Whitakers Head West 2016: Part One

You can read all about our journey from Texas to California, and back, in parts onetwo, threefour, five and six

Remember that time when we went on an epic road trip, like 3,600 miles epic, and I forgot to tell you all about it?

I’m here to rectify that.

I finally went through all 1,467 photos (yes, I counted) and found the very best ones and some fuh-nny outtakes just for y’all. California, and everywhere in between, LET’S DO THIS.

Back in May (I think), my friend Kendra posted on Instagram about her home reno, I offered my painting skills, she told me I could come anytime, I said “seriously?”, she said “yes!” and so we did. We drove to California. To stay with someone I’d never met in real life. Isn’t the internet a weird, wonderful place? We also stayed with good friends and family, so we aren’t that crazy.

The Mr. and I started mapping and planning and dreaming and saving. And, on July 22, we were wheels up for Californ-i-a. It did, however, take us an entire day just to get out of the state of Texas. Yep, 9.5 hours to El Paso. Lord, Texas is big. We made the nine-day trip affordable by staying with friends and family, and stopping at pretty much every rest stop along every interstate, with a cooler in tow.

Before leaving the house, I doused the kids with Holy Water. Normal people do that, right? I like to think of it as part blessing/part exorcism. Doesn’t hurt. We made a quick stop in Mason to pray and potty at St. Joseph Mission as it’s a pilgrimage site in our diocese for the Pope’s Year of Mercy. Layman’s terms? We filled up on Jesus because we knew we were going to need Him on our trip.

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This was the first of eleventy-billion rest stop, stops. Oh, and the number of you surprised that John Paul climbed on top of the picnic roof? ZERO. “Don’t worry, Mom. I won’t crack my head open,” he said. “Don’t be so cocky dude, I’ve seen it happen,” I replied.

Pro tip: Pack a reusable plastic tablecloth to use at roadside parks. That thing has seen some serious miles and it keeps the germophobe in me at bay.

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{Because I know someone’s going to ask, YES. Yes my kids fought, yes we got tired and punchy, yes we had some dicey moments. How did we survive without drinking heavily and auctioning off the kids? I’ll dish on that next week.}

Pretty weary and ready for a good night’s sleep, we stopped for the night in El Paso. But, not before stopping in at my aunt and uncle’s jewelry store on the west side of El Paso. There is a huge back story here, but it needs to be told over margaritas. Short story is I never, ever, thought my uncle would convert to Catholicism, much less have a Catholic-based jewelry store. God is funny and awesome like that. Wait a second, is that Pope Francis in the window?!?

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My family has owned and worked in jewelry stores for two generations so watching the kids have a blast seeing everything sure brought back some great memories of my childhood. Uncle Dee, my apologies for the 1-million questions you got. I was just exited to hug your neck, get my rings cleaned and head to your house for a home-cooked meal.

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It’s hard to fully articulate just how much I love these two. Uncle Dee is my dad’s youngest sibling/brother and the baby of six. And, when I need a prayer request to go straight to God, I always ask my aunt. She is a powerful prayer warrior. We adore them and I’m so glad we started our journey west with a stop at their house!

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Tomorrow, we almost die in Devil’s Canyon before hitting paradise. Your day two, coming soon.


  1. Blair on September 2, 2016 at 7:07 am

    Looking forward to following this, as we figure out if we might actually be able to pull off a CA trip next summer. Problem is I’ll have a 6 month-old! We survived our first road trip in May, to FL, but it wasn’t pretty 😉

  2. Beth (A Mom's Life) on September 2, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Looks like the beginning of a great trip! Looking forward to hearing more!

  3. Rozella on September 2, 2016 at 8:43 am

    You were in my neck of the woods! I was born and raised in El Paso and grew up in the Upper Valley ((westside of town) Looking forward to “the rest of the story”

  4. Nicole on September 2, 2016 at 9:00 am

    And I am having a hard time convincing the hubby to take a road trip where our final destination would be a whopping 8 hours away… We did 3 hours last week, so what’s 5 more hours – right? Can’t wait to hear more about your epic adventure and learn all of your tricks.

    I do love that plastic tablecloth idea. We arrived at our hotel, but as expected, our room wasn’t ready. I was prepared with a cooler and lunch, but that tablecloth would have been a welcome addition to my packing list.

  5. Maureen Davis on September 2, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Beautiful pictures thanks God bless. Maureen

  6. Gina Hernandez on September 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    We are from El Paso and yes! We drive 11 hours from south Houston to El Paso once or even twice a year!!! But we split it in 2 days since we also have 6 kiddos!!! When I heard you were going west we were on our way there, I was wondering how your trip went. I’m glad you are sharing your trip!! We went all the way to AZ, !!! Keep sharing please!!!

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