3,180 miles. Four national parks. Three state parks. Three hotels, one hostel, four campgrounds, two suburban homes, and an impressive list of Starbucks stores later. . .
I’m fresh off a two week road solo trip with all three of my kids, ages 15 (almost 16), 13, and 4 and it.was.glorious.
I mean, there were plenty of non-glorious moments like a seven hour stretch that actually took ten, the time my 15 year old refused to speak to me for 12 hours after I refused to listen to the unsolicited parenting advice they “offered” for their four year old sibling, and a few times I accidentally said the things I was thinking out loud, but … overall? Glorious.
Now, you know I love to travel, and hike, and be outside, and generally do things that are not stay at home and sit down, and you might also know that I have been doing solo trips as a parent for well over a decade. You maybe also know that I grew up backpacking in the Marble Mountains and boating and camping in the Trinity Alps so I am no stranger to camping, animal encounters, dirt, improvising, packing many things into small spaces, and lots of fresh air. Possibly you also know that I’m a 20 year teaching veteran and because I’ve taught grades TK-12+ I have a pretty hefty set of tools for educating and entertaining children that I can lean on, and if you’re here odds are high that you also know that I have anxiety and that I tend to manage it by planning, making lists, and generally staying in motion.
I tell you these things so that you can take that all into context when reviewing our most recent adventure together, and hopefully, be able to use some of our experiences and my suggestions to plan your own excursion(s). If you’re brand new to this blog, welcome. If you’ve been reading for awhile now, first- thank you, and second- this content and the next few posts to follow will be entirely different than what I usually write about here so please bear with me during this adolescent phase of blog growth. It’s still ultimately about anxiety, folks, it’s just different ways of managing and talking about it.
So, I’ve traveled all the way to the top and bottom of the west coast and into Nevada, but until this last trip I’ve actually never done a multi-stop, multi-day road trip but I threw myself into planning it like it was a fourth job and I gotta say- that shit paid off nicely. This last 15 months of pandemic life- of working from home full time while simultaneously parenting while also managing our household and still running a small business while also staying engaged in social and racial justice learning, efforts and activism, while also being isolated from most of my network and emotional regulation outlets as well as having no family to lean on was…
Yes, as I have written before, I recognize the privileges I did and do hold through all of this, am incredibly grateful for all that we have, and remain committed to being an active participant in equity initiatives and movements. But this year it was still hard, even for me. During my end-of-year-review at work I cried, multiple times, when my boss reviewed my accomplishments this school year. I cried not because I was disappointed, but simply because the weight of all that I’ve been carrying and doing hit me so hard that was the only response my body had left.
So, when the vaccinations started and I finally got myself back into a Honda Pilot I decided it was time for us to hit the road and get the fuck away from our daily . . . everything. I’ve always wanted to visit Grand Teton National Park and had been lurking through friend’s road trip posts about their travels. Camping seemed like an economic and fun option for a long trip and after I discovered the magic that is called the RoadTrippers app, I knew we could do it, and more. I started planning seriously three days after I brought my new car home in April, and, after I worked through a mild panic attack after booking our first campsite, prepped for every possible detail my catastrophizing brain could think of. The kids finished school on a Thursday and we rolled out that Saturday, not wasting a moment of the gift of summer and an opportunity to reset, repair, and connect differently in the great outdoors and vast expanse of the road ahead.
Over the course of the next several posts I’m going to offer some tips, tricks, tools, strategies, mom hacks, a few stories, and hopefully some laughs that you can use, should you be so inclined to take on an adventure of your own. If you’re up for that, keep reading! If you’re not, plan to hit delete for the next five or so emails you’ll get from me.
See ya’ there, or not.