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30 for 30 - First 10 Days, the First 10 Years

Apr 25, 2023

We have been traveling west chasing spring! Today we are parked in Heber City, UT with our friends Shauna & Jared! A BEAUTIFUL couple who will also celebrate their 30th Anniversary this year! Shauna and Jared had us for a small dinner party last night where we were able to delight in the decades long friendship we have been blessed with. We reminisced about the adventures we had with the kids and thanked God for such a life-giving friendship. 

The First Decade of Our Marriage - Joys and Sorrows

As we wrap up the first 10 days... to commemorate our first decade of marriage we couldn't have spent it in a better place. Here in Utah is where Craig and I began to experience some of the joys and sorrows of marriage. It is in Utah where we purchased our first home, experienced the loss of miscarriage, the birth of our first son and began the healing work in our lives!  God used our marriage to begin His work and He worked through our friends Shauna and Jared. 

While Craig and I were both working in the motion picture industry our lives became very much focused on money and things. After the birth of Curtis we began to see the value of TIME - the time we spent together and the time we spent apart. As Craig's job grew more demanding and took him away from Curtis and I. We began to feel the strain. Our marriage was suffering. By the grace of God and His loving Providence He directed us to our second home in Salt Lake City - North Woodside Drive. This is where God Himself would become incarnate in my new neighbor, Shauna! 

We had been in the house only a few days when Shauna showed up at the door bearing cookies with her three little ones in tow in a wagon . We had a lovely chat and it was her friendship and steadfast faith which sent me on a healing trajectory - she helped me turn back to God and realize that I was not alone and that He wanted our marriage to thrive. Shauna would watch Curtis when Craig and I attended counseling. Shauna and Jared would have Curtis over when Craig and I needed a "date" night. They were such a blessing... a GIFT at that time! A gift given by God to our marriage!

Today marks day 10 out of 30!! We leave Heber a little later today and head for the TETONS! The little video posted is just a "peek" into what our evenings are like along the journey. 

Here's a recap of what we have been doing and where we have been: 

Days 1-10 - Westward Ho! 

We began our trip by heading to my parents house to check on my dad because he just came home from the hospital after emergency triple bypass surgery. He was making great progress so it was comforting to know as we left town for this big trip. Craig said that this part of the trip was important to launch us into our journey! 

Traveling tip: Whole Foods does a fine job with their $12 chef's plate where you get one main dish and two side dishes. Craig got the London broil and we had enough steak left over for steak and eggs on the Friday of the Easter Octave! It was epic. 

Day 1 - Friday morning we got up early made the delicious breakfast with the steak and eggs and hit the road for Tennessee. We arrived in Nashville at around 5:00 PM and spent the night at our friends boutique in Liepers Fork Tennessee. She has a darling shop, called Moo Country with a location also in Bozeman Montana. Dawn Ann always is the consummate hostess. If you’re ever in the Franklin Tennessee area, check out her shop! You never know you may run into Chris Stapleton… Or Wynonna Judd’s husband who does all of her shopping.

Later that evening our friends Frances and Jim (who live in Reno, NV) happened to be in Nashville visiting their daughter at Belmont - so, of course we met them for dinner at cute pub in a sweet little neighborhood near Belmont. 

Day 2 - On Saturday I had to do some work with Pietra Fitness so Craig got the van nestled in a darling part of Franklin, Tennessee, right near the historic downtown with all the cute shops and yummy restaurants, bakeries, and coffee houses. After work, we took a walk with Jupiter around sweet little Franklin and then made our way back to Liepers Fork for a small and intimate dinner party with our friends Dawn Ann and Trace. We slept in their peaceful driveway that night  - near their new horse barn and horse Kat (their daughter, Willow is becoming quite the barrel racer and rodeo princess!)

Day 3 - We were up very early on Sunday morning so we could get to the 8 o’clock Latin mass at a nearby chapel. We hit the road and made our way to Arkansas, we had beautiful weather all the way there after leaving the Nashville area and experiencing some rain and wind. Although we had a pretty nasty headwind all the way to the Ozarks. 

Then the adventure began… We literally almost got caught by a deer in the headlights! At dusk in the ozark mountains the deer came out and we had a VERY close call! 

