Harper Yeats turned 1 month old in Toronto, 2 months old in Boston and 3 months old in New Orleans. She laughed for the first time in Mississippi and managed to roll over for the first time in Iowa.
Harper, who was born in May, is winding up an amazing road trip. Her parents are taking her on an adventure to see all 50 states. The 5-month-old is set to become the youngest member of the All Fifty States Club and may earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
It's pretty cool and definitely something to bring up as an icebreaker when she gets older, but Harper's parents hope it will instill a lifetime of "confidence and curiosity."
Harper's mother Cindy Lim and father Tristan Yeats didn't plan on this being such a huge trek. Transplanted Australians and avid travelers, they left their home in Toronto while on maternity and paternity leave with plans of visiting the states they hadn't yet seen.
"When we entered the U.S. with Harper, we were really only planning to get to the remaining 31 states. However, as we were making our way down the East Coast, we came across the All Fifty States Club online and realized that if we did do all 50 with Harper, she could become the youngest person to achieve the feat," Lim tells MNN in an email from the road.
"Things were going well so we thought, why not try to get to them all? We always agreed that if at any time Harper wasn’t coping with the travel, we would just go home. Fortunately, however, things have been going really well and we are all having a great time together."
Each time they visit a state, they take Harper's picture at the welcome sign and post it on Harper's Instagram page. The tiny tot now has more than 17,000 followers watching her goal of hitting all 50 states before she reaches 6 months old.
There are dozens of photos with Harper smiling (and a few where she has resting baby face).
The couple has had overwhelming support from people who are following Harper's journey, although as with anything on social media, there have been detractors. Some people wrote unkind comments about taking a baby on such a long trip. Although it's hard, they try to ignore the negative comments.
"While social media can suck because of this aspect, it can also be a wonderful place to connect with like-minded people. We are lucky to be part of some great travel communities on Facebook that have been supportive and uplifting when we’ve felt particularly down," Lim says.
"We are also very grateful to receive lots of positive comments and messages about how our travels have inspired people and how Harper’s sweet photos brighten their day. The positive feedback that we receive easily outweighs the negativity so, though we don’t always succeed, we do try our best not to let the negative comments get us down."
And believe it or not, being on the road with a baby hasn't been terribly difficult, Lim says.
"One reason this whole adventure hasn’t been overwhelmingly challenging is because we have been in it together the whole time. By going on this adventure, we have been provided the unique opportunity to both be full-time parents while we work out how to be a new family," she says. "Every day, we get to figure out together how we want to tackle the challenges of looking after a newborn. Overall it has been a truly positive experience and one which we firmly believe has only enriched our relationship with one another and with Harper."
The family stops every couple hours for an hour or two and tries to stay two or three nights in each state. Lim says they take it easy, just like they believe all parents should.
"Harper has her ups and downs (she’s still an infant after all!), however, one of the perks of being full-time travelers at the moment is that we can be flexible with our time. We don’t have to worry about getting a good night’s sleep because we have work the next day, so if we have had a tough night, we take the next day at a slower pace," she says.
"We also try to treat the road trip as the vacation itself so that we aren’t stressing about rushing from destination to destination. We stop often along the route and take long breaks to just play in a park together or walk around and explore towns along the way. To us, it’s these little stops which are just as memorable as the tourist attractions we have visited."
They started their adventure in New England but skipped Vermont because Harper's parents had already been there. Now that all the 50 states are on Harper's bucket list, Vermont will be the out-of-the-way last state they visit. They were hoping to celebrate with a visit with Sen. Bernie Sanders but heard he won't be in town. They're still trying to figure out a way to celebrate the end of their amazing adventure. For Harper's parents, we're thinking that could include a good, long nap.
The couple realizes that Harper won't have memories of their big adventure, but they hope she'll one day learn something from the trip.
"We know Harper won’t remember this trip, but we hope that she will look back fondly at the photos and videos we have taken. We hope she will feel very loved," Lim says.
"More than that, we hope that she will see that we took a chance and did something despite how hard everyone told us it would be and that this knowledge will give her confidence that she can do anything she puts her mind to. We also hope that this will just be the start of a life full of travel and adventure for Harper and that this will help to instill in her a sense of curiosity for what is out there in the world and inspire her to learn about everything around her as she grows up."