Life Lessons from the “Epic Road Trip”

by Jami Gold on November 8, 2012

in For Readers, Random Musings

Road in front of Monument Valley, Arizona

Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have heard that my family and I took a two-week road trip a couple of months ago. And yes, it was “epic.”

We traveled over 2100 miles on our way to visit four National Parks, two National Monuments, and one Tribal Park. Er, yeah. I had lots of catching up to do on my return. But now I have all these pictures—complete with writing and life lessons—to share with you. *smile*

Lessons from my Epic Road Trip in picture form (click on each picture to see a larger version):

When Problems Come at Us…

Canyon plateau with erosion of deeper canyons in three-toed shape

Ever feel like a giant dinosaur left a footprint on your plans?

(Doesn’t that erosion pattern look like a giant three-toed footprint? *grin*)

Triangular view of sky bordered by Double Arch rock formations

A different point of view can change everything

Cliff face with shape of Darth Vader helmet

Look beyond the obvious: Cliff face? Or natural carving in the shape of Darth Vader's helmet?

Looking up at tall trees and rock formations

Sometimes feeling small reminds us that life is bigger than we are

Flowering plant growing on cliff face

Above all else, remember that we can thrive under the hardest circumstances

Sometimes the Situation Isn’t as Bad as We Think…

Cool gnarled wood in foreground and Double Arch in background

Sometimes we're focused in front of us and ignoring the bigger picture

(Did the foreground keep you from noticing the Double Arch in the background?)

Side-by-side arches (like eyes) with log pointing up rock mound between (like nose)

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to find humor in everything

(Imagine the Windows Arches as eyes. Does that mean that gnarled piece of wood is picking the rock giant’s nose? *snicker*)

Looking over a "Cliff of Insanity" with continuation of road at the bottom

Things that seem impossible...

Long straight road looking back at cliff we just drove down

...might not be

(Look at that top picture. See that squiggly road on the left side? We drove down that cliff. It wasn’t paved. Yet we made it to the bottom and survived to look back and think, “Cool. We did that.”)

Sometimes We Never Know until We Try…

Ominous clouds behind rock formation

The rains will come...

One end of a double rainbow over a canyon

...but they might bring a full double rainbow

Rock face with petroglyph of native figure

Long-lasting art takes a lot of time

 (Modern people have tried defacing these petroglyphs. Grr. They give up before making much of an impression on the stone however. Each of those little dots took a lot of time to pound into the rock face.)

Experiences—Good and Bad—Bring Vibrancy to Our Art

Mountainside with unreal red, orange, and yellow colors

Art, just like real life, rides a fine line between real and unreal

(I used to think the Disney Imagineers used unrealistic painting techniques on their fake mountains of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Cars Land. Nope, real life is weirder looking than the fake stuff.)

 Field stretching forever with lone house

And it's our job to figure out "Who would live here--in this story?"

(The complete set of pictures from my Epic Road Trip is up at Pinterest, and they’re all available for use with limited Creative Commons licensing at WANA Commons, a picture exchange Flickr group for sharing pictures to use on blog posts without copyright issues.)

When you travel, do you come away with insights about life or human nature? Do you ever try to imagine who would live in the different places you visit? How much do you think where we live affects us as a person? Have you ever written about something real, but others thought it was too unrealistic? Did you have a favorite picture and/or lesson? *smile*

16 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Carradee November 8, 2012 at 8:54 am

This is why I wish I could travel more. It’s on my list of goals to be able to do with my published writing, after I, well, pay off school debt and get (ideally) a year’s expenses in savings.

For now, though, I’m on a 5-year plan. 🙂


Jami Gold November 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Hi Carradee,

Yes, we did this trip “on the cheap” for sure. (Notice I didn’t include any pictures of swanky resorts we stayed at. LOL!) Road trips are definitely the way to go for cheap vacations. And it helps that we live in Arizona, so it wasn’t a big deal to do all this driving around across the west. Thanks for the comment!


Melinda S. Collins November 8, 2012 at 10:11 am

Oh, Jami! The scenery and pics are beautiful! I’m totally jealous that you got to see all of that during your roadtrip. Thank you so much for sharing these inspiring pics with all of us! It’ll be a while before I could ever get out that way, so I really, really, appreciate these gorgeous photots. *adds ‘mimic Jami’s epic roadtrip’ to bucket list* 😉


Jami Gold November 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Hi Melinda,

Well, I’m jealous of all the green by you. 😀 So yes, you should do a photo road trip post of places that others haven’t been to. Thanks for the comment!


Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson November 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Love it. And I saw the nose as a moustache. 🙂

We took this same road trip a few years back and I blogged about it. I felt so proud to be an American. Truly!

I’ll be in touch with you soon. Heading south for the weekend.


Jami Gold November 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Hi Renee,

LOL! Yes, but it’s a rather lopsided mustache. 😉 Take care and thanks for the comment!


Piper Bayard November 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

Love this, Jami. Thanks for the pictorial pep talk. I needed it this morning.


Jami Gold November 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

Hi Piper,

Anytime, my friend. *hugs* Thanks for the comment!


Julie Glover November 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

How awesome! I once used a photo of flowers growing out of a rock face to demonstrate to a group of people what story is–how external challenges force internal growth.

Love the different perspectives in these pictures. Seems like a great trip, Jami! Thanks for sharing.


Jami Gold November 9, 2012 at 11:45 am

Hi Julie,

Ooo, nice analogy. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!


Gene Lempp November 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Epic post, epic lessons. Gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing the beauty and insight of your journey with us Jami 🙂


Jami Gold November 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Hi Gene,

It’s really hard to imagine the scale of some of these places we were. Along the 3-toed “footprint” is a tan diagonal line–that was a road way off in the distance. I’ve been to Grand Canyon, and Canyonlands National Park compares in scale, and in some ways, felt even bigger.

Ooo, and that one looking straight up at the sky? That was looking up between the Double Arch at Arches National Park, and that was further than a stadium ceiling away. Huge, huge, huge formations. People who haven’t traveled out west have a hard time understanding the true expansiveness of this country. Loved it. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!


E.B.Pike November 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Oh, wow. I needed a laugh and I just got it. I can’t stop picturing that peice of wood picking the giant’s nose in the arches. 😉

You are a brave soul taking a 2100 mile car trip! Makes me want to go watch Vacation again.


Jami Gold November 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Hi E.B.,

Yes, once I saw that image, I couldn’t un-see it. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!


Tamara LeBlanc November 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

I so loved this post and the pictures, jami!! The photos are fantastic!
It’s one of my wildest dreams to go on a two week epic adventure across this gorgeous country of ours. I’ve never left the US, but before I visit Europe, or anywhere else for that matter, I want to explore America.
You’re very lucky!
And it burns me up that people try and deface those petroglyphs and others like them!! It’s awful!
Grrrr is right 🙂
Have a fabulous day!


Jami Gold November 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

Hi Tamara,

I haven’t traveled outside the U.S. very much, but I’ve been lucky enough to have lived all over the country, which has allowed me to explore many areas. I have a dream of doing a summer-long RV road trip across the whole country–even though I don’t like RVs or living on the road. LOL! Thanks for the comment!


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