It goes without saying that when you plan to do something huge that you’ve never done before, the research can only take you so far. You just don’t know what to expect past a certain point, and that can only be learned from experience. There are definitely stages to our journey, and I don’t mean the parts of the country we’re going through or the time zones or the plans we’ve made. Stage 1 I call “HOLY CRAP THIS IS HAPPENING WHEEEEEEE”. Stage 2 I’m referring to as “Hey, this is kind of unfolding into a routine! We’re good at this!” Stage 3 is somewhere along the lines of “I am overwhelmed by the sheer enormity and constancy of the beauty I’m experiencing and I need to shut down.” Stage 4 is where I’m at today: “HELP ME I HAVE BEEN IN THE DESERT WITHOUT CIVILIZATION FOR SO LONG I’M AFRAID THE OUTSIDE WORLD DOESN’T EXIST ANYMORE.” Mind bending, I tell you.
To combat the Evil Stage 4 Freak Outs, I’m sitting in a laundromat writing this list. You’re welcome.
EXPECTATION 1: We’ll only need to do laundry once a week!
I mean, really – I packed enough clothes for each of us for one week. There are “raggedy clothes for climbing rocks and exploring caves” and “nice clothes for sightseeing in cities” and “normal clothes for travel”; that’s more than sufficient for a week and should require no more than 1 laundry day per week to keep us clothed.
Reality: HOLY CRAP WHERE DO ALL THESE DIRTY CLOTHES COME FROM I AM DROWNING IN DIRTY CLOTHES. We swim almost every day, which means inevitably means my
monsters children have changed out of their PJ’s and into day clothes, eaten breakfast, spilled milk on themselves, changed into MORE day clothes, played with the dogs in the dust, and then realized they need their swimsuits on. Then after the swim, obviously they need to put on more clean day clothes. I’ve been a mom for more than a decade – why didn’t I think of this. Why. Also, spills are a constant, which means the neat, economical “1 towel per person” that I packed has been used to clean apple juice off the RV carpet and can’t be used for a shower.
EXPECTATION 2: We can see everything on our list in one month!
I mean, I did the math! Look at our neat, organized Roadtrippers itinerary – it all fits!! We can see Antelope Canyon AND Horseshoe Bend in the morning, and the Grand Canyon in the afternoon, and get to our campground in time for an evening swim (OK, any fool can see that’s just NUTS and honestly that was my major screw up. In the planning phase, I somehow saw that as two separate days and not one. I really do know better than that. But here we are.). I even cut a BUNCH of stuff out of our trip so that it wouldn’t be too hectic and we could do it all (Oh Pacific Northwest, you are my FAVORITE; I weep that I can’t see you this time). So we should be good, right??
Reality: WRONG. Every day is packed, we’re not staying anywhere more than two nights except Austin, (which was WONDERFUL. We had three nights there and it was actually relaxing.). Each time we wake up in a new place, and the kids get to explore it after waking up, they say “This is awesome!! I’m so glad we’re here! How long do we have??” and I look at my watch and say, “Well, checkout is in two hours.” And we all want to cry. Also, refer to Stage 2 above: the incredibleness unique to each place is too much to take in. We have some sensory overwhelm and just need a minute, you know? HOWEVER – it’s still amazing. Don’t get me wrong. If all I have is three hours to enjoy Lake Powell, I’m grateful for it.
EXPECTATION 3: We will go stir crazy being crammed into a small space with each other for a month.
I mean, there’s no way around it, right?? Kids will be kids, and they drive me crazy at home where we have 1700 sq feet and a yard to spread out. It should definitely be far worse in a 28 foot RV. If we can make it home without causing bodily harm to each other, it will be a success.
Reality: KNOCK ON WOOD, but we’re all getting along! The kids have minor spats just like always, but they’re resolved quickly. And unless I’m mistaken, they’re also more ready to give grace to one another. THIS, my friends, is a
minor full-on miracle.
And Now A Few Things I Wasn’t Expecting At All
Jet Lag. Time zones CONFUSE MY BODY AND MY MIND. And also my phone. Because right now we’re wedged between Navajo land (where they observe daylight savings time), and Utah (on MST), and a part of Arizone that does not observe daylight savings time. WHO CAN FIGURE THIS OUT? Not Siri, not me. The interwebs are none too helpful on this matter either.
The Effects of Desert Air. I cannot stop coughing from the dust. My eyes are watering. My skin feels like ancient papyrus paper. The good side: clothes dry in about 2 seconds, and my hair has never been this frizz-free. Silver linings!!
The Fun Of Driving An RV. I feel so powerful, y’all. And it’s a lot less boring than driving a car.
Mudslides In The Big Sur. Should have seen this coming, because apparently it’s been a problem all year, but we can’t drive the Pacific Coast Highway through the Big Sur; it’s closed from all the mud slides. But that’s OKAY! We ended up with a slightly different route that still gives us some good PCH time and also shaves some time off our trip (allowing us to have LESS rushing around – score!). More silver linings!
More to come, y’all! This trip is indeed epic and overwhelming and utterly worth it and exhausting and incredible.
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You can follow along on our trip day by day on Instagram (hint: most of the action is in my Insta stories): @emilylapishphotog
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Emily Lapish is a full-time photographer, wife, mom, and crazy person. She likes long walks through Target while cradling a latte. She is fueled by passion for restoration, grace, and also by obscene amounts of coffee.