Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

Road Trip Survival Guide or The Next Step in the Journey

I would love to share with you what I did to make my recent road trip with my family fun for myself and how our family survived driving over 2500 miles through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and back to our ‘home sweet home’ in Southern California.

“Life incidents can have a significant effect on your states of mind. If something powerful happens then your belief in yourself is increased.”  ~Ken Ward, from Mind Mastery

Let’s recap: We traveled through Six States in Seven Days and I experienced Nine States of Mind in the Process.

I set out to share my experience going on a road trip with my husband and three teen-aged boys and explain why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it at least once in your life.  I ended up learning a lot about myself, my abilities, the unique family dynamics that I have taken for granted and how much it all means to me.

I wanted to parallel the “Six States” we visited with different “States of Mind” that one goes through when a) going on a road trip and b) making big life decisions like choosing a college and experiencing empty nest syndrome.  I did some research on the differences of feelings versus states of mind.  I had the idea when I realized that I had to be in a certain mindset to even tackle the concept of going on a road trip at this point in my life. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows what I mean.

There is a level of adventurism that is different when transporting oneself over long roads to get to a destination with many points in between over taking other modes of transportation.

There is a spirit of freedom that is involved.  A sense of anything being possible ensues.  I was in a special state of mind, going through cycles of many thoughts and feelings on my road trip.  I have held off completing the “saga” and writing the “end” of the trip for many reasons.

Now it’s time to look at the effect the many states of mind had on me and my family:

The States of Mind

I felt like I was in a State of Dilemma when I was making the plans to go on a family vacation with little funds and very little interest from the family in terms of what to do, where to go, and how and if we should take this trip at all.  Was it the right decision?  After all, our son would most likely choose a California school, but he had been accepted to three out-of-state schools.  Shouldn’t he at least visit them before he decided?  What to do?  What to do?

Even though making the trek and going on the long trip was a challenge it had many benefits.  We mostly looked forward to getting to visit our beloved relatives.  It is the one thing that we all wanted to do.  We all enjoy visiting New Mexico and had wanted to go there for a while.  We love everything about it, the hospitality of our relatives, the fun places to go, things to see, and especially the food we love to eat.

That is what made the trip worthwhile for the kids.  I wish we could have spent more time there.  The dilemma was in the work it took to make it all happen and the state of mind was a tough one because I added the stress of trying so hard to make everyone happy in the process.

Omens

Along the way, I observed some animals and birds that I considered to be omens.  You might think that is strange, but it is just what came to mind when I saw these things and it added to the drama of the experience for me.  When we were getting on the freeway for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post on the corner at the on-ramp.  I thought it might be a bad omen and I prayed that we would have a good trip.  Later on after we had our first night in Nevada staying overnight with my mother in law, I felt better after seeing a doe running along the side of the road and that brought me a sense of peace.  On the way to New Mexico driving through Colorado Springs, I saw a band of wild horses running through a range.  It was quite a site to see and it was exhilarating.  It was another omen, it was a good feeling that something was happening.

wild-horses

I felt like the true journey was just beginning and that I was on special mission.  Through it all I felt like there was more I could be doing.  Until we got to New Mexico and we were on the third college tour.  Knowing that after this we could relax and just hang out with our family and then head home, we went to the gift shop.

Quote seen on a book in the New Mexico gift shop – after trying so hard to make everyone happy. . .

“If you want to be happy, just be.”   ~Tolstoy

Is it really that easy?  Can I just be?  Be happy?  Be content?  Be satisfied.

Just be.

Road Blocks and Obstacles

When things didn’t go well at the very start of the trip I felt like I was in a State of Despair.  I was trying so hard to get things to work out as planned and I had to push myself hard in many directions.  I needed to be assertive and calming at the same time.  I was under an incredible amount of pressure.  We had to be in Colorado at a certain time.  All the college tours were scheduled appointments.  We didn’t have any flexibility other than missing the tours and just seeing the colleges on our own.

