It’s been two weeks since we returned from our Summer Adventure…

If you didn’t follow us, check out the last dozen posts to read all about it…in fact, if you haven’t read them yet, stop reading this post and take a gander over to the west coast with us!

…yet in some ways it feels like we never left. I know, however, that my life has changed in subtle ways. I hadn’t written this “summary” post yet until now because it’s taken me a while to process everything that happened in my heart. I still don’t know everything but hopefully writing this will help me process more…

So just a heads up: after writing my thoughts of our trip, Cobalt will share his, too.

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So what do I think of driving 5000 miles across the United States and back with my best friend and companion; observing all sorts of interesting, boring and glorious terrains; eating really good and really not so good food; visiting my relatives for the first time in LA; being non-stop busy; watching two wonderful people unite their lives; experiencing the most perfect weather of all time (LA); splashing in the Pacific ocean; spending two nights in a casino; experiencing the blistering heat of the desert; camping in the middle of no wheres; nearly running out of gas three times (in the middle of no wheres); watching the sun set over crimson sand; visiting my brother for the first time in CO; hiking up the rocky Rockies; paying too much for hotels; and nearly falling asleep at the wheel during the final stretch??

*deep inhale*

…at times I was overwhelmed with the heat, the strange faces, the homesickness, the frustrations, the spontaneity…but overall I loved it.

I loved spending every waking moment with Cobalt, exploring an unseen world (to us, that is). I loved the unexpected, the no planning mentality (except for a few things). And I loved not having much responsibility, the only rule being to have fun.

If money, stamina and home responsibilities hadn’t kept us, I would have loved it even more, for once we left LA I was ready to come home. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that the two-and-a-half-week return trip caused me to grow the most. Since Cobalt and I interacted much more than when we were in LA (he was busy with groomsmen/bachelor stuff half the time), we had to work together to make decisions about where to go next, and little things like choosing postcards. I’m also happy to announce that I learned how to be a better navigator as we drove through the unfamiliar territory of the west. (If you know me well you know that I am horrible with directions and will get you lost WHILE following a GPS!)

In terms of spiritual growth, Cobalt and I had to rely heavily on God to provide for us. On many occasions we didn’t know what was “next.” The next meal, the next hotel or campsite, the next gas station (while we were on “empty”), the next rest stop, the next cool place (cool meaning not 105F!), the next patient moment…but God, our Father and Provider always, ALWAYS pulled through. NEVER were we deprived of what we needed. As soon as we realized our need, we prayed about it and consequently our frightened hearts calmed down as we received patience for God’s timing. Even if what we were looking for cost more than we thought, or was dirtier than we wished/expected, we didn’t complain. We thanked God. And even though we only attended church once on our whole trip, we knew God was with us the entire way. These experiences opened my eyes to see more of the loving Father that God is.

Speaking of love, I am so humbled to have had the opportunity to experience how Joel’s family loves. I had never met them before, but they — having known Cobalt since he started college in Chattanooga — embraced me as a daughter. It was very startling at first because it was so genuine. But hearing them speak kinds words to me, and also to Joel and Kat during the rehearsal dinner toasts, really made me want to love more definitely.

Lastly, after spending nearly a week sweltering in the heat and pouring red sand out of our rust-stained shoes, I realized how much I like my suburban life. While I am an outdoorsy girl who enjoys gardening, hiking and picnicking, my ideal spot is a meadow full of a colorful wildflowers. The desert was pretty (it really was!!) but it was hot, dusty and lacked green. Camping in the red and yellow painted wilderness was one thing, and totally worth it (besides, there are barely any animals and bugs to make the experience uncomfortable) but I definitely prefer somewhere cool and lush where edible plants can grow and flowers glitter sidewalks. Los Angeles, in contrast, was the complete opposite. It glowed with flowers on every street corner, in every front yard and in the medians of the roads; and welcomed everyone outdoors with whispers of cool ocean breezes. I will say, though, that after experiencing the hub bub of LA, it was nice to be alone, just me, Cobalt and the quiet desert (it was so quiet!!)

