Like so many people around the world, my family’s summer plans were unclear because of COVID-19. This year my children quietly completed Kindergarten and 5th grade without their friends and festivities. A quick celebration over Zoom was sweet, but my husband and I wanted to do something special to keep their spirits up in our new world of social distancing and not being able to hug friends. Our family values experiences over material objects and we knew that we wanted to travel, but had to do some research on what was safe. My husband said, “let’s go on a road trip!”, and next thing I knew were on the road. Here are some of the lessons from our journey:
1. Travel Light
Photo at Lake Powell
With 2 adults and 2 kids, I thought that we would need to pack half of the house to be comfortable on the road. As it turned out, the RV that we rented, came with a lot of gear included. The essentials on our trip packing list were clothes, food, sunscreen, and my yoga mat. It was a gift to see how little we need in our daily lives and when we returned from camping, we donated several bags of clothing and “stuff.” We realized that we need is each other, shelter, nourishment, and self-care.
2. Honor Mother Nature
Photo at the Grand Canyon
My family was delighted to enjoy our first full day of our road trip at the Grand Canyon. The majesty of the landscape felt like we were entering sacred space. I learned that the Native Americans refer to the Grand Canyon as the womb of Mother Earth. As the sun set over the canyon I could see that the earth was full of life as a hawk circled above and the rocks looked luminous at twilight. My children were especially delighted by the vastness of the space and had a very sweet conversation about how they wanted to come back when they are grown up and hike to the bottom. It was a joy to hear their wonder and plan making.
3. Breathe Deeply
Photo at Monument Park
Monument Valley in Utah sits at 5200 feet of elevation and I could feel my lungs reaching for air as we scaled the mountainside. The park was very hot and I could feel a small freak out moment in my body. Then I remembered the last time that I was in a hot yoga class and how it felt quite similar. Hot yoga is something that I have learned to enjoy by remembering to regulate my breathing pattern, and this was no different. Slow, steady breaths helped me to find a deep sense of center. This land is adjacent to the Navajo territory and many a sweat lodge ceremony is performed in this part of the United States. I imagined the heat as purifying and immediately felt at ease.
4. On The Other Side Of Discomfort Is Growth
Photo at the Narrows, Zion National Park
Our exploration of Utah continued with a trip to the Narrows in Zion National Park. It is called the Narrows because it is the narrowest section of the Zion canyon. We had done our homework and we knew that we needed some gear for this hike. We rented neoprene socks & shoes, and walking sticks because we had to walk through water that could be waist high in some portions of the hike. As we walked upstream, we learned to avoid the black stones in the water as they tend to be more slick, and to look for more porous stones. The first several steps I found myself walking like the Pink Panther with my feet ahead of my torso, trying to navigate the terrain. I had heard several stories of twisted ankles and wanted to be careful and stay safe. Slowly I found a normal walking pace and realized that in being so cautious with my steps, I had forgotten to look up. When I finally did look up, I saw 1,000 foot walls of stone surrounding me and the sunlight shining through the clouds. I had to pause and celebrate the beauty of this scene as I remembered that on the other side of discomfort is growth.
5. Stay Present
On our final day of our road trip, I woke up before my family and went to the Virgin River located behind the RV park. I saw a beautiful rock and sat down to meditate and invite in the warmth and radiance of the sunshine. After a few minutes of centering and celebrating this beautiful time on the road, my younger son Rocket climbed into the river and onto my lap. My older son Cruz took a picture of this sweet moment that I will always treasure. Our time in nature taught us beautiful and important lessons that we will carry with us.