By John Ramos

HEALDSBURG (KPIX) — With the pandemic bringing normal life to a halt, a growing number of people are moving out of the Bay Area and California in general. Monday morning, one Healdsburg family joined the exodus, but they’ve decided to make their move the trip of a lifetime.

Ben and Brianne Holt were removing the last few items from their Healdsburg home. Their daughters Mackenzie, Madison, Maebel and Maliya were already in the car. It was time for the journey to begin and while they know where they are going, they have no idea where they may end up.

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“I know there’s a spot for us and I don’t know where it is,” said Ben. “We have a couple of ideas picked out but that’s kind of part of the trip is figuring it out. Oh, we think we want to live in North Carolina but what if we like Wyoming, what if we like Arkansas?”

The Holts decided to sell their home and look for a place where they can start their own small farm. Though COVID-19 isn’t pushing them out, it did teach them how to do online schooling and, more importantly, how to enjoy each other’s company.

“A lot of people have been cooped up in their houses for a long time and dreaming of things to do, just like us,” said Brianne. “But we’re just crazy enough to go out and do it.”

So, the family of six will spend the next six months living out of a tiny trailer as they travel up, down and around the country on a route that will take them through all 48 contiguous states. Since October, when they made the decision, they’ve been documenting the process of leaving on YouTube, inviting friends, family and the world to join them on the journey. They’re not sure what they’ll find, or even what they’re looking for, although 14-year old Mackenzie has one idea.

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“I’m looking forward to getting my nose pierced in New York,” she said.

But they’re pretty sure they’ll know their new home when they see it.

“There’s things in store for us that I can’t even imagine,” said Brianne. “And I have faith that we’re going to find a piece of land and it’s going to be exactly where we’re meant to be.”

If nothing else, they should be admired for having the courage to explore the world at a time when most people are hiding from it.

“COVID has already brought us closer together,” said Ben, “and I think this journey, taking this together, is something these kids are never going to forget.”

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The Holts will travel south to San Diego, visiting family and taking in the sights before starting their cross-country trek. They invite everyone to join their journey by following their YouTube page or by visiting the family website at www.growingupholt.com.