my Instagram Top 9 2018

This is my official “top nine.”  The one the app pulls up for you and says, “Here!  This was your year!”  And these were my most liked posts on mrsjamieshugart from 2018.

While I actually think this Top 9 did a pretty dang good job, I still stare at it and think, “How on earth can my 2018 ever fit into nine little photographs?”  

According to this photo, 2018 was our Golden Retriever Blue (who is quite important, don’t get me wrong), our new furniture, our NEW HOUSE (first time home buyers—holla!), us, and adventures.  Not a bad representation, but probably not exactly what I would choose.

2018 in a nutshell:

  • Will and I spent the first three months apart.  We took our engagement photos and then he was whisked away.  
  • Just as soon as he got back, we got married, honeymooned in Maine, lived a few more weeks in North Carolina, and then packed all of our possessions into a storage unit for safe keeping.  
  • We drove over two thousand miles away to Arizona to spend four months with each other, with work, and with the desert.  
  • I launched my blog, we road tripped to Utah, explored several national parks (including the Grand Canyon), spent a weekend in San Diego, and ate all of the tacos we could stand.
  • After four months of desert living, we began our trek back to North Carolina and I got rear ended on the first day of our drive.  My trusty little car was a total loss.
  • Just a few days later we arrived in North Carolina and closed on our house.  
  • The next day we emptied our storage unit (that had flooded in our absence) and discovered that basically all of our furniture was toast.
  • Within 5 days, we bought a house, lost all of our furniture, picked out our puppy, and bought a new (to us) Toyota.  
  • Just two weeks later we brought our Golden girl Blue home.  The first month was extremely overwhelming and all of the emotions of the car accident and storage flood caught up with us during our lack of sleep during puppy and potty training.
  • Will started his new job with a much busier schedule that will demand a lot from us in 2019.
  • I started working almost full time as a photographer, being self employed and working a lot from home.

WHAT.  A.  CRAZY.  YEAR.  WE.  HAD.  If I could choose my own top nine for this crazy year, these photos would be it.

#1

My baby nephew was born and adopted in February.  This is what I had to say at the time:

For this child I have prayed.

Little baby Harkni, how we have prayed. And we know now, why it all happened the way it did. Because you were absolutely always His plan, and without the years of waiting and praying and sadness, we wouldn’t get to love you the way we get to love you. We wouldn’t have YOU, and what a beautiful and miraculous thing that there is now this precious new person in the world. And that precious new person is ours to love.

We are so blessed. We are so happy. We are so in love. Our family is growing this year, and 2018 is The Best Year Ever.

With all of our hearts, baby Harkni.

#2

My bridal shower!

This was a crazy season for me.  I was stressed beyond measure (planning is NOT my thing) with the wedding, Will was far far away from me, and I was working all hours of the night and day with my full time job, photography on the side, and worship team shenanigans.  My amazing work family threw me a surprise bridal shower that was extremely generous and made me feel so loved.  My bridesmaid/bestie and her mama also threw me this shower on the day I got my hair done for the wedding (conveniently) at this adorable and delicious restaurant downtown with some of my very favorite ladies.

May you all feel loved the way I was blessed to feel so loved.

#3

#4

#wamieswedding

In April, we got married in my parents’ backyard under sunny blue skies.  I wore lace and tule and we didn’t have a first look.  I watched all the guests arrive through a slit in the blinds of my parents’ master bedroom and ogled my fiancé in his tux from afar.  Will cried when he saw me and we said sweet simple vows.  We snapped a couple pictures and then spent the reception with our loved ones before we jumped in a very decorated car that told passersby to honk, JUST MARRIED! and drove to Raleigh to stay the night in a fancy hotel before setting off the next morning for our honeymoon.

#5

On our honeymoon, we went to the beach, but in coats.  We didn’t get tan, or drink cocktails, or go snorkeling.  We flew to Maine—my dream vacation—and stayed in a little cottage outside Bar Harbor on an island called Mount Desert.  We drank wine and ate blueberry preserves.  Our first little breakfast, I got crepes with Maine blueberries and we drank our way through the island’s coffee supply that week.  We wore activewear and fleece and hiked up mountains to see the views.  We looked off into the distance of the Atlantic on a very clear day and had lobster multiple times at fancy restaurants on the bay.  Will tried a glass of twenty dollar scotch and we did a Marvel marathon to prepare for the release of Infinity War.

We even went to see a lighthouse that I had been ogling pictures of for years.  I had saved a photo of the very lighthouse to my phone exactly two years prior.  To the day.

