THE JOY RIDE is a series that will be running from July 10-Aug 11, 2013.  I'm headed out on the road trip of a lifetime with my two sons, the goal of which is to push all my buttons at once (embracing uncertainty), while spreading joy and creating connection with them and my global community.  Follow the adventure here on the blog, on Facebook, and on Instagram.


Days 8- 11, Omaha, NE | North Platte, NE | Denver, CO

As of Day 11, Kieran has had a pretty emotional two days.  He bonded pretty fiercely with my friend Annemarie, whom has hosted us since Friday night, and who left today to hike 250 miles of the Colorado trail.  He cried this morning after she left, and for the past two nights, he has cried for his daddy and says he wants to go home at bedtime.  Despite the fact that when we Facetime of Skype with Mark, Kieran only says hi, and then is distracted with playing, or watching something.  Add to the fact that he has had little sleep these last two days, and no naps, and we have a meltdown on our hands.  Something that didn't happen when we were driving from Chicago to Denver, as he slept good in the car.

We headed out from Chicago Wed morning, after connecting with my high school roommate and saying our goodbyes to my Mom, and drove 466 miles straight through to Omaha.  The kids were rock stars in the car, not needing many breaks, and telling me to keep driving when I thought about stopping in Des Moines since I was sick of driving.  We stayed in a Quality Inn that night, and the kids were super excited to find it had a pool, a free DVD player to use and Home Alone 3, and perfectly good beds to bounce on.  They swam that night until 10, then watched a movie, and got to bed super late.  

The next day, after swimming again and driving around downtown looking at sites (since it was way too hot to get out), we headed out on the road again.  It was 563 miles to Denver, and I didn't think I would be able to drive it straight through, so after driving 6 hours, I stopped in North Platte, NE (Home to Buffalo Bill), and we had our first (and maybe our last?) night of camping.  Connor had gotten a blister playing earlier that day, so he wasn't able to help much with the tent, and that thing was hard enough to put up when Mark helped the first time I tested it out.  So all told, it took about two hours to get everything set up and ready for use (including getting all the stuff from the car into the tent...I definitely overpacked).  We then headed out to dinner at a cute diner, and then rushed back to the campsite to let the kids swim for 20 minutes before the pool closed.  In the morning, we decamped (oh, what a process that was! ugh, more than one swear word was used), and headed out to the Trading Post off the Interstate to get some postcards.  

I was happy to see that I only had 250 miles left to drive, and we made it to Denver really quickly, so much so that we were too early to meet Annemarie, and were directed by her to a park that Connor says is the best park he ever went to (ill be posting pics soon).  The kids played for a few hours and then we headed over to Annemarie's.

We spent lots of great time with her, making chalk drawings in the back yard, running errands, playing at Central Park, and her and I were able to reconnect after meeting last year (she is definitely a soul sister).  We also screamed cathartically while holding hands in the Target parking lot (the kids and her and I, they thought it was a riot), did a crazy walk in the store, and got deep about feelings, hers, mine and the kids too... we all miss her (and so appreciate that she is letting us stay at her place for a few days to really explore Denver).


  • There is little time for deep, contemplative thought.  Little downtime for me.  Little time for planning the next phase of my life, and my career when I return home.  Only plans for the current or next day.  Where will we stay, what will do, visit, how we will spread joy.  I'm forced to be present.  Its wonderful and exhausting.  
  • There is so much joy and connection to be shared if we are open to it.  And not just what we are willing to step up and instigate.  When we are open, the world opens to us.  
  • We encounter exactly what we need when we need it.  I've been very intentional about spending money.  We are on a very tight budget, and I am making decisions as such, as in not going to the pricey water park in Omaha (though that one is more about me being overstimulated as much as the money).  And free or low cost things that make the kids so happy, like the fountains, or finding a bike for Connor during the garage sale for a price cheaper than we could rent one, are popping up all over the place without my even planning for them.

    Today, for example, after we left the garage sales, I needed to find a place to fill up the tires on Connor's bike.  I had no idea where to go, but figured I'd find something.  Just then, I saw a sign for a farmer's market and decided to stop to get some fresh local produce.  While I was there, I saw a bike shop right next store that had a free air hose.  And while i was filling the tires (with difficulty), an employee from the bike shop came out to help.  He also oiled the chain and adjusted the brakes for us for no charge.  Then across the street from that, another fountain for the the kids to play in.  And a lovely lady sitting on a bench that shared with me the information about the Free Days at the Museum's around town.  Which lead to me finding out that the free day for the Science museum was today.  Serendipity.  Connection.  Joy.  All on a budget, without a plan.  It kinda blows my mind a little.  

I'm staying open, letting the universe lead me to our next destination.  Who knows exactly where we'll go next.  Though in the grand plan, the Grand Canyon is next on the schedule (and maybe some hot springs!).

And if Kieran keeps saying he wants to go home, we might.  I told the boys that this trip is about us, all of us, and we make decisions together.  If they both want to go home, we go home.  If one wants to go home and one wants to stay, we keep going.  So that is something that I'm open to as well.  

The boys have definitely had the most fun in places where they are able to meet and interact with people (my family, friends, etc).  I am intending that we continue to make those stimulating and pleasurable connections with people (though hosting, or couchsurfing, or from friends referring friends) throughout the rest of our trip, even though we have no more friends or family to see on the way.  If you would like a visit on our travel path, shoot me an email.  We would love to come visit you!