Today I wanted to share with y’all about our trip last June. As we have shared some photos and the stories from that time, so many families have found it inspiring and unexpected so I thought it may be helpful to share the details of what we did and why. But let me start back a few years.
Back at the start of 2018, I was coming off an insanely busy year. Val Marie Paper was booming. I got a book deal for Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday and Fresh Start for Moms and was barreling towards two deadlines in 30 days. We were going to be heading to our first Magnolia Market two weeks before that first deadline and as you can imagine, my family was feeling the pinch. I knew I didn’t want to reach May 2 (the day after my final book deadline) and have all my “it will slow down once I…” be a lie.
I truly love my work and knew it would be easy to jump into another thing and not slow down like I had been promising them. So I did what any sane person would do when they are trying to quit something and I planned to get myself out of said tempting environment and post up in the community of Serenbe for the month. This was only possible because my husband has a flexible job like I do. We both work for ourselves so we can work anywhere for the most part. This was not a month long sabbatical. We did do a few hours of work each day, whatever was necessary to keep our businesses running and no more.
How did we choose Serenbe? I had remembered seeing a photoshoot in Southern Weddings magazine from the area and it just looked so idyllic peaceful. Come to find out, it really is such a place.
We found a dream house to rent and spent the month going for walks, visiting the goats and farm, going for rides on the golfcart and spending time with the 4 of us. (Which when you live 4 doors down from your parents and across the street from your sister’s fam, this was actually really fun to just be us 4 for a month.) We loved it so much, we did it the following June too.
Then Covid hit and we had to take two years off. So last year, when it came time to plan, we opted for more of an adventure than settling down in one peaceful spot for a month. We had been settling for quite some time. 😉
So we decided to head West.
As we looked for places to visit, we wanted to find a spot that gave us an opportunity to see lots of different places along the way and while we stayed at a more permanent place for 2 weeks.
We landed on Park City. We could wake up to mountain views (something we know nothing about here in Lafayette, Louisiana 😉 and hike but also visit a city when we felt like a concrete adventure. It also provided a TON of places to stop on the way there, way back and even travel while we were there which I’ll share in a few.
Here are some things we thought about and where we landed that may be helpful if you’re planning a trip:
- Are there fun things along the way? Ummm so much. More below.
- How long can we go for? A little shy of one month. We wanted to make it home for my nephew’s first birthday party! 🙂
- How far can we get in that time reasonably? Since our girls were 6 and 8, we knew we could do some longer travel days. Not a ton but 3-5 hours in the car was a nothing burger couldn’t fix by the end of the trip!
- How much can we do in a relatively small radius of where you stay? Within 4 hours of Park City, we were able to visit Bonneville Flats, Moab, a natural hot spring and Salt Lake City.
- What do we want to experience? Nature and exploring. We didn’t do much “man-made” entertainment like amusement parks, zoos or kid places.
- What matters to you? Wonder and getting to enjoy God’s creation, getting out of our comfort zone, spontaneity, and togetherness.
- Where will we splurge? Where will we save? Because you can’t splurge everywhere! Ex: Amarillo hotel we saved. Glamping in Moab? Splurged.
We got our biggest day of travel out the way on the first day. Amarillo by sunset.
We drove 11 hours while we were fresh and in good moods and only needed to pull out the iPad in the last two hours!
The girls ages 6 and 8 were honestly amazing! The girls and I each had our own small rolling suitcases (Tyler had a duffle bag) so when we got to our sleeping destination for the night, it was so easy to go in and out of hotels everyone carrying their own things.
When we packed, we packed each day’s clothes till Park City in these clear bags and labeled it the day it was for. Total game changer. It means everything is accounted for before you leave. Clean clothes don’t get mixed with dirty clothes; if you check the weather before, you can stick to your plan pretty well. The girls both had these neoprene zip-up jackets that they would tie around their waist so they were ready for changing temps.
We woke up early the next morning and made it to Santa Fe, our next stop in just a few hours. The weather was crisp for what we know to be “June weather”. I should share here, we got to have a ton of really cool experiences and part was because of thorough planning and the other part was spontaneous.
We had no plan for our 24 hours in Santa Fe. When we got there, we ate an outdoor breakfast spot, Plaza Cafe and had huevos rancheros and pinion pancakes just to get our bearings and then walked around the main street area. We stumbled on the oldest church in the US, San Miguel, a pretty garden with stations of the cross and little art galleries. We even had time for a swim and just to relax. After a full day on the road the previous day, this was such fun and relaxing!
