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It's Time For My Next Adventure: New Vegas Chapter Loading!

Home / Experience / It's Time For My Next Adventure: New Vegas Chapter Loading!

By Melanie VanDerveer on June 11, 2024 at 3:00 PM EDT
Updated on June 12, 2024 at 7:24 AM EDT

It’s time for your next adventure.” 

That Robin Williams line from “Night at the Museum 3,” which you may also recognize as a popular TikTok sound, has been running through my head for weeks as I prepare to make the biggest move of my adult life.

This week, I’m getting in my car and driving from PA to Las Vegas to start my “next adventure.” My 18-year-old son, Jesse, is moving with me and will be attending UNLV in the fall. My 19-year-old, who’s not moving with us, is helping move us there along with his lifelong best friend.

So on Thursday, we hit the road - me, three teens, and two cats who hate being in the car - and begin our four-and-a-half day drive in search of our new chapter.

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Moving Isn't For The Weak!

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This has been a process, a year-long process, to be exact. Actually, for many years I've been manifesting this, but the actual planning started about a year ago.

I never really wanted to move to PA from NJ but I did 19 years ago with my then-husband and three-and-a-half kids (I was 3 months pregnant with my fourth when we moved). When I got divorced in 2015, I said I would stay in the area so my kids could have the stability I never had growing up and they could continue school with the same kids in the same school. But I always knew that once my youngest graduated high school, I would want to finally move.

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When Jesse decided he was going to go to college and wanted to go to his dream school, UNLV, I said if he does, I would move back to Vegas. I lived there during my teen years and my inner city girl has been craving a city life instead of the middle-of-the-woods life I’ve been living in.

I took Jesse to Vegas last summer to visit to see if he would like it before he applied to the school. We went during a literal heat wave and I thought to myself, ‘Did I just screw this up? It’s 117 degrees out.” But he loved it. He loved the campus and the city and ultimately chose to apply to UNLV.

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Closing One Chapter And Beginning A New One In Vegas

When he got his acceptance, I knew it was time to start planning.

We’re leaving a home we’ve been in for 19 years. That’s the longest I’ve ever been in one spot. And while I’m so ready for a new chapter out of the woods, it’s still such an incredibly emotional time.

Leaving my kids’ childhood home is way tougher than I ever imagined. I cry as I pack. I cry as I walk through my nearly empty home. I cry thinking of all the wildlife pals we’re leaving, who we feed daily. But I know this is what’s meant to be. 

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In addition to the sadness of leaving the only life I’ve known for so long, there’s excitement over what’s to come! But there’s also fear. And while I tell fear to shut up and sit down when it creeps in, it occasionally finds its way back in. It’s a daily battle to get my emotions leveled because there’s so much that goes into changing your entire life. 

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Life Moves Fast...

The fact that my kids are all adults now is the biggest realization that life moves fast. It doesn’t slow down for anyone.

While we were planning this move, we were also planning for Jesse to graduate high school. And then two days after he graduated, my oldest son got married. All at once, there's been so many amazing moments and tons of emotions. 

For any parent who has an adult child, they will tell you just how fast time moves. It feels like just yesterday they were starting kindergarten and now here we are in a new life. 

Every milestone flashes in my head at the speed of light - finding out I’m pregnant, that first ultrasound, birth, their first steps, starting school, getting their driver's license, graduating high school, graduating college, getting married, and everything in between - it’s just all a blip in my memory now. And I often wonder - HOW DID WE GET HERE SO FAST?

One thing no one ever prepares you for is living away from your kids. I’ve been a mom since 1996. The mom-life is all I know. And now my kids will all be in different states. This is going to be the hardest adjustment. HARDEST!

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Only Two More Sleeps Until We Start Our Trek To Vegas!

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To think that I’ve been planning this move for a full year now and the day is just about here is crazy to me. Tomorrow, we pick up the U-Haul and load the truck. We will be spending our last night in this house with nothing in the house, just us. 

Then when we wake up Thursday morning, we hit the road for our long cross-country trip. We’ve gone over various routes for months and finally landed on the one we are going to take. We planned our stops so that we’re driving eight to nine hours a day before hitting a hotel.

And while the thought of a cross-country road trip scares me for many reasons, I’m going to try to make the best of it and enjoy the scenery. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I plan to document along the way and share on my TikTok page.

This Isn't 'Goodbye', It's 'See You In Vegas!'

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Melanie VanDerveer

I’ve been saying goodbye to my PA friends for the past week and it’s been emotional. I know that the people I’m closest to will visit Vegas and since my 19-year-old son is staying in PA, I’ll be back at least once a year. While I’m sad about leaving the only life I’ve known for 19 years, I am super excited for what’s to come in Vegas.

Readers will get a lot more Vegas-based stories from me in the coming weeks. I plan to attend events, try out fun things in Vegas, and help visitors figure out where to stay, what to do, and how to vacation in Vegas in the best ways. The best is yet to come!

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Have you ever driven cross country and have tips that can help us? Are you a Vegas local who has story ideas for me? Or maybe you’re a parent going through something similar and have advice? Email me at

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