#6

Our Arizona adventures!

After packing up and moving, discovering hotel and desert life, and launching our blog, we began to realize our dream of visiting as many National Parks as possible, beginning with the Coronado National Memorial.  We love hiking, camping, and exploring.  We were stoked when we found out that Coronado has a cave that you can explore without a guide!  We hiked the half mile trail up the mountainside and then spent a long time exploring the depths of the cave with one headlamp and one sort of okay flashlight.

We then drove up a windy, dirt road to a view point.  If you turn around, you can see well into Mexico.  It was beautiful and green because of monsoon season, and we were so blessed to experience it.

#7

The Grand Canyon

Another dream of mine!  And a culmination of all of my goals and aspirations in Arizona.  I did a work out program called 80 Day Obsession specifically to be able to keep up with my super fit husband on all of our adventuring in the desert.  At the Grand Canyon, we got up around 3am to make it to the rim in time to watch the sun rise.  We then hiked the rim trail for over twelve miles and spent over 13 hours in the presence of the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.

#8

A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona

This photo is a great representation of our Arizona adventure.  On our last weekend, we drove up to Saguaro National Park to catch the sunset among some of the biggest cacti I have ever laid eyes on.  We had a mini photo shoot with my camera on a tripod and the remote in my hand.  It gave us a moment to slow down and cherish every adventure we had been on, the four months we had gone through just the two of us, and this incredible way to start our marriage.  It was a bitter sweet last adventure in the desert, but it was probably one of the best ideas we have had to date.

#9

All of our last two months of 2018 wrapped into one photo, with our new house and our new furniture and our new pup.  What a whirlwind the last 70 days of 2018 were!  I’ll be honest, I hope we don’t go through any more of those, but WHEN we do I will be grateful to do it with Will by my side.

Last year was a blast!  (Most of it!)  I was a little sad to see it go, to be honest.  2018 was very very good for my soul.  For our marriage.  For our future as the Shugarts.  We are so blessed to have had 2018.  

Now here we head into the unknown of a new year.  Our bags are unpacked.  We are setting down roots.  We have plans and adventures and explorations to do.  The world is a big place, so let’s hop to it, shall we?

Until next time,
Jamie out.

we lost it all in Hurricane Florence

we lost it all in Hurricane Florence

If you watched the news in September, you know that Hurricane Florence hit the east coast and caused a lot of damage.  Most of the severe losses were in coastal towns, but places inland were affected as well.  The Cape Fear River that runs through Fayetteville and the surrounding towns crested around 60 feet, majorly surpassing the 35 foot flood stage and causing families along the river and other water ways that run off it to be evacuated.

While we were in Arizona, most of our worldly possessions were in a storage unit in Fayetteville.  We, luckily, decided to opt into the insurance the facility offered well before the storm.  While I do not believe the storage unit was within a mandatory flood evacuation zone, we were informed by management that our unit had flooded.

We returned home at the end of October and took a peek at the damage.  Initially we thought it wasn’t so bad—only a few boxes had been on the ground and it was mostly furniture that took the brunt of the water.  We assumed we would be able to clean them off and be on our merry way.

After closing on our home, the next day we got a U-Haul and invited friends and family to help us empty our unit.  We went out and bought gloves and masks for everyone, as long as a lot of white vinegar and cleaning supplies.

we lost it all in Hurricane Florence

It was not just a little bit of damage.  A whole box of picture albums was on the ground.  Most of our furniture is wood or fabric, so the material held onto the moisture and mold grew rampant.  Even boxes that weren’t soaked with water allowed moisture and eventually mold inside and we had to go through everything carefully.

we lost it all in Hurricane Florence we lost it all in Hurricane Florence we lost it all in Hurricane Florence

Luckily, we were able to save money while we were in Arizona and we deliberately put some away for purchasing things we would need—like a washer and dryer.  Luckily, like I said above, we put insurance on our unit and its contents.  Luckily, we had the support of our loved ones as we unpacked, cleaned, and photographed the damage.  Luckily, we serve a great God who has been gracious in providing, even through the troubled times.

we lost it all in Hurricane Florence we lost it all in Hurricane Florence

I know people who lost everything in Hurricane Matthew.  People who lost their homes and all of their possessions.  In the hurricanes that have hit the Carolinas recently, many people have lost their lives.

We lost some furniture.  Financially and emotionally that is certainly not the easiest thing to go through.  But we have our lives, and we have each other.

