So, I started a blog!

I’m not sure what drove me to finally start my blog today. For months I’ve been thinking about it. Dreaming about it. Talking about it. The out pour of support, love, curiosity and encouragement that I’ve gotten from you, (Yeah – You! Who else is going to read this far into a first blog?!) has been all the motivation I needed to finally get out of bed today and put in the work to get this going.

If you ask my Mom, my travel  mischief started a few years ago. She would tell you that I was a super sweet and caring child who had many gifts in my creative outlets. I made her proud with my artistic and musical capabilities. She’d tell you that even though I went off the tracks as a teenager, I’ve turned into a very responsible and intelligent woman.

If you ask my dear Grandma Pat, I am the way I am because of my crazy gypsy Hall blood – Hall being her fathers side of the line. She gets me. She’s seen it first hand her entire life.

If you ask my husband, he will tell you that I just simply can’t be stagnant. And boy, is he right. If I’m not actively planning, prepping, dreaming or physically on a trip, I tend to go a little crazy.

The truth is that I’ve been suffering from the travel bug since I was 16 years old. Almost half of my life has been spent day dreaming about my next big adventure.

Somehow, at the tender and naive age of 16, I was able to talk my boyfriend at the time into taking me to Florida in the middle of a cold, grey Ohio winter. We stayed there for an entire month. Later on that same year, I would hop in a car with some friends and drive to the beautiful Niagara Falls without giving it any thought at all. What an exhausting but memorable day that was. I was a very head strong and rebellious teenager – with little regard for safety or responsible decision making. If it was extreme, I wanted to do it. I definitely gave my mom hell and kept her up at night a number of times…Sorry, Mom.

This lifestyle lead me into a very tough few years, as well as a few run ins with the law. I did a lot of growing and learned a lot about the world. Probably a lot more than most kids my age should’ve. When I turned 18, I decided that it was time to grow up and become a responsible and functioning member of society. I met my husband, started a family and settled down. Within our first year of marriage I had planned, saved and executed a road trip to Myrtle Beach. Neither of us had drivers licenses at the time… oops !

For several years after that, we continued to visit beaches along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The only desire I really had when I had time off of work would be to visit the beach. In my mind the beach was a guaranteed enjoyable experience, and being a young lower middle class family we really didn’t want to waste money on a trip that might not go so well. Little did I know that you can get a very fulfilling experience on any budget.

2009 was a pivotal year in my blossoming wanderlust. I planned a week-long trip to Fort Myers, FL. I planned to put my kids, husband, mom and grandma on a plane so that I could drive down with my best friend, Chrissy and her future husband, Seamus. I also invited my brother in law, Nephi and his future ex-wife. We crammed into a 5 bedroom house with its own private pool and hot tub, just a few blocks from the beach. We took a night to drive to Key West and see the sites, then returned to our rental house. There was plenty of beach time, plenty of leisure at the house, and a ton of drinking and pool volley ball. It was a great trip, with many memories.

The day after we got back to our home in Ohio, Chrissy and I left in Seamus’s 2 door Jeep Wrangler, loaded with all of her most valued possessions. We were heading west, to Chrissy’s new job and new home in Tacoma, WA. Just 2 childhood girlfriends in their mid 20s, in the middle of a warm summer driving across the whole frigging country. Thinking back, this is one of those trips that books are written about. It would prove to be one of the most influential adventures of my life. We slept on picnic tables in truck stops, got a room in Denver and visited the famed “Casa Bonita” restaurant. We pitched a tent in the middle of the night at a KOA in Utah – drank wine and cheap beer and giggled like school girls in the pure darkness. We woke up before dawn and left before anyone could catch us – we were on a tight budget. Chrissy’s driving terrified me on the hills in Oregon. We saw Mountains, Plains, Deserts, Ravines and everything in between.We saw all 3 American coast lines in one week. It was an amazing time and I came out of it with a shifted perspective and a glimmer in my eye. A part of my mind began to evolve and it would prove to open the flood gates of possibilities.

Since then my family has had plenty of ups and downs. Career changes, college and trade school, location changes, you name it – we’ve been through it. Traveling took somewhat of a backseat for a couple of years. Adventures took a backseat entirely. We were able to go to Milwaukee, WI and Naples, FL a couple of times to visit my Grandma Mary, but other than that, we weren’t traveling to new places at all. We were just trying to survive an exponential shift in our life paths.

In 2013 our family was completely devastated with the loss of my mother in law, Debbie. She parished in November after a very brief, very aggressive battle with breast cancer. I think its safe to say that everyone was impacted by this loss, and that none of us came out of that situation the same. She told us, in her hospice bed, to take our kids on as many adventures as possible and to make them wise adventures. This would prove to ignite an entirely new level of adventures within my family. She was gracious enough to donate her body to science at the Cleveland Clinic. They provided her kids with her cremated remains.

The very next summer we embarked on our first mega road trip out west, in memory of Debbie. We picked national parks, and took a northern route all the way to Tacoma, WA to see Chrissy and Seamus again. It was so great to finally share this road trip experience with my family, I know Chris was a bit jealous after 5 years of listening to the same stories over and over. From the most NW point of the US, down to Moab UT and back home, we covered 15 states and 7,000 miles in 2 weeks. This was a life changing and healing trip for all of us.

Since then, Chris and I have visited a total of 41 states. Our children, 33. In just over 2 years. I’ve had a lot of people ask how, a lot of people wonder how I do it.

So, thats that. That is how “U-Turn And Travel” came to be.

I hope that in this blog, you’ll find some inspiration of your own, and maybe learn a thing or two 😉

If you’ve read this far, please leave a comment below letting me know what you’d like to see from me coming up, please share any cool experiences or travel stories you’ve had as well!

Until next time….