It was a crazy idea, she says.

I met Francois and Manoc and their daughter in two crappy North Carolina campgrounds. It's a small world when you're heading in the same direction, and we camped next to each other on consecutive nights.

Their daughter is six-months old. The three of them live an hour or so outside Montreal, and are using their paternity leave to explore the United States. They took their new baby girl in a van and set out to travel.

That's the whole of most of it. They both have jobs they will return to. They saw opportunity for an adventure and they took it, newborn and all.

It took planning, time. He bought the van on eBay. Flew to Seattle and drove it back in a marathon roadtrip. Spent months fixing it up.

She rolls her eyes at him. It was a crazy idea, she says.

And yet there we are. The four of us, laughing and drinking coffee in the Outer Banks. They've been on the road a month. Their daughter, so beautiful, she laughs and smiles. 

“She smiles when she's not crying,” Manoc said. And the baby does cry, at 5 a.m. They apologize to the campers around, but everyone just laughs.

They drive two or three hours a day, no more. When they find a good spot, they stop. “It's hard, traveling with her,” Francois said. I'm pretty sure he meant the baby.

He does the cooking. She writes and takes photographs of the trip.

We bond over camping stoves. Sleeping in vans. The craziness of movement. We barely missed each other a few nights before, camped just 60 miles apart.

Manoc takes the baby back to the van for a nap. Francois and I talk. He seems happy. He has his wife and child and everything he needs with him. The adventure won't last forever, but at the moment it seems perfect.

She rolls her eyes at him. It was a crazy idea, she says.


Posted on October 23, 2013 .