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The Herd of Turtles

May 22, 2018

Doug and Michelle Flory are definitely not your average couple.  When faced with the reality of Doug being diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s, they knew that their life would not be the same.   But rather than sitting around and wishing things were different they decided to take advantage of his relatively good health and radically change their lives.  They wanted to share the sense of adventure of traveling with their 6 kids that Michelle experienced growing up, so they decided to try full time RV living.
They down-sized from their 6000’ sq. ft. house into a 45’ fifth wheel camper and headed out on the open road.  With little camping experience they have been learning the ins and outs as well as the pros and cons of the RVing life style.  They have been able to share great adventures with their kids all while managing Roadschooling (homeschooling while traveling) for their 6 kids of various ages.   In addition they have been able to help expose their kids to many other groups and religions they might not have gotten to experience if they had stayed at home in their sticks and bricks house.   It hasn’t always been easy, but they have embraced the speed bumps of the journey through life.
They document their travels on their YouTube channel The Flory Story and also on Instagram.

:44 Their Youtube channel, The Flory Story  and Instagram account, The Flory Story

:58 Doug was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in his mid 40’s and they decided to hit the road and show their children the country while Doug was still healthy.

2:40 Before the diagnosis they had an interest in traveling in an RV with their children, ages 3 to 13years old, to expose them to different places and ideas and the concerns they had to take care of before they started.

4:00 At age 45, Doug was experiencing tremors and the diagnostic process was started.

4:50 They realized they would have to look at life differently.

5:20 Michelle talks about her dreams of exploring the country and her travel plans.

5:55 Michelle’s daughter showed them a YouTube video about a RV family and it created an interest in actually having the dream become a reality.

6:35 Brent asked if there were any moments of doubt about the decision they were making and Michelle affirmed there were and occasionally they still have questions about it.  Doug feels that many of the YouTube videos glamorize the RV life while they focus on the real world aspect of traveling with 6 children.

7:55 Michelle explains that they aren’t campers and Doug had to learn how to back up their fifth wheel and they laugh at some of the newbie mistakes they made.

8:58 Michelle talks about why you really have to have a purpose for doing this because it can be hard and the purpose is what keeps you on track.

9:25 Brent inquires about how they travel.  Michelle and Doug drive two vehicles, Doug, the truck with the fifth wheel with the dog and 1 child who helps him and Michelle drives a passenger van with the rest of the children.  One of the symptoms of Parkinson’s is fatigue and the helper in the truck helps monitor that.  They have all had caregiver training in the care of Parkinson’s.

10:50 They discuss their routine and if they would have made the same decisions to travel in an RV after having 6 months under their belt.  The decision was a family one so their decision stands.  They look at it differently than if they were just doing it for a month or a summer.  Some good advice came from more experienced RVer’s and it was good because the learning curve is large.  Their concur, it take at least 3 months just to get used to it.

14:20 Brent asks them about the “Rule of 2”.  Doug and Michelle called it an RV truism.  Doug also suggests following the weather and taking advantage of places that you really like and staying longer.

16:24 They delve into the process of unveiling their plans and why they kept it a secret until the plans were firmly in place.  The “pre-journey” lasted about 6 months and became a subject in the small town they were living in.  They still get a wide range of reactions from friends and family.

20:30 Michelle talks about talking to strangers about what they are doing and the interest people have shown and how people offer opinions on what they are doing.  It has helped the children not to be shy. 

22:10 Doug and Michelle talk about the percentage of families who were skeptical about their plans but now are supportive.  Many of them have joined them for sections of it.  Some friends have told them about great places to visit as they journey around.  Old friendships have been rekindled.

24:25 Brent finds out why they document their journey on social media.  Michelle is still discovering why they wanted to do it, but it started out as a way to help other newbies.  Her son also used it as part of his home schooling project.  They also feel that snapshots aren’t as expressive of their journey as the videos, however, they are so busy they haven’t had time to watch what they published but they love doing it.  Their’s is more of a family blog and is real, not glorified.

27:15 Brent commends them for showing their vulnerability and how it touches people. 

28:40 Before they embarked on their RV journey they had never homeschooled, so they talked about their experience.  They discuss the challenges they have faced making the transition from traditional schooling and the dedication and discipline it takes both from the parent and child’s prospective.  One of the positive aspects is letting the kids experience education rather than reading about it. 

34:30 Michelle talks about one of the important goals they had and that was having their children know about other religious faiths and that just because someone has a different faith it doesn’t make them bad.  She also loves it when her kids talk about history in a live way.

37:50 Another lesson they want their kids to learn is that the world is full of nice people.  Part of that philosophy comes from the lessons they have learned as part of Doug’s diagnosis.

38:58 Brents brings the conversation back to some of the real life aspects giving up their home and entering the RV world.  How are they using what they have learned to figure out where they might end up after their journey ends.

42:30 Michelle and Doug talk about their online work and earning an income.  They were already working online when they started but that is a big question for those people who need to work and want to have the RV life.

45:09 One of the aspects of this life is that there never is a perfect rig.  What you start out thinking is perfect never is but it is important to get going and not let the desire for perfection stop the dream.

46:48 Brent references Keep Your Day Dream and “the perfect RV is the one that gets you out on the road quicker”

47:24  Brent’s final question to the Flory’s is “how do you “define’ success?” Family!  Michelle asks “does the word “success” mean you can have it all?”  “What is having it all? Am I doing what I want and is it who I want to be.”