Being home has been both a relief because we were exhausted and a disappointment because - well, the wanderlust-er likes to wander. We had been home for three days and I looked at Alex and said, 'What's next? I'm ready to be on the road again!' I imagine I'm an exhausting person to live with, but I like to replace exhausting with exciting and accept myself in all my glory. The time away was good for us and coming back has felt like a new beginning of sorts. I don't know what it is - the many miles driven in stillness, witnessing each slow moment of the sunrises and sunsets, or just the break away from monotony, but road trips bring out the philosopher in me. I do my best figuring out while watching landscapes change outside the car window. I came back with an unexplainable sense of acceptance. We had a lot of time to talk about big life questions while we were on the road and I came back with a clearer vision of the life I hope is ahead of us. Meanwhile, I'm living out this current season in Alabama the best I can. So, what better way to step into a new beginning than by organizing and rearranging the entire apartment as soon as you walk through the front door? That's what we did. On a whim, I also decided to start a Whole 30, which I'm convinced is probably the worst way to start a Whole 30 because it lasted three days before I was like, SOURDOUGH BREAD and WINE and COFFEE WITH COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF CREAM. I have no willpower when it comes to the aforementioned.
In an ironic turn of topics, some things just don't click until you're at the right season in life to need them, and this has been the case with I and running. I've always said I hate running (without ever having actually ran a considerable distance), but rather than grinning and bearing it, I have found it in this season in which I truly need it and it has made all the difference. Maybe soon, I'll be able to admit to myself and put down in words what it actually is that I'm running away from, or to.
Overall, our trip was a success - with a few hiccups here and there, but memories were still made and fun was had. We're experienced enough to know that vacations with kids really aren't vacations at all, just a change of location, so we didn't envision mornings spent relaxing at the campsite with a steamy cup of coffee and restful nights full of roasted marshmallows and stargazing. Most mornings were spent trying to keep the baby off the tent as we rolled it up (accompanied by the background noise of a four-year-old making unintelligible repetitive noises) and chugging our cold coffee before jumping into the car because 'We're late!' I need that on a bumper sticker. Though our nights were still spent listening to the pterodactyl screams of a one-year-old who hates the thought of not being able to be permanently attached to the boob for eight hours straight, we did get in some of that "adult time" everyone talks about. We played Gin, drank whiskey from an enamel cup, and roasted marshmallows after the kids were asleep so we didn't have to share. Our largest hiccup of the trip was that is started with everyone except me catching an exorcist-like stomach flu. I'm convinced it was a newly evolved super virus. I've never seen anything like it. Both of the kids couldn't keep any food down for a solid week. My stubborn tendencies give me super powers, like the ability to will myself not to throw up. I was the only one that was spared. It was in there somewhere. I felt it - and gave it the middle finger, which hardly ever works but happened to this time. We thought seriously about canceling all that we had planned to see, but stuck it out. We suspected that if we had hurried home, by the time we actually made it across the country we probably would have all gotten over it.
The weather was in our favor a few nights, but the majority of the places we planned on camping at had to be bypassed because we either couldn't find a campsite or we got rained out. Road trips hardly ever go just as you had planned, so our list of stops had to be tweaked just a bit. The highlight of our trip happened to be Utah - who knew?! As a new incredible view was revealed around every bend in the road, we constantly looked at each other with our eyes wide and exclaimed, 'What is this place?!' Everything in the entire state has been touched with beauty! We got to spend two days at Zion, one at Arches, and we took a bit of a pit stop at Bryce Canyon, and it wasn't at all sufficient. I found myself wanting more of Utah as we crossed the Colorado line. The more places I see, the more I feel an ache for the desert. There is something poetic about a place that has just enough - just barely enough. It's where I was born. It's where my babies were born. It feels like I am built of dry heat, red dust, sage brush, juniper - like I should smell of warm earth and vanilla as a Ponderosa pine does.