In a way it was and was not our first rodeo this summer.
This summer our vacation was an opportunity for both first and rekindled experiences as we loaded up the family wagon (’99 Chevy Club Cab pickup) and our down-to-the-wire last minute Craigslist camper shell with everything a family of five does and does not need for 10 days in the mountains.
My Mom (Judy), Bryon’s Dad (Gary), Grace, Bryon and I all went on vacation together to Yellowstone. My Mom hadn’t been in decades and Bryon’s Dad and Grace had never been. Yellowstone and Jackson Hole are both well traveled destinations for Bryon and myself. This was my 9th visit and Bryon’s 11th since our start sometime around 1993. I hadn’t been in about seven years since my pregnancy with Grace.
The first time Bryon and I ever went was with his Aunt Jan and Uncle Kelly and their daughter Kortney. We totally did the tourist thing that first trip, visiting geysers, white water rafting, horseback riding. We had such a wonderful time and fell in love with everything about that little corner of the world from the weather to the vast landscape to the seemingly endless number of named and unnamed trout streams on the Dan Bailey’s fly catalog fishing map.
Kelly, Bryon and I spent the next seven summers out West in and around Yellowstone exploring those waters and back country trails backpacking and fly fishing where most of the tourists didn’t ever venture. We’ve hiked more than 500 miles of trails through the years by my rough count and failing memory and still only touched a small portion of what’s available.
This summer was my first trip back to those well stomped grounds in a long, long while. This wasn’t a trip about back country adventures, although Bryon did manage to squeeze in a few hours of fishing despite the snow melt engorged, chocolate milk colored raging rivers that had replaced our meandering streams. He found a couple of small lakes and one tiny, lazy stream to fish and helped Grace catch her first wild trout on her own fly rod.
Often the journey is just as entertaining as the destination and with one over sixty, hearing impaired parent each in the truck it was most assuredly entertaining. It was hilarious how often a comment was repeated in the back seat (Grace included) like it was a new and original thought when it had in fact just been uttered by Bryon or myself in the front seat. The real plus for me was that I could relax and share the care of Grace with not just Bryon but her two very capable Grandparents and sit back and see if I could recapture some of the magic the landscape had elicited for me on vacations past.
Bryon and I talked dreamily once again during the drive as we do every vacation about what it would be like to live there. There is something about the landscape where the rocks are round and the air is dry that is very appealing to me. Here I spend every summer moving from A/C to A/C. The time I do spend outside here in summer is done so grudgingly and not without frequent occurrences of heat induced sick headaches. Of course this trip I spent half a day in bed with a headache there too. Turns out that allergy medicine, Sudafed and dry air are not a good combination so that illusion was sort of shattered. Sometimes the grass is greener and sometimes it just looks greener.
Every vacation I come home ready to MOVE there, but this year, even though it was super ridiculously hot when we got home, somehow it made me more appreciative of what we’ve built here on our little farm. I’m reminded of a quote a friend sent to me once after I had Grace by Stephen Foster
“You may wonder, ‘How can I leave it all behind if I am just coming back to it? How can I make a new beginning if I simply return to the old?’ The answer lies in the return. You will not come back to the ‘same old thing.’ What you return to has changed because you have changed. Your perceptions will be altered. You will not incorporate into the same body, status, or world you left behind. The river has been flowing while you were gone. Now it does not look like the same river.
[The Book of the Vision Quest]
We had a great trip and did lots of fun things together. You can see a ridiculous number of vacation photos if you are so inclined here.
Yellowstone didn’t look like the same old river when I went there this time and home didn’t look like the same old home. Vacation is good, as always but there really is no place like home.