1. Material things aren't mission critical.
Well, sometimes they are. Like if we showed up at the airport naked, that would be an major issue. Or, if we showed up at one of our campsites without our tent, we'd really have a problem.
But what if your husband forgets…. His wedding ring?!
We had just entered the security line at the airport and I think the entire place heard Dane's *gulp* before he said he forgot his ring. For a hot second, I wanted to cry, kick my feet and get super dramatic. But then I thought to myself - Are we still married even without the ring for 7 days? Do I still love this man more than life itself even without the ring? Can we still have an awesome time hiking, camping and celebrating our marriage without the ring? Duh - the answer was yes.
We agreed to let it go and that we'd find a cool ring for him to wear once we were in Sedona. Spolier alert: We didn't find a ring until our last day in Fort Collins.
2. Do what you can while you are able to.
One of our first hikes in Sedona was at Airport Vortex. Halfway up the rock, we ran into a little old lady with knobby knees and rail thin legs. She asked if we would take a picture of her. She desperately wanted to go to the top of this rock and wanted our opinion as to whether or not she should attempt it. Dane and I had never made the climb before so we weren't sure how to direct her (but let me tell you - in the back of my mind I was actually amazed the woman had made it up as far as she did).
We made it to the top but we never did see the lady up there. Later on in the evening, I asked Dane, "what were we supposed to learn from that lady?" We both admitted that we thought she was fake, like an angel or a sign. We decided the moral of the story of the little old lady on Airport Vortex was that we should always "do what we can while we are able to".
3. You don't always have to stick to the plan.
Before our honeymoon, Dane and I laid out a plan for where we'd stop and where we'd stay along the way. We had planned to camp at the Grand Canyon on the 3rd night of our trip.
When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, it was crawling with humans. We hiked a little bit and took in the views. We ultimately decided that we just weren't digging the vibe and wanted to keep moving on. We would find another place to camp.
Sometimes, when you divert from your plan, really, really, really cool things happen. Like ending up at Lone Oak campground at Lake Powell in a spot made only for honeymooners. I thought I'd be catching a sunrise at the Grand Canyon but instead we both woke up that morning as the sun cracked over the horizon at Lake Powell. Yes, it's true, you really can have a romantic moment in a tent. Had we stuck to our original plan, we would have never had that moment together as a couple. It's a moment I'll never forget.
4. You are always right where you need to be.
One of our stops along the way was at Mesa Verde National Park (I shouldn't even tell you this - it is a hidden gem - it's never on any of the top national park lists). We ended up at Cliff Palace in the park, which is a preserved cliff dwelling site, hoping to hop on one of the guided tours.
We approached the tour group waiting to head out and found out you needed to buy a ticket back at the museum. We were bummed out and turned to leave when a couple got our attention and let us know we could buy a ticket directly from the park ranger - if he'd let us. We approached David Nighteagle and as our honeymoon luck would have it, he let us pay him! We were in.
We hiked down to this cliff dwelling and it was breath taking. For Dane and I, though, what was more striking was how aligned everything felt. We were meant to make that tour last minute, we were meant to have David Nighteagle as our tour guide and we were meant to learn something there.
There were two key takeaways from our experience with park ranger, David Nighteagle. First, death is just a changing of our clothes. We are only here for a limited amount of time. Life will eventually end so we need to make the most of it while we are ALIVE and able. Second, if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. David Nighteagle said he's on vacation all the time at work at the park. Dane and I were convinced more than ever that that is the life we want.
5. Find a partner who believes in you more than you believe in you.
Halfway up Cathedral Rock in Sedona I confessed to Dane that I had never climbed anything vertical in my whole life. It was a stretch for me - scary on the way up, scary sitting at the top thinking about going down, scary actually going down! We actually learned at the top that it was recommended only for experienced hikers. Once I had confirmation that I survived the whole thing, I put that feather right in my cap - Kelsey Erickson, Experienced Hiker.
Fast forward a few days and we find ourselves at the base of Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. There was a classic mix up. Dane wasn't sure if it was a 6 mile hike round trip or a 12 mile hike. The second I heard 12 miles, I just wanted to CRY! How would I ever do 12 miles? Dane could easily do 12 miles (and then some) and was probably really excited for this hike. I didn't want to let him down but I was SCARED!
Dane recognized my fear and was so supportive. He wholeheartedly thought that I was more than capable of completing a 12 mile hike and let me know that. It was in that moment that I realized how lucky I am to have someone who believes in me more than I believe in me. Dane is always pushing me to try new things, expand my horizons and open my eyes to new possibilities.
Not that I didn't love the support, but I was pretty dang relieved when we found out it was only 6 miles round trip. I put that feather back in my cap and we marched on.
6. Just because your parents almost named you Sterling, doesn't mean you should stop in Sterling, CO.
Yeah, that's right. If I would have been a boy, my dad wanted to name me Sterling. Could you imagine?!
On our last day of driving, I thought it'd be fun to stop in this town for food and coffee given this fun fact. Like a road trip noob, I picked an exit that did not have everything right off the ramp. Dane had been taking a cat nap and I was actually just excited to stop here so we could laugh about the name of the town.
This lesson really doesn't have to do with stopping in Sterling, CO. It more has to do with how much fun and pure joy we experienced on a 14 hour drive together. We talked and laughed almost the whole way home. It honestly felt like I could stay in that car with Dane forever. I hope that you and your partner (or future partner) can have this kind of experience together some day, too.