Perched on a barstool in my favorite Boulder brewery sipping on the newly released pumpkin ale, I celebrated my friend’s recent promotion and decision to work remotely while pursuing her freelancing career. I was completely stoked for her achievements, yet super envious of the adventures she was about to have.

This all came at the time when I was trying to build up enough courage (and savings) to quit my full-time job so I could shift my time and focus to what I was most passionate about—Outdoor Women’s Alliance. I called her up because I wanted her to tell me to quit my job and that everything would be okay once I did. I knew she would without any hesitation. However, she also helped to make me feel less fearful about the whole situation and instead made me feel excited about what awesome opportunities and adventures may come out of the change.

#MomTrip

The first big adventure we devised was #MomTrip—a road trip with my mom from Colorado to New York in time for Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

I immediately texted my mom to propose this to her. I felt this was the perfect opportunity for the two of us as we’d both be without full-time jobs (she quit recently as well) and wouldn’t have to worry about vacation time, assignments, or deadlines. A few texts and lots of emojis later, she was in. To my surprise, it didn’t take much persuasion. We would spend the next couple of weeks planning what the trip would look like: where would we go, how long would we be gone, and what did we want to see and do.

But first on the agenda: I have to quit my job. A couple days later, I did. ✔
Mom books a one-way plane ticket to Denver. ✔
Choose destinations that were (kind of) on the way home to New York. ✔
Call up some friends & book a few Airbnbs. ✔

 

This was all coming together surprisingly well. I was super excited for our upcoming trip and all the time I would get to spend with my mom. But, then my worries set in. I don’t see her all that often anymore, so I wasn’t exactly sure how it’d go. I was sure she’d get sick of me. Maybe she’d immediately regret the idea of a road trip once we started. Maybe I’d immediately regret the idea of a road trip.

Fortunately, the next 11 days of #MomTrip were absolutely perfect.

Cross Country Road Trip Map

Road Trip Raleigh Stop

Our day in Raleigh was going so well until she took my Aventura Clothing Jayla Vest. And my shoes.

 

We explored Boulder, Nashville, Asheville, and Raleigh together with a few extra stops added in. We stopped at plenty of well-known restaurants in each city for incredible BBQ and southern favorites (I can’t tell you the number of times I ate mac & cheese). Checked out several excellent wineries and breweries. Hiked and took in amazing views along the Blue Ridge Parkway. And spent time with family and friends we don’t see often enough. But I don’t consider any of these the best part of the trip—not even close.

The best part was simply the time spent with my mom.

Throughout my childhood, our relationship was always good. Despite the few years when you’re destined to be annoyed by absolutely everything your parents do, I’ve always looked up to her and enjoyed and appreciated the time we’ve spent together. Oddly enough, once I moved to Colorado a few years ago, we’ve become closer than ever. We constantly text and regularly chat or Facetime. We’ve got more in common now than ever before and I’m realizing just how similar we are as I grow into an adult (can I call myself that yet?). Despite the physical distance, our relationship is stronger than ever. So, having the chance to explore new cities and drive cross-country with my mom was an opportunity I’ll be forever grateful for.

Sharing my love of the outdoors

Asheville HikingOne of my only goals of the trip was to find a memorable hiking trail and get at least a few miles in with my mom. While my mom certainly knows how important spending time outdoors is to me, this passion is relatively new for me and has really intensified since moving to Colorado (and away from home). I love sharing the outdoors with anyone and everyone, but especially my family, and really wanted to make this happen during our road trip.

So, I added Asheville to our list of required stops as I’ve been dying to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains. A few friends recommended we hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and check out Black Balsam Knob—a bald area that affords hikers vast 360 degree views of the mountains. We decided to hike the five-mile loop in the morning before jumping in the car and heading to South Carolina in the afternoon. We started at the Art Loeb trail, climbed over Black Balsam Knob and Tennent mountain, and took the Ivestor Gap trail back toward the car. I was stoked the entire time. The views were expansive and still partially cloaked in fall colors. The weather was beyond perfect. And my mom wouldn’t stop taking photos, so I knew she was enjoying it, too.

Asheville Hiking Black Balsam

Despite the wildfires in the distance, the views from this hike were truly incredible.

Normally, a few hours on a trail with a friend or family member means time to connect and catch up on what’s new with each other. However, since we had already spent the previous 120+ hours together, this hike afforded us time to be alone, while obviously still being together. With little chatter and lots of time to essentially be alone, we instead focused on our steps, breaths, and thoughts. While my mom probably just wanted a break from me, I was honestly happy it happened this way. The outdoors have always been a place for me to connect with myself, calm my brain, and simply focus on being in the moment (and not only because I always trip when my brain wanders). During these five miles, I feel that my mom enjoyed the same perks of hiking and hopefully fell a little bit more in love with the outdoors.

And even if that wasn’t the case, the quiet, relaxed hike refreshed both of us and got us even more excited for the second half of our road trip.

Bonding over macaroni & cheese

Road Trip Raleigh Lake

As if our matching Aventura pants weren’t enough, she had to put her purple jacket on, too.

My mom has an obsession with cheese and she’s willing to admit it. A thoughtfully-selected cheese plate is a way to her heart and any and all mac & cheese (Kraft included) is a way to mine. So, when my friend told me we absolutely had to order the mac & cheese from Poole’s Diner while we were in Raleigh a few days later, we ordered an Uber and happily obliged.

This mac & cheese did not disappoint. In fact, the entire restaurant experience was perhaps the best I’ve ever had. From the moment we stepped into the packed restaurant, I could tell it was going to be special. My mom and I ordered drinks from the bar while we waited then indulged on the most delicious modern southern food. As special as the food and restaurant was, I was excited to be able to spend this time sitting down and chatting with my mom.

We quickly got into discussing the uncertainty and excitement surrounding my new career. How will the organization be structured? What are our goals for 2017? How am I going to support myself? How long could this adventure last?

And the uncertainty and excitement surrounding her new career. What should she try next? Should or could she work remotely? Is there any job that involves wine and cheese?

And how many tables also ordered the mac & cheese. I’m pretty sure everyone did.

It has been so incredible being able to bond with my mom over our shared experiences of quitting our jobs at the same time to pursue something more fulfilling—something I’d imagine doesn’t exist too often. Despite this all being new to her as well, she’s given me the knowledge and confidence to try it. I’m grateful to be afforded this opportunity and even more grateful to be able to experience it alongside my mom.

To be clear, I’m also grateful for the mac & cheese we shared because that was delicious.

Road Trip Raleigh

I spent most of the trip taking photos of her while she wasn’t looking. At least she looked good while doing it. Jayla Vest from Aventura Clothing

#MomTrip the sequel

To be honest, I’m still surprised my mom agreed to fly to Denver and then hop in my car with me to explore a few states we’ve never visited before just because we could. As similar as we are in a few certain aspects of our personalities and interests, I’m much more like my dad. Fortunately, our only points of contention the entire road trip was whether or not I knew where I was going without the GPS speaking to us and whether or not we needed to book a place to spend the night in advance. Apparently I’m much more easy going than my mom in respect to these, though I think I showed her my ways a bit ;). If you ask me, the entire trip was a success and I’m so excited we were able to make it happen. So much so that I’m already planning another #MomTrip for this summer, so we can explore a National Park or two in the northwest. She just doesn’t know it yet…

Aventura Clothing provided me with a few items for our road trip at no cost in return for this piece. Their eco-friendly clothing designed for women by women were a great fit for our trip and our active lifestyles.