighorn sheep, our
son, and Scotty's Castle.
- It's a one-of-a-kind.
- Bighorn sheep!
Thank you.
You're very welcome.
Nice work.
All in all,
Dakota did 17 ranger books
and collected 17 ranger badges.
And he's so proud when he
says, "I'm Ranger Dakota!"
Are you five, or are you
three, or are you four?
Am I three?
You're three.
I'm five.
No, you're three!
You're three. Three?
Okay, well I gotta go climb.
Nice to meet you, Ranger Dakota.
We met Laurie
while camping at Joshua Tree.
Dakota thought she and
her climbing partner
were pretty silly.
She let Eli and I borrow some ropes
and helped us set up a climb
so we could get in some
rock climbing together
while Dakota entertained
the other climbers.
She shared her story about trying
to pursue her passions while on the road.
I love to climb, and
I'm also a professional.
I want to work only enough to enjoy life,
not to live in a job where
I'm constantly working.
So what I did is I bought
a Mercedes Sprinter
four wheel drive van from Germany,
and then I spent it to Sportsmobile,
and they spent about
four months designing it.
I don't know whether I'll decide,
wow, I still like coming
into LA and teaching,
I teach at Pepperdine, or I might say
I want to do really mostly online.
But I decided that the first
step was getting in the van.
If you ever see a yellow Mercedes Sprinter
and a yellow Jeep, you kinda know it's me.
Bye, Lori.
Inspired by his new friends,
Dakota put on his climbing
harness a couple days later
and got up on some real
rocks for the first time.
Climb on.
Okay, you're ready.
Look, I'm coming!
Good move, remember to lean in,
have your hand holds and your foot holds.
Good job!
Oh my gosh!
You did it!
How was it?
Did you have fun?
Okay, I gotcha.
Thank you, Dadda.
When we started this journey,
we wondered how Dakota would handle
being away from his
friends and grandparents
and if we'd made a really bad decision.
But as it turned out,
Dakota made new friends
everywhere we went.
Among the eclectic
community of fellow nomads
living in the national parks,
we met Cornelia and Werner.
They had another fascinating travel story.
Two years before we started this tour,
we bought this Big Grasshopper.
We started in Germany and shipped our rig
over to Halifax, Nova Scotia,
down to the Smokey Mountains.
We turned west to New Mexico.
We followed the Rocky Mountains north,
and we visited all the national parks,
especially Yellowstone
and Jasper, in Canada.
Then we go further on north to Alaska.
And now we go south to
Central and South America.
We have a mission to make a
combination of travel and help,
and therefore we have two projects,
one in Mexico City and
another one in Honduras,
and both projects support
children to get to school.
"Be a Brick, Buy a Brick" is on our car.
Buy one of these bricks,
and then you can do something
to support poor people in other countries.
If someone says, "I give you some money,"
he get a brick like this.
Cool! That's great.
Yeah, this is the idea we have.
We were happy to be
a brick and help their cause.
After months of living on the road,
we had experienced some
sense of purposelessness.
Adventure, travel, exploring,
they're all great things,
but life can feel very
self-centered at times
if there isn't a greater purpose.
Some of our richest times were spent
living in community with people,
offering our time and
gifts to make a difference.
I had the opportunity to
help out by playing djembe
during a camp for troubled teens.
Eli pitched in and helped build a cabin
at a Young Life youth camp.
And we had to keep reminding ourselves
that one of our greatest purposes
is showing abundant life to our son.
We're both very involved
in our son's life right now,
and I am very present for him.
And I know at other times
I haven't been so present.
I probably worked 50 hours a week average,
and now I probably work 20 hours a week.
Some of the best times with
my boy are in the morning.
Whatcha doing there?
I'm warming up.
Dakota will wake up,
I'll come over and go back
into his bedroom and just
tell him stories for an hour.
And then we'll get up on the bed
and play around with him with his toys.
And that's time that I didn't get before.
I'm giving him a lot of myself right now
in this season of life.
C.S. Lewis said, "Children
are not a distraction
"from more important work.
"They are the most important work."
I guess this renewed
perspective was preparing me
for the changes ahead.