On the plus side, we get new stuff.  We get to pick the things that are to our taste.  We get to design our house from the ground up, so to speak.  And while it may be tough and draining and arduous, especially during the waiting (we are still working through the insurance claims process and have not been reimbursed for our losses yet), we know that now is not forever and that now will always change.

we lost it all in Hurricane Florence

After over three weeks, we have been able to almost fully furnish our home with what we NEED, with either the money we saved or the generosity of others.  We are grateful and happy for what we have, and we know that having each other is much more important than having a mattress, although it is much easier to sleep at night with one.  For real.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

We bought a house!

We are first time home owners!  And we did it all from over two thousand miles away.

What a rollercoaster this process was. I was super surprised that the part I thought I would love—the actual house hunting—was the worst aspect for me. When it got down to the nitty gritty though, we had some amazing professionals on our team who worked super hard behind the scenes to pull it all together in less than 30 days. 

Our realtor was a good friend of mine who has been building me up and encouraging me for almost four years now. She is a rockstar. When we told her we wanted to buy a house in North Carolina, but do basically all of it while we were in Arizona, she didn’t bat an eye. She was down for the challenge. 

My parents, who coincidentally LOVE “window shopping” for houses were game to go look at houses for us. They looked at neighborhoods, the condition of the property, the drainage of the lot—all of the things you can’t change and all of the things you can’t see in the photos.  

Our realtor took us on video walkthroughs so that we could get a feel for the place as well. We talked over all of the positives and negatives. We searched for over a month and we fell in love with multiple homes. We were so ready!

Finally we found The One and we got an accepted offer. It was smooth sailing from then out (for us, not so sure about everyone else on our team, haha!) and we were so excited to close and get our keys just four days after we arrived in North Carolina. 

Since leaving Arizona, everything has been a little crazy for us. We got in a car accident and my car was totaled, but because we were under contract on a house, we could not buy a car until we closed, otherwise it could mess up our mortgage. Luckily we were able to close just a week after the accident and our insurance was understanding so they let us keep our rental car a little longer than normal. 

We were also super lucky because we closed on our house on a Friday and got our keys the same day, which doesn’t always happen in North Carolina because of the legal process here. 

Even though we had no furniture, food, or toilet paper, we booked it to the house as soon as we got the call. Just thirty minutes before the courts closed, our realtor called us to tell us that the house was officially ours! We drove through the rain and pulled up outside just after five. Will even insisted on carrying me over the threshold. It was amazing. 

We spent the evening at the grocery store buying toilet paper and frozen lasagna, and then back in our house to just soak in every foot of its perfections. 

We are so excited to make it our own. To fill it, and decorate it, and host in it. It is our favorite investment, and we are so very happy. 

Until next time,
Jamie out. 

We bought a house! We bought a house!

my car was totaled on our cross country move

On the first day of our cross-country move, in a small town in New Mexico, my tiny car was rear ended as we were attempting to pull into a restaurant for dinner.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

Earlier that day

We were in Arizona for four months, exploring and working and living in a hotel.  We booked it out from North Carolina in June, driving our two tiny cars packed to the brim across the country over three and a half days in order to get a good hotel room.  We were able to snag a suite, with a kitchenette, separate bedroom, and couches for comfy movie nights.  I took advantage of our space and went through a full workout program during our stay.  I worked out five days a week for about an hour every day and got some abs by the end.

When it was time to leave, we were definitely a little sad.  We had made great friends and connections, not to mention all of the authentic Mexican food and National Parks to explore.  If you have been following my blog you know all about our adventures and how much we loved our time in the desert.  Granted, my whole family is in North Carolina and we have an incredible support group on the east coast, so we were definitely excited to head home as well.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

We weren’t able to leave town until the afternoon.  We packed up our cars, checked out of our hotel, said goodbye to our friends and had a quick lunch at Subway.  We sent texts to all of our family and friends to let them know we were hitting the road.  I promised my mom I would let her know once we arrived at our hotel for the evening.  Then we set off into the desert, going through our last border patrol check and peacing out toward the mountains.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

We stopped in a tiny town in New Mexico and pulled into a parking lot to check our map and decide where to eat.  We settled on a nearby local restaurant that had great reviews online.  After turning back out onto the 25 mile per hour road, we drove a little ways and then turned left on another road.  We stopped, with our left blinkers on, intending to turn into the restaurant’s parking lot.

That’s when I got hit.

my car was totaled on our cross country move

Suddenly my head flew backward and my car lurched forward and my heart and lungs seemed to compress in my chest behind the tightened seatbelt.  My arms were glued to the steering wheel and as I began to comprehend what had happened, and my car lurched forward again, I slammed my feet on the brakes in a feeble attempt to avoid hitting Will’s car, which was directly in front of me.

