The Kelloggs, originally from Colorado, say they’ve found freedom and happiness on the road together as they tour North America in a 36-foot motorhome.
It’s unclear who among the 14 members of the Kellogg clan was first to suggest they never stop travelling, but as the story goes, the rest of the family liked the idea and were quick to jump on board.
“Somebody said: ‘We should just sell the house and live in the RV,’” recalled Susie Kellogg, mother to 12 children who lived in Glenwood Springs, Colo., until they chose a new life on the open road in late 2012.
“You can’t get more quality time together than what we’re doing as a family,” said Dan, Susie’s husband.
The Kelloggs have since settled into their transient existence, chalking up nearly 100,000 kilometres as they criss-crossed the continent in their 36-foot motorhome, which has a kitchen, fridge, full bathroom, TV — “everything you’d have at home,” said Susie. Speaking with the Star from a campground in Saint John, N.B., Susie and Dan said they’ve achieved a harmonious — albeit tightly packed — life of freedom and adventure that is as exciting as it is fulfilling.
“The experience, the fun, the closeness — that’s what we’re building for our kids,” said Susie.
The family, with children ranging from 1 to 20 years old, has so far romped through two dozen states and crossed into Canada for the first time this summer. In recent weeks, they’ve admired the roaring water at Niagara Falls, visited the Toronto Zoo and went whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River. From there, they swung east to practise their French in Montreal before settling in at a Saint John campground, where Susie said they’ve met “the nicest people you can imagine.”
A typical day begins with cooking up a breakfast of eggs, bacon and smoothies.
Dan, an independent software engineer, will then set to work, while Susie gives lessons in math, reading and writing to their assembly of kids. The rest of their learning comes from their travels and the places they see — “roadschooling,” as they call it on the family blog, which is updated regularly with video logs and photos and posts expounding the virtues of their migratory lifestyle.
“They’re stepping outside their comfort zone, and they’re also learning that life is not a cubicle. You don’t have to have a job that you hate going to, bellowing ‘TGIF!’ or ‘I hate Mondays!’ I would be terribly sad to think of my kids in that kind of a life,” said Susie.
Susie and Dan met at Virginia Tech in 1992, and before long were living in Colorado with their ever-expanding family. To haul the pack of kids to new spots for camping and kayaking — a favourite activity — the Kelloggs bought a ’99 Georgie Boy Cruise Master RV. But between trips, they found they missed their time in the RV. They felt more alive out there.
“We never even travelled as a family, really, until we bought an RV,” said Susie. “The year we bought it, we found ourselves camping right on the beach in Southern California, something we’d dreamed of doing.”
In fall 2012, while heading home from a kayaking holiday in Tennessee, the Kelloggs made the call: they would sell their home and take to the RV full time. Susie gave birth to their 12th child, Coby, that November. With their dozen kids, — Kerry, Grady, Brody, Kady, Kenny, Dally, Cardy, Maddy, Rowdy, Emmy, Elly and Coby — the Kelloggs peeled out of their old life and onto their boundless camping quest.
Now they move around as they please, the road itself instilling a curiosity and confidence that Susie said is apparent in her children. Grady, 18, and Brody, 17, are working on publishing Android apps, while their eldest, Kerry, an artist, recently left to take a summer job as a raft guide in Colorado.
The Kelloggs planned to leave New Brunswick Tuesday afternoon and drive south into the northeastern U.S. After that, they have their sights set on South America and maybe even Europe. There are no rules, and no limits, on the road, said Susie. “We’re completely free.”