Two weeks into this trip and we're starting to feel like pros. RV'n is a team sport, much like parenting, and Mike and I have exchanged lots of high fives and fist bumps. Those mini celebrations are important. They mark moments of glory, big and small, that allow us to see and appreciate the journey as well as the destination.

Boy looking out Winnebago Via window at the ocean.Surf's up and so is the boy. Photo: Mike Beltz

It might be as simple as dumping our grey and black water for the first time or dealing with warnings of low DEF, or acknowledging a particularly great day or the serendipity of pulling into a coastal campground marked FULL just before 9 pm when the park staff are closing and they tell us we can have one of two remaining no-show sites. All of those experiences warrant a high five -- or two-- on a trip like this.

At the same time, we are learning to let go of the times that aren't so great. Like the day we took a longer than expected white knuckle drive on a side road to the coast of northern California to reach an RV park on the beach that sounded idyllic but wasn't. Or the time we drove 10 miles up a narrow canyon, dismissing acute warnings from the Via's onboard computer that we exceeded load limits for the road, only to have to turn around at a more prominent flashing warning sign outside a foreboding tunnel and sit in excessive traffic on the way back to another route.

Girl standing at the base of a massive redwood.Matilda in the Redwoods. Photo: Dori Gilels

This is a learning experience. And we find it pretty remarkable that we have driven the entire coastline of the western U.S.. We hiked the fern-laden forests of the northwest, surfed nine different beaches, learned about elephant seals and visited the grounds of Hearst Castle in Big Sur, stayed with family and ate outstanding food. It's stunningly beautiful and culturally, ecologically and historically fascinating. In fact, we'd like to do it again. Because now we know the sweet spots we missed and the things we should avoid. We know it could be better, different.

Surfers out on the water.Clarence surfing at Cayucos Beach, CA. Photo: Dori Gilels

But through it all, it's the relationships that matter most. It's the time our kids are spending together rekindling their friendship. It's the meaningful family conversations about forest fires and terrorism, about friends and school and travel. It's an opportunity for them to see their parents hold hands or work constructively through a sticky situation. It's the laughter and new experiences on the road. It's the recognition that we're in this together, like it or not.

This part of being together is priceless and I don't want it to end. I wonder if things will be different when we get home or if we will slip right back into old patterns. I want the last two weeks to pass slowly. On Wednesday, we leave the coast and its cool breezes to experience the desert states of Arizona and New Mexico and to see old friends as we make our way east and north in the direction of home.

I hear the desert is hot in August. I hope we can keep our cool.

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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