Luckily, I didn’t hit Will.  He waved to me, indicating he was going to pull into the parking lot.  I rolled down my window to look back at the driver who hit me to see if he was okay.  He was in a huge truck.  My tiny Mazda hadn’t stood a chance.  

I shakily yelled back at him, “Are you okay?”  But I doubt he heard me.  I waved at him a few times, and indicated two or three times that I was going to pull into the parking lot to get us out of the road.  I tested my car and it seemed okay to drive, so I cautiously pulled into the parking lot and to the side to stop.  Will ran to my window and immediately asked if I was okay.  I started crying, I think simply from adrenaline and shock.  Also just because I cry over every strong emotion.  I got out of my car and we hugged.  That’s when we finally looked around for the other driver.

He wasn’t there.

Another shock.  It was a hit and run.  And it had happened to me.

The witnesses outside were shocked as well.  The restaurant owners brought us water.  A paramedic heard the crunch of my tiny car as it was hit, so he and his fellow paramedic came immediately and called the police for us.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move

Guys, I want to emphasize something right now.  Every single person we encountered on this journey was amazing.  They answered our questions, helped us however they could, and were on our team.  Even though we went through something hard (although unfortunately not uncommon), we did our best to treat everyone with respect while at the same time emphasizing our situation and being proactive in getting everything accomplished.  

We were in the middle of/on the first day of our cross country move.  We were not from New Mexico, we had no permanent address, and we were two thousand miles from our destination.  

As we waited for a tow truck, a truck pulled up and a man and his son got out, heading directly over to the police.  There was a small dent in the front bumper of the truck.  I nudged Will, who was on the phone with insurance.  

I want to protect involved individuals, so I’m not going to hand out specific here, but let’s just say that the dad of the driver who hit me deserves an award.  They came back, and we shook hands, and they apologized, and their insurance has been the bomb.

What a crazy rollercoaster of a night!

The tow truck driver, on arrival, inspected my car and told me it was okay to drive to Las Cruces.  Will asked if he could drive my Mazda for me and I took his little Fiesta.  We stopped for a quick dinner, got a hotel room, unpacked my car, and then went to the ER to get me checked out.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

I got x-rays of my right wrist and they did an exam but determined nothing was broken or bruised.  They gave me a shot for pain and a prescription for muscle relaxers, and advised that I not take more than half a pill at night if I was planning on driving the next day.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

The following day was Friday and insurance claims adjusters don’t really work on the weekend.  We had one day to get everything sorted out, otherwise we were going to be stuck in New Mexico all weekend.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

To make a long story and a long day a lot shorter, we were able to meet with an insurance claims adjuster that afternoon and after working with us for a few hours, he determined that my car was a total loss.

Not to be dramatic, but literally six years to the day after I bought her, my baby died.

my car was totaled on our cross country move
Throwback to the day after I brought her home.

On one hand this was much more convenient.  We didn’t have to figure out how to get my car repaired and then to North Carolina, or how to get to North Carolina and then repaired.  Having it be a total loss meant that insurance could give us a check and a rental car and we could drive off into the sunset.

Which is pretty much exactly what we did.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

It was a bitter sweet moment, and I may have shed some tears as we said goodbye to my Mazda and peaced out in the HUGE Ford F-250 rental car (the only car they had on the lot for us).  At least we knew we could fit all of the stuff that was inside my car into the truck.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

We stopped and indulged a little for dinner at Cracker Barrel, drowning our sorrows in comfort food and consoling ourselves that the total loss was ultimately in our favor because we could finally get back on the road.

After dinner we drove a couple hours into Texas just to get somewhere.  I took half a muscle relaxer once we got to our hotel room and we went to sleep almost immediately.  It had been a crazy 28 hours.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

The rest of our trip was absolutely uneventful.  We ate dinner one night at the fanciest Panera I have ever seen.  We still listened to podcasts and stopped for Subway, gas station dinners, and tiny donuts.  Will drove the truck (and LOVED every minute of it) and I drove his car.  We took a different route home than we had planned in order to save some time.  Our favorite hotel was a La Quinta somewhere near the eastern border of Texas.  Our room had crazy tall ceilings and was exceptionally nice.

All in all, even after arriving back home in North Carolina, purchasing a new car, and other grand adventures we have been on since coming back, we are grateful.  We don’t know God’s purpose yet in the accident, and maybe we never will.  Sometimes everything isn’t about us.  Maybe it is about someone we encountered along the journey.  