It was interesting that the problems I had with Hertz were a matter of customer service and the failure of the company to meet my expectations.  I had set high expectations for myself in planning and executing this trip.  Hertz has a goal of providing a quality customer experience. My goal became to provide the best experience possible for my family. One thing I learned in this process was to expect the un-expected.  I also learned that even when there is no flexibility, I am still capable of bending.

My Measure of Being a Good Mom Depends on the Level of Joy Experienced by My Least Happy Child

Being in a state of despair led me to being in a State of Confusion since I was having to make so many decisions that affected everyone and I was dealing with different attitudes and hormones while trying to make everyone comfortable and happy. I learned a lot about being prepared and having faith, in myself, in my family in our own abilities, as well in that which we cannot control.

When things went according to plan, I was in the State of Relief.  This came about after being helped and receiving tender loving care and nurture from my mother in law on that first night.

I Can Always Depend on a Little Help From My Family

I relished in the comfort of knowing what to expect from our extended family.  I loved being able to rely on certain things.  I depended on it.  I knew this trip was about visiting colleges – B-o-r-i-n-g!! We didn’t have the money or time to go to an amusement park, zip lining, fishing or river rafting while on the trip. I needed to make the connections with family be the attraction.  They did not disappoint.  I was relieved and enjoyed being in that state for a while.  I think I am still there.  Our family is awesome on both sides!  The kids feel love and support from everyone.  We are truly blessed.  It’s never perfect, nothing ever is going to be perfect.  But we appreciate who we are and where we came from.

This is How I Made the Trip FUN for Me!

One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting my nails done by my cousin, Shauni.  She made a special appointment for me and while I was getting my nails done, her husband cut my son’s hair.  They have a great shop, it is a nail salon and barber shop called Cool Claws and Hot Heads.  Shauni has always made me feel welcomed and special when I am in town and it wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico without a trip to see her.  What I love most about getting my nails done by Shauni, is the chance to have one on one time to talk and catch up girl to girl on what is happening with the family. She is a busy working mom like me and we are doing many of the same things.  We love to dish!

While we were there the whole family came over to my cousin’s house for dinner.  That was about 30 people!  I told the boys everyone would come to see them.  It is an amazing show of support and solidarity when four generations of family show up to see you whenever you are in town.  I used to think this kind of thing happened when my parents were visiting to show respect for them.  They were very hospitable and when people came to California to visit they would stay at our home.  I thought they planned these big dinners for special occasions.  I expected maybe a handful of the close relatives to come, but I was overjoyed that everyone who lived in town and could make it came over to greet us.  It is a big, affectionate, loving and supportive family.  The love is deep and strong.  We have been through a lot, we have lost a lot, and we celebrate with intention and gratitude when we are together.

Family support came in handy especially for our son in making his decision on what college to choose.  Everyone in New Mexico wanted him to choose UNM.  My cousin in Colorado, was encouraging about CUB.  But they all gave him such positive and nurturing advice.  They had his back and are proud of him no matter what he chose. It has to be his decision.  Having family support is invaluable.  I needed to be with them.  I needed a big dose of that strength and fortitude.  I think it will last for a while.

What Did I Learn From All of This?

The best take-away?  I wasn’t in this alone – I had lots of help, mother-in-law, husband, kids, cousins, friends.  I had the positive reinforcement that I needed. The purpose of the trip was to visit colleges and decide on which one our son would attend.  I tried to be positive and guide him in making an informed decision without making the decision for him.  It was completely successful on that front.  I give the other boys credit for hanging in there purely for the ride.  I think they got a lot out of it that will come into play later in their lives.  For now, they showed their support for their brother. They showed respect to me and their Dad.  The enjoyed the time spent with family.  I still have the feeling that I owe them one. . . but I can always fall back on the guilt trip of labor pains and dirty diapers!

One of my regular states of being is the State of Awe and Wonderment.  I am blessed every day that I can see the beauty in things.  This was particularly evident the day we drove through the many different terrains and mountains.  It was an amazing day.  The sky was so clear and I will never forget how perfectly beautiful everything was and how impressed I was with the way the scenery changed so rapidly.  It was like fast forwarding through my life.  I felt like I was fast forwarding through life the past few years.  Everything has changed so much since my parents passed on and my children have grown.  I just needed to catch up.  I was finally able to catch up on this trip.

