Last year Jeremy and Sarah Birnie sold everything (home, car, the family manufacturing business) and bought a motorhome. What started as a weeks-long road trip became a year-long adventure with their three-year-old daughter along for the ride.
Who: Jeremy Birnie, 37, entrepreneur. Sarah Birnie, 35, interior designer.
Relationship status: Married since 2009, parents.
LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND
Jeremy: We had always said that we didn’t want to be one of those couples who have a kid and stop having fun. After we decided to sell the business, we had the opportunity to carve out some time and do something cool. I had always dreamed of that classic American road trip – concerts and ballparks.
Sarah: A lot of our friends and family thought we were nuts, but that’s sort of how they think of us anyway. Like, oh the Birnies – what are those weirdos up to now? We started dating in 2003 while we were both at Dalhousie for university. We got married in 2009 and spent our honeymoon backpacking in Thailand and India. We moved from Toronto to small-town Ontario in 2008 for Jeremy’s job. That was definitely a major life change, but we were both up for it.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
Sarah: We set out from the Wal-Mart parking lot at Sherway Gardens mall in November of 2016.
Jeremy: We wanted to get somewhere warm right away, so drove straight to Gulf Shores, Ala. Locals call it the Redneck Riviera. This was right after the election. At first I would ask everyone I met what they thought about Trump. I stopped doing that after a while. Next we drove to southwest Texas. We spent Christmas there in a trailer park, which was really fun.
Sarah: It’s called an RV park! They did an amazing potluck with 150 people – a lot of salads with marshmallows. It was a really memorable holiday.
Jeremy: We had originally planed to do three months, and then it just snowballed. At one point we were in California and we decided we wanted to go skiing, so we drove to Mammoth [Calif.]. We put our daughter in ski school.
Sarah: When we were there, we met someone who told us – you have to go to Utah and rent a houseboat on Lake Powell in the middle of the desert. So we did. That was kind of our system. Rather than using a guidebook, we would just take suggestions from random people.
BABY ON BOARD
Sarah: Before we left, I think we had some pretty romantic notions. A lot of things were different from how we imagined.
Jeremy: Sarah didn’t drive the RV. That was not part of the original plan. For the first few weeks I would say, how about now? How about now?
Sarah: I didn’t want to kill our family. And having a three-year-old was definitely challenging at times. We were on this big adventure, but there was still nap time and bedtime. It was cool to see Olivia processing and understanding things. One day she turned to us and said, “Some people live in houses.”
Jeremy: Just to have all that time with her and as a family. Of course, we get that most people don’t have the means and freedom to do something like this. We both feel very lucky.
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