Ballad of the Nomad

Looking back at our first six months of travel

Peter and Kathy Holcombe Peter and Kathy Holcombe  |  12.20.2014

As the six month anniversary of our journey approaches, I can’t help but notice that we have settled into a rhythm, an ebb and flow of our individual experiences that blend together into a cacophonic symphony as we explore the intricacies of this new life on the road.  At times the beat that sets the tempo of our life is frantic and erratic as we charge furiously into the unknown of a new adventure, adjusting from moment to moment as we oscillate between adrenaline and exhaustion.  Other times, our anthem draws us fluidly, softly, through the day to day necessities of work and school, chores and errands.  But most often, it’s the harmonies of our individual perspectives and experiences that intertwine to create the complex melody of our journey.  Here is a brief glimpse into our Ballad of the Nomad…

Holcombe FamilyOne of our all time favorite destinations is Grand Teton National Park.  We have experienced the park from the summit of the Grand Teton itself to the Snake River in the valley below, and virtually everything in between.  From hiking to climbing, kayaking, fishing, cycling and sightseeing, this place has it all.  Here we are with Winnie the View as the sun dips below the Tetons.

Peter and Abby PaddleJust outside of Teton National Park is a section of the Snake River known as Alpine Canyon.  It is a beautiful stretch of river spanning almost 12 miles with consistent whitewater throughout.  Here, Abby and Peter are entering the most notorious rapid, Lunch Counter, known for its giant roller coaster waves.

Abby in HammockSchool has always been a top priority for us, and the Colorado Connections Academy has been a great fit for our family this year.  This online, public school provides everything we need to make sure that Abby becomes a well educated and productive citizen.  Five days a week she wakes up and “goes to school” virtually.  She logs in each morning to receive her assignments which may include watching a video, reading a textbook or piece of literature, collaborating with other students in her class, creating a portfolio piece, or taking a test.  She submits her assignments electronically and regularly receives feedback from her teacher so that she can continue to grow as a life-long learner.  Here she is in nature’s classroom taking a math test at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, NC.

Kathy fishing pelicansI have been coming to Gulf Shores, AL every year since I was a kid and have watched it transform from a quiet fishing village with a few scattered motels to a high-rise adorned, tourist destination complete with white sand, gentle waves, great food and all the amenities of a small town.  While I have mourned the loss of the endless stretches of sea-oat covered sand-dunes that once outnumbered the buildings, I was completely elated to find beautiful pockets of wilderness still thriving as I explored the coast and nearby riverways for the first time in my kayak this fall.  Fishing in Little Lagoon under the watchful eye of the pelican Air Force was one of my favorite new discoveries.

Peter with paddlersLife on the road, especially for a 10 year old girl, can sometimes be pretty lonely.  Fortunately, the breaks between friends have been rare for us. Throughout our journey we have been surrounded by incredible families that have shared some of our favorite experiences with us.  Here we are with the McBeath family on the Mississippi River in Point Place, Ontario, Canada enjoying a family sunset cruise.

Peter with pumpkinsHalloween is one of our favorite holidays and each year we look forward to planning out our costumes, pranking the neighbors and scaring the daylights out of teenagers roaming the streets and causing mischief, but this year we were completely uncertain where we would be or how exactly we would celebrate.  While kayaking at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) near Bryson City, NC we noticed a flyer for their annual NOCtober Fest Celebration that promised pumpkin carving and costume contests and something called a pumpkin plucking competition where 500+ small pumpkins with raffle numbers written on the bottom are released down a cascading waterfall.  Following the launch of the pumpkins, 50 boaters start en masses to race in a haphazard assortment of whitewater vessels in an attempt to collect as many pumpkins as possible in hopes of plucking a lucky pumpkin to win prizes, but more importantly to revel in the glory of surviving the falls relatively unscathed.  Here is Peter celebrating his flawless line down the falls while collecting thirty-seven pumpkins. Samantha Walker and Abby are coming to help sort his spoils and find the winning raffle numbers.

Peter below huge fallsBefore this year, we never really thought of Tennessee as a destination, but more of a span of highway leading to other more noteworthy places.  We couldn’t have been more mistaken.  We have completely fallen in love with Rock Island State Park near Sparta, TN.  The towering Rock Island Falls is spectacular in its own right, but couple that with the world class whitewater below and it is truly a kayakers paradise.  Here is Eric Jackson, world champion freestyle kayaker, taking in the breathtaking view before a training run.

Famagogo-capulin,NMSometimes it is the little things that really bring in all into perspective.  One afternoon this fall, we found ourselves driving across New Mexico, when the clouds drifted in just as the sun dipped below the horizon.  We pulled off the road near Capulin Volcano, and climbed on the roof of Winnie the View to take it all in.  As we watched the fiery display unfold before us, we realized that a year on the road might just be the beginning, or rather a whole new platform for a longterm lifestyle where sunsets are treasured more than possessions and where a quiet, beautiful moment together trumps all.  We can’t wait to see what awaits us over the next horizon.

Onward,

The Holcombes


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