Seeing the beauty in everything, I learned to appreciate nature and the feeling of being a small yet integral part of something so big. This became evident in my role in my family as well.

Some parts of the trip were heart-stopping and crazy and I found myself in a State of Excitement and Anticipation!   This was the case during our Wild Rocky Mountain drive on the way to Fort Collins, Colorado.  It was a quick ride much like the roller coaster of life with its ups and downs twists and turns, exhilaration, excitement, and even its let downs and disappointments.  Through it all we discovered the thrill of adventure and teachable moments.  I practiced patience and trust.  My husband was my hero and I was reminded why I love him so much.

At the pinnacle of the ride, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, I was immersed in a State of Fear. We were driving through a snowstorm in Vail, Colorado and even though I was terrified on the inside, I remained calm on the outside.   Our traverse through a difficult situation gave me the feeling of being able to conquer anything.  I gained self-confidence and regained composure and respect for my partner in life and our kids.  Our family as a unit stuck through it with grace.  Getting over the mountain, seeing what is on the other side, the roller coaster ride, the snowstorm,  are all metaphors for what is about to happen with our oldest son graduating from high school and going away to college, as well as our families adjustment to growing up and moving on in life.

Along the way I discovered a new mantra,

“I will wake to a new day.”  I will.  It is a new day.

Side Trips

After going through all of this I found myself in the perfect State of Enchantment and Bliss.  I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off, being able to spend the time with the family and eating our favorite foods, and for making the most of the situation.  The good feelings started when we were in Boulder, Colorado.  After settling in to a wonderful hotel and relaxing a bit, my hubby and I went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings plant.  It was the perfect place to unwind and re-energize!

Kicking back and hanging out in Boulder on Easter Sunday with the boys was another highlight of the trip.  I enjoyed walking around town looking at shops, and taking in the ambiance of the little college town.  The best part was going into the LUSH store and getting hand and wrist massages and learning about natural skin care products.  Luckily the pretty college student was more than happy to help me and the three boys!   I never get such great service when I go shopping alone.  Hmmm, wonder why?

IMG_8420

I think I managed to share with my family the best part of road trips.  It’s the fun spontaneous side trips that are meant to be enjoyed just for the sake of having fun. Driving into New Mexico, I took some awesome pictures of the beautiful evening sky and sunset.  For me, I had reached my destination at that point. That was a sight that I had on my list.  There is nothing quite like it.

In Summary

This leads me to where I ended up as a result of this undertaking, I am happy to finally reach this destination in the State of Contentment and Accomplishment.   It wasn’t enough that our son was accepted at a college and was making the decision to accept an offer with support from loved ones, but it was in appreciating each other in the process and learning how much we love our home and its stable environment.  We realized that appreciating the best qualities of each member of the family, recognizing that we take each other for granted at times, blessing the fact that we need each other and complement each other, loving the little things that makes us each unique and valuable is what we gained by taking this journey together.  It took going away to realize that.  To emphasize and instill that in the minds and hearts of my children meant the world to me.

It was worth every dime it took and every mile we drove to achieve that level of knowing and to settle in to that state of being.

I have always said if you can dream it, you can be it.  If you can imagine it, you can make it happen.  If you can see yourself in a place, you can go there.  This trip was difficult because we went to different places to “try them on for size.”  We went for the purpose of trying things out to see how it feels to be there, to see if our son could make a go of it there.  Trying new things was the name of the game.  We were breaking out of our comfort zone.  We were all imagining ourselves in a new place.  We were trying on a new learning environment and living space for our son and imagining a new family dynamic at home.  It became a new rung on the ladder of development for me as a mother and a wife, for us as a family.   I learned through this entire process that it is time to change my state of mind.  Now I know how to do it.  And I know what state of mind I have transitioned to.  I am not afraid anymore.  I am confident.  I know I am not alone in this.  I am compelled and excited about what is ahead.  I can do it.  I am open to new experiences.  I have grown up a bit.  It might not happen without bouts of dilemma and despair, fears and woe, wonder and awe, excitement and anticipation.  It will be with a sense of relief, love, nurture, accomplishment, confidence, grace and contentment.

