Sunday, June 14, 2015

O'Briens Going For Broke: Kicking Off The Road Trip With Some Tears!

As promised I am going to be documenting the “O’Briens Going For Broke Road Trip” (aka #obriensgoingforbroke on social media) as often as I can… The good, the bad and everything in between. I will make this blog a travel diary of sorts, maybe even inspiring a family or two to do a cross country road trip of their own… Or call off the one they had planned, who knows! Either way, I hope you will follow us on this journey from Torrance, Ca to Florida and back! I am hoping to post a couple of times a week for the next 50 days of our travels.

Some background. My husband has owned his 1959 Chevy for over 13 years. He has fully restored it and made it in to the beauty it is today, he is a typical "old car guy" who loves to be under the car fine tuning as we go. We have taken it to both Oregon when our oldest was a year, as well as a trip to Austin, TX 2 years ago with both kids for the Lone Star Roundup Car Show. After the Texas trip Shawn replaced the motor, so we’re hoping for smooth travels but of course- the title of our trip “Going for Broke” covers a lot of areas; financially, mechanically and maritally! I assure you we are not two idiots who just hit the road... We (as in Shawn) have planned this trip for months and are planning for adventure in both car troubles and wanting to kill each other at least a few times. Some people have asked why we didn't just take our Honda CRV. If you're asking that stop reading this now. You're fired from the blog.

We both love to road trip and feel it is truly the best way to take the family on vacation. In our whopping 19 days of “dating” before tying the knot, we actually talked a good deal about road tripping and how it is a passion of each of ours to one day do a cross country trip with our families. Enter that day!

Thank you to BOMONSTER for the awesome set of family tees to kick off our trip!

After some struggles this year in our jobs, housing and ultimately marriage- my husband decided to leave his church job in Santa Barbara where we’d recently moved (less than a year and a half before) and move back “home” to Los Angeles (South Bay) after 7 years of being away.

We came to the conclusion that before we both go back in to the job search we will spend the summer on the road with our kids (Cormac, 6 and Birdie, almost 4) visiting friends, national parks, a few motels and a lot of camping along the way. Shawn is getting his doctorate through a seminary in Chicago so we’ll be stopping there for a week (June 21st-26th) and then moving on from there to Florida… The trip spans us across 23-24 states (depending on weather), and our climax is celebrating our daughter’s 4th birthday at Disney World!


As I write this first post I’m sitting poolside at the Treasure Island hotel in Las Vegas. It’s a weird mix between Spring Break style partiers and families with young kids. Awkward for both parties indeed. Watching your 3 year old daughter pelvic thrust to “All the Single Ladies” while she takes notes from a bunch of 21 year olds… Slightly terrifying. However, I am not complaining as this will be [by far] the nicest place we stay on our 7 week travels across the US. This was initially going to be a birthday trip for my mother-in-law to kick off our trip, but she will now be joining us at another leg on the journey and therefore skipped Vegas and we reaped the benefits of the room… Thank you Toni!

Getting in to the Treasure Island wasn’t without adventure, but we’ll get there in a minute.

First, let’s talk about traveling with two kids and breaking them in to the thought of being on the road for 50 days in some rather ungodly heat. Friday was hot, especially considering it was our first day on the road. No easing in at 104, put it that way. After the kids had napped and were kicking in with the first of something like 10,000, “are we there yets” I offered up a game of “Travel Bingo”. We not only purchased a set of these at AAA while planning for the trip, we were also given a set as well as our friend MADE us a set. So we are pretty much Travel Bingo’d out and it was time to put it to good use.

If you know Shawn and I, you know we’re both incredibly competitive. Like, when our efforts our combined it can be downright frightening for anyone going up against us and when pitted against each other, well… It is taken to a level of intensity few can handle being around.

Our kids however- used to it.

