This weekend a boy on my son’s baseball team hit an over-the-fence homerun. It was so exciting. Around every base he waved his arms and ran his heart out. The smile and the disbelief grew on his face with each base he touched. The team gathered at homeplate welcoming and congratulating him. He must still be reeling from the feeling, still be feeling the ringing of the bat in his 11-year-old hands. I can’t imagine that kid slept much last night.
I think I can say that I feel something of that emotion. We finished. We made it home and safe. We rounded each base and touched down safely, checking off the miles and the sights. We saw the most incredible scenery and the most incredible places. We met really cool people along the way. We experienced things I hope we never do again, felt things that we’ll never be able to fully express, and some that we’ll spend forever trying to replicate. I hope we can someday, somehow. Here is a list of where we went:
Kalahari, Sandusky, Ohio
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Wall Drug, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Crazy Horse, South Dakota
Custer State Park, South Dakota
Shoshone Lodge, Cody, Wyoming
Canyon Campground, Yellowstone, Wyoming
Grant Village, Yellowstone, Wyoming
Lexington Inn, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Twin Falls, Idaho
Lake Tahoe, California
Yosemite National Park, California
LaSelva Beach, Santa Cruz, California
That’s a lot of bases to cover, but we made it. And in the end the fates called us ‘safe at home.’ Each stop along the way was filled with adventure, some with fear. We dipped our toes in: Lake Michigan, Lake Arlington, Yellowstone Lake, Jenny Lake, Lake Tahoe, and the Pacific Ocean, and the Courtyard Pool. We crossed a creek in Yellowstone to see this incredible Rock Fountain and Annie slipped on the wet rocks. We put our hands in the HOT water that bubbled out of the rock and was immediately cooled by the mountain creek. We rode horses named Paco, Jimbo, Harpo, Uma, Dutch, and Spud to a Cowboy Cookout and then descended down a rather
hill, watching the sunset on our way back to the corrals. We climbed a mountain during a thunderstorm and were quickly chased back down by clouds and lightning. We were awakened by a BEAR (I think I will forever capitalize BEAR now!) while we huddled WITHOUT MOVING inside our tent in the middle of the night, (think Parent Trap without the Hollywood producers) and were quickly chased into a HOTEL which thankfully had room for us! We saw a Redwood Tree that we could have lived in. We ate Bison Burgers in Jackson Hole as a rainstorm moved in. We laughed as we ran down the street carrying our takeout trays. We saw a shootout that for a split second seemed like it might be the real thing. We ate pancakes as big as a globe, partly because they were griddled at 8,000 feet altitude and caramel s’mores (JJ's idea) that were scented with freshly chopped pine and s’mores that were made on a dark beach in California by a firepit that reached 10 feet high. We ate hotdogs there too that night. We laughed a lot. Especially when one of the kids read that if you laugh for 15 seconds straight, you’ll live an extra two years. We visited Badlands at 7:00 am and saw a Rattlesnake. We woke up before he did. We went to a Ranger talk at 9:00 pm to hear about the bears in Yellowstone and Charlie fell asleep – “a little bit,” he says. We met a college couple that had practiced their mountaineering techniques and that was going back to climb the Grand Teton at midnight; while it usually takes two days, they were hoping to finish in one. We met a girl at the Wendy’s in South Bend, Indiana, who served us Frostys and she got the chills as she told us she grew up in Westmont, New Jersey, until her father moved them there so he could fulfill his life’s dream of being affiliated with Notre Dame, where he worked the rest of his life. I could tell it was never her dream. We watched as two very special people made vows to each other under a warm sun overlooking the Pacific Ocean. That was a dream come true.
We went through 16 mini-boxes of cereal, 3 big boxes of cereal, 32 packs of cheese crackers, one jar of peanut butter (finished off by the bear), one jar of Nutella (carried off by the bear), I never found the jelly, three loaves of bread, two gallons of milk, one half gallon of oj, one package of shredded potatoes, one quart of egg whites, four cups of dry oatmeal, one bag of pasta, one soup mix, three large cans of chicken breast, two large cans of tuna, one package of shredded cheese, one package of tortillas, one bag of coffee, three bags of chips, 6 boxes of Cracker Jack, and five tubes of biscuit/pizza/cinnamon rolls, three of which burst because of the water in the cooler, and one box of Clif Bars. No one went hungry.
We bought 6 airline tickets, 5 one way and 1 the other way. We logged 3950 miles on the car and my husband and father added another 3200 on the way home. They took the straightest shot possible across the midline states and took in a few sights along the way. He brought me a t-shirt from the lodge in Aspen where my brother used to work, which is now a spa. It meant so much and feels special when I wear it. I’ll never forget seeing him for the first time again after that week of waiting and wondering where he could be, if he was okay, if my dad was helping with the driving, or driving him crazy. He looked good, no worse for the wear, and I was happy, happy to have him safe at home.