Why the heck are we doing this?!
To slow down.
No soccer, instruments, Girl Scouts, swim lessons, camps, birthday parties, or any other activity with which we first world, middle-class families over-fill our schedules. We want more time to watch our kids play, blossom and engage nature. We want to have more down time in the evenings to enjoy marriage and not the management and care of stuff. We want to tackle our stacks of books that grow faster than we currently have time to read. We want to actually SEE our country with our own eyes and not through a screen.
To see the beauty in our country in an entirely new way.
Rarely will we be on an interstate highway and more often we will be off the beaten path. Our progress will be slow, even by bike touring standards since we have such an imbalance of adults versus children. That gives us time to look around, point out items of interest to each other and take note of changes in the landscape over the miles.
To better distinguish needs versus wants.
How many shoes and clothes do we really need? How about toys? Or square footage and counter space? Things are going to be exponentially more spartan and prioritized for function for the duration of the tour and hopefully we will take fewer creature comforts and excesses for granted afterward.
To appreciate the natural over the material.
We will not have capacity for a lot of ‘stuff’. The kids will be equipped with reading tablets, some homeschool curriculum and a small toy or two. Birthdays and holidays will not be bounties of gifts, if there are any material gifts at all. Entertainment and beauty will have to be found in the ever-changing landscape with which we surround ourselves.
To recognize the necessity that each of us contribute in order for our family to succeed.
Those mountains are not achievable by the bike captain alone! Not to mention that making and breaking camp on a daily basis requires all hands on deck if we are to cover any significant distance that day or simply the necessary distance to get to civilization for food and supplies. The family as a whole benefits if all of us work together, and often all of us will suffer when only one person does not contribute.
Resiliency and grit
It is not a matter of if obstacles present themselves to us along the way, but a matter of when and how many. Weather, sickness, bike mechanical failure, less abundant meals or even human crime/mischief could occur at any point. However, throwing up our hands and quitting, potentially in the middle of nowhere, is not an option. We will have to figure out solutions and get back into the bike saddles and keep on chugging.
To strengthen our faith and trust in God.
We are planners by nature. Our military life exacerbated that compulsion in both of us because so much of our life was unpredictable, yet dictated to us, that we held fast to the few areas we could control and had plans A to Z for them. We do not know when or what challenges will befall us along the way, so we cannot plan our way out of those inconveniences. We do not know where we will ultimately land after the tour is over, in terms of getting a job and the family settling down for a while (hopefully for good!). This inability to plan and troubleshoot to the nth degree is very uncomfortable for us. We pray this discomfort will push us to deepen our faith, give up our habitual attempts at self-reliance, and instead willingly submit daily to our dependence on God and trust His plan for us.