Down Memory Lane - Family Vacation

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I remember wondering if my parents were brave or just crazy when they told us we would be going on a two week vacation in an RV rental. I was 15 at the time, a bossy mother hen to 4 younger siblings.

We weren’t always friends, the five of us. The two youngest, Chase and Randi fought every single day. They seemed to love it, doing things to irk one another, picking fights for no apparent reason. Clint was quick to choose a side and join in the commotion. The fights always ended in yelling, or tears. I was bossy perhaps, but didn’t like to fight. Dad’s temper was enough incentive for me on that subject, but somehow not enough for them. So I adopted the roll of peacemaker (more like enforcer of the peace with threats to get dad if it didn’t stop).

Try as I might to be the peacemaker, I could never seem to fully avoid fighting with my 11 year old sister, Whitney. She was so very different from me – dramatic, whiny and picky. And yet she was also so similar – thoughtful, tenacious and stubborn. In a battle of wills over, oh who knows what now, neither of us would back down. And so we usually ended up in a scuffle, scratched and covered in slap marks, crying. I truly hate that I fought physically with my sister.

Knowing all of this, you can now understand my surprise that my parents wanted us to drive and live in a 200 square foot RV for 2 whole weeks. I certainly didn’t want to be in such close quarters with my bickering family for that long. Why on earth would they want that?

They sat us down one evening and discussed the itinerary. We would drive Northeast into Wyoming, visiting Devils Tower. Then we would make our way into South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. Then we would travel west into the three corners area of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to visit Yellowstone National Park and from there back home. Those were the major stops, part of a neat little loop they had planned. They had charted out all the KOA’s we would camp at along the way.

The close quarters RV issue began to take a backseat to the exciting sights and KOA swimming pools. Maybe I would even meet a cute boy or two at one of the campgrounds.

The day of our departure arrived. We left, much later than scheduled of course, dad threatening to leave us all behind if we didn’t hurry out the door. Our first adventure came just seconds into the trip when dad started to back the RV out. That RV was the longest vehicle my dad had ever driven, and a full 5 minutes were spent backing up, turning the wheels slightly, pulling forward, backing up, repeat, so as not to plow over the sidewalk and into the neighbors garden across the street. After a few choice words from dad, and Clint whining that the trip was already ruined, we were off.

We saw what we set out to see, though not without incident of course. There was plenty of bickering and many more choice words and threats of turning around from dad, but more than that, I remember realizing we all had at least one thing in common. We all appreciated the magnificence of the earth and the beauties thereon. We each stared in awe at Old Faithful, belching and spewing hot liquid into the air. We gasped at the size of the Buffalo we saw grazing near the country road and speculated on what they must be thinking as they saw our giant noise making machine go by. We marveled at the naturally made tunnels we drove through in the South Dakota mountains. We walked the trail around Devil’s Tower, amazed and curious about how such a formation came to be, especially in the middle of that flat area.

I will never forget the sights we saw, but more importantly, I will never forget how I felt knowing that in spite of our differences, my family understood and shared my joy and awe.