Or maybe for us, it was about having each other and learning to cope together in a stressful situation.  Having Will by my side through all of it was the greatest blessing.  It was much less stressful to go through it with him and while I would rather never total a car again, I would gladly say I’m excited to do life with my husband, especially during the rough patches of life.

Until next time,
Jamie out

our top 10 tips for surviving a road trip with your spouse

Will and I have been on five road trips since we got married almost seven months ago. I’m not talking two hour drives for a day trip, either. I’m talking two cross country moves and three road-freaking-trips.

When we moved out to Arizona in June we had been married for two months. We were blessed enough to have already had a honeymoon, but this four month journey in the desert kind of felt like a second go around. We were about to experience a whole lot of just each other. Not a whole lot of family, friends, or busy lives to distract us. 

We definitely took advantage of our distraction free time. Our first weekend in Arizona, we drove to Utah to visit Will’s family and celebrate his mom’s birthday. We spent almost every weekend in Tucson or at a National Park. Over Labor Day we road tripped to the Grand Canyon. Over Columbus Day we trekked out to San Diego. And by Halloween we moved back home to North Carolina. 

We’ve made some good and bad discoveries about road trips over the past few months and want to share our top ten tips for surviving road trips with your spouse.

Plan the trip together 

Maybe one of you is accustomed to leaving at five am, while the other person thinks nine o’clock is reasonable.  Maybe one of you wants to push and drive fourteen, eighteen, twenty-four hours in a day, while the other person considers six to eight hours a solid day of driving.  

These are all completely normal things, but if you don’t talk about expectations ahead of time, you WILL be shocked when your spouse thinks that driving straight through the night is 100% happening.  

Talk about the foreseeable things during the road trip planning process.  If you can’t plan the entire trip together (because of work, or whatever other reason), at least take some time to sit down and talk it out.  Make sure you understand each other’s expectations up front.  

How many days do you expect to be on the road?  Will you be staying in hotels, with friends and relatives, or camping?  Is stopping for sight seeing an option, or is time more pressing?  

Sit down and talk about these, and other foreseeable things before you leave.

Manage the snack and beverage situation

When I get bored, I like to eat.  Having snacks at my fingertips while on the road is crucial, but also dangerous.  The good news is that you’re in control of yourself, and that you have influence over your partnership.  You and your spouse are literally the people purchasing your snacks for the road.  You can absolutely be prepared.

Will and I go to the grocery store together.  We decide together what we want.  I know I’ll want chocolate.  We’ll both want something salty.  Throwing in healthy options is a positive thing.  We bring some Gatorade in addition to water to make sure we will stay hydrated.  

I consider having snacks for a road trip to be non-negotiable, but I do understand the difference between needing a pick-me-up and needing a meal.  Make sure you have discussed with one another whether or not you’ll be packing your own meals to bring, or if you’ll be stopping along the route.  Will and I like to stop at Subway for healthy, inexpensive options.  I also love throwing a side salad onto fast food meals to get some veggies while on the road. 

Eat the Hostess Donuts

Speaking of eating healthy while on the road, my personal cheat are those tiny little chocolate Hostess donuts you can get at every gas station.  Every morning, I treat myself at the first gas station we stop at with a package of donuts to reward myself for being a good sport about sitting still all day.  

I know I just spouted all this stuff at you about you being the one in control and that you can bring the healthy snack options.  But fo real, these Hostess donuts are an absolute necessity and Will agrees with me completely.  

Create your own custom playlist

If you’re anything like me, you have been creating your own playlists on iTunes and/or Spotify for years.  You hear a song, you think, “That’s my jam!” and you add that piece of gold to your playlist.  

At the start of every road trip I have taken since college, we begin every day with “Circle Of Life” from the Lion King, followed by upbeat songs and Disney princess classics.  Belting it out whether or not you know all the words is a given.

In the weeks leading up to your road trip, throw some songs in a playlist.  Think of songs your spouse loves and put them on there.  The song you danced to at your wedding?  Definitely.  That song from high school you remember all the lyrics to?  Add it!  This is not the time to be sophisticated.  This is absolutely the time for sing alongs, road trip dance parties, and keeping your eyelids propped open by the mere sound of high school’s nostalgic rhythms coming out of your sound system.  

Use Walkie-Talkies

Are you and your spouse going to be driving in different cars?  Walkie-talkies are absolutely, 100% necessary.  Let’s think about it—the likelihood of you being more than a mile apart from one another is slim to none while you’re on the road, talking on your hand held phone is illegal in most states, and in the event that your car is not equipped with blu-tooth (like mine), communicating while driving can get tricky.

