I came to a crossroads a few months ago and had to decide what direction to go.

As a family, our goal has always been to keep it simple; centered around what matters and surrounded by those who matter most. Yet, no matter how hard I’ve been pushing and pulling we’re wrapping up another school year tumbling through the finish line exhausted, depleted and so far off of center it hurts.

Our weekends and to a great extent, our weeknights, have been dominated by sports games, practices, school obligations, working late and chasing all over because I still haven’t learned how to say no. Since I don’t count drive thru and eating in the car as a family meal, we rarely eat meals together anymore. I worry our kids are developing a distorted sense of what our time together is supposed to look like and more deeply, I fear we are each feeling a little resentful for how fun has been replaced by chaos.

The pushing, pulling and struggling to find our center has been agonizing and needs to end. Another school year is over and again it was another year when I barely connected with friends I swore I would; never got to the vast majority of things I intended to and sadly, most days and weeks we all simply went through the motions.

The boys are now rising 7th and 4th graders and are closer to becoming independent beings who will venture off to lives of their own. Yesterday they were toddlers and now they are not. Time moves on and we’ve lost track of what it is we want. Regret is not what I want to live with or accept. We only get one chance to live this life, and it is time we get our shit together.

A few months ago the promising extended landscape of summer break which should have signaled the light at the end of the tunnel and a milestone to celebrate, didn’t feel that way at all. We felt like we were simply trading the chaos of the school year for the chaos of a scheduled summer of camps, clinics and activities.

Paul and I want our children to see and experience the world beyond their front door, community and to be honest, the privileges they are afforded. There are people, communities, history and culture to be explored. There are mountains to climb, canyons to gaze into, prairie lands to get lost in and rivers to wade through. We want them to understand and feel the grandeur of our country, meet people, take in different perspectives and appreciate our country’s beauty. Selfishly, I want to do it with them now. We have but one chance to do this right and this life of mine and ours is fragile; there is not a better time to adjust our course and live life to the fullest than now.

We are running away.

For real. No joke. Paul knows about it.

No camps. No sports teams. No organized activities or baseball clinics.

There will be family, adventure, history, culture, extraordinary landscapes, exploration and of course friends. There will be a summer of us.

This is our summer and our epic #YOLO road trip. Tucker is 12 and everything out of his mouth is #YOLO so that is what we are going with. You Only Live Once.

To be honest, much of this summer is about what I need. I have selfish needs. I need my kids to explore with me and have fun with me. I need them to know how fun I really am, how spontaneous I am and I need to develop a deeper relationship with my boys now that they are getting older.

I need to not be tired mommy, frustrated mommy, too busy mommy, every answer is no mommy and we’ll do that later mommy…

I need this to be a summer of YES. A summer of no rules, late nights, endless laughter & bonding, taking risks, spontaneity and above all, I need us to have our wanderlust summer. I need this summer to be the catalyst for change in our family.

There is still reality and Paul has to work. So, while Paul will be with us for portions of our adventures, I’ve enlisted an equally adventurous best friend, Sarah Hoover. Because no wanderlust summer would be complete without two moms and four kids trekking all over the American West.

We prefer to call it Mom’s Gone Wild. Two college friends, now best friends and four kids setting out from Tucson, AZ to explore the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Kanab Utah, Canyonlands & Arches National Park and then Salt Lake City. There is no better bestie to travel with than Sarah and we can’t wait.

We are grateful for friends who are opening their homes to us along the way and we can’t wait to create memories that will last a lifetime. The road ahead is long and there is so much to explore and see. You Only Live Once, so get going and get on living.

Watch out America, we are coming to see you, take your photo and write about you.

#YOLOsummer is here, stay tuned.


Have a suggestion for us along the way? Have a great, off the beaten path restaurant, food truck or dive to recommend? Places to see that we shouldn’t miss? Give me a shout out!!!


Postscript: Because my mom will call and freak out that I am writing about traveling all summer away from home… our home will be occupied & armed and our dogs will be happy to chase you away.

13 thoughts on “#YOLO

  1. Pingback: YOLO ROAD TRIP: vol 10 | jkeenan photography blog

  2. Hello! I am a fellow BT patient and have been following your blog since my diagnosis 8 months ago. I noticed that you will spending some time in Utah. My inlaws run a fantastic bed and breakfast called Notom Ranch B&B. It is pretty much inside of Capitol Reef National Park. I also highly recommend Dead Horse Point which is near Arches.

    • Thank you for the info on your parents B&B… We had already booked our accomodations, but I have taken note of their info for future trips. I hope you are doing well and hope you will follow along on our crazy adventure. Stay well!

  3. After just getting back from a short vacation in the mountains I am reminded of my childhood when everyday was an adventure and how when we grow up we lose that. How sad. I am turning off the tv and the phone and learning to enjoy the day and the beauty it gives us. You are an inspiration of what is important. I often have to remind myself that it is not the destination but the journey that gives us memories.

  4. Jennifer, as I sit in the car in the parking lot at the park trying to catch my
    Breath from the past two weeks, your comments really hit home! On the way to the park I had a talk with the kids explaining that if mommy doesn’t get a break, I am going to explode and to eSe don’t ask me to do anything, cook anything, fix anything, go anywhere etc today as I am simply worn out. I actually hurt both inside and out. You have inspired me to do something about this state. I wish you family and Sarah and her family the most memorable adventure that will be the catalyst for life changing possibilities. Thank you for sharing your heart and wise word with us.

  5. What an awesome adventure and I couldn’t agree with you more! I want that for my kids too! Have an unbelivable time!!

  6. Love it! Enjoy your adventures and time together. You will not regret it! The Grand Canyon is breathtaking. It is indescribable. Maybe you should have a camera following you. This might make for a great reality show!

  7. Sturgis and Rushmore are awesome but make sure you also see Crazy Horse. This magnificent carving will take your breath away. The carving of Stone Mountain fits in Crazy Horse’s Face. Gives you an idea of the enormity of this carving. You’ll learn a lot by visiting the museum as well and can participate in the “laser show” during the evening. Just be careful driving, the buffalo are everywhere –

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