Most of the time before I depart on a journey, our destination makes the headlines in some (usually negative) way. I think it’s just a coincidence, but it makes me pause. The week we were set to leave on this trip, a headline story came out that a bear near Yellowstone had ripped through people’s tents and attacked and killed a man. Everyone we saw that week told us about it. Then they asked if we were sleeping in tents. Then they stared at us. I asked my husband, Matt what he thought about it, and he said,”A bear will be sorry if he comes in my tent.” That made me feel so much better. Just kidding.
Our first destination was Cheyenne, Wyoming. This is roughly a 19 hour drive for us. Yes, I said nineteen. We traveled in car pairs. Don’t ask me why. It all depends on who is ready to leave or not. I will say that I always feel the family competition rise in me to get there first. I try not to let it change me. We left on a Thursday evening as is our custom, and we drove and drove and drove. Hey Texas is big, did you know? Plus, West Texas is flat. Matt drove for a pretty long time, and I tried to sleep. I’m a successful car-sleeper usually. I don’t like that my neck does this bobbing thing constantly until I finally crick it against the window, but I still sleep well.
Finally it was my turn to drive. I like to listen to music, but I also like to listen to podcasts and books on CD. Oh, if you’re traveling long with kids and you’ve exhausted your supply of movies, music, and snacks to entertain them, try a book on CD. They’re at your local library. Just when I thought violence was going to erupt, I popped in Ribsy and they were mesmerized–all of them! We love books about Henry Huggins. Also, Robinson Crusoe won’t keep you awake. You need a loud sermon or a suspense novel or something.
The drive moved along nicely. By morning, we were in Colorado. The sun is very bright there especially if you’ve driven all night. We were very squinty, and the kids were needing a break. So, we decided to stop at the REI in Denver with my brother-in-law and his wife. They wanted to buy some bear spray. 🙂 We weren’t planning on getting any. It’s like $50 a can! We are too cheap for that. I was still excited to go to the REI Denver store. It is huge, and we have a weakness for camping gear. Plus, we had already lost some flip-flops of Claire’s. Plus, the store has waterfalls!
The bear spray discussion was amusing. Everyone bought some except us. Eventually, one of my brother-in-laws bought us a can. I was secretly glad, but then we kept forgetting to keep it with us. Sometimes you just have to embrace these things about yourself.
There was a lot of traffic in Denver. Lots and lots. We needed a potty badly. She was only three years old. She needed to go now. As soon as we got to the store, I picked her up and ran inside. I ran this way and that way. I couldn’t find the restroom. I couldn’t find anyone to ask. I ran up stairs. I ran downstairs. Finally I asked a salesperson, and they told me to get on the elevator and go down. As we were going down, her eyes widened. Then I felt wet warmth on my hip. I put her down and sighed. At least I had wet wipes and clothes, I thought. But, now I had a pee shirt on, and I had seriously rationed my own clothes when packing. Ugh. When Matt showed up with the other girls, I told him I was going to buy a t-shirt. Finally, we checked out. I was glad to leave that store even though I didn’t even get to look at the backpacks (which I love).
We went out by the waterfall which runs into a real river. We made sandwiches and had a picnic. It was nice, but I was a bit keyed up still. Before long, we were back in the van on the road again. We rolled into Cheyenne that afternoon, and we easily found our campground. It was very nice, and the tent area was shady and grassy. We checked in and found our tent site. Our other family arrived soon after, and we decided to eat the barbecue sold at the campground. This was a good decision and helped us avoid making our children get back in the car they never wanted to see again (at least for the night.)
We were all so happy to be there. I did some yoga on the grass, and the kids ran and played. The barbecue was so yummy. The stars were bright. And as always, after a long night in the car, the sleeping bags and tent felt luxurious. It is always worth all the driving, the whining, the crumbs in all car-cracks, the pee-shirt, etc.
I couldn’t have been more content hearing that tent zip closed for the night.
To be continued…