America, the Beautiful

We had the amazing opportunity to take a 15 day road trip out west this summer. Just loading these pictures today makes me want to do it all over again.

Over the 15 days, we spent more than 72 hours in the car and traveled over 4,000 miles. When I tell most people that, they look at me like I am crazy. Everyone asks how we survived the trip with 3 kids, aged 6 and under, and no electronics other than books on CD, on a trip like that.

The truth is, although we had a few hiccups and moments of frustration and tension, we didn’t just survive. Our family thrived on this trip. It was a tremendous blessing to be able to spend 15 straight days with my husband and kids as we visited family and saw amazing sites like Yellowstone National Park and Mt. Rushmore. We were able to laugh, play, and eat (and eat and eat) with family we only get to see every few years. In fact, my in laws got to hold our baby boy for the first time. Friendships with cousins were forged over trampolines, water parks, and late night viewing of Back to the Future.  My Uncle Don shared his love of nature and ancient artifacts, tangibly, with my kids who brought home fossils and arrow heads. We got to show our children are part of the country that was part of both mine and my husband’s childhoods. Our kids delighted to see bison, elk, even 2 Grizzly bears right outside the car window. We listened to the Little House books on CD as we traveled in some of the same country as the Ingalls family so many, many years ago and learned facts about every state we passed through. I could go on and on about the adventures we had.  We have memories that are “now funny, then scary” like J getting a rock stuck in her nose (she blew it out!) and C almost stepping backward into a hot spring (good thing for my cat-like reflexes).  I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

In this day and age, we are always in such a rush to get places and so distracted by technology as we get there. Would it have been easier to fly and rent a car? Maybe. Would it have been as special and memorable, probably not. Would my kids have liked to watch a movie in the car? Sure. But they would have missed all the beauty of God’ creation right in front of them.

Family vacations, especially the road trips, make up some of my favorite childhood memories. We are hoping to create the same opportunity for memories for our own children. One thing we do to make this possible and affordable is to forgo things in favor of experiences. I am currently typing this post on an external keyboard attached to my 8 year old Macbook that I spilled tea on 2 years ago. Sure, I would love a new computer. But I when I think that I could take that $2,000 to make a lifelong memory with my family, it’s suddenly very easy to look past my ridiculous computer set up and look forward to talking about getaways like this one in 25 years with my children and their children.

In this world, I feel closest to God in two places: with family and in nature. Combining both is healing for my soul and I am so thankful for chances like family vacations that combine the two.  Enjoy the pictures from some of the highlights of our trip, like Denver Children’s Museum,Idaho Falls, Yellowstone National Park, and Mt. Rushmore.  I pray that you take time to find rest and explore with your family too, and experience the many blessings that this brings.