The Do Good Tour: 10,000 Miles of Good Deeds
On the Road
In short order Jay and Beth sold the house, bought an RV, and became best friends with their GPS. They closed on the sale of their home and hit the road just in time to avoid the housing crash. Though Jay's income has dropped during the economic slowdown, the family's financial future would have been downright bleak if they still had a mortgage of their own to pay. To the Loeckens, it's one more sign that choosing four wheels over brick and mortar wasn't so crazy after all.
There are just two rooms in the ultra-compact 2006 Monaco Knight that the Loeckens now live in. The front area serves as the kitchen, living room, dining area, and classroom (Beth continues to homeschool), not to mention one bedroom for all four kids. Abigail and Bekah sleep on the foldout couch, Noah gets the love seat and Ben beds down under the kitchen table on blow-up mattress. "Just guess how many times I've woken up and hit my head," he deadpans. The kids each have one small overhead cubby instead of a closet; according to Ben, Abigail's is the messiest. Otherwise the RV is pristine and hyperorganized -- Beth has labeled every Rubbermaid container in it. She and Jay have the back bedroom, which doubles as an office and laundry room (the compact washer and dryer are mere footsteps from the computer and desk where Jay runs the family's Web site, thearktour.org, and his mortgage business). Their motorcycle and their SUV are hitched to the back. "It's kind of nice to drive something that's not your home once in a while," Jay jokes.
But the laughs didn't come as easily during those first weeks, when the family struggled to adjust. Bekah did indeed miss her friends, Ben longed for privacy, and Jay missed just about everything associated with life outside the camper. "At points I was like, 'Let's just stop this crazy ride and buy another house,'" he says. "It usually happened when the electricity went out, the hookups weren't working, or I had to deal with dumping the sewage." Jay, who had never driven an RV before, also had to master the arts of backing the 40-foot-long vehicle out of driveways, parallel parking, and merging onto highways.