I'm finally getting to the last day of our trip. The day itself was fairly uneventful. I came to realize that outside the mountains of Colorado, the rest is unsightly and more than just a little bit boring. With the exception of the Yellowstone and Jackson areas, Wyoming is no better. It was a good day to press on with no unnecessary stops. There was the occasional point of interest outside the window, and a lot of construction leading back to Jackson, but nothing really to write about.
It seems like once we got home there was an onslaught of critical items to be dealt with. First, there was unpacking, cleaning and vacuuming the car, then came laundry that didn't seem to have an end, and yard work, and kids to get ready to start school. In addition to this there were the normal things like grocery shopping and meal planning. To top it all off, we had two exchange students awaiting our arrival. They needed some attention to get settled. They needed cell phones, laptops, cameras, and school supplies. Let's just say it's been a whirlwind. That brings me to my favorite aspect of our trip. I had my family all to myself with no distractions for a whole month. The kids were amazingly adaptable, just happy to be doing whatever was on the agenda. There was some work getting camp set up and navigating from place to place in unfamiliar settings, but no to-do lists and no social obligations to compete with, no lessons, sports, or meetings. It really was a neat family time. Everyone got along great. I'm not saying there were no disagreements in the back end of the van, but for the most part they were short lived and sorted out without adult intervention. We got through about three quarters of the book, "Little Women", which was delightful and also applicable to our family. There was a personality among the little women which matched up with each of my little women, and I found myself learning some parenting and other skills that I think will come in handy in the future of our family.
I feel blessed that we had the means and the skills to plan and carry out this adventure, that no one got sick or injured (beyond the scope of what a bandaid could fix) while traveling, and that we escaped all inclement weather, which seemed to be present both before and after our trip in the places we visited.
We are already planning our next such escapade and several other shorter ones. I am glad for James' job that allows him so much time off in the summer and his patience with my lack of navigation skills. We will continue the tradition of playing Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" at the start of each day, just to torture the children. On the last day I told them if they didn't all sing along I would play it over again. It was a success. Each Helfrich voice could be heard loud and clear. I think I might just play it at home occasionally for fun, and I will definitely keep it handy for our next trip. Another tradition we will hold on to is our morning exercises. We brought along a sleeping pad for each family member (which was roughly the size of a yoga mat) and made a deck of exercise cards, all of which could be done on the mat. every morning we camped, we set out the mats and did about 20 minutes of mat exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, handstands, squats, jumping jacks, and a few other fancier things from Amber's gymnastics conditioning routine. We always started out with the sun salutations, which all the kids know by heart now. We got a few strange looks from neighbors, but it really was fun, and now even Nicole can to 10 "man" push-ups.
As the familiar outline of the Tetons came into view once again, I thought back to the first day of our trip, as the sun rose over the Tetons early in the morning and we all wondered what was in store. In the same surroundings, the sun set as a beautiful end to our trip. Let life resume...