Touring the United States in a van is the dream of manyEndless roads, breathtaking scenery, bargain-priced gasoline …american lifestyle lived in the few square meters of a van it acquires an even more intense and authentic flavor. With my family, in 2017, we stayed in eastern Canada, crossing this part of the country with a small Fiat 238. However, I had the pleasure of following another family, with whom we are often in contact, who tried their luck in a I travel to the USA with my own truck Westfalia T3 “Rocinante”. Five months on the road from coast to coast, in the company of two children and a dog that is not exactly skinny! Therefore, it is a great pleasure to share the interview with my friend Andrea Arquà, creator and promoter of this spectacular trip abroad. Let’s hear what he tells us about it!
Welcome to Andrea’s Room21 magazine, first of all I ask you what you want to talk about that legendary trip and I think it is unforgettable today, years later. Nostalgia? Gratitude? Remorse? Happiness?
Hello everyone and thanks to Room21 for the hospitality.
You immediately got a good direct result with this question. The road trip to the United States was an exceptional chapter in our lives and will forever remain tattooed in our hearts and minds. I cannot enclose in a few lines the whirlwind of emotions that I am feeling as I tap the PC keyboard with my fingers … it is an immense cauldron in which joy, nostalgia, love, memories of incredible experiences, of contact with the nature, of skies. stars and dreams. But without regrets, of that I am sure, despite the surprise ending I would do it all over again without the slightest hesitation.
What exactly was your path? Can you list the main stops you have touched on the way?
We sent Ronzinante to Baltimore by boat and landed in New York a month later. After a couple of days wandering around the Big Apple we went to pick up our beloved van and from there the real journey began. We head inland toward Washington, then cross Appalques in scenic Blue Ridge Park facing the chilly east coast march. Then we cross Georgia and from there we follow the coast to reach Florida, which we travel to Llaves. Climbing up the side of the Gulf of Mexico we crossed the Everglades National Park and then we headed towards Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, arriving in New Orleans on Easter Day between allegorical floats and celebrations.
Then we crossed the huge Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona enjoying all the great parks. And then California, with its waves, its skate parks, Yosemite and Sequoia NP. Old Ronzi then took us to wild Oregon and further north to Washington state. We were beginning our return to the east when the engine dropped us off in Idaho. After a thousand ups and downs we managed to send T3 back to Italy from Los Angeles and our journey ended there.
How long have you been away in total? And how did you organize yourself from a work point of view?
The initial plan was to travel for 6 months, but due to engine failure we finally did 5. Anyway, a lot of things. I am a freelance professional with CIF and I work primarily for a sports medicine center. The excellent relationship with my employer, acquired after years of collaboration, allowed me to speak with him from the heart of our project. He received it enthusiastically and assured me that I would still find my place once I returned to Italy. Obviously, during the American months, I didn’t rotate, so it took a lot of belt-tightening in the run-up to departure. My wife, on the other hand, is a permanent employee, but she too, thanks to an excellent relationship with her boss and a great organization and planning, managed to “buy time” for such a trip. You added any previous licenses to which you added a license.
I know that your children, Noah and Daniel, have followed the homeschooling school curriculum. How did they meet? And was it difficult for you?
At first it was complicated because a traveling trip does not allow you to have a routine to follow but then we abandoned the rigid limits that we had set ourselves and we managed to obtain excellent results. Children attend a Montessori school and that is why parents have also followed that philosophy, basing most of the study on practical experiences. Accounts and mathematical problems applied to supermarket shopping, geography and science simply exploiting nature and large parks. Daniel was in third grade at the time and he was studying hominids for the history program, so after reading the text we built a real “helicopter”, one of the first tools used by hominids at the time. All of this was possible above all thanks to the great flexibility and enthusiasm of the teachers and the principal, who supported and supported us from the beginning. In September, before school started, Daniel took a proper fourth grade exam that, to our great pride, he passed brilliantly.
Let’s talk about the preparations: how long did it take you to prepare such a trip? And what was the most dramatic moment?
The preparation was quite long because the moments dedicated to this very important part of the trip were relegated to pieces of time that work and children allowed us. It took us almost a year to organize everything. Visas, school permits, work, delivery of the van, but especially old Ronzi’s insurance, have taken away many hours of sleep. Until the last moment it seemed that it was not possible to insure our T3 for an old speech but in the end, after my threat to cancel the shipment by ship, the Seabridge company put a hand on his heart and issued the insurance.
