Not many people go from a typical suburban existence to a life of wild adventure, but that’s exactly what the Longneckers did … with four small children, no less.
“It was early in 2014 when one of my husband’s friends came to visit us,” related Ashley Longnecker. “They had been traveling full time in an RV with their two teenage kids. The father of that family had the same job my husband, Jonathan. They both owned their own web design businesses. After spending some time talking with them about their full-time travel adventures, I was sold! We had never even stepped into an RV before we decided to sell everything and travel full time. It was a huge leap of faith, but we’ve never been the ones to shy away from crazy adventures. One quick discussion, and Jonathan and I were both on board to give this full-time travel life a shot.”
The “crazy adventure” meant selling their house, packing up their four (homeschooled) children, and traveling full-time. “We traveled for five years, primarily boondocking off-grid,” Ashley remembers. “Living off-grid in a trailer ruined us in the best possible way. We could never go back to a life in the suburbs.”
After four of those five years, however, they felt the urge to buy land and build a homestead. “We were feeling the pull for something more permanent,” Ashley relates. “Some land, some animals, and a whole new adventure. We began thinking of where we wanted to settle down. While traveling, we fell in love with the desert, and Arizona particularly, so we began researching land and living off-grid in a completely new environment.”
The decision to travel – and the decision to settle – centered around their children. “Our kids were at the front of every decision we made,” says Ashley. “We wanted to show them all the places we were learning through books. Though they were young when we started traveling (ages 3, 5, 7 and 9), we talked to them about what it would be like: that we’d not be around our extended family as much, that we’d be living in a small space. They were excited about the new adventures. Same thing when we started talking about buying land and building an off-grid homestead. They were all on board with living this way. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be doing it. Everything is a family decision and they absolutely have a say in what we do here.”
The next phase of the adventure came in the form of 11 acres of undeveloped land in southeast Arizona. There the family is joining in the physical labor necessary to create an eco-friendly homestead.
But the environment can be challenging. “For some, our choice to live in the desert and homestead just doesn’t make sense,” admits Ashley. “There’s hardly any water here, but we’re up for the challenge. We love the desert so much, we’re determined to find new ways. Within five years, we hope to be living completely off rainwater catchment and solar power. Our goal here is to be completely self-sufficient. It’s a huge goal, but we’ll get there one step at a time.”
This is the kind of goal Lehman’s takes to heart, which is why Lehman’s is proud to welcome Ashley and the Longneckers into their blogging family. Stay tuned for Ashley’s “Homemade Pasta” series, coming soon to Lehman’s Simpler Living Blog.