MAMARONECK, NEW YORK – Three and a half years ago, my then-ex-wife Kate and I made the spontaneous decision to take our three kids on a five-week road trip.

We rented an Escape campervan, threw in an extra tent (so we could have separate rooms), some camping gear and hit I-95 heading north…

Separate Lives

We were living in Palm Beach County, Florida. And we’d been divorced for four years.

Except for kid pickup and drop-off every other weekend, we hardly spoke. We definitely weren’t friends. And our kids were pretty confused.

Kate had made that decision when we first split up… even before we were divorced. We just ripped the Band-Aid off.

“I’m not co-parenting with you,” she said. “We’re hard-separating. Otherwise, it’s going to be really messy.”

So we built a child-sharing schedule and we lived completely separate lives, in separate homes a few miles apart.

I’m so grateful Kate put up that partition. I don’t think we’d have been able to get back together later if she hadn’t.

I was such an idiot in those days and she’d have gotten tangled up in my toxic web and ended up hating me…

Our First Message

We only made it about 20 miles that first day.

We spent the night in a campground near Jupiter, and I posted our first message to Instagram… a picture of us in a fast-food restaurant next to the highway. It got 17 likes.


The photo that started it all

Three and a half years later, Kate and I are remarried, we’ve got an audience of 300,000 readers, and we still haven’t gone home.

I’m writing to you today from my father’s one-bed apartment in the outskirts of New York City. We’ve been here about a month.

We’ll be here another two weeks. Then, we’re going to fly to Idaho and drive across America by car.

We’ll sleep in cheap hotels until we get to Florida, where we’ll spend Christmas…

– Tom Dyson

P.S. Grandpa has cancer and we’re keeping him company as he goes through his daily chemo and radiation treatments. 

Grandpa’s apartment has a community room on the first floor with a card table, pool table, and ping-pong table. No one else in the building ever uses them. We use all three… for epic family sports battles. Today’s battle is at ping pong. The kids are getting pretty good…


Ping-pong family battle

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One reader gets ready to hit the road, inspired by the Dyson family’s journey…

Reader comment: I’ve been following your postcards since you were traveling with your family through China. I am planning to travel across the country with my wife this next summer in a 23-foot travel trailer. We plan to stay off the interstates as much as possible, and stay in state parks, Bureau of Land Management and Corps of Engineers campsites, on military bases, and in small, private RV camps. I’m remembering your description of how you traveled across the USA, eventually stopping in Driggs, Idaho.

While others offer kind words for Tom…

Reader comment: Bless you, Tom, as well as your family. I fully approve of everything that you are doing. In this screwed up world we live in, you are giving your family something most people will never know. Love, respect, wisdom, and knowledge.

Reader comment: I am grateful for you and appreciate your candor and honesty in telling your readers that you had a mental health issue that was taking over all your thoughts day and night, and that all your efforts and measures that you took to silence these self-destructive, suicidal, and negative thoughts were not helping.

In your desperation, you took heft in hand and decided to go into a private space where you could be on your own, in order to find peace and grace on your own terms and in your own way. The leaving must have caused you extreme pain; leaving behind your wife and three kids and taking off with no real plan.

In this self-compassionate way, you found the pieces that were damaged and hurt and rescued them, and somehow, integrated these broken parts together. You healed your soul and spirit. No amount of psychotherapy could have done this for you. You healed yourself. And you did it for yourself, all by yourself. Congratulations on successfully winning the battle against mental health on your own terms.

I believe what you did for yourself actually healed the wounds of your family as well. Thank you for sharing so deeply and with such compassion. I feel privileged to hear your story.

Tom’s note: I continue to share our life in these Postcards because of messages like this. Thank you for your support and encouragement. And, as always, please keep writing us at [email protected]. I’ll try and answer your questions in future Friday mailbag editions.