On the road to Eureka Springs, AR, we made short stops where we could open the door and enjoy the weather since we have our beautiful bug walls ( we get a cross breeze in the van as we sit in the shade and enjoy a meal or a snack and then an espresso and a couple of chocolate covered almonds (, before getting back on the road. (Yes, I do eat chocolate SOMETIMES - as long as it’s over 80% cacao!)

We rolled into our Lake Leatherwood campsite after 10p and went to bed next to the lake under the amazing stars! 

Van traveling tip: Plan at least five or six dinner meals ahead, pre-cook the meals and pack them in your refrigerator because you never know when you just might not be able to get a bite to eat on the road… Besides, it’s healthier! 

Day 4 - Monday morning we had a little extra sleep, hot long showers and breakfast burritos (showers in the van are nice but not long since water is stored on board). 

I saw clients on Monday and then that afternoon/ early evening we went to visit my Godparents my Aunt Pat and Uncle Terry. We had a lovely conversation about our Catholic Faith and her current medical issues (Please pray for my Aunt). My Aunt called my cousins along with my cousin’s sons and we all got to break bread together- it was great to see everyone and I know it wore out my aunt since she does suffer with congestive heart disease. The whole time though she smiles and offers it all up - what a holy example she is to me. 

During dinner we shared about how struggles in marriage have been places of strength, growth and real proof of God’s Providence! 

Day 5 - Tuesday morning rise and shine at 5:15 for prayers and quiet time before a full day of mountain biking and beautiful clients. We headed out to the Passion Play complex in Eureka Springs which is also home to some of the most fun trails in the OZ Trails system. The Walton Foundation was a big benefactor. The Passion Play show has been around for many years and is a big draw for the Bible Belt - family friendly and home to the “Christ of the Ozarks” sculpture- yeah kinda like the one in Brazil. .. and I mean “kind of. “ The whole place is very family friendly and the little exhibits depict how God really does answer prayers. There’s even a section of the Berlin Wall on display with Psalm 23 painted on it by a young German on the West Berlin side under the cover of night. 

We rode some really fun trails between coaching calls and enjoyed the 78 degree weather! After a great afternoon we cleaned up made a quick dinner and hit the road for Oklahoma! 

Our drive into Oklahoma was lovely with vistas and sunshine as we rolled into the remote area of Hubert, OK... in case you don't already's REALLY dark in the middle of nowhere! All the ranching roads and NO street lights for this city girl! We got to the Abbey and the gates were already closed for the night so we headed back to Locust Grove to park for the night at Walmart -- and THE WIND... it was loud and powerful! 

Day 6 - Wednesday Clear Creek Abbey Oklahoma, OK City, Amarillo Texas 

We awoke at 6 and began the day with a little breakfast and then headed into Hubert for High Mass at Clear Creek Abbey.  After the most HEAVENLY Mass (where over 30 of the 69 monks who live there SUNG the Mass) we met a lovely couple: Jeff and Mary Lou Newman - they will celebrate their 50th this July 1st. They loved our van as they lived in an RV while building their first home near the Abbey. Many people have moved to this area due to the Abbey - many families returning to the Tradition of Holy mother Church. We were so blessed by their meeting - they invited us back to park in their driveway! 

We picked up some cheese and other items made by the monks, had a quick bite to eat and then hit the road to Oklahoma City (OKC as the locals call it). 


After arriving at Whole Foods in OKC we had a bite to eat... and did I mention it's windy in OK?? While we were eating Craig noticed the clouds getting a little darker. He turned on our weather radio and sure enough there was a Tornado and Severe Storm Warning... we packed up fast...but not fast enough! We got onto the highway and the "fun" started... if by "fun" you mean high winds, driving rain and HAIL which kept increasing in size!?!?! We made it through the storm and got on the other side of it... but then, ANOTHER band of the storm.... and then ANOTHER... the third was the final one - Thanks be to God!! When the storm began I feverishly texted so many of you in the community to PRAY... and PRAY you did... Thanks be to God of all of you... your prayers kept Craig and I soo calm and able to make split second decisions which helped us avoid: a 5 car pile-up that happened right in front of us, ice cube sized hail and the brunt of one of the storm bands! Your prayers CAN help others in need! 

We rolled into Amarillo (with a strong headwind across the plains) around 10pm and were greeted by the Oscar Meyer "weiner-mobile"!! We laughed so hard... it was such a release after such a LONG day! 

