The Best Laid Plans…

I don’t consider myself a planner. I dream. I imagine. I contemplate. I look at my options. I strategize. Planning, with lots of lists and steps and confirmations, just hasn’t been my thing. Until now. I’m setting out on a massive road trip with my family, including our little gray mutt dog. Unless I want to eat tons of fried meat with sides of other fried things and end up in a sketchy roadside motel in the middle of the desert, I need to do some planning.

I started planning months ago, actually. My husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary on July 12. Twenty-freaking-years! Holy crap. I digress…

I wanted to do a big trip for our anniversary, and we both wanted to include the boys in our celebration. Skiing in South America has always been on my list, and since it’s ski season in July, it seemed like the perfect 20th anniversary trip. And then I looked at flights, hotels and other accommodations, and pricey is an understatement.

Then I turned to Europe. Way more manageable in terms of budget, but I started thinking, “well if we’re there, we should go here and there and here, and…” Really, my kids are still just a bit young to truly appreciate all that Europe has to offer. Now, we’re back stateside, and another trip that’s been on my list is a road trip through national parks. Voila! That’s our trip.

I settled on going West. And then the planning began. Planning for a non-planner is a lot of work! I didn’t really know where to start, so I pulled up Mapquest and started measuring miles and time between major cities and sites west of Denver. I plotted out routes and zoomed in on the map to discover new places. I had about 20 screens open and probably just as many Google searches going on. I was looking at all my options. The itinerary began to take form, and I started booking campsites, resorts (I booked Sundance Resort, the same place we stayed on our honeymoon 20 years ago!), hotels and Airbnbs.

For camping I bought a rooftop tent for our car (pics below) and had it professionally installed. I hadn’t really freaked out about the grand plan up until the tent. I had the installer help me open it up and set it up for the first time, and as I’m watching this 20-something, tall, skinny dude stand on my running board and reach halfway across my windshield to zip up the tent, I thought, “what the f*%# am I doing?” Yes, I began to freak out.

I’m taking my family 3,000 miles across sometimes-desolate landscapes in nothing more than a larger, more modern Wagon Queen Family Truckster — minus the wood paneling and bench front seat — with a tent on top. I have never been to most of the places we’re going, so I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

I grew up camping with my family, so I feel good about the actual camping part. But the campsites? Not sure about those. Are we going to be set up next to a giant RV with a retired couple wanting to make new friends (I hope not!)? Or are we going to be tucked into a quiet corner of the wilderness (I hope so!)? We’ll likely have no reliable cell service or internet (okay by me), no dishwasher, no washer and dryer, no PS4, no flushing toilet, no shower, no refrigerator, no food processor. I’m okay with all of that, but there’s still a level of uncertainty that’s unsettling. I feel like I’m standing at the edge of a cliff, and I can’t see what’s at the bottom. But there’s a little voice in the back of my head saying, “jump! It’s going to be amazing.”

All of this brings me back to why I don’t consider myself a planner. Even though for the past three months I’ve been doing the kind of planning that would impress even the best planner, I still don’t know what I’m doing. I won’t know what I’m doing until I take the leap. I can plan and plan and plan, but it will never be as satisfying as the leap. At least not for me. Because it’s in the leap when my heart will flutter with joy and excitement, when I take a breath and truly experience what’s around me. I won’t be able to help it. I’ll have to give in a bit and simply be.

It’s the leap I’m after. Not the plan. I’m not freaking out nearly as much, and I’m looking forward to simply being.

Now, for all you planners out there, here’s my itinerary (minus detail. I’ve included dates, miles and where we’re spending the night). Depending on cell service, wi-fi and any other connect-ability, I’m going to write along the way and hopefully post on the blog. Follow along as I “leap” across the West.

July 8 – Denver to Steamboat Springs, CO – 162 miles, spend the night at friend’s place

July 9 – Steamboat to Dinosaur national monument – 130 miles, spend the night at Green River Campground

July 10 – Dinosaur to Park City, UT – 175 miles, spend the night at Mt. Timpangos Campground

July 11 – Park City to Sundance Resort – 34 miles, spend the night at the resort

July 12 – Happy Anniversary! Relax, hike, eat, spend the night at the resort

July 13 – Sundance Resort to Great Basin National Park – 205 miles, spend the night at Wheeler Peak Campground in the park (hopefully. All campgrounds are first come, first served)

July 14 – Great Basin National Park to Austin, NV – 209 miles, spend the night at Big Scott or Big Creek Campground. First come, first served sites

July 15 – Austin to Lake Tahoe, CA – 220 miles, spend the night in an Airbnb in Tahoma on the west shore of the lake

July 16 – Lake! Spend the night in the Airbnb again 

July 17 – Lake Tahoe to Bodie, CA – 135 miles, explore and then continue onto Yosemite, 101 miles, spend the night at Lower Lee Vining Campground. First come, first served sites east of the park

July 18 – Yosemite – hopefully we keep our campsite

July 19 – More Yosemite and more camping

July 20 – Yosemite to Sequoia National Park – 172 miles, spend the night in Stony Creek Campground

July 21 – Sequoia to San Luis Obispo – 191 miles, spend the night at Morro Bay Landing

July 22 – Beach, spend the night at Morro Bay Landing again

July 23 – San Luis Obispo to Death Valley National Park – 367 miles, spend the night at the Oasis at Death Valley

July 24 – Death Valley to Hoover Dam – 143 miles, marvel at the engineering feat and continue onto the Grand Canyon North Rim – 254 miles, spend the night at Jacob Lake Campground

July 25 – Grand Canyon, spend the night at Jacob Lake Campground

July 26 – Grand Canyon to Glendale, UT – 62 miles, spend the night at Airbnb in Glendale, in between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks

July 27 – Zion National Park, spend the night at the Airbnb again 

July 28 – Bryce National Park, and then onto Capitol Reef National Park – 123 miles, spend the night at Lower Bowns Campground in Capitol Reef 

July 29 – Capitol Reef to Moab – 145 miles, not sure where we’re staying yet

July 30 – Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, not sure where we’re staying yet

July 31 – Moab to home – 360 miles, spend the night in my bed!

Bon Voyage!