SEARSPORT, Maine — The lobster boat races in Searsport had two special guest judges Saturday — a young California husband and wife who are spending 400 days traveling around the country in an RV to attend, participate and document unusual or quintessential local sporting events.
Jackie Richey and Mark Slattery, both 27, are blogging about their adventures under the moniker “Couple of Sports” and said this weekend that they are having a blast.
“I think we were both looking for a change,” Richey, who worked as a teacher in Los Angeles, said Saturday of the impetus to hit the road. “We decided it would be great to do something a little bit crazy.”
Slattery, who worked for a youth sports nonprofit group, said that in addition to judging the Searsport races, the couple was going to be on a boat during the Sunday races in Stonington. After that, they planned to stop at Acadia National Park to explore before turning their 1996 motor home west — first to Berlin, N.H., where they will attend the Jericho ATV races and then to a tractor pull in Hyde Park, Vt.
The couple is coming to the end of their cross-country journey, which will wind up with a Yankees game in New York at the end of August.
They are writing and photographing all of their sporting exploits on their website, which features a map showing their circuitous travels around the United States. They also make a music playlist for each state they visit.
“It was a joke at the beginning,” Richey said. “Then I thought we could actually do this.”
Slattery said that they usually hear three reactions from people who find out what they’re doing.
“One: ‘This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,’” he said, smiling. “Two: ‘I’m so jealous.’ And three: ‘How are you paying for this?’”
The couple raised $8,000 on the website Kickstarter to help bankroll the project. They also sold Richey’s car and saved up money. Then they purchased a used, leaking RV and started driving last July.
They had a dream and wanted to make it happen before starting a family, they said.
“I think that now or never came into play,” Slattery said. “We decided now.”
So far, highlights of their travels include being crew members for a hot air pilot in Albuquerque, N.M., during the International Balloon Fiesta in October, attending a Winter Carnival Bonspiel in St. Paul, Minn., running part of the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga.
“We’ve met just a ton of genuinely kind people,” Richey said. “People are a lot more welcoming and nice than we’re given credit for.”
Something else they’re searching for on their travels is the next place to permanently park the RV. So far, Maine is hitting high marks for beauty, but Slattery’s not sure he can handle the snowy winters.
But they are happy to have found so many welcoming people and fellow sports fans in the places they’ve seen.
“I think that surprised both of us,” Richey said. “There are people who roll their eyes and say, ‘Oh, you’re having quarter-life crises.’ But the people who get it, get it.”
To follow the couple’s adventures, visit www.coupleofsports.com.