Not with walkie-talkies!  Head down to Walmart and pick up a pair.  Bring some extra batteries on the road and viola!  You can talk about a rad podcast you just listened to, exclaim over some huge bird you just saw, or share navigation tips with just the push of a button.

Will and I have code names.  He’s Captain American and I’m Raptor One.  

Listen to podcasts

Speaking of podcasts, remember when you were a kid and you would be driving somewhere and all your parents wanted to listen to was some boring radio show or news broadcast?  I would be sitting in the back being like, “Why can’t we just listen to music instead of this boring stuff?”

When Will and I moved across the country, we both took separate cars, so we could listen to whatever we wanted to.  I could sing as loud and as long as I wanted and he could listen to as many political podcasts as his heart desired.  Once we started road tripping together in the same car, it changed things.

The good news is that we are a team and a partnership.  We’re also BFFs so we occasionally share interests.  We attempt to be considerate of each other and listen to things that interest both of us.  

On the move out to Arizona we both fell in love with podcasts, and the great news is that podcasts are completely free for you to listen to.  You can listen to what you want, when you want, and there are thousands of shows to pick from.  You can even download them when you’re connected to wifi and listen to them later, so you don’t use your data.  See?  Free.

My favorite podcasts lately are the SHE podcast, ONE Extraordinary Marriage, and Elevation with Steven Furtick.  I saved up several shows for our move back to North Carolina and had a blast.

Listen to each other’s needs while on the road

We all have bladders and stomachs.  We all get dehydrated or car sick.  We all have expectations for how our day is going to go.  

My point is, you’re both different and come from different driving experiences from before your relationship.  Don’t allow your need to get where you’re going steamroll your relationship.  When you’re on the road, listen to each other’s needs and allow your partner to be human.  Chances are, arriving later than planned will not endanger or hurt someone.  They may just… alter your plans.  That’s it.  

I can easily go for four or five hours without stopping while on the road, unless the car needs gas.  Will, on the other hand, needs to get out of the car every couple hours to simply stretch his legs.  When we moved to Arizona two months after getting married, this actually really annoyed me.  I didn’t understand why we could never drive for longer than three hours without stopping.  It wasn’t until months later that Will shared how restless his legs and body would get, and that’s something I can completely understand!

The reality is, stopping for ten to fifteen minutes at a gas station will not ruin the trip.  In fact, it might enhance and benefit the experience for your spouse.  Accept the humanity of your spouse and if it’s something that annoys you, realize that they can’t control it either.  It’s just a need that they have, and that is 100% okay.  Show them some love and grace.

Be willing to drive

I grew up in a family where my dad drives basically everywhere.  It is very rare that my mom will hop behind the wheel when both of my parents are in the same car, even while on a road trip.  (Side note—there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, OR if your family was completely different.  I’m just saying, this is my family.)

Will and I are very similar, but this is still an expectation I revisit occasionally in our relationship.  I try to thank him often for when he drives for us, especially if he drove a long way or at the end of a tiring day.  I’ll ask if he’s okay to drive, not as a sign of disrespect, but because if he needs me to drive instead, I would love to serve him in that way.

If in your relationship, one of you tends to drive more than the other, maybe discuss that expectation before you leave for your road trip.  Ask if your spouse wants to drive the most, or if they would like to split it more equally.  Even if you don’t talk about it ahead of time and your spouse asks you to drive while you’re in the middle of your trip, be okay and willing to step up and help.  

On the flip side, if you normally do all the driving, but expect to want to share that responsibility on the road trip, lovingly bring the idea up ahead of time.  Make sure your spouse knows how they can serve you.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask!  If you’re too tired to drive, it is absolutely okay to ask your partner to step up!

Pray over your journey

I actually think that this is the most important thing.  Just like praying in everyday life, over tough situations and illnesses, or over a newly purchased home, praying over your trip should be something you do every time.  Set the intention now, whether it’s before you leave the house or as soon as you sit in the car.  

I try to pray over everything.  Over our own personal and bodily safety, over our own alertness and health, over the safety of our vehicles and their mechanics, and that we will be surrounded by alert and competent drivers.  In everything, God’s plan is highest and His will be done.

Don’t total your car

We did this, when we were driving from Arizona to North Carolina.  On our first day of driving I got rear ended in a tiny town in New Mexico.  

