Seven years ago, Julie Tran and her husband Chris Ziccardi built a home in Old Hill.
She loves her “Mr. Rogers neighborhood,” and the rest of town. When their 2 foster sons were ready to be reunified with their biological parents in November, Julie and Chris were overwhelmed by support from friends, the YMCA youth program, and Kings Highway Elementary School teachers like Roseann Caruso.
But in a couple of weeks — the day their house sale closes — the couple will leave Westport.
With a 27-foot Airstream Globetrotter hitched to their Ford F-350, they’ll head to … well, they’re not exactly sure.
But Julie and Chris are ready for the next chapter in their lives.
The seeds for their decision took root in the pandemic. Julie is a life coach. Chris is a property technology executive.
As they realized the ease of working remotely, they reassessed their values.
“We thought about our lifestyle, our environment — everything,” Julie recalls.
“We had no idea how long COVID would last. But we knew we wanted sun, warmth, and a lot of land. We want to adopt or foster again in a place conducive to that. We envision a ranch with lots of room, sustainable, a place with solar or geothermal, where we can grow our own food.”
Those places exist. But the only way to find them is to hit the road.
“We’ve been cooped up for a year. We’ve got the travel bug,” Julie says.
Julie and Chris started by examining the “why.” They talked about their core values, and came up with 4: freedom, courage, adventure and love.
Then came the “what.” What does that look like? How would they do it? The safest way to travel now, they realized, is by RV.
There were a few snags. The couple did not own an RV. Julie had not been camping since she was 10. They’d never camped together.
“It’s a crazy idea,” she admits.
Then again, these are crazy times.
“We don’t know how to do what we’re doing,” admits Julie. “But we know we can figure it out.”
They spent months watching YouTube videos and joining Facebook groups. They researched and crowdsourced things like what kind of trailer they’d need — and how to back it up.
They learned the difference between campgrounds with electric and water hookups, and “boondocking” in more remote areas.
They’ll “start out strong,” with a bit of luxury and sense of community, Julie says. But they look forward to being alone, under the stars, too.
The adventure starts in earnest this week. They’re driving to Georgia in their truck. They’ll hitch the Airstream to it, and head north again for a couple of weeks.
When they leave Westport for good, it’s on a route with few anchors. Julie and Chris will stop in New Jersey, Florida and Texas to see family. Their only set time and destination is April 1: They must be in California then, for her sister’s wedding.
After that? They have no idea.
They hope to find a place to call home. It may be in Austin. Or Tennessee, Florida or Arizona.
As Julie prepares to leave the town she loves — where their foster children thrived, and she found friends and activities — she has one message for those she’s leaving.
“So many people say they’ll live vicariously through us. But I hope it won’t be just vicarious.
“If you’re inspired by our story but think you can’t do it, imagine yourself on your deathbed. Ask yourself, if you had a do-over for your life, would you do anything differently?”