When I was six and my sister was eight, the summer of 1979, my mom took us on a six week trip around the northwest. We may have gone to northern California, but the parts I remember are Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.
Somewhere along the way, possibly in Montana (?), we stayed at a dude ranch, and I had my first experience on a horse. Here’s a photo from that experience.
I was wearing one of my favorite outfits. It had a shirt, shorts, and socks, all matching, all demonstrating the color red or orange or something. It’s hard to remember the details, and this is the only photo I can find where I’m wearing it. But I loved that even the socks matched.
I remember enjoying riding a horse. And I remember enjoying the dude ranch. My sister may have enjoyed it less, as I think that’s where she found a mouse in her shoe one day. Yikes.
On this fabulous trip where I spent most of the road time playing in the back of our van or lying down on whatever boxes and luggage we had back there (this was the 1970s, when seat belts were there but merely a suggestion), I learned that I loved road trips and adventures.
My mom had gotten us a few gifts to open at different points on the trip, so we always had something fresh to play with. The one I remember was a small toy plastic picnic basket that came with a “blanket” and a plate, cup, and spoon. I think we each got one, and then pretended to have picnics for years afterward.
We played cards in the back of the van. We slept a lot while my mom drove. We had two teenage neighbor girls with us, too, which probably helped my mom a lot. My dad joined us at some point on the trip, which kind of put a downer on things. He was prone to sucking the energy out of the room. (I can say this publicly now because he’s dead.)
On that trip we also saw Mt. Rainier, Old Faithful, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and a whole bunch of other things I probably don’t remember.
The trip was a lot of fun and demonstrated to me that you can just take your kids and go on adventures. I did something similar with my own kids in 2011, driving around the country for 40 days. My kids were ten and seven, slightly older than my sister and I were for our trip. It was pretty intense but we saw so many things and met up with so many friends and family. You can read about the trip here.
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