The Mackeys’ Epic National Park Road Trip!

Midwest to the Southwest

The Plan: 

Shelby, Indiana to Tulsa, Oklahoma (10 hours) to Sweetwater, Texas (6 hours) to Lajitas, Texas (6 hours) to Carlsbad, New Mexico (6 hours) to El Paso, Texas  (3 hours) to Mesa, Arizona (7 hours) to Santa Fe, New Mexico (8 hours) to Dodge City, Kansas (7 hours) to Kansas City, Missouri (5 hours), then back to Shelby (8 hours) + all necessary creature comforts and adventures.

The Sites:

The Gathering Place

Big Bend National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

White Sands National Park

Saguaro National Park

Our Family

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Downtown Santa Fe

Meow Wolf

The Abraham Lincoln House

Not in this for building a list…all in for building a life. 


Where you don’t put on your hiking boots because you don’t feel like doing any “real” climbs and that’s okay.  Where you find your book and stow away someplace secretive because so much contraction requires expansion…and we are better together with some space apart.  Where you eat the peanut butter and nutella sandwich for the fifth time because food is fuel and we don’t need to waste any money since, in our absence, we were cyber-robbed and need to watch our pennies until they are returned to us. (All fixed!) Car rides where the kids take turns singing all of the different parts they can for the (humor me) American classic, “Barbie World” in different voices and (often) at extreme volumes (Ahhhhh!).  Trying to figure out how to get back to the main road…and…who farted.  Flip flops with socks.  Mornings without brushing because you are on the road before anyone is actually awake.  Chugging down the electrolyte water because you are traveling in the southest and westest part of America in the hottest time of the year during some significant signs of global warming.  Oh dear… Doing the crossword puzzle by reading it aloud in said fashion “First: clue. Then:  blank, A, blank, E, blank, blank, blank, F, blank, blank, blank.” and repeat…like a million times. Travel pillows for mouth-open zombie sleeping with legs curled up to allow for boxes of snacks underfoot.    


A life where seeing family from afar feels like you saw them just yesterday…and that love is unchanging and life renewing.  Where mountains are pink and the sky looks green and the sunsets on both sides of the sky like a prism.  Where the vastness is so extreme and isolating it’s unnerving..and it makes your eyes start dripping and you don’t know why.  Where the ridges are so steep and the climbs are so strenuous you are amazed you survived them (especially when you forgot the snacks!)…and you feel a whole lot stronger for what you’ve accomplished.  Where you watch the kids grow, right in front of your very eyes and really notice it all.  Where the pigs are hairy and called “javelinas.”  Where the sun is searing your eyeballs for most of the day but you can’t close them because wonder is available at every angle and you don’t want to miss a second.  Where you can have your feet in two countries at one time and make up stories (that mimic life) where horrific and heroic things happen.  Where you can run into a horse walking the same trail you are.  Where the lizards bellies are turquoise like most of the jewelry you see and the ravens pull out their top hats and do a dance in hopes of payment via old Pringles/clumps of granola/stale pb&j’s or whatever other goodies end up ground into the area between the carseats and under our feet.  Where the man selling wares on the side of the street teaches the kids via a rubber horny toad lizard that the old Navajo tradition is to find one in the wild, give its belly a rub and wish for anything your heart desires.  

7 humans

14 days

1 Super Moon

2 Blisters

0 Razors

10 Sunrises

2 GOAT Mexican Restaurant Visits

6 Junior Ranger Badges

1 Big Dream

“Certain things catch your eye but pursue only those that capture your heart.” 

-Navajo Proverb

Congrats!  You’ve made it to the bottoms. 😉

Published by dirtonkids

Let's play!

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