The blog has been pretty quiet lately. For two weeks my family was on “vacation,” traveling non-stop in the western region of the United States. We went to Phoenix, Sedona, Willams and Page, Arizona; then a stop in Colorado that included the famous “Four Corners” – the one place in the United States where four states meet in one spot. then we had several stops in Utah before ending up in Las Vegas, Nevada, from which we flew home.
It was the first airplane rides for two of my children. They were very excited, and I’m glad the flights didn’t disappoint them (although my son got a little queasy for part of the flight home). I was especially glad for this since they weren’t excited about much else on the trip. You see, this was no thrilling trip to Disney or any other exciting child-oriented attraction. No trip to the beach to jump in the ocean. We were going to experience some of our nation’s National Parks among other “historical” sites: the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano, Antelope Canyon (on Navajo Territory), Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon and Zion. Las Vegas at the end was just a means to get home, although we did a little sight seeing there too (just not the historical “natural” kind!).
The running joke for my kids was that we spent two weeks looking at “rocks.” “Rocks” became known as another “R” word – something you did NOT say – something they did NOT want to hear! You see, this trip was taken to cross an item off of my husband’s bucket list. It was not their choice. And they let him know it regularly and sometimes loudly. Mostly things got loud in the mornings when we’d wake them up early and while rearranging the suitcases, go over our agenda for the day. We NEVER unpacked. There were only two times we stayed in a hotel more than one night. Exhausting for me and for them.
We managed to survive the trip, even having a few light-hearted moments for which I’m thankful. We NEVER could have attempted something like this even one year ago with our youngest child and autistic middle child. In that way it was a triumph! To get through our agenda with three kids, the five us us sharing ONE hotel room (after another) for two weeks is a testament to our fortitude. Right now the kids don’t want to talk about it. They just want to forget it ever happened. I hope that as the years roll on they’ll forget the monotony of “rocks” and come to appreciate the unique beauty of each place we saw, and the humor of our 21st century struggle to survive such a hardship!
“Hardship” is relative. We experienced Native cave and cliff dwellings. We heard from park rangers about the obstacles the Native people lived with every day and how they overcame them. We heard from our Navajo guide in Antelope Canyon how the people hid in the Canyon to escape the march to reservations our government imposed on them, and how many never heard from family again. We witnessed the poverty still so prevalent on the reservations today. So when I say “the humor of our 21st century… hardship,” I DO mean “humor.”
One thing I have decided for certain, and told my husband very clearly – while I’m grateful for the trip and what I saw and what I learned, I am NOT doing anything like that again. Not while we still have kids in tow. NEVER. It was way too stressful for me to get them up and packed and out every hotel room door every morning, and then hear them complain most of the time. That sounds like a school day to me, not a vacation!
Have you ever had a vacation like this?