This is who I am.  This is how I operate.  It is all part of the journey.  It is all part of a process. 

It is my time to shine.

photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2013 http://mizmeliz.com
It’s still a long road ahead, but I am ready for wherever it leads!

More on the States of Mind

If you want to learn more about ‘The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind,” Here’s a great excerpt from a blog called Positive Juice:

“Feelings are temporary. They change and morph both gradually and quickly, often without us even realizing it. States of mind, however, are much longer-lasting and pervasive. You could consider a state of mind to be another kind of feeling, but there is a very important difference. Some examples of feelings versus states of mind:

* Joy versus contentment. * Anger versus resentment. * Sadness versus depression. * Love versus being in love. * Envy versus jealousy. * Delight versus appreciation. * Embarrassment versus shame. * Sureness versus faith. * Annoyance versus exasperation. * Urgency versus desperation. * Acceptance versus resignation. * Disgust versus hatred. * Relaxation versus peace of mind. * Hope versus optimism. * Desire versus longing. * Fear versus paranoia.

Feelings are part of life, both good and bad. They happen whether you like it or not, and you have very little control over them. States of mind are very different. They shape your longer-term outlook about what you are [and aren’t] supposed to do. The secret is that, while you don’t have much control over the feelings you have, you do have the ability to shape your state of mind.

The negative feelings will happen; in fact, as feelings, they are beneficial to experience–because they pass and you often learn something from them or gain a sense of perspective. But when negative feelings like anger and sadness turn into states of mind like resentment and depression, you’re in trouble.

A lot of the time, you can see when the transition from feeling to state of mind happens. If you become angry, for example, and then for days afterward, you anger is provoked much more easily than usual… that anger is becoming a lingering state of mind–a generalized resentment. Folks who suffer from this resentful state of mind [and there are quite a few out there] are the kind of people who act as though they want everybody else to have as bad a day as they are having. Their state of mind heavily influences all their interactions, and they respond to others from a place of resentment.

Some states of mind can be very good for a while. Appreciation, for example, is a very positive state of mind to have. Contentment is equally positive. Remember, these states of mind influence what you project to others… so a good state of mind is an awesome way to tap into positive energy. But even positive states of mind are good to change once in a while. You don’t want to project appreciation when someone has just had something horrible happen to them, for example.

The more you get to know yourself, the more you’ll know when it’s time to change your state of mind. So…the $50 zillion question is, how do you change your state of mind?”

If you would like to read more about Miz Meliz, serendipity and being an Adventuress,

I invite you to read The Spirit of Adventure!

Everything Miz Meliz

What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a Road Trip State of Mind

What happens when a determined mom, like me, gets in a “Road Trip State of Mind?”

photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
Let’s go on a road trip!

First, don’t mess with me! I am determined to make sure everyone has a good time and is comfortable. And I mean it! Hopefully, everyone ends up having a reasonably good time and no one gets hurt. Second, like most things in life, going on a vacation is a journey. Obviously! But it is a process. There is a beginning, middle and end. I have some experience at this, so I planned it all out and it went pretty well. Lastly, even though our lives were never truly at risk, any trip is about survival. Especially when a perfectly normal family unit is going to be cooped up for hours on end in close quarters. Here is how we all survived. . .

THREE TIPS that helped me to enjoy a road trip through SIX STATES in SEVEN DAYS with FOUR BOYS:

#1 Do everything you can to drive a big, comfortable, and reliable vehicle.

#2 Pack lots of water bottles, snacks, medicine and chocolate.

#3 Have a plan to make it fun, for yourself.

