Finding Healing and Hope in the West
Written Fall of 2008
Whenever I talked about our upcoming vacation (July 25-Aug 6, 2008), I usually said, “I hope we can stand driving together for that long. Hopefully we won’t have too many arguments.” But traveling by van from Pennsylvania to Custer, South Dakota and on to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons ended up being one of the best family vacations ever.
It had been a rough few months before we left, so we as a family were in need of a time of solace. And we threw ourselves into it full force. We rode horses in the Black Hills National Forest and rafted the whitewater rapids of the Yellowstone River as if there were no tomorrow. We ate a chuck wagon supper and listened to blue grass music into the night. We all knew we didn’t want to go home to the issues and troubles of the last few months; we wanted a complete vacation from stress, a time to escape the cares that seemed to haunt us before. And we found in each other the perfect comfort. Laughter and the thrill of excitement were like nectar to our weary spirits. We amazed ourselves that we could all get along so well. Sure, the kids often retreated to a Game Boy world of Pokemon while Ken and I navigated the highways, but it may have been a necessity when driving over 10 hours together each day in a van.
And did I say that we hiked? Maybe it was because the kids were so glad to finally be released from the depths of the Toyota Sienna, but they jumped at every opportunity to hike, all in one accord, and even got mad at us when we didn’t have an afternoon of hiking in Custer State Park. We hiked and hiked and hiked —in the Badlands of South Dakota, around Devil’s Tower of eastern Wyoming and among the clear, transparent lakes of the Grand Tetons. Ken and I were usually far behind our three kids, while they would run ahead as if there were a reward at the finish line.
So, I guess the family road trip is not dead, despite the high cost of fuel. It was the saving grace of our summer and the memories of that time out West continue to bless us. -BBM