August 28, 2011

Family vacation 2011

We recently returned from our first road trip as a family of four.

Really, it was two trips in one. Part one was a weekend with friends in the Black Hills. 6 families, 24 people, 13 kids aged 4 and under, all in one house. It was happy, beautiful chaos.

We went to Mount Rushmore and the Flintstones village. Mostly, we enjoyed one another's company and let the kids be kids. There were impromptu ballet recitals and games of tag, hide and seek, and hopscotch. There were hours spent drawing with sidewalk chalk, pretending to be horses, and putting rocks into little piles (most popular with the under-2 set).

After this wonderful weekend, we pushed farther west and stopped by a cabin in Montana that has been in Sam's family for several generations. It's on a secluded mountain lake and boasts some truly breathtaking scenery.

Our time at the cabin was peaceful and pleasant, although I was sick and slept through most of it. Thankfully, we were in good company with Sam's parents and sister helping to entertain the kids and wear them out with nature hikes, raspberry picking, and squirt gun battles.

My last visit to the cabin was 5 years ago. Evie was a mere zygote whose existence had been suggested by tarot cards, but not yet confirmed by scientific means. Now, that little hypothetical zygote writes postcards to her friends and owns an iPod. Also, she took the photo just above this paragraph.

The constant surprise of kids growing up comes from the mistaken notion that we are staying the same. It was easy to think, especially when driving through the Dakotas, that I've hardly changed at all. I recognized the roadside animal sculptures, the endless fields of green and gold, and the burning questions that followed me on every childhood road trip: "Does the hotel have a pool? Will it still be open when we arrive? What are my chances of ice cream?" Landmarks and road signs reminded me of forgotten moments with my parents, like our shared disappointment the day we realized Wall Drug's marketing campaign was by far its most interesting attribute.

It's only when I catch a glimpse at my reflection, or someone jolts me out of a daydream with the word "Mommy!" that I realize I'm a 33-year-old mother of two.

This Memory Lane that people speak of, it's not a walking path. It's an interstate. Blink and whole towns will fly past you.

Tomorrow, Sam and I return to work, and the kids return to preschool. I already miss the togetherness and the relaxed pace of our vacation life. A couple of trees on our street have begun to show their fall colors. It's hard to deny a twinge of melancholy.
We put over 2,000 miles on the Prius last week, visited 5 states and demanded a lot of patience from our children. Their good humor and willingness to nap, relax, and be cheerful in the car all but sealed their fates: There will be more of these trips. We will go back to the cabin in Montana. We will meet up with our friends again. We will explore new places and have new adventures.
This is only the beginning.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I have grown quite fond of the family road trip, myself, so your photos and stories make me all smooshy inside. :) Evie is so big. Darn kids!