We had been planning on taking a more northern route home, to see friends and family and to frolic in the fall foliage of the mountains.  Instead we ended up staying in New Mexico for about twenty-four more hours while we sorted everything out with insurance on a Friday before the weekend.  The car being a total loss was in our favor because did not have to figure out how to repair it and transport it back home.

Obviously, not being at fault in this situation, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.  It just happened.  I can replay the scenario countless times, realizing had we not tried to stop for dinner, had we not pulled into that parking lot, had we not done A, B, C, D then this would not have happened and our lives would be very different.  Luckily I trust in someone bigger and greater than myself and I know that God’s Got This.  

I will blog more about the accident later.  This blog post is not about that.  It is about this: always keep proof of insurance in your car.  Always have good insurance that will take care of you in the case of an accident because I don’t care who you are, it WILL happen to you one of these days.  Be on your spouse’s team.  Even if they are at fault, they probably weren’t planning on getting in a car accident, especially when you are 2,000 miles from home.  Recognize that you only have control over certain things.  Explain your situation to the insurance people.  Get people on your team.  They will move mountains for you if you treat them with respect and understanding.  You have been through something tough and if you treat them right, they will do what they can to make this situation a little easier.

But if at all possible, avoid this situation.  It is way too complicated when you are far away from home.

To all of you, I wish you safe and fun road trips with your spouse!  They can absolutely be great experiences, especially if you make the most of them.  

Have more tips for your fellow travelers?  Leave it in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

a cacti goodbye to Arizona

Arizona, what do we say?  We had an absolute blast.  Four months is just not enough time to really explore and get to know you.  

For our last Saturday in the desert, we drove out to Saguaro National Park to see the nation’s largest cacti.  Little known fact, they are actually called saguaros.  Will had the great idea to drive out to see them around golden hour and sunset, and then to have a farewell dinner in Tucson.  

We stamped our National Parks Passports at their visitor center, drove a dirt road loop, and took photos on the side of the road as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Instead of embellishing this experience with words, I think that I will allow our photos to do the talking this time around.  If you find yourself in Tucson at any point in the future, Saguaro National Park should be high on your list of things to experience.  

A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona // Saguaro National Park

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and let us know in the comments!  If you haven’t joined the family yet, hit that subscribe button and we’ll see you next time!

Until then,

Jamie out.

San Diego, Zoos, and Dolphins

Being out in Arizona has been an absolute blast.  We have been able to explore so many different places!  Over Columbus Day weekend we had the opportunity to visit Will’s brother and his family in San Diego for a few days.

San Diego 2018

Friday

We left pretty early in the morning, making sure to get in a good breakfast, and of course running into more of our dinosaur friends on the road.  If there’s one thing I’m going to miss about the desert, it’s how many dinosaurs there are hanging around.

Lunch was, obviously, a very satisfying stop at In-N-Out.  I’m already internally crying about the east coast not having my animal style burger fix.

We got to the Shugart house in late afternoon and had a fantastic evening catching up with John, Kristina, and our nieces.  The boys burned things, we ate Mexican food, and our hearts were happy.

San Diego 2018

Saturday

We indulged in the traditional Shugart breakfast the following morning.  I love my cheesy eggs, fancy bacon, and delicious waffles, but this girl canNOT get enough potatoes.   They’re so good!  Will is also hardcore into potatoes for breakfast so our marriage was basically a match made in heaven.

San Diego 2018

SeaWorld

Some of you may not know this, but I actually used to live in San Diego.  For almost five years I called southern California home and I lived right across the bay from SeaWorld San Diego for some time.  I could almost see their evening fireworks display every night during the summer from my back patio.  

Despite being so close, I never visited while I lived there, so taking the opportunity while we were in town was top of the list.  Having now visited, I highly recommend going to SeaWorld if you have the opportunity.  It is the best aquarium you have ever been to on steroids.

The Sea Lions were great.  You could buy fish to feed them and the birds would always swoop in to try and steal them.

San Diego 2018

I have always seen pictures and videos of these cool underwater walkways at aquariums but have never been in one before!  It was so cool!  Even though I am usually terrified of sharks, it was just so awesome that I wasn’t afraid at all.  

We saw several types of sharks just sitting still on the bottom.  I didn’t know they could do that!  Apparently certain species of sharks can keep water moving through their gills by a pumping motion of their pharynx, so they don’t have to keep moving.

San Diego 2018 San Diego 2018

After we saw the sharks, we went to the Dolphin Encounter show.

