The now closed Screen Door coffee shop. Photo by Alexandria Doyle/OIDJ

Coffee shop owners, family prepare to explore cultures


The Hefner family is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. For six years, Bridgett and Mari Hefner, their three children and three grandchildren ranging in age from 2 to 23, will travel the world learning languages and analyzing people’s dreams.

The journey was sparked by Bridgett Hefner’s fascination with dreams. The 46-year-old from McComb wants to know how place and culture influence dreams. She wants to talk to dreamers of all cultures and walks of life.

Hefner wants to collect “any connections of the type of dream the person has, the dreamer themselves, philosophical, religious, political beliefs and whether there’s any outside source that affects the dreams,” she said.

Take Stonehenge, for example. Hefner wants to know if and how the famed centuries-old prehistoric monument influences the dreams of people nearby. She said such places have higher electromagnetic energy.

“I’m curious if the high energy spots affect how people dream,” she said. “How do they believe? And do they have more (dreams) similar to each other?”

Last month, Bridgett and Mari closed the Screen Door, their eclectic little coffee shop on West Main Street, so they could prepare for their family’s epic journey that will become a full-time family effort during the next year.

To prepare for their adventure, they will buy and convert a small bus, learn a dozen languages, hire helpers and file stacks of paper necessary to get passports and visas.

The converted bus will become the family’s home base, living quarters with beds on board and home school for the children, so they can drive around each continent starting with the 50 U.S. states, Hefner said. They also plan to find four traveling companions to assist with arrangements while they are on the road. Travel expenses for the four companions will be paid so they just need to have money for souvenirs and be prepared to travel the world, she said.

“We all need passports … dogs need passports, medical shots, car needs passports,” she said.

Each member of the 8-person family will learn two languages to prepare for the journey so no one is overwhelmed learning multiple languages at once. Along with learning languages all the younger children will be homeschooled.

Hefner said she expects to take about a year to prepare for the journey so the family won’t be pulling out of Norman until May 2018. And they plan to come back sporadically, returning home every 14 to 16 months to see friends and family and to stock up on supplies.

“We have a house here. We don’t plan to sell our house. We do plan to come back to Norman.” Hefner said.

But the family will be missed and Screen Door already is being mourned by its fans.

OU sophomore Janki Patel jumped up and down with glee at the mention of her favorite coffee den.

“The first time I went there I had a mocha,” Patel gushed. “They gave it to us in a house mug. It was a mug you would actually find at home. Instantly, it felt super homey to me. Which I really like being away from home. I liked it because of the home feeling. I’ll miss the homey feeling,” she said.

Hefner said she will also miss the Screen Door but she and her family are looking forward to their grand adventure. They are all excited except for one person, she said. “My wife is more of a realist.”

But Bridgett Hefner is confident that Mari will come around once sponsorship money they’ll use to help fund the journey starts to come in.

The Hefners have invited fans to follow their journey via Facebook and blog. Fans can find Bridgett Hefner on Facebook or email her at and ask to join a newsletter list and follow the family’s travel blog.