Today I am packing up everything practical I can grab in preparation for a trip to Yellowstone National Park. The plan is to wagon train with the immediate family and meet the rest of the hooligans there for a family reunion.
And although the number one place I like to spend time in the fleeting summer is right here in the cozy little nook of the ranch, I am so looking forward to gathering with relatives I haven’t seen for years.
I am also excited to go back to a place that holds some of the best memories for me.
See, Yellowstone was the first vacation husband and I took together, before the ring, before the wedding under the big oak tree, before we knew exactly what we were doing and where we were going, knowing somewhere int there that it didn’t matter, we just wanted to go together.
So I am writing this in a hurry as that man I would go anywhere with has just walked in the door from work and is ready to pack up and head out. That same man who, eight years ago, loaded up his dad’s old pickup and pickup camper in 110 degree temperatures and drove his girlfriend across the state of North Dakota and on into Montana with no air conditioning, watching affectionately as grasshoppers from the open window flew into her hair and sweat dripped down her back. He drove the entire way, up mountain passes, stopping in tiny towns for her to pee and cool off to show her a place he loved, and knew she would love too.
This trip will be different, we will be more prepared, we will not have the oldest camper in the tri-state area, we will have air conditioning and we will be surrounded by people who we both call family now.
But, taken from the archives, this is the Yellowstone I remember, and I know it will not disappoint. Because some things have stayed the same since then–and sitting next to him with miles and miles of road and adventure stretched out ahead of us, our favorite song in our ears and an affection and trust that just keeps growing between us are some of them.
That and my fear of grizzly bears.
See you back at the ranch!