WILMINGTON -- A family left its three-bedroom home in Wilmington in January, heading out west to visit friends and family. They bought a bus that was soon converted into a living space and planned to return to the Deerfield Valley for school.
Instead, they decided to keep touring the country while adventure blogging and named themselves the Gemini Life Surfers.
"We're going to do that again and hit some new places," said Brandi Parker, the mother of the household.
This time around, her family also plans to run a catering company dedicated to providing food containing organic ingredients.
A project they call "Feed the People" will involve gleaning at farms then providing meals at events open to anyone, using ingredients picked at the farms. It will begin this summer in the valley then move on to other states. The events will be held at local businesses or parks. Free food will be given out once it is cooked on site.
It is the family's vision to bridge the gap between the different socioeconomic groups in society, Parker told the Reformer. Their decision stems from reading about the hunger problems and economic hardships others are facing around the United States.
"People are malnourished in our country because the food quality really isn't that good," she said. "There are 30 million Americans who are underfed every day and lacking sufficient nutrition while 35 million tons of quality fresh food goes into the landfill or is literally burnt each year.
Living off the land while traveling the open road and teaching their two children along the way was something the family chose to do in order to get on in a more sustainable way.
"We found a solution that works for us, where we can help people, provide for our kids and spread the world," Parker said. "There is an alternative out there."
Parker, her husband and two children, ages 13 and 10, make up the team of adventurers. Their most recent trip involved driving a jeep around the Red Agave Resort in Arizona on July 26.
According to a blog post, by the time they reached the second set of trails, they were ready for the challenging obstacles awaiting them.
"We conquered the 'Slide,' drove around mushroom rock and made it down the incredibly steep 'Stairs,'" Parker stated. "The stairs are definitely not for the faint of heart. Safe? Maybe ... Scary? Yes! Heart thumping? Most definitely!"
A week before, the family went indoor skydiving in Texas. The air that kept them suspended above the floor was generated by four powerful fans, Park said in a blog.
"The wind created by the fans is enough to lift you 40 feet to the top of the tunnel in a matter of seconds," she wrote. "It was challenging at first as the slightest movement of hand or foot could spin you sideways or cause you to sink down to the floor."
An instructor taught family members how to stay in place while floating in the air.
"We hovered, catching the air with our torsos, arms and upper legs. As we moved along with our flight, we began to move around the tube with greater ease. We learned how to rotate ourselves 360 degrees by merely tilting our hands at slight angles," stated Parker. "To assuage our need for an adrenaline rush, our instructor took each of us up 20 feet in the air on a spinning tandem flight."
The term "life surfing" was recently added to UrbanDictionary.com by the family. The website consists of slang terms and references. The term refers to the absorbing ups and downs of life as if riding the waves produced in an ocean.
"It's about living life rather than being a victim," she said. "I think the biggest thing for us is we got really honest about what we wanted and started saying, 'If we were acting authentically, what are the things that really interest us?'"
While traveling, Parker said the children are learning new skills and how to survive.
Currently, the family is talking to different businesses in the valley regarding where they can hold the event that will kick off their tour. That event will likely be in September at an outdoor venue.
They expect to return to Wilmington by next summer. So far, five stops are planned in Arizona, California, Colorado and Utah. Traveling between those states can take a couple days.
Why out West?
"We really fell in love with the people and climate out there," said Parker. "We made it a point to visit local farmer markets and make connections with the whole sustainable agriculture out there."
The family is now accepting donations. Parker can be reached at email@example.com. People are being asked to donate $3 through PayPal or supply a $50 fuel card for the "Feed the People" project.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.