Hoover, Here We Come
Courtesy of Gretchen Breuner
We drove eight hours to Las Vegas on our first day, parked the RV in a friend's driveway, and spent the night. The next morning, we were headed to Hoover Dam. Lilly kept an eye on our map, as Sam and Jackson happily read and did schoolwork in the back. Just like other siblings, my kids do their fair share of bickering -- and I was worried that these close quarters would add to the pressure. When we stopped to fill up the gas tank, I would go back to talk to them and make sure things were running smoothly.
After we reached our first landmark, however, my fantasy trip came to a screeching halt. The kids wilted in the 100-degree heat as they toured the dam. They were bored, and Lilly whined, "I hate Hoover Dam!" I got angry and defensive. We took off, but we didn't get far. The RV broke down on a hill of all places. We holed up in a hotel room while the repairs were done, and as the kids slept, I rethought our agenda. We were taking three months out of our lives to escape our go-go-go routine. But here we were strictly trying to achieve a certain number of miles each day. Instead of seeing the most places we could possibly fit into three months as we'd planned, I decided to stay two or three nights in each destination. This would allow the kids to have time to run around, swim, fish, and ride their bikes from the home base while getting our sightseeing and studies in. From now on, we would balance formal tours with laid-back exploring on our own.
Repairs done, we were back on the road with a renewed purpose. The history and beauty of America came alive for us. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park were remarkable. We saw ancient stone carvings, called petroglyphs. We also encountered dinosaur footprints and other archeological treasures. At the Grand Tetons, we hopped on our bikes and rode down to Jackson Lake, admiring the mountain range rising above us on the far side. We walked in silence, taking note of all that we could hear if we just concentrated on listening. Matching the natural beauty were our humbling visits to countless historical sites. We recalled the bravery of the soldiers of the Alamo, traveled across Texas to learn more about JFK's fateful trip to Dallas, and took in the battlefield of Vicksburg in Mississippi.