ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – When Darrell Lavone Coulter, Jr. lost his high-paying job as a ship builder in San Diego, California earlier this year, he and his family decided to turn a negative into once-in-a-lifetime family adventure.
So Coulter and his wife Rebecca Rae Coulter decided to sell their residence and all of their belongings. Then they packed up a 2015 Dodge Caravan to the gills for a year-long quest to visit every U.S. state with their sons 7-year-old Takoda Moore, and 19-month-old Don Davone Coulter.
“We were like ‘I guess this is the perfect time to go ahead and do this,’ so we took advantage of it,” Darrell Coulter told KMOX News.
They started out by heading north and hitting Oregon, Washington, then turning east to check out Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas — taking in the sights including Mt. Rushmore, the Wind Caves, Crazy Horse Monument and many more.
They’ve been home-schooling young Takoda along the way, and posting videos of their adventures on Youtube under the name #gypsyout.
Eventually, they wound up in St. Louis to see Coulter’s uncle, and that’s when things came to a screeching halt.
The van was stolen in the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 5th from the parking lot of the hotel at I-44 and Hampton where the family was staying.
They loaded up the van with everything they own the night before so they could get an early start. But instead, they were informed that the van had been stolen and a short time later was reported to be burning near S. Vandeventer and De Tonty.
The Coulters were stunned to realize that all of their earthly possessions had gone up in flames.
“When everything finally registered we were like ‘What are we going to do?,'” Darrell Coulter explained. “That was like everything that we had in that van.”
“It was our home,” added Rebecca Coulter. “Besides our tents, we were sleeping inside the van.”
A dispute with their insurance providers, now leaves the family in the lurch. They’ve been informed by hotel officials — the same place where they van was stolen — that they can stay in their room until Sunday before they have to move on.
Plenty of help has already come their way with local church organizations and other groups, including Dance St. Louis, providing the Coulters with some of the clothing on their backs.
But the family is saving their highest hopes for a GoFundMe page that’s been set up in their name with a goal of $15,000.
Darrell Coulter said despite the setback, they want to continue on their ambitious nationwide tour.
“Because we don’t want to let this one incident stop us or defeat us,” he pointed out. “We still have a major goal that we want to complete fifty states in a year.”
Despite the difficulties, the Coulters are still working to squeeze a positive out of this whole experience.
“That’s what we’re telling our son,” he said. “At the end of the day this is still a beautiful thing because it lets us know that while there are going to be bad people everywhere, there are going to be more good people than there are bad people.”
He summed it up with a message on his GoFundMe page which reads “Together we’ll all survive, but apart we’ll all get jacked and burned.”
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