It had been a long, hard road
toward healing from my first birth.
But on this day I couldn't
have been more overjoyed.
And our families were too.
Bren Brown says, "We run from grief
"because loss scares us.
"Yet our hearts reach toward grief,
"because the broken parts want to mend."
My desire finally overcame my fear
and set me on this irreversible course
towards another childbirth.
In my heart, I was so hopeful
that this second time around
would redeem the trauma of Dakota's birth.
In my body I felt morning sickness
like I hadn't known the first time.
Then Dakota and I caught
some sort of virus,
and I was not only
pregnant, but sick as well.
The couch bed in the Bounder
was beginning to feel like a torture rack,
metal bars poking through
the compressed foam.
The fowl smells from my dog on
the floor became nauseating.
My food cravings would
go unfulfilled for days
before our next grocery stop,
which were few and far between
in the open deserts of
Southern California.
So when I found my favorite ice cream
at a small health food store,
I was just a little bit excited.
What's that one?
Chocolate peanut
butter swirl ice cream.
What's this one?
That's cherry amaretto.
At least Dakota benefited
from my cravings.
Which one do you want with
your chocolate cookie,
coconut or cherry amaretto?
Okay. Do you want a big cherry in it?
Uh-huh, a big one!
Enjoy, my son.
Thank you, Mamma.
You're welcome, bud.
Dakota also benefited
from my exhaustion,
as my zero gravity chair
became my new best friend.
Dakota and I took up birdwatching.
To be honest, anxiety was creeping in.
A tiny baby inside of me,
hours from trusted doctors
or hospital care, spotty cell coverage.
There were days that I
wanted to kind of bail.
I just was like, you know
what, this has been awesome.
Let's just head home.
One of the things, too,
that was playing into it
was fear, because I was
early in my pregnancy,
I'd had a miscarriage prior.
We were pretty far out in
the parks at that time.
The decision of whether to end our trip
weighed heavily on me.
In the end, the potential
benefits outweighed the risks,
and we pressed on into the
rugged Colorado plateau.
I've heard the saying many times:
"you cannot give what you do not have."
I want to make sure I'm
giving Eli and Dakota my best.
To do that, I first need
to be filled up myself,
with life and beauty, wonder,
community, solitude and adventure.
I need healing for the
vulnerable places within me.
And I just need more time.
There never seems to be enough of it.
In talking with a fellow
traveler named Kyle,
from North Carolina, it was great
to share some similar experiences.
We were in the grind
and planning this trip,
and we tried to carve out a month,
and a month seemed like
this huge amount of time.
And then, now that we're out here,
a month's gone by in a
flash, and it's kind of sad,
because I feel like right now,
we're just now kind of
getting to a sustainable pace
and just slowing down enough
to really start enjoying things.
I try to be a good father and
be at home as much as I can
and spend as much time
with my kids as possible.
But being on the road with 'em,
I've gotten to know 'em a lot
better and more intimately,
just the little things
about their personalities
that I probably didn't
take the time to notice
when we were at home and everybody's
going in their different directions
with school, and work,
and that sort of thing.
It's been really cool, and
it's gonna be hard to go back
and send them off to school
for eight hours a day,
five days a week, after
spending every moment
with them for the past three weeks.
See, that's my home.
Oh, I like it. That's
a nice home, woodpecker.
You have a nice view from up there.
What is that?
It's my nest.
I'm building a brand new house.
Dakota's imagination
really came to life out here.
He had just a few simple toys,
and he got creative with them.
One time he hiked six miles round trip,
up 2,000 feet in elevation.
We found if we brought his animal friends,
we could make a game out of it.
He really grew up on this journey,
and he has fond memories
of his days in the Bounder.
I love Dakota, and I'd be
happy if it was just him,
but I have always wanted a second child.
To think about the words
that Kelly spoke a year ago,
"There's no way in hell I'll
have a second child with you."
And now we're pregnant.
Last night, she came up to me and said,
"Eli, I just want to tell you,
"I don't think I've communicated it yet,
"but I am so excited that
we're having a second child."
And it's very redeeming,
very, very redeeming.
Mother Teresa said,
"Not all of us can do great things,
"but we can do small
things with great love."
