We had great visits with long lost friends and family going through Utah. We visited only a fraction of those we wanted to see, but it was a packed zip through the state. We were able to visit many old friends from Georgia as well as mission friends and cousins! A stop in with Thomas McConkie for some mindfulness practice, visit with Sasha and fam, Lunch with Zanne and Mica, playing at the park with Matt & Madeline and Elle, a hike with Stix and kids, visit with Nate and Amy little and fam, the Johansens, another hike but with the Lowry clan followed by gelato, visiting Stix at his fire station, and some Mullins cousins for lunch! We got photos of some of the gatherings, but not all.
Special thanks to Aunt Zanne for acting as our mailbox and letting us mail everything (including our passports) to her house since we no longer have one and didn’t want to mess with forwarding things from our mailbox!
Driving from Colorado to Utah is beautiful and I was able to literally “work on the road” again as we went, though some places along the interstate don’t have much as far as data connections. I was able to get my work done still.
We were heading to Utah and we wanted to return to Moab for some family hiking. We visited about 10 years ago and thought the kids would love it. As we pulled in the night before we decided to check the weather and we were a little surprised. We hadn’t put two and two together, that it was summer and we were heading to the desert. Not sure why we hadn’t even thought about that yet, but we had just enjoyed some beautiful weeks in Colorado. Anyways, it was hot than expected so we rearranged our schedule to hike early in the morning before it hit 100 degrees since it would stay above 100 until 8pm when it started getting dark.
What is this, a desert!?
We had a good hike to the delicate arch though and the kids became convinced we were trying to kill them with the heat already, so we called it a day and went to hydrate and swim at the hotel before heading north.
We drove from South Dakota and through Wyoming to get to Yellowstone and it did not disappoint. We arrived through the West Gate and headed right for a couple places on our short list. We had to drive a few hours through the park since it was already late in the day. It was a beautiful drive though around the lake. We came across some snow and had to get out and play a bit. There was some thermal activity on the banks of the lake too, so wild to see steam coming out of crevices in the ground! We spotted some wildlife as well, a few buffalo, deer, a bigger deer maybe elf or antelope and a young grizzly bear in the road (sorry, no bear pics this time). There were quite a few spots we had to pull off and just soak up the scenery!
We got to Old Faithful to see it erupt at dusk.
We were lucky to have made a reservation at the Old Faithful Inn though and were impressed with how fancy and unique it was!
It was great to spend the night in the park and not have to drive all the way back out! We’d probably prefer to camp there, but as we don’t have the RV (yet) or the camping gear (anymore) the inn was the option and I’m glad we went for it. A fun experience overall and so nice to see Old Faithful out the window first thing in the morning!
As we were heading towards Wyoming from Indiana, we noticed signs to the Badlands, and having heard about them and looking up details as we approached we decided on a small detour to check it out. We were happy to present the rangers with our newly printed 4th grader pass which got us in free! We were pretty immediately impressed with a great overlook as we made our way to the information center, so we had to get out!
We were struck with blasts of wind as enjoyed the canyons and cliffs.
Then we saw something coming over the hills behind us, like a brown cloud and then we realized it was a sandstorm! So we ran to the car. Most of us made it in time, the rest of use was picking sand out of our hair and beards the rest of the day.
We checked out the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to learn all about the history of the area and participate in the Junior Ranger program. We were thoroughly impressed. We’re really glad that we stopped in to see the Badlands National Park and happy to report the badlands are a good time.
We’ve spent the last week overwhelmed daily with all that needed doing and all the emotions that came along with it. With the last push to let go of things and all the last furnishings in our house, organize what we weren’t getting rid of and taking anything we couldn’t sell to donate to friends and family and strangers. Selling our house to a great family and saying goodbye (for now) to the best neighbors we could have asked for.
We moved more than we intend to store in our parents basement (letting go is hard!). Then we also did our best at packing the van for a 6 week road trip followed by the flight that will begin our international nomad adventure. We brought bag after bag and box after box to the driveway and had to get creative in packing the trunk and every available space in the Honda Odyssey like Tetris masters. All the while knowing that we still have more stuff than we’d like. All our American consumer and preparedness training makes it really hard to leave anything behind though. We had to repeatedly tell ourselves that we can buy things as needed. That is such a different way of life and philosophy than we are used to. We usually buy in bulk and for long term, but we have to flip it and only buy what we need and only when we need it, and then only expect to keep it while it’s needed and useful.
We are going to Fiji though and have a list of things that are needed for life there. Then we arrive in Australia mid-July, which is winter, so we have coats as well as swimming suits and everything in between. It’s not as easy to pack light when we go Nomad because we are feeling like we want to bring all we will need as to be ready for the many scenarios we will encounter. As nice as it would be to have everything we will need on the journey, it’s not practical to carry that much stuff through the airplanes and transfers and trams and trains and ferries and Ubers and taxis and rental cars and buses which we’re sure to be utilizing. We will have to learn to do without or buy it there. It’s surreal to drive off with all the things we’ve kept for the journey in one vehicle and actually be setting off! We’re driving the family minivan with my keychain, with the van key being the solo key left on it. No more office key, that was my last job and I gave it back on my last day, my car has been sold, the house has been sold and my church key has been returned since someone else will be needing it soon. I’ve had many keys to lug around and the responsibilities that come along with each, it’s kinda nice to be free of that. Soon we’ll sell the van too and be on our own feet and whatever vehicles we hire/rent.
Driving off from our last local family gatherings into the sunset was hard. To know we won’t see the familiar faces in person for a good while was sad. We have plans for keeping in touch with video chats, but those are never quite the same. I said goodbye to my 4 sisters and their families, my parents and the slew of 16 nephews and one niece. The kids enjoyed some serious playtime with cousins before some goodbye hugs. Then the next day was goodbye to mom’s brother and sister and parents and more cousins and more hugs! It will seriously be hard to be far from the little cousins and we’ll miss seeing them grow! We won’t be gone forever, we’ll be around again one day, but we’ve got the itch pushing us on.