So enter the ol’ family “boys vs. girls” version of Travel Bingo. It would have been just me against Cormac but Shawn claimed Cormac, “couldn’t see as well as me from the back seat”, so he had to join forces with him. I am not in the least scared of my opponents for I am a fearless competitor. I took Birdie so she wouldn’t be left out, which is pretty much like asking a blind person to join your team… (No offense Bird but for goodness sakes how did you not see the helicopter out YOUR WINDOW). Moving on… The boys team was “winning” with more transportation objects spotted and I decided I needed a strategy. Enter the “I-don’t-really-care-anymore” method of winning where you start talking about lots of unrelated things like the heat, future trip accommodations, etc. to distract your competitor. All the while having one transportation object in mind, and focusing on the road around you completely. Then BAM, it happened… I gave a loud, “MOTORCYCLE!! call and tie game. All I now needed now was a police car and the game would be mine. You’d think Nevada would have its fair share of cops but holy cow it took a solid 20 minutes to come across one… And actually Shawn spotted it first (milliseconds people) but rules are rules and I yelled “POLICE CAR!”, pushed the wooden game door closed and then gave a solid “BINGO!” call first, hence I AM THE WINNER.

It was a great feeling, I will not lie.

Let’s take a break for a moment so I can tell you a little something about my kid’s personalities. If you know us or have followed the blog for any amount of time you know that Cormac is my easy child and Birdie is well, a tad bit harder to parent. Cormac is the kid that you say something to once and he listens without issue. If you have to discipline him, he is easily corrected and has his feelings hurt if a voice is raised.

Birdie on the other hand is a force to be reckoned with. She is the second born and on any given day if you ask her to do something, you will need to repeat your request on average 4 times. At that point there’s a 50/50 chance she will either yell NO or just completely ignore you and do whatever it was you were asking her not to do. It is the type of personality that makes you so happy she didn’t come first for fear you’d have only decided to have one child.

Anyway, back to Travel Bingo.  It is rare we see Cormac’s ugly side… I’d say it comes out only about once every other month or so. But when it does make it’s uncommon entrance in to the world, it is special on every level imaginable.

Note to Self: Beating your son at the first game of Travel Bingo played on a 7 week road trip... Let’s just say I’ve had better ideas. Who knew? After a fair amount of gloating on my part, Cormac burst in to tears- the big, dramatic kind. For FOURTY FIVE MINUTES. He threw a full on tantrum, complete with kicking, snot and claiming he was car sick. (More like he was sick he lost to his mom!) He claimed, “cheating” and an “unfair view” enough to make a mom wish she’d never have began the game... Not this mom though!

After finally getting within view of the Strip, he calmed down and we were able to get back to reality… (The reality that mom is a fierce competitor and will not loose for the sake of keeping the peace!)

Upon getting in to Treasure Island we decided that we would lay our bags in the lobby (aka Casino) and Birdie and I would camp out while the boys checked in. Well the security guard threatening me with a $5,000 fine for having my 3 year old in a Casino… That put a damper on the idea. I had to call Shawn out of an LAX style check-in line to come help us move our luggage. Waiting in the line all over again, we finally got to the front where they could not check us in without Shawn's mom, the card holder there to confirm the room. I had to get a little, “Can I speak to your manager?” on the poor hotel dude but in the end we worked it out. Our bored kids literally practicing gymnastics routines in the hotel lobby (no they’ve never taken gymnastics). I apologize to any hotel guests whom my daughter crashed in to with her version of a cartwheel.

Today is Day Three and we’re traveling from Saint George, Utah to Zion National Park.

As a lot of you know who follow me on IG and FB... Day Two was an adventure of epic proportions! I'll try and blog about it soon but since we're camping this week wifi isn't always available (I stopped at a McDonald's to post this!). Get on Instagram and add me if you want more updates!

Thanks for following along, we appreciate your prayers and moral support! 

xo road trip or die xo


  1. You folks are simply too cool for words. Glad to hear you got the axle back into place, Shawn. Kenna, you have no idea of the admiration that both Marla and I have for you and your family. You guys absolutely ROCK! :)

  2. your face at winning bingo... haha!!
    and YES, to having the second child second, or else there would have been no second. O.o


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