I can so easily get caught
up in wanting a big mission,
something epic to
undertake, when right there
in front of me is the
biggest endeavor of my life.
Heart apples!
Is it Valentine's Day today?
Dadda, look!
Look at that!
- What is it?
- I want this one.
As much as we love our son,
we do have to remember to stay
focused on each other too.
Really, it's a testament to not giving up,
'cause there are many days
where I wanted to give up.
And again, everything's not perfect now,
but I think we're doing better than ever.
I think to be a wholehearted human
and to have a marriage that is beautiful
and full of life and love, you need help.
We need help.
We need help.
We still need help.
How many counselors have we seen?
Like a half dozen?
I mean, we invest in counseling!
Along with this turn of
events of now being pregnant,
we also are considering
moving back to our house.
I could go either way right now.
I could stay on the road
another couple years.
I've enjoyed having the
adventures we've had,
but I've been looking forward to a day
when we might return to
the house that we had.
It was bittersweet.
I needed to set myself up
well for this second delivery,
even though I didn't
want this journey to end.
It wasn't easy, but we decided that
after our jobs in Colorado were over,
we would make a beeline for home.
And since our second
tenants also fell through,
our house was just sitting there,
ready for us to move back in.
Do you wanna go
back to the Tollgate house?
Are you excited?
How are we gonna get there?
It's really far.
You're right.
We're gonna have to drive a long way.
Tomorrow morning, we get up at
seven o'clock and drive west.
I would say, as I look back on this trip,
it has been an epic collection of travel,
exploration, adventure
with my three-year-old son
and my wife, and Tassie, the dog.
And I'm gonna miss it.
We watched the sun
set over the Snake River,
our last night on the
road and in the Bounder.
When we got back home, we
cleared everything out,
cleaned it all up, and
got it ready to sell.
Being in here
brings up so much nostalgia.
This Bounder has become my home.
I know it so well.
I know every in and out of it,
and I've fixed so many things,
and now it's just gonna
sit here until we sell it.
It was our adventure vehicle,
and the adventure's over,
and a new adventure begins.
We signed the
title and handed over
the Bounder keys, and then
watched it drive away.
You wanna do
another trip some time?
We'll do another trip on
another Bounder today.
Take care.
All right.
Good luck on Isabelle.
Thank you.
Thank you, I know.
On to our next adventure.
But we will be thinking of you
as you're out on the roads.
We love you, Bounder.
We love you, Bounder.
Bye, Bounder.
Bye-bye, Bounder!
There she goes!
Say bye-bye Bounder, Mama.
Bye-bye, Bounder!
Bye-bye, Bounder.
It was sad for a little while.
But soon the excitement
of our new baby girl
took center stage.
What's she saying?
Hello, big brother.
I love you.
It was one of the best days of my life
when I finally pushed her out.
That I had the courage to believe
that it would go better
this time, and it did,
and that was such a victory for me.
At the beginning, I said that life
is a journey, not a destination.
And I haven't arrived yet.
I'm still in process.
And it seems that every day
presents another opportunity to grow.
I wouldn't have chosen many
things that happened in my life.
And I wouldn't wish pain
and heartache on anyone.
In those moments of grief and suffering,
it's had to hold on to hope.
But somehow, through those
struggles, I've become who I am.
Hope is risky, because
to hope in something,
whether that's a marriage or a pregnancy,
you're putting it all out there.
And as we know, we can't
control things, but
the only option for me
is to choose hope.
So I'm risking even though it's scary,
loving even though it hurts.
I'm choosing hope, because there are far,
far better things ahead
than any we leave behind.
It's the calling.
I think it's the same
reason that anybody does it.
To me, it's about
really engaging in life.
Just do stuff when you can, you know?
Get out there and do it.
Don't put off till tomorrow
what you can do today.
There you go
Tapping at my window
There you go
Rattling my heart
Far away
I want to go with you
Every day
And never be apart
When you're feeling empty
When the skies are gray
I will be your honey
And chase the blues away
Let's go out for a drive
Need a little sunshine
Need a little sunshine
What a day for feeling alive
Want a little more time
Just a little more time with you