|Glacier National Park, on Going-To-The-Sun Road|
There was no summer vacation getaway this year. Life is busiest for Jeremy in the summertime, and for lots of other various reasons, we stayed home. I must explain to you that we are not heat-loving folk. We'd prefer to wear layers and drink hot beverages. However, we live in a land where summer lasts for half of the year. Not just any summer, no. The daily temperature highs like to stay in the triple digits for a solid two to three months. There is a six-week period when the garden all but quits producing because the pollen in veggie flowers scorch and never has a chance to bear fruit. It's that hot. When autumn finally does grace us, it feels like nothing short of a miracle each year. Summer finally relinquishes it's stifling grip around late October and we breathe a huge, crisp, sigh of relief. I get ahead of myself.
|Jeremy at Logan Pass, on the Continental Divide|
September is the hardest month of all. We see friends up north and Back East post pictures of turning leaves and steamy drinks clutched by hands barely peaking out of cozy sweater sleeves. Meanwhile, the highs still frequently reach the hundreds and we lose patience. This September, however, Jeremy agreed to officiate the marriage of some friends. The wedding was in Montana. Neither of us had ever been there, but were always so curious. We decided to plan a family road trip. Preparing for this "vacation" was almost so stressful that I wanted to call it off before it even began. Arrangements had to be made for the animals and garden, school lessons were doubled for three weeks straight so we wouldn't have to worry about getting behind. Then there's the packing and stress of wondering how the two-year-old would do on a 16-hour road trip (obviously broken up into 2-3 days). As we squished the last suit case into the trunk and I snuck a couple cast iron pans, freshly-roasted coffee, and jar of ghee under my seat (three things I simply couldn't forsake), we took deep breaths and headed north.
I found myself getting overtly giddy. I couldn't figure out why, at first. Then I realized it was because we were about to embark on a real family adventure for the first time in what felt life five years, when we moved into the trailer. We were all going to a place none of us had been, which is saying something. Jeremy has ventured what seems like everywhere. This trip involved everyone, and everyone had to be involved. We needed help loading the luggage trolleys for our over-nighters in hotels. We all died laughing as we watched the two-year-old experience the thrill of an elevator for the first time (yes, we live in a small town with precious few of those contraptions). Jeremy and I almost wet ourselves watching all five kids pull an "Elf," trying to get on an escalator (something not found in our entire county to my knowledge). Apparently, boarding one does require some skill and doesn't come naturally. We Yelped good food places along the way and congratulated one another for some incredible finds. The kids rolled their eyes a little while I geeked about traveling a substantial amount on the Louis and Clark route. It was lots of little things that wove themselves into a blanket of togetherness that I hadn't felt in far too long. Suddenly, all I wanted to do was go on adventures with my family.
Fourteen hours and one flat tire later, we made it to Montana. Needless to say, the place is other-worldly. My husband and I are enraptured by beautiful places. This was the beautifulest either of us had ever been. Visiting Glacier National Park was the crowning jewel of this treasured time. The kids and I spend hours learning about it back at home. It was sobering for us all to learn that the glaciers are rapidly vanishing and might be completely gone in just a couple of years, and that this rapid climate change was risking the lives of several creatures who call it "home." Our nature child was particularly affected, and she reminded us on the trail to Avalanche Lake to pray over the land as we walked it. We did. She is desperate for her children to one day absorb the beauty of this land, without the absence of glaciers or grizzly bears. We all caught our breaths watching a grizzly walk in front of the van. What an incredible animal.
I don't think any of us realized how impacting the trip was until we returned home. Normally, we all basically kiss the threshold after opening our front door after trips. We love home. This time, we wished for just one more week back in that captivating land. Getting away was hard. Preparation for is was grueling. As the hours passed in the van on the journey to Big Sky Country, all of us released the everyday stressors, focused our attention on one another, and really enjoyed each other's company. Feeling so connected and experiencing an adventure together was just what the doctor ordered. I find myself planning day trips to cool hiking trails every weekend possible. Removing ourselves from the everyday, as much as I love it, brings perspective and connection with the ones you bring along. Sure, it's a lot of work to get ready for even a day trip, but I hold these memories at the forefront of my mind and heart. They spur me up and out of complacency and into fresh air and new places making my blood pump and awakens my mind. It makes space for memories to be made and connection with those who come along; space that can't always be found in the home, much as I love it.