Chasing Joy

A broken marriage, 81 hours of support-group meetings and a 2,000-mile motor-home trip across the country with her son.

By Amanda Bastoni, Peterborough, New Hampshire

As appeared in

The night before we left I was a nervous wreck. Our RV would break down. Trace would get bored and we’d argue. We’d get lost. I’d find out I couldn’t stand driving the RV for long stretches.

We were starting from my dad’s house by the beach in Massachusetts. I wanted to touch the Atlantic Ocean at the start to make it a true coast-to-coast journey. Plus, my dad wanted to come with us on the first leg, to Niagara Falls.

“Just to make sure you know what you’re doing,” he said. “I’ve got to tell you, Amanda, I’m not confident anything built in 1986 can make it all the way across the country.”

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We made it to the falls. And that’s when good things started happening. Right when we arrived we learned there would be free fireworks over the falls after sundown. We found a spot on the grass and plunked down in the soft summer twilight.

As I watched the fireworks light up the sky, I felt one major source of worry–money, now that I was a single mom–evaporate. We were on a tight budget, but that didn’t matter. There was lots of free fun out there. And just being together–that cost nothing and it was worth everything.

Dad said goodbye after giving the RV a thorough inspection, and Trace and I headed back onto the highway.

From Day One we settled into a rhythm. Music, jokes and stories on the road. Mac and cheese, tuna sandwiches or hot dogs for dinner. S’mores for dessert, roasted over campfires with other families we met.

In the mornings I’d ask a neighbor to keep an eye on Trace while I went for a run. Then we’d head off for whatever destination my phone app picked for us.

Sometimes the fun found us. Like the impromptu Christmas in July party at a campground in Wisconsin Dells. People strung lights on their RVs and the whole campground got in on a potluck dinner.

I watched Trace riding his bike with other kids and another single-mom fear evaporated. Trace would be okay. His childhood wasn’t destroyed just because my marriage imploded.

He still knew how to make friends. He and I could still have a great time. Even doing something as simple as reading in the bunk together. I brought along some of my favorite books and movies. We’d read aloud or watch DVDs, snug and dry while a summer thunderstorm pounded on the RV.

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And always there was the next day’s destination. We found the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota–next door to a Dairy Queen, so of course we stopped for Blizzards.

At a funky dinosaur museum in an old guy’s house in North Dakota, Trace posed between the toothy jaws of a tyrannosaurus skull. When the owner learned we were traveling alone, he nodded approvingly and said, “You’re a true truck-drivin’ mama! A real brave lady.”

Right there a little more of my fear evaporated.

We saw Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, then chugged over the awe-inspiring Rockies and started our last leg. We’d just crossed the Oregon state line when I realized I’d misgauged our gas. We were almost out and there was no station in sight. I checked my phone and GPS. Nothing nearby.

“We’d better pray, Mom,” Trace said. So we did, out loud, right there in the camper. The next moment we spotted what looked like a filling station, but it was closed. We pulled in anyway. Some men were talking in the parking lot.

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Your Comments (7)

What a wonderful story. to learn trust and grow as you go.
I would love to know the name of the app you used. Can you share it?

What a fantastic story. You Rock. You stepped out on faith and you made a difference in your sons life. God and And many others are pulling for you. You are not alone. Sorry your husband was a D Bag but he has to answer to God. You will be alright as you already know. Godspeed to you. God will restore what tge locusts have eaten and in the end it'll be ok.
God Bless you and may you continue to have much "Defiant Joy"

These weekly Guidepost inspirational stories have been such a blessing to me this year. They have lifted my spirits on days when I really needed to hang on to God and His promises. Thank you.

I am so happy for you and your son. Yes the Lord is always with you through the good and bad. Gods blessings to you and your son.

I have been a devoted Guidepost reader and look forward to reading these online stories every morning. I understand the need to sell this, so a pop up ad appears as you read the message. But that pop up message keeps popping up with no X to click out of it, making the story you've printed IMPOSSIBLE to read. So then I just delete your entire message feeling frustrated and annoyed at not being able to read the message. So now when I see information from you in my email, I mostly delete your emails without EVER looking to see what you've written.
I just thought you would want to know what effect this has on a reader.

If you zoom in to enlarge the (too small) print, the popup frame with also enlarge, pushing the borders of the popup outside of the window and hiding the "X". To bring that devilish "X" back into view, simply zoom out to reduce the size of the popup frame.

There are several ways to zoom in and out. The simplest is to hold down the control key while moving the scroll wheel on your computer mouse. Another is to hold down the control key and press the "+" key to zoom in or press the "-" key to zoom out. Less convenient is to select the "ZOOM" function on the View drop-down menu.

If it is the same popup I get scroll down and X will appear at top right in popup.