Living and Learning This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     My name is Abbey, and I have lived full-time in an RV (camper) for many years, traveling all around with my parents. My father’s work has taken us all over the U.S. I’ve always been homeschooled, and just finished tenth grade.

Most of the time, traveling in an RV is fun and exciting. Living this way makes it easy to see different places, my “home” stays the same, but my “back yard” continually changes. And I get to meet different people and experience new cultures. In the desert of the Southwest, I’ve learned about the Hispanic and Native American cultures (though I still haven’t learned Spanish). The deserts are beautiful, but after a while I do miss the rain. The deserts have lizards, spiders, snakes, and cactus, which is okay, but I prefer bear, moose, deer, and trees.

In the swamps and bayous of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, there is a Cajun culture that has a flair, food, and music all its own. Although I like the swamp area because it is so green, the ants do invade the camper. The mountains are cool too, with all the pine trees, ferns, and moss.

But my favorite area by far is Northern Maine. I love the culture - with loggers, potato farmers, and the Canadian influence - and the climate, with beautiful summers and falls, and the lovely cold, snowy winters. It’s just great!

But of course there are some bad parts of living this way. I guess the biggest is that I don’t have permanent friends to hang around with. I usually meet kids in the campgrounds, but either I leave or they do. We keep in touch by e-mail and letters and some I have been writing to for seven years. But that’s not the same as hanging out.

Homeschooling for me has always been more than just learning from textbooks. When I was little, I used to explore and learn about plants and animal life in ponds, woods, swamps, and mountains. Every new place we went I’d think, What new plants and bugs will we find here? Then I’d research in books and learn more.

Recently, in the New Mexico State Parks I’ve been going to star-gazing parties and learning the 48 ancient star constellations and their Greek myths and locations in the sky.

There actually is an RV community traveling around as we do - mostly retirees and vacationers. I usually pick up temporary grandmothers along the way. And, over the years they have taught me how to knit and crochet, bead, and do other crafts. Sometimes Mom and I set up a table at fairs and sell the crafts we’ve made. I also volunteer in the parks, doing things like setting up chairs and carrying things, and lakeside clean-up with the Army Corps of Engineers. I even helped an astronomer with her activities. And I worked at a bluegrass music festival at the park.

I look forward to someday staying in a house permanently, but for now, I will continue to travel the U.S. and see new places and meet new people, and experience new things.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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