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!


I’ve Got Tons of Time to do Laundry (or so I thought)

It was roughly 30 days ago that I left the company I started and the job that came along with it. Thirty days seems like a lot of time to get a lot of things done, doesn’t it? At least that’s what I thought 30 days ago. Yes, I jetted off to Hawaii with the family for a sun-, fun- and surf-filled 10 days. We flew home on a red-eye, and then my kids finished their last four days of first and fifth grades. My oldest kiddo turned 11, and then we packed up and drove across farmland and prairie to Kansas City for a week of seeing family and friends. And then we drove back, and I remember thinking, “it’ll be nice to be home and start tackling all the ‘stuff’ I want to do. I have lots of time.”

I thought, I can finally finish all the laundry, organize the linen closet, set up my new home office and get my blog going, clean out my e-mail box, get my filing cabinet in shape, paint my bedroom, retile my kitchen, start planning a new cooking business idea I have, weed and re-do my gardens, accessorize the back patio, get a handle on the 34,272 Lego pieces floating around our house, rip out the basement bathroom, and the garage. Did I mention the garage? The garage has been the bane of my existence pretty much since we moved in. In short, it’s a disaster area.

Once we were home, I realized I had three days before my younger kiddo’s eighth birthday and five days until Fathers’ Day, and I had done a whole bunch of not-much to plan for either occasion (and both were worthy of some planning!). We also had guitar and ukulele lessons, my planned workouts at the gym, meal-planning and grocery shopping, and getting the dog groomed (she looked a bit neglected, I must admit). Oh, and laundry. Let’s not forget laundry.

Both the eighth birthday celebration and Father’s Day were fun and meaningful. Our little family was together, recognizing two important and amazing people. I cooked and we ate well (two of my favorite things). And then I realized I had one day before the first camp of summer began. It’s probably the one camp both of my boys looked forward to most: the Von Miller Football ProCamp. I had a brief sense of relief that I’d finally have some time to myself to complete some of that “stuff” I mentioned earlier. Little did I know that Von Miller camp would be consuming not only for my kids, but also for me. My boys LOVED it, but I pretty much accomplished none of my “stuff.”

All of that has brought me to this blog post, and my false belief that I have “lots of time.” The truth is, I don’t. None of us do. At the beginning of the 30 days, it seemed so manageable and attainable — all of the “stuff” I wanted to do. Along the way, life happened and time passed. I didn’t accomplish much on my to-do list, but I began to unearth the deeper layer of who I am and why I chose to leave my company in the first place. I know I didn’t leave a successful and lucrative business to complete a bunch of home projects. I left to discover a new path. After 30 days, I realize I’m merely standing at the trailhead of that new path, not quite sure if I even have the right map.

As I continue to study my still-fuzzy map, I’m being more aware of my time instead of trying to spend my time. If I just need to sit and read a magazine, I’m doing that. If I need to use some of my time to do household projects (including that pesky laundry), I’m doing that. I spent six hours cooking recently. It felt a bit indulgent, but it was something I needed to do. I’m carving out time to focus on this blog and writing, too. And I’m making sure that when I’m with my kids, I’m taking the time to be with my kids. Being aware of my time allows me to listen to cues and follow my gut about the next step for me. That’s a really good use of my time I think.

As I look back on my last 30 days, they seem a bit chaotic, messy and lacking focus. But I know I spent my time exactly as I was supposed to. Exploring, cleaning, and connecting. The dog is groomed. I’ve set up my home office (sort of), and I’ve been to the grocery store. I’ve knocked those things off of my to-do list. Not bad for 30 days, I’d say. What’s in store for my next 30 days? Laundry. Lots of laundry.

A picture of productivity and organization: This is the current state of my basement with laundry lurking in the background.