Day 7 - Thursday Santa Fe NM and Santa Cruz Lake NM 

We arose early and headed out in search of a yummy Texas Kolache... and we didn't succeed! What we found was some kind of "pig in a blanket"... disappointing! Lesson learned! 

Heading across the desert plain to Santa Fe was a peaceful drive with so much blue sky! We rolled into Santa Fe around 10:30am - parked in front of The Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis . I saw some clients in the van while Craig and Jupiter did some exploring. 

After lunch and clients we made our way to the Loretto Chapel! That was probably the most beautifully austere chapel I have ever seen... really! Craig and I have been to churches and cathedrals all over the US and Europe and this chapel took our breath away! 

After a walk around the town we headed to our campsite high up in the mountains overlooking Lake Santa Cruz... and it was, you guessed it: WINDY! As soon as the sun set - the STARS!! Oh my... so SPECTACULAR! 

Day 8 - Friday Taos NM and Durango CO

It was a cold night with the temps dipping into the low 20s. The early morning brought BRIGHT sun, and fresh clear air. After a beautiful breakfast we hit the road to Taos - the mountain road we traveled along took us through settlements that were erected in the 1700s with the Spanish settlers - the adobe churches that are now historical landmarks mark the center of these towns. 

We explored Pueblos and the local spots before heading back out on the road to Durango, Colorado. 

The road to Colorado changed from Mesas and Red Rock (in Abiquiu - Georgia O'Keefe's home) to mountains, snow and WILDLIFE! We saw hundreds of Elk, White Tail Deer and a lot of ranches with horses and cattle! 

Durango was as darling as I remembered it (visited with our boys back in 2005) just a few more people and camper vans! LOL! We parked in the forest and had a restful night's sleep as the sunset held our gaze for several minutes... so much beauty and wonder!  

Day 9 Saturday 4/22 - Moab UT, Green River 

We were greeted with a lovely sunrise over the mountains as we had breakfast, packed up and hit the road for UTAH! As we rolled into Utah the scenery changed again... this time a juxtaposition of mountains AND Red Rock - so beautiful! As we rolled into Moab... the sheer number of people exponentially rose! Apparently, EARTH DAY, attracts people to the outdoors... who knew!?!?! 

We decided to ride our bikes at Dead Horse State Park where we could enjoy the views along the trails. Boy, oh, boy the VIEWS! We had a lovely afternoon on the trails and Jupiter liked the desert too... he kept getting into mischief though! After a long day of bike riding and traveling we headed to Green River.

We stayed ON the river in a canyon that looked like it was straight from the Wiley Coyote cartoons!! The rolling sound of the river, and more wind since we camped in a canyon made the afternoon and the sunset so beautiful! We had dinner, played cards, prayed the rosary, and reminisced about what a fantastic day we had! (and n case you're wondering... the van shower... it's AMAZING to have HOT water AND a shower in the middle of nowhere! 

Day 10 Sunday 4/23 Park City and Heber City UT 

Up with the sun, prayers, breakfast, van chores and a walk on Swasey Beach with Jupiter before we rolled out to get to Park City. Along the way more SPECTACULAR views! We even spotted an In-N-Out Burger, sadly, we didn't stop. As we enjoyed the new highway to Park City ... which used to be a 2 lane highway (now is 6 lanes in some places!!) we were reminded of all the films and projects we worked on during our time in the "business" - we remembered the special people we worked with, and realized HOW MUCH we have grown, changed and healed in these years since the early years of our marriage. 

We rolled into Park City with 75 minutes to spare before Holy Mass. We took a NAP!! Mass was AMAZING, Beautiful, and we both admitted ... Home! Truly, our hearts are restless until they rest in YOU! 

After Mass we headed to the Jensen's lovely home in Heber City. Shauna had all of her kids there and some family friends... we enjoyed homemade sliders and LIFE GIVING conversation. We picked up right where we had left off! Isn't it lovely how the Lord blesses us with particular people in our lives and then weaves such a beautiful tapestry with the threads of our experiences!?!?! 

We slept well in their driveway.... I can't wait to share the next few days with you as we move into the "next" 10 days/Decade of our Odyssey of Love & Adventure! 

Be assured of our prayers... and be sure to look for the slide show of our "FIRST 10 DAYS"!!

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