2 Aug
Posted in: parenting, travel
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Wandering Through the Summer

Mississippi River with green banks and cloudy sky

We’ve spent our summer doing what we do best: wandering. I play the part of responsible adult most of the year, attending meetings, turning work in on time, volunteering, and running kids hither and thither. Summer is for following my gypsy heart.

I long for deserted roads stretching to the horizon and open vistas from the mountain tops. I pour over the road atlas and maps looking for the next place to visit. I’m sidetracked by road signs. I constantly plan vacations, some that will become reality others that are only a wish.

Pink flower in Holland, Michigan

I adore the summer me. I don’t worry about bedtime or meal time. Things happen when they happen. It all eventually gets done or not. I care less in the summer about chores and laundry. I say yes more often and am easily coerced into an adventure. Road trips are my love language whether for one day or two weeks. My four kiddos are impressively loud and in cahoots to drive their mother loony, but I soak in these summer weeks with them. I find myself attempting to memorize the way they look huddled around the table playing Monopoly or the sound made when they all have belly laughs. I’m living my nostalgic moments and holding them close during these hot, long days of summer.

Side mirror look at Mackinac Bridge

Every weekend in the summer is marked for exploring. I cannot get enough of traveling around this country. The people are different from state-t0-state. Each region of the country has it’s own culture. I want to understand the heartbeat of this country I love. We have driven back-country scenic byways, passed elderly men in rocking chairs on their front porches, women hanging wash to dry and Amish buggies coming into town. I want to stop and pester them all with questions. I want to know the shape of their days and the whys behind living here as opposed to there. I want to understand what makes America.

The question we’re most asked when we travel to a particular location is why. Why would you go there? The why matters little to me. It truly is because it’s there. Why visit national parks? Because someone decided they’re special enough to protect and set aside for the people. I visit them because I can, and they are there.

Rocky shore of Lake Superior

I fall in love with each new destination imagining what life would look like if we lived there. My imagination has moved me to beaches, islands, cliff tops and city high-rises. I think about the “what ifs” of transplanting to Oregon or Michigan or the sandy shore of Florida, but always come home to Wyoming. Our summer travels are my love story with the United States. Each new place that goes from a dot on the map to land under my feet becomes one more chapter.


Straight Wisconsin highway with a lone tree

I remember when we decided we would be a family that traveled, when that became a priority for us. Craig and I had both had health scares that proved we were not invincible. Waiting until a tomorrow I was not guaranteed was not an option. That summer we packed four kids, the youngest nine months old, and drove to Chicago. We were hooked. We morphed into adventure-lovers and the United States was our playground. The hotels we call home aren’t 5-star. There are campgrounds and rented cabins. There are roadside picnics and late-night ice cream treats. There is bickering, kids and adults alike. There has been rough weather and wrong turns. It has always been worth the effort.

There are choices we make that reshape us, push us into the person we’ve always wanted to become. I found myself in the decision to travel, wander and explore. The summer is my lifeline for the rest of the year when I’m confined by responsibilities and weather. I’m connected to myself and my family the more we wander from home.


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