We started a new tradition in Santa Fe. As we went to new cities, we tried to find one or two things: a chocolatier, (Kakawa was amazing!) and a local bookshop. We’d test out fun and unique chocolate bonbons and I’d buy a book “to support the local bookstores” which you didn’t need to twist my arm to do. ;P
Next stop! The Grand Canyon which was very cool to see. Of all the things we got to see, it wasn’t my favorite but still very overwhelming in the best way.
The next day, we went to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope X Canyons. There are a few options, Antelope Upper, Lower, and X. Tickets were so pricy that we chose X because it was the cheapest option and I honestly wasn’t expecting as good of an experience as we had but it was amazing! Highly recommend! We happened to pick the time slot that was perfect for seeing the light around noon.
We headed to Park City and stopped through Bryce Canyon which was breathtaking! We woke up the next morning ready to explore the grounds of the condo we’d call home for the next two weeks! This was probably the biggest mistake I made planning this trip but it ended up working fine. We were right next to a chair lift and near shops and restaurants that from the info I saw, was ROBUST during summer! Come to find out, everything was closed. Even the chair lifts! Summer officially started the day before we were leaving.
For as much as we had splurged on the space, I was sick to my stomach and we even tried to get out of the rental. When we couldn’t, we just mentally pivoted and made the most of it. They had a pool with an outdoor grill and big fire pits for the cool evenings. Nearly every night, we’d end our evenings rolling our ice chest full of groceries down, Tyler would cook, I’d read while the girls swam and then we’d enjoy the sunset and dinner together. Since we were some of the only people at the condo, we had the place to ourselves for the most part!
Our days were a mix of hikes, exploring, work and homeschool. Tyler worked a few hours early morning and I’d do some school work with the girls just to keep up or play games. Then I’d work maybe 1-2 hours. We hiked several trails, our favorite was to an alpine lake, the trail called Bloods Lake Trail.
We enjoyed a minor-league baseball game. We opted for tickets on the lawn and since we got there late, it was like $6 a person and came with ice cream! The lawn was perfect for the girls! They played and danced and Tyler and I got to sit and talk. If you want to enjoy a baseball game and don’t mind where you sit, go 30 minutes late and tickets are much cheaper and let’s be honest, 2 hours of baseball is enough! We did this for a Rangers game recently, had fun and got tickets for 1/2 off.
While in Park City, we got to go to Mountain Life Chuch which we really enjoyed.
We had hoped to go to Moab during our trip but didn’t have it planned. Honestly, it felt like another splurge in an already expensive month. When I found an Under Canvas glamping tent available for that night that was cheaper than expected, we packed our bags and left within an hour. There were some wind advisories (50 mph) that freaked me out a bit and had me wondering if sleeping in a tent was the best idea. The night we rode out a hurricane in a condo on the beach was still fresh in my mind but the Under Canvas crew assured us we’d be good.
We hiked to the Delicate Arch and the wind was insane! The last bit, where you walk along a ledge was nerve-wracking but we did it! We couldn’t enjoy the view or get too close because it was that windy but it was for sure an adventure.
Glamping was such a fun experience. It DID in fact sound like a hurricane whipping through our tent in the night but it was such a cool experience! Definitely hope to go to another Under Canvas location!
My parents flew in to visit us in Park City for a day of exploring and we had to take them to the alpine lake. Vana helped Honey keep going. 😉 Then we headed to Jackson Hole for a few days stopping at Antelope Island before leaving Salt Lake City.
Jackson Hole and the Tetons were definitely a favorite from our trip even with rainy weather. And we saw SNOW! The girls have never seen snow actually fall, honestly, I’ve only seen it a few times. We wanted to take a gondola ride up the mountain and those tickets aren’t cheap. We saw there was a nice restaurant at the top of the mountain, Piste, and tickets up were free. So basically we opted to spend more on a nice meal but free ride and it was 100% worth it! It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had and on the way up, it started snowing!! We also did a scenic float that was a really fun way to see the area.
After dropping my parents off for a few more days in Jackson Hole and a flight home, we started our drive back making stops in Boulder and Amarillo!
If I’ve learned anything from this trip it’s that I want more moments like this with my family. It always stretches us, challenges us, makes us more flexible, gives us more eyes for wonder and grows us together. It’s definitely a sacrifice financially, for our companies’ momentum and even our sanity the weeks leading up to it. But it’s been one of the best months of our lives and the girls are still talking about it.
I am no travel blogger so which I’m sure is obvious by way too many family pics and not many specific details. Leave a comment if you want any details of restaurants we went, hotels or more that we stopped at along the way!
We just left a few days ago on another adventure, this time a little shorter with Tyler’s new position. 😉 Can’t wait to share all about it where we landed!