reach the summit

Photo Credit: Grady Kellogg

There is nothing as exciting as a trip to Moab, UT with its stunning red rock landscapes, the wild Colorado River and arguably the best mountain biking, climbing and hiking in the country. The fact that Moab is also home to the infamous Canyonlands & Arches National Parks, makes it one of, if not the, most popular destinations in the South West.

But there is much more to Moab than exhilaration and extreme adventure. Underneath its harsh desert skin lies a place so serene, so peaceful and so spiritual that even after just a few days your entire being feels so fully rejuvenated. We have traveled the continent and have never experienced a healing so complete as after a trip to Moab.

So you’ll understand our excitement as we roared down the road, our trailer packed full with kayaks and bikes, tents and climbing gear, heading toward our own Happiest Place on Earth. Only this expedition was not meant to be. Rife with issues starting from the day before we hit the road, we were sidelined in Grand Junction, CO, a mere 2 hours from Moab, with a dead alternator on a Saturday afternoon. The news that we would have to wait until Tuesday for a part to arrive was momentarily crushing.

reach the summit

Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg, Unstoppable TravelingMom

The delay was especially upsetting since our oldest daughter, Kerry, came with us for this first leg of the trip! She had been climbing in Moab just a few short months prior and wanted to take us to her favorite spots. We were excited to spend quality time bonding over ropes and cliffs. But, travel is no different than life and sometimes, more times than we like, we are thrown a curve ball.

Nothing we could do about this alternator problem; we were stuck until Tuesday and we could fuss and moan and complain that we weren’t going to make it to Moab this Spring due to a stacked schedule, or we could make the best out of the situation.

Seeing that fussing and moaning never make things better, and being that dealing with adversity is one of those “life skills” we are always harping on, we chose the latter. I mean, when faced with traveling mishaps, why not make the most out of them?  After all, new experiences, spontaneity and fun are the main reasons for travel in the first place, right?

For us, being unstoppable means we are … unstoppable. We are as the definition states, “impossible to stop” regardless of the circumstances. In fact, truth be told, there are gazillions of reasons we should not be able to travel full-time. The most obvious being we have 12 kids, another would be our limited budget and yet another, the fact that we are seriously the poster family for Murphy’s Law!

We are teaching our children resilience and perseverance and to always, always find the silver lining and to never EVER give up on a dream, no matter how difficult or seemingly impossible it seems. That message would never be relayed to them if we threw a fit over a dead alternator.

And so, on that Saturday afternoon, as all the businesses around us were closing and we had exhausted every other alternative to spending the weekend in the O’Reilly’s parking lot in Grand Junction, CO, we set out to make the weekend a success.

Here are some ways to recoup awesomeness and truly have a stress-free vacation when trouble hits:

Take on a Project You’ve Been Putting Off

reach the summit

Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg, Unstoppable TravelingMom


When faced with some unexpected downtime, it is easy to become frustrated or even angry, but if you use the time to your advantage, you will easily be afforded the ability to change your perspective.

Saturday night, we strung our Solar LED lights on the RV and Dan and the kids set to work reupholstering the sofas we’ve been planning to reupholster for months (oh my gosh they needed it sooo bad).

 Find an Adventure

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Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg, Unstoppable TravelingMom

There is nothing like fun and adventure to take your mind off of your problems. Our goal is to find something amazing to do every day and so regardless of our situation, that’s what we set out to do while stranded too!

We hopped on Google and found some epic hikes that would take every last ounce of frustration and rechannel it into something positive. Mount Garfield proved to be just the thing. Touted as a strenuous four mile hike with a 2000’ gain in elevation, Mt. Garfied had just the payoff to make this mega hike worthwhile — spectacular views of the entire Grand Valley!  I was crazy proud of all the kids (who were secretly proud of me), but especially of Emmy (6) and Elly (4) who charged the entire thing with zero assistance!  By the time we got back to the truck we had completely forgotten we had originally planned to be anywhere else!

Other options for all travelers are state and national parks, such as the Colorado National Monument, written about here.  And then for wary adult travelers, Grand Junction is famous for its plethora of vineyards.  Read more here.

Slow Down

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Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg, Unstoppable TravelingMom

It’s so easy to get caught up in the go, go, go of life and unfortunately our travel often mimics our hectic lifestyle. Sometimes, it’s a gift to our families when we are forced to slow down, or even come to a complete halt. Look at your delay as an opportunity to stop and push pause on your life. Why not play games, read books, hit a park, color, or even watch a movie together?

We did all these and more. I watched How To Train Your Dragon II and colored in a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book. Are you aware of how mesmerizing coloring really is? We grabbed our iPads and played the app version of  Mancala, checkers and chess, and, incidentally, I got crushed by every child in this family! My older kids even hit the “large to us mall”, where my 17 year old son bought some outrageous Cheetah tank … for $25!!  LOL!

Life with all of its twists and turns is an adventure in an of itself. Of course, It’s easy to get angry or frustrated or to completely give up, but easy isn’t where you find the prize. Don’t get me wrong, I would not complain if life were a little easier, if we caught a break every once in a while, but if easy meant we would lose our appreciation for the little things, like the sunsets, the ocean, the rivers and the mountains, then I wouldn’t trade our travel mishaps and snafus for anything. For without the trouble, the reward is meaningless, is it not?

Life is Oh So Good and Oh So Short … best take advantage of every moment, lest they whiz past while you have your sights on something else! Don’t miss the hidden gems!!