Upon deciding to move cross-country from New York to San Diego, I knew my mom and I needed a proper goodbye. We’ve always been super close and this was going to be the first time we weren’t living within a few hours’ drive of each other. After some thinking, I realized what could be a better send-off than a road trip? The logistics and costs of driving from coast-to-coast ended up not being ideal so I flew her out with me to San Diego and we rented a car. I planned out a route on Roadtrippers that included the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. We packed some snacks and we were on our way.
I’d always wanted to do a road trip in the U.S. But I’ll admit that after so much international travel, I was worried I’d be let down. I thought wrong.
Our first stop was Peggy Sue’s Diner. Super cheesy and touristy. But it set the mood for the rest of our trip as I realized that the Southwest was a whole new world I had yet to conquer. It became more apparent as we crossed the state line to Arizona. I can’t imagine having done this trip any other way as every mile was beautiful. Looking out of the car windows was unreal. Sprawling mountains, canyons, deserts, and valleys. It was really hard to focus on driving! Understandably, we never reached any of our destinations on the trip within an hour of when we were supposed to. We just couldn’t help pulling over everywhere.
As enchanting as the scenery was, it was far from the most memorable part of the road trip. In Williams, we had mother-daughter dates with wine flights and interesting locals. At Horseshoe Bend, my mom had the most embarrassing moment of her life (I assume). I’m not supposed to repeat the details, but I will say that it brought us closer together. After all, nothing brings two people closer than one laughing at the other’s misfortune, right?
In Zion National Park, I really wanted to do a lesser known trail. After doing some research I found one online that leads to a secret waterfall. Apparently, it was so secretive that the park rangers couldn’t even help us find the trailhead. Luckily, we eventually stumbled upon it on our own. The trail was obviously unkempt and we had to wade through the stream for most of it. After a little over a mile, we came to a dead end. A mini-waterfall and a wall of rocks blocked our path.
My mother, always protective, suggested I try to scale the boulders next to us so I could go up and over this barrier. It was far from safe. I managed to slowly wiggle my way up there while my mom spotted from below. Upon reaching the top, my mom began to follow. She struggled so, in a real Hercules moment, I used one arm to hold onto the tree behind me and one to help pull her up. It didn’t really work, but it was still an epic moment. At the top of the boulder, we realized there was no way to get around the barrier… and we couldn’t figure out how to get down! We eventually slid down the side and got a few cuts and scrapes along the way. Oh, and that little waterfall that blocked our path? Apparently, that was our destination, after all!
We definitely learned a lot about each other on this road trip that we didn’t already know. For the first time, I felt we had that “adult” mother-daughter friendship rather than taking on the caregiver and child roles. My mom would like to think we’re like the Gilmore Girls, but we’re probably more like Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn in Snatched. We had a great time, but we butt heads a lot, too. She likes to blast the A/C while I’m shivering under blankets. I like to scream along to T-Swift and get annoyed that she doesn’t sing the right words. I learned that I’m a chip off the old block in that we’re both insane weirdos.
But I also learned that she’s way more adventurous and gutsy than I knew. And she got to see me at my best: planning and navigating trips. I can’t wait to go on another mother-daughter trip, but I think next time an all-inclusive with a swim-up bar might better suit our relationship.