One of my best childhood memories was packing up our vehicle and trailer and heading out on a two week summer vacation. My family camped a lot back then, and I loved the excitement and sense of adventure around leaving on a holiday and then finding and setting up in a new campsite.
Now that I am an adult, of course, planning and preparing for trips feels a lot more complicated then it did back then. Our vacations often feel as if they are squished into busy times when it feels hard to get away and air travel is often stressful.
The idea of an old-fashioned summer road trip felt like the perfect antidote to a difficult year.
So, the day after school let out we got up early and headed out –
because it doesn’t feel like a proper road trip unless you leave at the dawning of the day, still a little sleepy and blurry, go-cup firmly in hand and vehicle packed tight.
Dan and I both fondly remembered stopping for breakfast mid-morning, too, as part of the perfect family road trip formula. It needed to be a place that would serve hearty breakfast fare such as pancakes, sausages, eggs, and strong black tea preferably on a deck in the sunshine.
We found such a place, and so our road trip delightfully and properly was on its way.
It was a week of swimming, playing, and exploring a new place.
Pure restoration and rejuvenation without any agenda or expectations.
Perfectly imperfect. There were a few days where we got too much sun, our accommodations were not quite as we expected, we all surely had our cranky spells, and not every experience we had was great.
it was lovely.
There was the most soothing cool breeze every night through our bedroom, we were beautifully located, and the water was spectacular. I swam in a lake for the first time in years and it was utterly exhilarating. How good it feels to start to move and stretch my body again after surgery. We also had a few extraordinary meals ~chocolate peanut butter pie that was to die for, handmade tacos and enchiladas, and appetizers one hot and still night on a sweet little patio surrounded by trees, a guitar player gently strumming away in the background.
These are the moments I never forget.
We needed to come home a different way than we had come, as we were going to be spending a night with our family in Montana at their condo.
Using google maps, Dan found us the shortest route possible. We set off a little later than expected and headed the way that Dan had chosen. The GPS system that we are just learning to use on our new vehicle would not accept Dan’s route as legitimate and several times tried to re-route us. Each time, Dan determinedly got us back on his google trail with a few choice words for Ford and her uncooperative mapping system.
So we carried on, me feeling the doubt creeping in but deciding to be supportive.
The roads seemed to become a little less traveled as we carried on and soon we found ourselves off the main highways. Dan insisted that this way was so much better, so much more picturesque, so much faster. The architect in Dan is always looking for the more scenic path, whether we are on our way to the corner store or traveling across a country. I will add, though, with my husband’s permission, that the architect in Dan is also particular and finds dust and dirt offensive.
Google in all her wisdom soon directed us onto a gravel road. We discussed turning back but we were already going to arrive much later than we had promised and we had already backtracked a few times. On the map, it didn’t seem as if the road would go for that long (little did we know that we would only be driving 20 km/hr for well over an hour). So on we kept going and I was soon joking that the road was really more of a winding hiking path. We drove through two little streams, passed only one other vehicle- a family in their ATV who encouraged us on, acquired mud and dirt in every single crevice and cranny of our shiny new vehicle and felt as if we were in the very deepest of Montana’s backwoods. They will never find us here, I though to myself several times.
But. As we drove on, I laughed and laughed at our self-imposed predicament, until the tears rolled down my cheeks. We all did.
we also came upon the most gorgeous mountain lake, the kind that makes you take a deep breath and give sacred thanks for just about everything,
the kind of thanks that offers the knowledge that there never really are any mistakes in this life, only adventures and detours,
it’s really just one big road trip.
During the last week of school we had two dining room chairs delivered. They arrived packaged up in GIANT cardboard boxes.
The minute Olivia saw these boxes, she was almost vibrating ~ and excitedly asked us if she could keep them.
Do kids ever get too old for big boxes?
Dan and I weren’t thrilled about keeping all of this cardboard in our living room but who are we to stifle creative play?
Within minutes of getting home from school on the last day, both kids went to town on these boxes, completely absorbed for hours.
I couldn’t believe it.
Olivia had just completed her first set of finals for which she had studied a ridiculous amount of time. Her homework load has been enormous this year. She was absolutely exhausted. I had fully expected her to zonk out on the couch for an extended sitcom-watching marathon the minute she was done, but instead here she was on this hyper-focused mission cutting apart and redecorating a box, and so was her brother who on most days would rather have been playing MineCraft.
Who says kids don’t know how to play any more
or that they can’t think outside the box?
The answer, maybe, is to just give them a box.
Happy Summer friends! May you all find your own cardboard box.