Every August -- the last few weeks before school would start -- my parents would take my siblings and me on a road trip. They were teachers and in the summer they would work at summer camps. Between camp ending and school beginning, we would go on an adventure. For a few years in a row, we went to Kennebunkport, Maine. Other summers we would go tour around New England. Every town we stopped in was a new adventure, a new town and a new motel awaited. I loved being with my family without distractions of work or school, and I loved that we were all in it with the same goal: having fun together.
Now, my own family, we are taking our own road trip. We are in the middle of our two-week trek. Last week we rented a minivan and took the highway for a tour of the Western States. Two kids, one dog, one husband, and me all together on this adventure. We started in Nevada, stopping in Vegas, watched the water show at the Bellagio, decided it. was a bit too crowded (Covid-wise). Then we drove to Freemont Street but watched the lights from the car to avoid crowds. The next day we headed to Linden, Utah to visit friends. We had a great time seeing their farm, playing with goats, jumping on the trampoline, and catching up. The next stop was Park City to see more friends -- we spent time at the lake, ate take out in their yard, and got to celebrate our friend's birthday together. From there we went to Idaho Falls with a fun stop at some natural hot springs. We spent time in Yellowstone and saw geysers, springs, and mud pots. Everywhere we looked we saw sights we never saw before, sights we didn't know would be so beautiful.
We drove from there to Whitefish Montana with a night or two in between to break up the drive. As we drove we saw signs for Huckleberries everywhere. They grow all over the northwest and they are used to make everything from jam to smoothies, to ice cream and cotton candy. When we got to Whitefish they were having their annual Huckleberry Days festival, so of course, we went. We went to Whitefish because a close friend moved there a year ago and has been singing its praises since. After seeing the mountains and lakes we understand why. We had so much fun with friends riding down alpine slides, doing an adventure park ropes course, swimming at the lake, paddle boarding, swinging on a rope swing, and of course going out for ice cream. My kids and their friends would walk around the block and pick raspberries and see deer before coming back.
Today we are driving to Washington and have Oregon and the California coast still ahead of us. We stopped today in Coeur d'Alene walked through town and then jumped off of cliffs into the lake. I typically am a daredevil, but I have met my match. My daughter seems to be the bravest of the bunch. By the end of the day we all jumped, but there was one cliff in particular that I stood looking out on for quite a while. I ultimately was too scared for that one, but I braved the others. I was the first to jump off today so that I could help my kids out of the water when they jumped. I needed to go first for their safety, or so I told myself that, but I needed to brave the unknown first. I didn't want to have them go first, tell me it was fine, while I froze contemplating. It was indeed a bit terrifying, shockingly cold, and then fantastic. I loved watching my kids jump while I waited for them in the water. I am so proud of their bravery. Right before we left my daughter begged me to go with her again. After three times, I was done so she had asked my husband who had been watching us the whole time. He politely declined and then changed his mind at the last moment. He took off his shirt and hat and jumped off the highest cliff with our girl. It was such an exciting afternoon.
As we head into the second half of our road trip, I suddenly remember what we came on the road to forget: school begins next week. When my parents would take us traveling as kids they would stretch out the summer as long as possible. Often we would come home the day before school started and driving into NYC from the country would be a shock to my system. I always had jitters before the first day of school and would cry when the summer ended. This year as we drive home from this epic trip, I suspect I will be pretty sad. Yes, the end of summer will be upon us, as well as the start of a new school year, but this will be a year like no other. We will be starting school virtually and anyway you slice it, it just doesn't look appealing. There is so much ahead that is uncertain. Living in the time of a global pandemic is challenging to say the least. We have loved having a respite from being home. This trip has allowed us time and space outdoors without thinking about wearing our masks or standing far enough away from people. Looking forward to the year ahead is like standing on the edge of that cliff today. I don't really want to do it and I am contemplating if it will be okay or not. I am going to commit at some point and set an example to my two kiddos, that sometimes you have to jump in, even when you don't know what it will be like. For now, more of the open road awaits, and I am loving every second.