San Diego 2018

I’m not super into splash zones or walking around in sopping wet clothes, so Will was a champ and let me hide behind him when the dolphins soaked us.  Besides that it was an excellent show.  It was fun to see the relationship between the dolphins and trainers.  There was even a big whale that took part in the show, and its personality was so cute.  It reminded me of a giant golden retriever.

San Diego 2018

Next up we rode some rides.  The one on the left is the first rollercoaster Will and I have been on together!  I had plenty of anxiety leading up to it while we were waiting in line because we didn’t put our phones in the available lockers.  Anyone else with anxiety get super stressed about the small things sometimes?  Will saved the day with his pockets, and despite lots of screaming on my part, it was a seriously excellent rollercoaster.  

I bowed out on the Atlantis ride, though, because I was a little cold and didn’t feel like getting wet again.  

San Diego 2018

I hung out with my niece as everyone else took turns riding.  We made sure to stand outside the splash zone while we watched everyone come down, and then went to look at the fishies and sting rays for a while.

San Diego 2018

My five year old niece took the photo on the right.  She’ll be a photographer in no time.

San Diego 2018

As the afternoon turned into evening, and the unnaturally chilly San Diego day seeped into our bones, we stopped by a Starbucks for coffees and hot chocolates to warm up while we waiting in line for our next adventure.

Confession time: Will’s fave from Starbucks is the caramel frappe.  He claims this is the best one he had ever had.  Way to go, SeaWorld Starbucks.

San Diego 2018

Their Orca show has, apparently, changed a lot.  It is now primarily an educational show where they teach you all about the different kinds of Killer Whales and absolutely no one gets in the water with them.

San Diego 2018

After the show, we went down below to watch the Orcas swim for a little while.  

Will and I have taken to getting magnets for every state we have been through, or for significant places we have visited.  We also like getting Christmas ornaments, but in SeaWorld we opted for the Orca fridge magnet.  They are seriously majestic animals.

San Diego 2018

I can’t pick a favorite thing we did in SeaWorld because it was all really good.  I definitely recommend a visit the next time you’re in San Diego.

When we left the park, we grabbed some dinner and then went back to John and Kristina’s.

San Diego 2018

Sunday

On Sunday morning we went to church, where they had coffee and donuts available beforehand.  That’s my kind of church!  

Afterwards, we went out for brunch to Broken Yolk with the Shugarts and Kristina’s family.  You can never have too much breakfast food.

San Diego 2018 San Diego 2018

San Diego Zoo

Okay, if you think me never going to SeaWorld while I lived in San Diego is bad, listen to this.  Will had never been to a zoo before.  In his life.  Ever.  

When we heard that we knew that we absolutely needed to visit one of the best zoos in the world—the San Diego Zoo.

And don’t worry—I definitely changed into good walking shoes before we went in the park.

San Diego 2018 San Diego 2018

It was so COOL to get to share that moment with Will.  His first time seeing rhinos, giraffes, elephants, lions, gorillas, etc.  He even broke out his phone to take his own pictures and video, which does not happen very often, folks.

San Diego 2018 San Diego 2018

The gorilla was so cute!  A woman played a gorilla video on her phone and it just sat there and watched the whole thing.  

We power walked through Africa, the arctic, stopped for some ice cream, and ended at the orangutans, which were my favorites of the day.  Will’s favorite was the gorilla.  

San Diego 2018

After a few hours in the zoo, Will and I took off for a little while so that I could show him all of my old stomping grounds.  We drove up to north county and I showed him a few places I lived, worked, and shopped for groceries, before we headed back south to Pacific Beach.  We drove by my old townhouse and then parked and ran to the beach just in time to watch the last rays of light from the sunset.  It was such a special moment to be able to share with him.  

San Diego 2018

Still feeling all grateful and mushy, we stopped at a restaurant called Fat Fish by the pier to get dinner.  It was super delicious and special.  

San Diego 2018

Monday

We had a great and relaxing morning with the family before we got back on the road.  We stopped a few hours into our drive to spend a some time with the sand dunes.  Will had never seen sand dunes before!  Yet another cool moment to share with him!  They were pretty big, and super white.  It doesn’t take greenery or oceans for something to be beautiful.  

San Diego 2018

We had a fantastic trip and whirlwind weekend with the family.  There is so much to do in San Diego, it actually became overwhelming for me at one point because I realized that there is so much I want to share with Will.  I’m so grateful that we had this time with family and with San Diego before we head back to the east coast.  It did a lot of good for my soul.

Have you ever been to San Diego?  What was your favorite part?  The food is pretty high on my list!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family by hitting that subscribe button if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out