Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Adventure Possible: The everyday WOW factor

Posted July 4, 2016


Editor's Note: We're sharing posts from the Kelley family of Raleigh, who is in the midst of a year-long cross country trip to see national parks. Here's the latest from mom Katie Kelley.

How do we deal with the everyday wow factor?

I was posed this question by one of my very old friends the other day. He asked me if I was ever becoming numb at all to the beauty we are seeing every day? I stopped to think about this for a few days. I’m still not sure of my answer. So yes and no.

Since traveling to many of our national parks, we’ve heard it said time and again that the National Park System is what makes America beautiful. The parks are what foreigners come to see, much like we visit Europe for the art, culture and architecture. The rest of the world comes here to enjoy the beauty of our national parks. Many have knighted the parks as “America’s Best Idea.”

Every place we have visited, I have honestly had jaw dropping, I can’t believe my eyes moments. I have them almost daily. Everywhere we’ve been has been so different from the places prior. I’m continuously blown away by my surroundings.

However, what I’m really grateful for is that I feel like we’ve really had the time to experience this beauty rather than just “see” it. The boulders in Joshua Tree, the spires and hoodoos in Zion and Bryce, the colors of the desert, the awe of Sequoia trees, all of Yosemite. These places have been full of “I can’t believe my eyes moments." But there is a bit of a downside to seeing these places the way we are.

The down side of experiencing these places rather than just “seeing” them is that this is our life. It’s not a vacation. We can’t just push the kids for a few days and let them skip their naps or eat junk - knowing we’ll get back to “normal” in a week or two. We have to live in these parks. And we all know life isn’t always beautiful.

We feel pressure to see and experience everything a park has to offer, but having little children and living our life in the parks for a year means we can’t do that jaw dropping, awesome hike for which the park is known. We have to be OK with that. And, for the most part, we are. Just about every day, we’re back at the RV no later than 1 p.m. so the kids can take a nap or rest. We couldn’t function for an entire year without sticking pretty regularly to a healthy schedule. So this limits us a bit, but I think in a good way.

The beauty that surrounds us daily isn’t ever wasted. It is, however, part of our everyday life. Just when I think I’m “over” a place. And I’ve been “over” the desert and “over” the red rocks region, I’ll see something new and have be filled with appreciation for the fact that we are here doing this. Living this together.

So, no, the wow factor doesn’t fade from place to place and we haven’t become numb to it. But, yes, occasionally the rigors of everyday life do turn our heads away from it.

Katie Kelley is traveling the country with her husband and two young children. Keep up with their adventures on their website,


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