“Our life is composed of events and states of mind. How we appraise our life from our deathbed will be predicated not only on what came to us in life but how we lived with it. It will not be simply illness or health, riches or poverty, good luck or bad, which ultimately define whether we believe we have had a good life or not, but the quality of our relationship to these situations: the attitudes of our states of mind.”
― Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

Yeah, we drove over 2500 miles in seven days. It was pretty hard at times and we had a blast at times. It was worth it, but it took a lot of planning and forethought to survive it. I would like to share with you why we actually needed to do it, how we actually ended up doing it, and why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it – at least once in your life! I believe in living life fully and making each moment count. I like to celebrate the milestones and create memorable events for my family. I became determined to take the task of visiting colleges and turn it into a vacation.

In the Beginning, I Found Myself in a State of Dilemma

We live in California and we wanted to take our oldest son to see three universities that he has been accepted to for the Fall. Two of the Universities are in Colorado and one is in New Mexico. We had a week off for Spring Break and a little savings to use for a trip. The money we had saved was not enough for all of us to travel by air and stay in hotels at all three locations, so we had to make some choices. I looked at it from many angles. I could afford to send my son to visit the schools if either my husband or I went with him, flew to Colorado and then drove to New Mexico and flew back from there. That was not only a hassle, but how would we decide who would go with him? Our first dilemma.

I soon realized that all five of us could go on the trip if we drove and stayed with relatives for most of the time. Since we have four drivers and lots of relatives in these areas, I thought – “Great, problem solved!” The best part being that we would get to see some of our beloved relatives and we were overdue for a trip to one of our favorite places to visit! I thought it would be a good experience for the younger boys to visit these colleges and see what they have in store for them down the road. Then I realized we don’t have a reliable vehicle that all of us would be comfortable in for many hours at a time. That’s the second dilemma.

I did a web search of hotels, rental cars, and driving distances and figured out a way we could manage this trip. I reached out to my relatives and confirmed that all five of us could stay with my cousin in New Mexico for three nights, the longest part of the vacation. My son and I coordinated the visits with the three schools and I worked out a schedule from there. I priced out the rental cars online and found a pretty good deal with one and my husband chose the type of vehicle he wanted to drive for the trip. I found some amazing hotels with great reviews in the vicinity of the two schools we were visiting in Colorado, and got awesome deals since I was booking far in advance and online.

I put together an itinerary, got someone to feed the cats and watch the house, and I set to work on creating a memorable experience for our family. It wasn’t until the day we left on the trip that I realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
This says it all!

On the First Day, I was in a State of Despair

I know that sounds dramatic, but it certainly was an urgent and desperate situation! The whole trip I planned depended on the perfect vehicle. It had to be spacious and it had to be reliable. I have three teen-aged boys and my husband and I aren’t exactly “compact” so it needed to be comfortable. Since we are on a tight budget it needed to be affordable. We were going to be driving over the Rocky Mountains and snow was predicted on the days we were going to be there, so it needed to be an all wheel drive vehicle. Mostly, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted my family to be comfortable. I wanted to make my husband and kids happy. They weren’t as excited as I was about taking this road trip!

I thought I found the solution when I went through Hertz. I did, but it was a very difficult and disappointing ordeal. The main reason it became so harrowing is the poor customer service we received when we went to pick up the vehicle. The car I reserved was not available and the substitute was not at all acceptable. I called twice in advance to see if the vehicle I reserved would be there and both times was told that it or a comparable vehicle would be there when I arrived at my appointed time. It turned out that the staff did nothing to honor that commitment. They accepted what they believed to be the closest thing and never bothered to notify me. When we arrived, my husband and I waited forty-five minutes before anyone could even help us and then we found out about the mini-van. My stress is beginning to elevate now just thinking about it. If it had not been that important to my husband, we would have driven that mini-van through the blizzard we hit in Vail, Colorado. But instead, I stuck my heels in the ground, we made some calls, we delayed our departure and we exchanged it at a different Hertz location within the vicinity. It took some work, actual work, on the part of the employees at Hertz, but they were in fact able to provide the vehicle that I reserved. I think it was a surprise even to them! We ended up in a brand new, just off the lot, the window sticker still attached, Chevy Traverse LT AWD. Exactly what I had reserved.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
Crazy Car Rental Experience

I won’t go into details about the employees at Hertz and I would never name names, but they could stand to learn a lot about customer service, respect, common sense, courtesy and compassion, none of which was observed at either of the locations I had to interact with.

