In July of 2002, I was 18 years old. I had just graduated from high school, I was bored to death at home, my dad had me training for basketball the following fall, & then I got called for a family meeting (my parents held a lot of these!)
They sat all 5 of us kids down (18, 16, 14, 11, 8) in the den & told us each to pack 7 days worth of clothes, and that we were going on a family vacation.
We were pumped!
We were jumping up & down, “Where are we going?! Where are we going?! Where are we going?!”
“We don’t know yet. We are leaving tomorrow. Be ready by 7 am sharp.”
As we were pulling out of the driveway the next morning I heard my dad say,
“Jane, are we going east or west?” And as he said it he held up two stack of maps, one stack said East & one stack said West.
She said West.
And it was the BEST.VACATION.EVER.
We drove over 4,000 miles, went to 9 different states, & we were gone 14 days. My mother jokes that she had to take the maps away from my dad just so we could make it back home.
We saw the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Jackson Hole Wyoming, everything there is to see in Yellowstone National Park, like grizzly bears, Ole Faithful, moose, & buffalo. We ate buffalo hamburgers, went to the Wall Drug Store (first place to serve free ice water ever during the Great Depression.) We went to Colorado & rode horses through the Rocky Mountains. Basically, we did everything there was to do out west.
There were late nights of being delirious from so much driving that produced the best family jokes that, to this day, can get one of us laughing so hard that our sides hurt.
Sometimes, renting that condo in Florida for a week isn’t always the best vacation. Doing things a little differently, not having a plan & just being spontaneous leads to some of the best memories of a lifetime.
And for that, I will forever be grateful to my parents for teaching us all that lesson those 14 days.