In an instant, all the challenges of traveling in an RV with five kids were completely worth it.
The tight sleeping quarters, the fighting when elbows touched in the car, the obstacles of cooking for a large family and finding locations to do laundry, in that moment, all of it disappeared. Overcome by the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon, what we witnessed forever changed us. Traveling with kids (ages 5, 7, 8, 10, 12) means lots of pit stops. We use Trip Advisor to find random destinations along the roads we travel. Sometimes it is a well known location, other times we look at each other a little confused if we are in the right place. Either way, the adventure of it is always worth it.
From our home in Oklahoma, we began the journey to the Grand Canyon and other national parks in Arizona and Utah. Marking our first pit stop was Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX. Researching ahead of time allowed me to make sure we brought plenty of spray paint. As we made the trek to the buried cars, it felt a little like a road warrior rite of passage. Decades upon decades of other travelers left their marks on the same cars. We talked about how it was similar to Autograph Rock, a sandstone bluff we visited along the Santa Fe Trail where early settlers and traders carved their names into the rocks. A rich history of exploration and adventure makes up the American road trip story. Our graffiti names on old Cadillacs reminded us we were a part of that story.
From Cadillac Ranch, we headed west to Petrified National Forest and then to the Grand Canyon. Traveling in an RV allows our family to venture away from home for much longer periods. Saving money by cooking our meals and staying at affordable campgrounds means more financial and time margin for exploring. We stayed near the Grand Canyon for a few nights, but our hikes only whet our appetites to return and do the Rim-to-Rim hike. One day.
From the Grand Canyon we headed north towards Page, Arizona. We climbed down into Antelope Canyon and watched the sun set over Horseshoe Bend. Both are uniquely beautiful and famous for good reasons. Though Antelope Canyon itself was spectacular, the massive amounts of people and commercialization put a bit of a hamper on it for me. A few weeks later we would take a dirt road south of Escalante, Utah and I would find my serene adventure in the slot canyons there. From Page, we ventured to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Escalante/Grand Staircase, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
Since we often make our road trips during the school year (we homeschool), the majority of fellow travelers are retired. They watch my kids with smiles that are marked by joy and a bit of sadness. They share the best stories about years past when they traveled with their kids – when they watched their kids running, jumping, climbing and lost in their surroundings like mine. I watch their faces as they begin reliving that season and the bittersweet smiles that appear as they glance over at my kids. On hard travel days, they put the wind back in my sails, reminding me that these family trips on the road will one day be the stories I look back upon and tell with a smile and fond memory.