I must say that it all turned out okay in the end. The District Manager at Hertz did a lot to make it work out for us, but it is important to note that I had to really work hard to get what I wanted and I was not satisfied with my overall customer experience. Since Hertz claims their goal is “to provide the best customer experience possible”, they seriously failed to meet it. Eventually they discounted the rental, but I had to go through the corporate office by getting their attention on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/Hertz) and publicly proclaiming my dissatisfaction. If you know me, you know how extremely difficult it was for me to do that. I am probably the most positive person you will ever meet and it saddened me to complain. I was of course happy to get a discount, but what I am still waiting for is an apology and I would like to see the management take responsibility and show me how they plan to improve the service at my local office before I will ever consider returning to or recommending Hertz again. Service and reliability are extremely important to me. It was particularly challenging to remain calm and upbeat during this experience and it was vital that I didn’t get upset at the beginning of the trip. I had to use restraint to show my kids how I could take care of things without totally freaking out! I put myself under a lot of pressure to make this trip great and this was the very first step.

When we finally drove away and I was on the road for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post at the freeway on ramp. I wondered if that was an omen. At that moment, all I could do was pray. I prayed that it would only get better from there. Thank God that was the worst of it!

If you like to read about travel disasters and conquests, visit this blog: http://elliott.org/ I will keep you posted on what I now call the “Hertz State of Despair.” I will recommend them if I ever get a note of apology and some clear perspective on how they plan to meet their goal of providing a positive experience for their customers.

That First Night, I Slept Soundly in a State of Relief

It was late. We were about four hours behind schedule. I had originally hoped to have time to have dinner with my mother-in-law in Henderson, Nevada on our first night. The boys were looking forward to hanging out with their cousin. My husband planned to meet up with his brother. None of that happened, but we were welcomed by my husband’s mother close to midnight when we finally arrived on her doorstep. Even though we said not to go to any trouble, she had of course cooked for us! She warmed up the food and laid it out on the table and we sat down to eat as if it were the normal dinner time. I knew if we weren’t there, she would be sound asleep! We felt at home and I relaxed for the first time in over 24 hours! We were safe and warm and comfortable.

The boys were aggravated when I told them that I wanted to leave at 5 AM. My husband was annoyed when he realized that we still had a 14-16 hour drive ahead of us the next day. No one understood that the first night was a mere “lay-over” and “rest stop” for what was to be the longest and most difficult, yet most beautiful and exciting part of our drive.

I planned that first night to be easy and carefree. I could depend on my mother-in-law and she came through with flying colors! This is a beautiful person who knows how to make the people she cares about feel special. If we needed it, wanted it, dreamed of it, she had it for us. I am not kidding! Sneezing? Is it allergies? She had a package of medicine for us to take. Forgot your tooth-brush? Here is a brand new one. Need snacks and drinks for the road? I bought extra. I made cookies. Take them. We hardly had room, but she filled the rental car with the essentials (most things I had thought of and packed already, but we graciously accepted anyway.) A roll of paper towels, a box of Kleenex. Even a pretty outfit for me to wear on Easter! She loves to give me clothes! I will probably be like that someday with my daughters-in-law! She got up early and made breakfast for us. She was at the door to see us off and wish us well.

At the moment we were about to take off, I really wanted to bring her with me! I needed another woman to balance out the hormones in the car. I could feel it already. It was going to be a bumpy ride! Me against the boys. They are easy going and good kids, but I am sensitive to their little remarks. I am a people pleaser and they never seem satisfied. If I plan ham, they want turkey. If I plan turkey, they want ham. You get it. They are gracious and sweet, but given a 50/50 chance to get things right, I always make the wrong guess. And there are three of them! The odds are stacked against me! Is that all in my head? If you ask any one of them or my husband, they will tell you, “Yes.” But think about it. Even logically, I knew that I needed to be at my most calm, best and easy going self to survive this trip. I think this is the first time ever I wished my mother-in-law was with me! I certainly wouldn’t have wished this experience on anyone else. No girlfriend could have taken it. I know I am in a “special mom place” when I am in the mother hen role. Since I no longer have my sister or my mom around to back me up, the only one who could have pulled it off was my MIL. Yet, would I come out alive after a trip with her and her grandchildren and son? Thankfully, I will never know for sure! But packed to the gills with chocolate, drinks, and allergy medicine, I knew I had everything I needed to make it through. Only five more states to go!

