Dave and Donna Pickard are traveling the Mainland in an RV. Most would agree, that’s living the dream.
But not quite.
The Pickards say they’re mixing pleasure and business and sharing the aloha spirit, one state at a time.
That’s “Aloha in Motion” in action.
“We think it’s important for people to see this part of the country,” Donna said. “Of course, we’ll be boasting about Kauai.”
The Kapaa couple did what most wouldn’t have the courage to do. They gave up their work, left their home and set out on a year-long adventure.
They bought an RV, decorated it with a hula dancer and swaying palm trees, labeled it Aloha in Motion and started talking story as they went. They hope to visit every U.S. state on the trip that began in June in California; they plan to return to Hawaii in July.
So far, despite some unexpected turns, literal roadblocks and bumps, it’s been all good. They’ve seen wonderful sights. They’ve met great people. They’ve had experiences they will never forget. “No matter where we go, people make a big deal out of us because we’re from Hawaii,” Donna wrote.
But this isn’t so much a sight-seeing tour as it is a goodwill tour.
This cross-country trek is a chance to see the U.S., but it’s also about Hawaii, particularly Kauai, and urging people to visit the islands and to chase their dreams.
Their mission is to educate and share about the islands to promote tourism. If you ask people what part of the U.S. they would like to visit, almost everybody replies, “Hawaii,” the Pickards have found.
When you ask why they haven’t visited there, most say they can’t afford it.
“That mindset stays locked into what they can’t do instead of spending time to see how they can make it happen,” Donna said.
Aloha in Motion is the Pickards’ way of proving what can be done when one works hard, sets a goal, follows through and believes. They planned and they saved and they pitched their idea and landed some sponsors. Both took a break from their jobs; Dave works in computers and Donna is in the pet care business.
They are chronicling their journey on their website, Facebook and Instagram. Dave, a 1980 Kapaa High School graduate, is keeping a journal. Emails, both incoming and outgoing, are constant.
They are gaining social media followers and perhaps are making more believers in chasing dreams.
“When you speak to those who have done these things, almost everyone shares that they had some type of guidance or motivation to put the wheels in motion,” Donna wrote.
Seeing the sights
The Pickards are bunkered down for the winter in Florida.
It took six months and 10,000 miles to get there. So far, they’ve visited 18 states, 14 national parks, eight festivals, and developed great appreciation for the country “and the freedom that we have to get in the car or on the plane and go!”
They have met old friends and made new ones, and have had families take them in.
They’ve seen sites they’ll never forget, like the Grand Canyon. They stopped at the world’s largest balloon festival in Albuquerque, N.M. They took in a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, N.D.
They’ve hiked and fished and scuba dived to see an underwater gallery and joined community organizations like the Elks.
“We have a lot of flexibility in our schedule,” Donna said. “Basically whatever draws our attention.”
Their RV, by the way, has Hawaii license plates.
“People seeing that alone is an immediate conversation starter,” Donna said. “That right away opens the door.”
The Pickards have two puppets named Maile and Kai — a little local girl puppet and a golden retriever puppet who’s wearing an aloha shirt — that join them on visits with keiki.
Community service is part of the plan. Dave and Donna visit libraries and read Hawaiian books to children.
It’s all for a purpose.
“I feel that our travels will connect with more than a hundred couples that got motivated,” Donna wrote.
They’ve had their share of scares.
They’ve been close to forest fires and been in the middle of hailstorms (no damage) and snowstorms. They came up to — and got through — roadblocks. They survived an encountered with a curious bear that chewed on the handle of their car door and tried to get in.
“Dave quietly put in his finger on the button and locked the door,” Donna said.
They’ve had tires blow out and dealt with cockroaches. They even had a homeless man throw a rotisserie chicken at the VW Volkswagen they tow. They were gone at the time, but police left a note asking if they wanted to press charges.
“We said that we forgive him for the chicken incident, however we were sad that a perfectly good rotisserie chicken was wasted that day,” Donna wrote.
Their bottom line goal is to benefit Kauai.
“I did the math. Out of hundreds of people we’re going to meet, if 100 get inspired because of Aloha in Motion, that could generate $350,000 to $500,000 coming to Kauai,” Dave wrote.
The Pickards are perfect for sharing aloha. They’re middle-aged but very young at heart, are personable, friendly, talkative, hard to rattle and love to travel.
“We’re just social that way,” Donna said.
And, another perk, they’ve become well-accustomed to their house on wheels.
“The most amazing part is, David and I have done quite well in this small box together,” Donna said.”We are doing well. ‘Still married’ is our joke because we live in a 29-by-9-foot box.”
But the best thing has been meeting new people and learning about different cultures. “We realizing that we all want the same thing. We want to be happy, healthy, not struggle financially.”
It has been, the Pickards have noticed in their travels, a draining political year.
“We have seen and heard so many things regarding the election from foreign and domestic travelers and locals,” they wrote.
“Even though we are a divided nation I feel that we all know how fortunate we are to have the freedom to do and say and live how we want to. America is beautiful!”