Where We’re From: The Sutterer Family

We all want a place to call home. A place where we fit in, feel loved and can put down roots. But home is so much more than a building or location. Home can be transient, on-the-go and span thousands of miles across the ocean. It is inside us and all around us, too. It is the life we create, the memories we keep and the people we love. 

Here, people share their stories of what home means to them. While their experiences are different, many of their thoughts are the same: Home is what and where you make it.

Maybe home can be everywhere. 

Chad and Liz Sutterer always talked about living the RV lifestyle. They wanted to travel and explore. They wanted freedom and simplicity. And they wanted their three girls — Kennedy, Brooke and Willow — to step outside of their comfort zones and experience adventure. In 2018, they began taking steps to make it happen. 

First, they had to sell their home. Then, they bought a truck and camper. Finally, they began to downsize their possessions, putting some items in storage, selling others and fitting the rest of their belongings into the 200 square feet of living space inside their RV. 

They hit the road in January 2019. At first, it was a difficult transition. 

“I didn’t want to go,” says Kennedy, who was 11 years old at the time. “I didn’t want to leave my friends and sports behind.”

“I didn’t like it at all,” remembers Brooke, who was 10 years old at the time.

Both girls left behind their competitive gymnastics team and best friends who lived next door. And six-year-old Willow didn’t want to get rid of her stuff. 

To make the RV feel more like home, the girls painted and decorated a wall of their own. They had a shelf of favorite books and a few special items brought from home. The typical RV furniture was removed and replaced with a regular couch to fit their family. And their dog, Scout, a standard poodle, traveled with them. 

For 10 months, the Sutterer family journeyed across the United States and Canada. Work and school were on the road. They hiked, biked and whitewater rafted. They climbed to the top of a mountain and paraglided back down. Their backyard was constantly changing. And when the weather attempted to upset their plans, they packed up and chose a new location. 

One of their favorite parts of on-the-go homelife was the food. 

“We tried to eat locally and even forage locally-grown wild foods,” Liz says. “In the Pacific Northwest, we ate lots of salmon and wild berries. In Montana, we ate huckleberries until we were sick. In Northern California, we went crabbing and ate our harvest. In Arizona, we had lots of Southwestern foods.”

They documented their journey on Facebook as @FamilyOdyssey to stay in touch with friends and family. For the girls, Facetime and texting helped them stay connected. While they all missed different parts of life back home, they quickly realized home could be anywhere, and all three girls agreed they would do it again.

It’s been a few years since their outdoor adventure, and since, the Sutterer family has put down roots in Perryville, Mo. While they miss traveling, they also enjoy the simple luxuries of stationary home life. Activities have picked up again, and while getting everyone around the table for dinner has become more challenging, they’re together. 

And together, they’re always home. 

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