If I didn't make this trip happen, I feared I would live to regret it.

I never thought of myself as an RVer, but I was attracted to the idea of packing modest belongings into a mini house on wheels and setting out for an extended journey. Our family had never taken a vacation longer than two weeks and most of our major road trips were for youth hockey.

This trip was an opportunity to do something extraordinary and bring the family together when the daily grind of life at home had us drifting apart. It was a chance to step out of my comfort zone, meet new people and make life long memories.

A few years ago, my grandfather, now 94, took me by the arm and said, "Don't wait. Do great things while you can. Life goes too damn fast and before you know it, you're too old to do the things that really matter."

I'll never forget that moment, the seriousness of his tone, the tightness of his grip and how his eyes were smiling. This trip was the kind of thing he was talking about.

Family selfie with lighthouse behind them.

One week and over a thousand miles into it, I feel like we've been at this a lot longer. We meander through long days that blend together and we lose track of where we are on the calendar. Planning happens on the fly (a complete departure from my usual modus operandi) and we never quite know where we'll end up until we get there. There's also a rhythm and a sense of freedom and discovery in this form of travel that I am getting used to.

I have to admit that family life on the road is far from perfect. There's a certain amount of bickering, complaining and reluctant compromise on a daily basis. Nonetheless, there is something far more important -- almost magical -- about the moments (not days) in this shared experience that I trust will make it unforgettable.

Moments such as...

The windy and rainy afternoon we arrived at an idyllic beachfront RV park in the remote town of La Push, Washington.

The pleasure I get from seeing my teenage daughter smile and laugh.

The morning everyone rallied to hike Neahkahnie Mountain with me even though they didn't want to.

How we tuck into bed each night in the same room, feeling close and safe.

Finding a beautiful oceanfront campsite and unexpectedly discovering the water was home to an active pod of Gray Whales.

Surfer on beach

How we spent hours smiling and sharing words of encouragement as we all surfed Agate Beach in Newport, Oregon.

The early morning coffee I get to share with my husband pouring over maps and guidebooks while our teen and preteen sleep.

Despite our lack of experience driving and maintaining an RV (we'd never driven one before this trip), we're catching on. As we gain control of the high tech systems and mechanics, there is a real sense of accomplishment and pride that has not been lost on me. And, at least for now, we've made it a little easier on ourselves by banning everyone from using the bathroom for #2 and relying on campground showers.

Crowd gathered around a lighthouse.

This trip is a journey in togetherness. In figuring it out. It's about healing wounds and strengthening bonds. It's about stepping in, opening up and being present. We're not there yet, but with each and every mile, we'll get a little closer.

Dori and her husband Mike and two children, Matilda and Clarence, are taking a 4-week, 5,000 mile trip across the western U.S. in a Winnebago Via. She is writing about her experience for Winnebago Life and for her national audience of readers and writers at Mamalode -- "America's best parenting magazine." Follow her frequent posts on Instagram @Mamalode #viaMamalode -- and keep an eye out for her on the road.


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