Why Every Couple Should Take a Cross Country Road Trip

couple take cross country road trip

I can hardly believe it’s been nearly six years since David, Juneau and I packed up all of our earthly belongings in my old Pontiac Grand Am and blindly drove to New Mexico. We had only known each other a year, but we were young, dumb, spontaneous and looking for an adventure.cross country roadtrip

Why New Mexico?

When I first met David, he told me right away that he was “moving away” the following summer. He had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and he was still figuring out what to do with his life. Turns out, David had dreams of becoming a MMA fighter. When I tell people this, they give me a strange grin – like you’d give someone if they told you they wanted to become a famous actor or singer. I still get this reaction to this day.

The thing about David’s dream was that it was never farfetched to him, and it was never farfetched to me. We still talk about what could have been. I still believe he could’ve been successful at being an MMA fighter, but we didn’t give it long enough to find out.

albuquerque, nm

albuquerque, nm

albuquerque, nm

New Mexico is actually the spot to be if you’re training to become an MMA fighter. I honestly never thought about living out west. I always thought I’d end up in Nashville somehow. But love changes things and I put all my trust into David – lucky for me it worked out!

On top of all of that, we had the ability to be transient and be silly, irrational, young people. We had saved up enough money, I had a job that allowed me to work from anywhere, and we had each other. Looking back, we really didn’t think any of it through. We didn’t even have a place to live when we arrived in Albuquerque. We stayed in a hotel for three days before we found a place. But we finally found an apartment and settled in. I worked from home and David spent hours at the gym. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was all so worth it.

The Trip Without a Plan

We started outside of Charlottesville, Virginia and took 4 days to drive to Albuquerque. We stopped in Nashville, Little Rock, and Amarillo. Gosh, there are so many memories that we still laugh about today. Poor Juneau was such a champ throughout the entire trip, but finding pet friendly hotels was always a challenge. We were able to see so much of the country, experience crazy weather (we had to stop on the side of the road in Oklahoma because a tornado blew through.. not kidding), and really bond together as a couple. We had to work as a team to figure out our route, our plan, our finances, everything. It was as if we took our relationship to the next level just by deciding to embark on this journey together.

albuquerque, nm

albuquerque, nm

albuquerque, nm

 

Of course, both sets of parents weren’t too keen on sending us out west without a plan. We were told we were crazy on multiple occasions, and we probably were. We had no idea what we were doing or what we were up against. As much as it was an adventure, it wasn’t without it’s hard times. I became homesick and eventually we decided to leave New Mexico because of it.

The Lessons Learned

If we were to move out west now, things would be so incredibly different than it was back then. Some time in between I became more high maintenance, more easily stressed about the logistics of things, and I would try to plan everything to a tee. I’m so glad I wasn’t like that when we actually took the trip. The unknown was the best part of all of it. I think every couple should go on a trip without a plan at least once in their lifetime. We learned about each other, about managing money, about traveling in general, and about what we really value in life – experiences trump everything.

Even now, 3 states, a wedding and a baby later we still reminisce about our trip out west. The foundation of our relationship is built on the way to New Mexico. Some people look back and wish they had traveled when they were younger. We never have to think that way. We did it! We were young, dumb, spontaneous and adventurous!

PS. This song always gives me chills because it’s literally about our life

PPS. Our time in Indianapolis and Life in Wilmington, NC.

Have you ever taken a trip without a plan? How did it work out?

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Our Time in Indianapolis

I’ve written about our adventures in Albuquerque and Wilmington, so last but not least, Indianapolis.

I received my acceptance letter to Indiana University’s Sports Journalism program in mid-May of 2012. David and I decided to stay in Wilmington for the summer, and come August, we’d make our way out to Indy. My sister and brother-in-law lived in Indy, so it was an easy choice for me. Leaving the beach for the midwest, however, that was a little tough!

I think of our time in Indianapolis in two parts: the first year was spent in graduate school. I landed a killer internship with the Indiana Pacers and spent a lot of time covering the NBA. I was conducting locker room interviews, cutting together footage, and doing a bunch of website edits. I met some really cool people in grad school and was afforded some awesome opportunities. Meanwhile, David worked full time so I could pursue my degree. I paid him back in countless free tickets to NBA games!

After I graduated and the internship ended, I spent a lot of time searching for a job. I landed one as an editorial assistant at The Saturday Evening Post magazine. I wasn’t thrilled with the job, and I was constantly looking for something back east in Charlottesville. Eventually, after about six months, I was laid off and although it was horrible at the time, it was one of the best things that happened to David and I. We were able to cut all ties in Indiana and move back to where we wanted to be.

