My husband and I love taking road trips, seeing new sights with lots of time to talk. Neither of us experienced many family vacations growing up, so it became a priority for us when we had children. Apparently we played the band Boston a good deal while traveling, because our children, now adults, feel carsick whenever they hear the band’s music. In our quest to make memories, we’ve seen some amazing sights. Yet we’ve had our share of character building experiences too.

We traveled to Yellowstone for the first time two years ago. The day we arrived, someone was killed by a bear. I wanted to sleep in the car, but my husband assured me it was on the other side of the park. That didn’t help; I hardly slept that night. We experienced Washington, DC on the fourth of July. For people who don’t really care for crowds, it was a great week to be there. (Sarcasm) I have to say though, it was the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen. The day we toured Mount Vernon it was 102 degrees! When we traveled to Mount Rushmore it was just the opposite, with unusually cool temperatures for June. We went to San Francisco in April, not realizing how windy that city would be, and the whole family got winter coats as souvenirs. We bought prepaid tickets to Noah’s Ark Water Park in Wisconsin Dells in mid-July, when the temperature was 70 degrees and raining. Yeah, we’ve had some real winning trips.

Those that know me know I’m not an outdoorsy kind of girl. No, my idea of roughing it is a Super 8 hotel. I’m very familiar with these hotels though, because my husband likes a good deal. So, if you ask me, I’ve done my share of roughing it. But, for the sake of my children having some all-American experiences, we have camped several times. I try my best to keep a good attitude as I cover my perfume with the scent of insect repellant. I try to smile as humidity takes control of my naturally curly hair and all hopes of getting a comb through it are abandoned. I’ve gotten closer to Jesus as I’ve lain in tents and heard wild life noises. No, camping doesn’t come naturally to me!

When our two older children were young, we took an impromptu camping trip in Wisconsin. We checked into a campground mid-day. It was hustling and bustling with activity. We’re no dummies; We knew we wouldn’t want to get stuck next to some rowdy group of campers! So we picked a site a little ways away from the others, thick with trees. Feeling lucky, we pitched the tent and loaded our camping gear in before going canoeing and grabbing a bite to eat. As darkness fell we returned and made a campfire for roasting marshmallows. We began to notice a humming noise of traffic that we hadn’t noticed earlier in the day. We chose to ignore it and retreated to the tent to sleep. As the surrounding camp sites got quieter, the traffic noises got more pronounced. We could hear semi-trucks and the whoosh of cars nearby. We slept a little. We woke to horns. We slept a little. We woke to trucks down-shifting. As the morning sun crawled over the horizon, we were awakened by the screeching of a bird in a tree above our tent. We… had… had it! We got up and walked around the camp site, peering through the trees to discover that we were camping on the edge of a hill that tapered downward, bordering Interstate 94! No, I don’t think I’ll be on Survivor anytime soon! We went home. 

It’s funny to me, as we talk with our kids, remembering the places we’ve traveled. It’s not the carved faces of Mount Rushmore or the fireworks of DC that we talk about. No, it’s the challenges and humorous recollections of a family cooped up together trying so hard to make memories. I guess we succeeded.