Life is All About How You Handle Plan B

If you are blessed to live life long enough, you quickly learn that things rarely go as planned. We can prepare, try to anticipate, and plan for every outcome and still find ourselves pivoting as things go sideways. 🙂 Most often, if you allow yourself a certain perspective, you will be able to find the blessing in those moments.

Our adventure started 4 days ago, and let’s just say NOTHING has gone according to plan. That is not to say things have been bad, just not according to our timelines and desires. We have seen the blessing of being delayed by these unexpected vehicle issues.  We can be thankful that we are currently traveling with a second vehicle for the first week of our journey, so we had transportation to go find and buy replacement parts.  We can be thankful that the issues arose during this first week during the time my husband will be traveling with us.  I am so blessed that my husband is able and willing to fix my new Excursion (Guinevere), while on his vacation. He worked so many hours without complaint to make sure my vehicle got us where we needed to be. We were blessed to be able to limp the vehicle to our first destination and stay at a family member’s home where we could stay while finding and replacing parts for a couple of nights. These times help the children learn resourcefulness, to look for the bright side, and to see the journey, no matter what it may be, as part of the adventure. So let’s break down the adventure so far.

The plan was to leave on Friday.  Due to various issues, we did not leave until Sunday afternoon. The first leg of our journey, a 6-hour trip, ended up taking 12.5 hours. The Excursion developed an issue with wanting to just shut down while driving down the interstate, by the time we were within 88 miles of our first destination it was stalling, hesitating, bucking…without going into all the details, it was a crazy ride that had us stopping all along the way to troubleshoot (thank you Google & YouTube) and do mechanic work.  We limped into Enid, OK at 2:30 am on Monday and got some much-needed rest. 

Monday saw us driving all over town procuring 3 different parts relatively easily and then being unable to find the tool anywhere to install the part.  After working nonstop for 10 additional hours, my beloved husband took a break to have an amazing meal at a local place Cody’s brother introduced us to.  Afterward, my ingenious husband was able to find something that would work to install the parts. Around bedtime, everything came together, and the truck test drove great.

Even through the blood, sweat & swollen hands, my beloved never complained about losing vacation days to fix my Guinevere. He is such a wonderful example to our Blessings.

Tuesday morning, we reloaded the family and headed out to go see the lovely headstone that had been installed over the weekend on my beloved husband’s father’s grave. We were supposed to be in town with the family when it was placed, but circumstances prevented us.  We took the time to show the children the amazing history of Cody’s family seen at this cemetery. Their family has been laid to rest here since the 1800s.

We then traveled almost 600 miles to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, getting to pass our favorite volcano Mt Capulin in New Mexico, and got our first glimpse of the Rockies in Colorado right at sunset.  Arriving at our destination around 11:15 pm, everyone was tired, but pulled together and were real troopers. We are looking forward to waking up tomorrow with a beautiful view of the Great Sand Dunes right outside our tent window!  We have plans to explore the dunes and then hike to a nearby waterfall!

We are so thankful that everything worked out. Yes, we have had to adjust our schedule and will not get to see everything we wanted to this week before Cody has to return to Arkansas, but we DO get to be together and will continue to make every moment count. Memories don’t have to be of just the smooth sailing times. They can often come from the memories you make along the way that include troubleshooting an engine with Mom & Dad. The kids already had everything in Guinevere to help them entertain themselves when the hours in the car waiting for us to figure things out seemed long. They know how to play together and also how to seek alone times with a book. They also seemed to take turns coming and seeing what we were doing under the hood. I guarantee they will tell fond stories of these unexpected days that looked nothing like what we had planned.

Now off to bed. Tomorrow will be filled with an adventure of its own!

Making a List & Checking It Twice

The logistics that go into planning an adventure for a Large Family that spans thousands of miles over the course of several months can seem daunting, but like to old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”. The same goes for Large Family travel.

Some of the things I have been doing to prepare include going online and having plenty of information mailed to our family from the various states we will be visiting. This helps to excite the children for our upcoming adventure and give them a glimpse of what we will be seeing. This leads to some wonderful times in our geography homeschool times together. I have also been going over our various gear needs. Our gear closet is in constant flux as children grow and change sizes in everything from clothes, boots, sleeping bags, etc. Our vehicle changes every few years, so a new packing system is arranged. The key is flexibility with an eye on the big picture. As we approach our expected start date, I have been going over each child’s needs and making sure everything still fits, if not it goes on the list of things to search for second hand or on clearance. I have had great success using Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, Rhea Lana’s consignment sales, Amazon, and Walmart for getting most of the gear we desire at affordable prices. I am considering doing a series of how we plan and gear up for these epic tent camping adventures with the hope of encouraging other families that they too can get out and enjoy the Great Outdoors together.

Come Along with Us on an Adventure

Our 9 Blessings and I will be heading out on another epic tent-camping road trip across the West in a few weeks. We plan on leaving the first part of May and come back in August. We will enjoy many of our National Parks and so many beautiful natural places. Based on how much people enjoyed reading about our past adventures on Facebook, we decided this time to write a blog detailing our journey. 🙂 We may even venture into having a YouTube channel that I am sure would be full of hilarious antics knowing my kiddos.