The Second Day I discovered myself in a State of Awe and Wonderment

We quickly drove through the dry barren desert area of Nevada and into Arizona in the first few hours of the drive. We spent most of the day driving through Utah. None of us had ever been through this part of Utah before. In fact, only my second son and myself had ever been to Utah. I went on a business trip to Salt Lake City once and my son had been to Park City with another family last Summer. So, this was very new and exciting. Driving through this part of the country is amazing and difficult to describe, but I will do my best.

We were truly in awe. The trek through Arizona was like being in the movie Cars. There is no doubt that the movie and the ride at California Adventure is based on someone’s travels on the very roads we were on. The rugged terrain, the mountains, cliffs and gulleys were crazy gorgeous, colorful, jagged, rocky and out of this world. It was a curvy, dangerous, and fun road to drive!

Everything seemed to smooth out when we entered Utah. The terrain was calm and the mountains were smooth and the lightly dusted mountain tops in the distance were soft and serene. It looked like someone had gone through moments before with powdered sugar and sifted it on the tops of the mountains that looked like giant mounds of lemon cookies. Then I began to notice that the shrubs and trees were getting bigger and the mountains were getting closer. We drove through them and it was no big deal. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. If this is the snow I had heard about, then we are doing great!” Little did I know!

The terrain changed drastically through this part of Utah. We saw every different kind of mountain that I could have ever imagined on this leg of the trip. They were all different sizes, shapes and colors. It felt like we went back in time. I imagined the dinosaurs walking over those giant rocks. I felt like we were on a different planet. The bright reds and coppers of the soil and the layers of rock jutting out of the ground at disturbing angles made me think of earthquakes and volcanoes. I had nothing but my imagination to keep me occupied during the long hours of driving in the middle of nowhere. For hours we saw nothing but mountains and sky. It was breathtaking. They are majestic. They are mystifying. They are high! The elevation grew with every mile. We are used to being at sea level! Before we knew it we were at the mile high mark. Over 5000 feet. And with each mile it got colder. I told the boys to bring jackets, none of us brought anything heavier than a sweatshirt! I think we had one coat between the five of us!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We stopped for lunch at the halfway point at Green River, Utah. There was not much green and I didn’t see a river. It was dry and barren and barely anything in sight for miles. There was a stretch of road that was slightly inhabited. We stopped at a burger joint that would be worthy of a spot on the show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We had green chile burgers and tater tots. It was delicious! I had a soft serve chocolate ice cream. We rested and the boys played ball in the parking lot. (Dirt road on the side of the building.) The boys play lacrosse and the locals were in awe having never seen such a thing. They were a hit!

As we made our way through Utah, we continued to see the most amazing views of mountains and scenery! Everything got bigger and bigger and I felt small as we zipped by in our “little” car. As we started to drive up through the mountains, around each turn I would notice we were driving higher and higher and there were more and more mountains. It seemed we would never get to the “top”. Around each bend there were more and bigger mountains to climb. Until we got to a point that seemed to be at the base of another set of mountains. Welcome to Colorado, the sign said! We were almost at our destination for the day! The time had changed and we realized we gained an hour. Were we an hour closer? No. In fact with the long stop for lunch and the time change, the time estimated for arrival to Fort Collins, Colorado was 9:00 PM.

When we finally did arrive in Fort Collins, with the time change accounted for, we had been travelling for 17 hours. technically that was just the first day! The boys weren’t too happy with me that first night! I haven’t even gotten to the part about the snow storm!

Read more about the trip in the next installment at Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive.  Follow this blog to be notified when new posts are published or subscribe to the newsletter. If you are new here, please leave a comment and let me know. Heck, leave a comment anyway! I love to hear from you!

Subscribe to the newsletter