Somewhere along the way, my sister and her husband moved out to Denver. We did celebrate their wedding in Indy, which was so convenient for us and it was such a beautiful day! However, after they left, I realized that Indy wasn’t where we were meant to be. The city itself was in a bit of a renaissance and some really neat restaurants and bars popped up. There is a lot of culture in Indy – plays, musicals, big name concert tickets – and the sports scene is really spectacular. But something about being landlocked and so far from all of our family made me miss the east coast.

Overall our time in Indy was still quite the adventure. Besides Charlottesville, Indy is where we lived the longest. We made some great friends, I was able to coach soccer, we traveled to Chicago, and we got our “city living” years in.

 

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Fly Fishing with David

It’s become a mini tradition for me to take David on a guided day of fly fishing for his birthday. Last year, I fished alongside David and caught my first trout on a fly line. It’s tougher than you think! So this year, I decided to let him have all the fun and I told him I would film his day. Unfortunately, the weather had turned overnight – going from about 85 on Sunday to 70 on Monday, so the fishing wasn’t great. Despite that and the overcast sky and murky water, we still had a blast! Finn spent the day with his aunt, and David and I spent the day doing his favorite thing in the world.

David’s always been an avid fisherman, but he took up fly fishing about two years ago. He was a natural! I’ve never seen someone so passionate about something and there’s something to be said about doing what you love. Over the years I’ve watched countless YouTube videos of people fishing, so I decided to make David one of his own!

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Life in Wilmington, North Carolina

wilmington NC

The summer following our move to New Mexico, David and I spontaneously decided to live on the beach. David had spent time in Wilmington while he was in the Marine Corps, and he has family who still lives there. I’d only visited once, but at that point in my life, I figured, why not? It was one of those summers when we just decided to take a break. A break from thinking about our future, from work, from school. At the time I was upset that I wasn’t in my career field yet, but now I realize we were lucky to have one last summer break as adults.

David worked odd jobs and I worked as a waitress at a restaurant right on the river. We had flexible schedules that allowed for us to enjoy our surroundings and take it easy. We spent a lot of time exploring and relaxing on the beach. My sister was able to visit for a weekend as well. I grew up in cold and beach-less Rochester, New York, so living on a beach was a pipe dream come true. Plus, getting to run with Juneau on the beach felt like I was in a movie, every time!

If any of you are One Tree Hill fans like I am, I spent a lot of my time searching for landmarks – the river court, Karen’s Cafe, even Peyton’s house. There are plenty of scenes that took place right on the river walk by the restaurant I worked.

Life on the beach was peaceful. We moved to Wilmington without really thinking about what was next. We thought we’d be there for a while, but about two weeks after I got there, I received my acceptance letter to Indiana University for graduate school. This ultimately put an end date on our summer at the beach, but it also got us excited for yet another adventure.

Have you ever lived on the beach?

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Adventures in Albuquerque

Albuquerque

It must be something about having a baby that makes you reflect on your past a bit. Did I do everything I wanted to before I started a family? Did I travel enough? Did I advance in my career? David and I have been reminiscing a bunch lately, but not in a nostalgic, sad sort of way. Instead we keep talking about how we want to introduce Finn to our crazy, adventure-filled lifestyle. Although we’ve been pretty settled the past few years, before that, we traveled quite a bit. Well, we didn’t just travel, we actually moved to these places – just for the fun of it!

Shortly after David and I started dating, he filled me in on his dream of becoming an MMA fighter. I had no idea what the sport entailed, but who was I to stop him from pursuing his dream? I had gone to college just miles from where I went to high school so I was ready for an adventure!

Eight months into our relationship, with Juneau in tow, we packed all of our belongings in my Pontiac Grand Am named Connie and took four days to drive out to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were young, spontaneous and figured why not!?

The road trip out west were some of the best days of my life. We were so carefree and excited. We stopped in Nashville, Oklahoma City, Amarillo – we tried new food, saw new places, and just enjoyed our trip. We weren’t on a schedule and we had no idea what to expect.

We arrived in ABQ and had to find a place to live (yes, we didn’t even find an apartment before moving out there!) In total, we spent three months out west. David trained at the MMA gym and I worked from home. We visited nearby Santa Fe, watched the Balloon Festival from our porch, hiked the Sandia Mountains, tried authentic New Mexican food (I still miss the green chile), and celebrated our first anniversary together. It was such a huge test on our relationship!

abq2

balloonfest2

balloonfest

It turned out New Mexico wasn’t the place for us, and at the time, I was heartbroken. However, looking back, there was no other time in my life when I could have just up and moved across the country without anything holding me back. I am so grateful for that time in my life, especially now as we start searching for a house and a place to plant our roots.

Have you ever had a spontaneous adventure? Where did you end up?

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