People often ask Susie Kellogg how she can live in an RV with 12 children.
“We don’t ‘live’ in here,” Kellogg said from the couch of her 1999 Georgie Boy Cruisemaster. “We just sleep here. We live outside.”
The Kelloggs, a family of 14 from Colorado, sold their house and took to the road in the fall of 2012 with their dog and 18 kayaks in tow.
“We are an outdoors family,” said Dan, the 40-year-old father of the Kellogg brood. “We love to paddle. But why just do it on weekends?”
They’ve camped all over the country in the past year, but this week they decided to check out the 29th Annual Florida RV SuperShow at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
“We’ve never been to an RV show,” Dan said. “But that’s our life, so why not check it out?”
He and Susie, 39, met in college at Virginia Tech and moved west, where they began running whitewater rivers. Their 12 children — seven boys and five girls — share their enthusiasm for the water.
The Kellogg kids — Kerry, 20; Grady, 17; Brody, 16; Kady, 15; Kenny, 13; Dally, 12; Cardy, 10; Maddy, 8; Rowdy, 7; Emmy, 5; Elly, 3; and Coby, 1 — have always loved the outdoors.
“We bought the RV so we could travel for kayaking events,” Dan said. “We were driving back from a trip to the East Coast when one of the kids said that they wished we didn’t have to go home.”
Susie thought about it for a moment then added, “That would be fun . . . traveling all the time.” Once the words were spoken, the Kellogg children would give no quarter.
“That was it,” Susie said. “There was no turning back.”
So they went home to Glenwood Springs, held a couple of monster garage sales, took a few trips to the dump and then sold their house. They piled what little belongings they had left into their 15-year-old RV and hit the road with no particular place to go.
“There was a lot of soul searching at first,” Susie said. “You learn pretty quickly that the destination isn’t really important. It’s the journey that matters.”
The kids are home (or RV) schooled, and Dan works from his laptop. “I am a software engineer so all I really need is an Internet connection,” he said.
The daily routine is fairly consistent. Dan rises early and gets the kids started on their studies and catechism — the Kelloggs are Catholic — and then after lunch, it is time to hike, climb or paddle.
“My kids are outdoors all of the time,” Dan said. “They are never cooped up. We run them pretty hard so they sleep well at night.”
The Kelloggs’ RV is nothing fancy. The tables and sofas all fold out into beds. “It is tight,” Susie said. “But it sleeps everybody.”
When they stay in a state or national park or forest, the Kelloggs move to tents. “The kids would much rather sleep outside than in the RV,” Dan said. “They love to camp.”
The older Kellogg children don’t feel like they are being short-changed when it comes to social interaction.
“We have made friends all over the country,” Grady said. “I sort of feel sorry for kids who have to go to regular public school. They are missing out on all this.”
The Kelloggs’ oldest daughter, Kerry, was traveling with the family, but she recently took a seasonal job working at a ski resort in Colorado. “She’ll be back with us in the spring,” Susie said.
One of the biggest challenges the Kelloggs have had to face is how to cook for so many people in a tiny kitchen. “We have two crock pots,” Susie said. “But we have a hard time storing food. We have to go to the grocery store every other day.”
Then there’s 2-year-old Eddie, a k a “Bad Dog,” the Labradoodle. “He runs away all the time,” Susie said. “He’s been arrested a few times. He’s always getting us in trouble.”
Dan and Susie said they don’t know how long their odyssey will last. Their children are having fun and both parents seem calm, cool and collected, in spite of the cramped quarters.
They’ve even written a book about parenting called Raising a Badass Family, which Dan described as a “ramped-up modern version of that which Dr. Spock and Dr. T. Berry Brazelton pioneered in both the 1940s and 1990s.”
On Amazon.com, it’s describaed as being for “anxious parents, those suffering from parenting overload and those that simply need a swift kick in the pants.”
The Kelloggs acknowledge that their RV lifestyle isn’t for everybody, but Dan added, “It seems to be working for us.”