So to close my thoughts before opening Cobalt’s, I’d have to say that my favorite three places were Los Angeles (I dream of having my windows open year round like they do there!!), Colorado and the Valley of  Fire + The Painted Desert (they tie for third place).

And to my husband: I am so thankful to you for letting me accompany you on this journey across our country. ‘Twas truly a pleasure :)

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Cobalt’s thoughts:

Our summer adventure has been one of the most fantastic trips during my life thus far. Although I’ve traveled the country (USA) somewhat; I had yet to as an adult and under my own direction (or shared direction of my wife, Hope).

Though this trip has been an incredible experience, full of unforgettable scenery and events, it is hard to answer the question of how the trip has changed me.

Whilst I don’t have a single, concise and probably preferable answer to that question I do have an outpouring of thoughts and trip snippets that may equal an answer you seek.

I previously imagined the desert to be only browns, tans, bieges, and the sepias of old Westerns with a hint of red that was likely blood from a dead gunslinger. Now having crossed the US from east to west and back, on a sturdy steed of the Honda breed, I can now tell differently. The desert is not all one monochromatic blob. It changes colors gradually and abruptly; at times looking, as my wife said, like neopolitan ice cream melting across the sands. Colors ranged from the cloudy blue grey of storm struck skies to the bright burning reds within Valley of Fire. Cream-sickle orange and sunflower yellow sprinkled with the dying green of cactus and desert shrubs. The desert is full of colors sometimes subtle and others bold.

Something that was unexpected and continually impressive was the scale of the desert. While we, at times, drove endlessly across a large, flat plane devoid of anything vertically built, natural or man-made, there were at times stones massive in size. These stones towered incredibly above us–their cliffs and canyon walls making us ants in a world built for giants. This sense of smallness gave me a great appreciation for the world that surrounds all of us of every second of every day. I was filled with miraculous wonders of the stone, sand, water and life flowing, growing and ever shifting as we live and die on this planet we call home. I can barely begin to grasp the awesomeness that is planet Earth and yet I strive to see the wonders stored in the heavens above!

These stones came in all sizes and shapes. Round ones, tall ones, square ones, broken ones…and would change from one type to another in an instant. One of the most unforgettable terrains was right after we left Zion National Park. We climbed and climbed ever upwards on steep and towering cliffs of Zion to reach a tunnel that bore through sand dunes of an ancient and bygone era. We waited… The park rangers let us pass. We drove through an old mile-plus-long tunnel, sunglasses removed and lights on, only to enter back into the brightness that was the sun but in a different world. It’s as if we had reached a threshold or discovered an alternate universe where the laws of physics and creation are set anew. Here the ground was rock. Not many small rocks but one infinite rock that curved and folded as we drove passed through this work of art. Not only was the rock ever-expanding and had the most graceful curves ever seen, it was marked. Marked with the bristles of an oil brush or the chisels of a master sculptor.

While my love of this world and its natural beauty is great, the urban lands shan’t be forgotten. LA, or Los Angeles if you’d rather, was the most urban of all the places passed and stayed. A concrete jungle indeed. It had its beaches, mountains and city parks, too. Cars and people hurried about much like a beehive but without any common goals other than to stay alive. The weather was exceptional and incredibly inviting.

The populace happy and generally well receiving are of course the life of this city. Although larger in size and different in locale than that of Chattanooga, TN, it was unexpectedly familiar and enjoyable. These cities are much the same, with LA being a little busier and buzzier but still much the same. I can see myself living in LA, at least for a time.

While there isn’t one answer to your question, this summer adventure has undoubtedly changed my life. There are many more answers that continue to unfold and will do so for the rest of my life. Through this adventure I’ve been given a new appreciation, understanding and set of tools to empower my imagination as an artist and human being.

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After reading Cobalt’s response to the question “What did you learn on this trip,” I must agree with him that there is much more to learn. Some things we may never know and others may randomly show up years from now, pulling our minds to reminisce this month of our existence.

This Adventure of a Lifetime.


To watch a summary of our trip in super speed, check out this video.