The three places that will remain in your heart forever?
We have loved the entire United States, but if I have to choose Arizona, Yosemite and Sequoia NP in California. There, in the presence of these giants, you feel really small and you understand that you are part of something bigger and more wonderful that is called Earth.
And those who have let you down?
In this case, I have to be very picky, but to be honest, Florida hasn’t thrilled me that much. All too combed and great difficulty sleeping free.
Tell me about Ronzinante. Suddenly your trusty steed has given up on you. What exactly do you remember from that moment?
Every now and then, for no real reason, on the street, while driving, at night … that precise moment comes to mind when I heard the engine “bang on the head” and realized that it was finished. Unfortunately, in America they are not very familiar with old European vehicles and no mechanic wanted to take on that job. We took Ronzi to San Francisco, where a girl we met a month earlier greeted us at her home while a mechanic friend of hers was trying to get hold of the engine. In the end, sadly, he was unable to repair the damage and therefore reluctantly we had to go back.
How did you manage, humanly speaking, to solve such a huge obstacle?
When we realized that there was nothing else to do, Michela and I desperately burst into tears, but our son Daniel (who had turned 9 during the trip) told us:
“This journey may end here but we are travelers at heart.” Listening to his words I understood that it was really worth it and, although it ended badly, this adventure had succeeded in its true purpose: to make us live a great experience and make us grow as a family and as individuals.
On your blog, Vanfamilyontheroad , you have recounted the highlights of this adventure, but not only: you have published a practical manual that I like to shareAdvance and the first words:
I started really living my life when I stopped wanting the perfect one from others, when I finished making excuses to justify my fears, and when I realized that whatever freedom we want, we must make many sacrifices to obtain and maintain it. .
These are really current concepts that lead me to a thorny question: what do you think of the many gurus who preach the mantra “leave everything, go and become free”?
As a child, I wasted years pursuing an illusory freedom, the perfect job, the perfect home, the perfect life. It seemed like everyone else was doing it except me. Then with age and a good dose of slapping I realized that everything must be in balance and there can be no light without darkness. I certainly don’t want to be a guru, but simply to say that you cannot completely separate yourself from reality, especially when you have children. This does not mean giving up our dreams, but we must understand that all freedom that we long for requires a certain amount of sacrifice to achieve it and the same amount to maintain it. I try to live this life day by day, enjoying the beautiful moments and facing the less beautiful. Sometimes I grab my dreams, sometimes I fall and accept defeat, other times I have patience and I try again. I try to enjoy the unique moments that life gives me, with myself, with my children and with my partner. I plan the right thing (even if it’s not my strong point) and otherwise go with the flow.
A new chapter has begun for you, that of Ronzinante 2.0. Tell us about it, perhaps suggesting some videos of yours. Youtube channel if you want!
After the intensive 5 American months we spent aboard our old 1981 VW T3, we realized we needed a slightly larger and more reliable vehicle. The boys grow up and Maya, a 37 kg malamute, always travels with us. So reluctantly, because you love vehicles like Ronzi like they’re human, we decided to buy a modern Roadcar 540.
We stayed in a small size to use as an everyday car and a trip home at the same time.
We recently opened a YouTube channel (Vanfamily on the road) where we tell our traveling adventures in Ronzinante 2.0 (name given in honor of the Old Man). Don’t miss the five episodes of the recent trip to Abruzzo and a mini series of videos (still under construction) dedicated to the actual van intended to explain the internal measurements and provisions to help those interested in buying a van.
Beyond the obvious limits of Ronzinante, do you feel nostalgic for your old vehicle?
Ronzinante was a sick, romantic brother that we always miss a lot but, as I wrote a few lines ago, we have to deal with reality. The trips we made with him will always stay with me.
And now the question of the questions: which countries do you plan to visit in the coming years?
Haha! How many pages do I have to answer?
Certainly Italy, on weekends and during some longer bridges. Then Norway, Northern Spain, Portugal, Morocco …
My biggest goal would be to get to China via the Silk Road, but for now I’m just dreaming of Google Maps. Who knows …