Three big things a huge road trip taught me
It’s been a whirlwind of a summer!! In my last post I talked about taking some time off for family, but I really didn’t intend to take off as much time as I did. You see, after my reunion, we took a last minute unplanned road trip. It was so much fun! And now I’m back! (If you are interested, I’m going to include some the photos from our trip in the bottom of this post..several photos when we were in Chicago were taken by my cousin, Ken.)
My month started with a reunion I hosted here in Boise with just under 50 Winkle’s from all over the country. The reunion was an opportunity to reconnect with my family and even meet some family I hadn’t had an opportunity to meet before. It was truly wonderful!
At the reunion, my cousin, Curt, and his husband, Ken, from Chicago invited my daughter and I to visit – and so very last minute we built a road trip around that visit. We started in Lake Tahoe, which is where we’d planned to vacation at a boutique hotel in South Lake Tahoe, California.
We extended our vacation to include AirBnB’s in Salt Lake City and Cheyenne, Wyoming; a visit to Lincoln, Nebraska to reconnect with friends; and an extended stay with my sister, brother-in-law and nieces in Madison, Wisconsin. The climax of the trip included a stay in Chicago at my cousin’s along with my sister and her family where we visited the Chicago Art Institute and attended a concert by the Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park. We had such a wonderful time!! In fact, it was a little hard to leave.
The drive home included a visit to Sioux Falls to reconnect with some family that hadn’t attended the last several reunions; a visit to Sturgis, SD where I used to live and teach to connect with a long-time friend; a visit to Spearfish, SD to connect with a dear college friend; Gillette, WY; Teton National Park and Jackson, WY; an AirBnB in Swan Valley, Idaho and finally home to Boise. All told, we drove over 4700 miles and visited 11 states!
My intent for the trip was to connect deeply with my 15 year old daughter and spend time with people who are important to us.
That was exactly what happened. We felt loved, appreciated, and experienced great joy on our trip. It was absolutely wonderful!
But there was a surprise in store for us. As we look back on the last month that included visits with nearly 65 loved ones who don’t live close, 11 states, over 4700 miles and more than 18 days away from home…something stands out.
The beautiful scenery and landscapes across the United Staes are incredible. The activities are memorable and enjoyable. There is incredible diversity in this country in ethnicity, countries of origin, and lifestyle. This is not a surprise. But if you have watched the news lately, it can look like a scary place sometimes. That wasn’t what we found at all… in fact, we learned three big things.
The three big things we learned on our road trip.
There are many kind and loving people in this country.
The fear, hate and chaos the news makes us believe is prevalent around our country is not at all what what we experienced – anywhere. On our road trip, we experienced kindness from strangers, fellow travelers, from our AirBnB hosts, from our family and and friends. We were nurtured and loved every step of the way. Of course our visits to family and friends was wonderful!! I was touched at how many complete strangers performed acts of kindness toward my daughter and me. We were shown genuine love and care along every step of our travels. One of our AirBnB hosts summed it up with this….she said, “Our AirBnB has taught us that the world is still full of good people.” And it is!!
The most meaningful memories and experiences are those that we share with others.
Mya, my daughter, and I saw some amazing places on our road trip!! Lake Tahoe, The Black Hills, Chicago, the lakes of Wisconsin, the wildflowers of Iowa, the sandhills of Nebraska, the rugged peaks of Wyoming, and more. We hiked, swam, kayaked and paddleboarded our way out east and home again. Our favorite places along the trip??? Well, it wasn’t the fanciest place or grandest view that captured our hearts. The greatest joy is found in those moments shared with loved ones. We’ve been to Wisconsin more times than I can count and we’ve been to Chicago multiple times. But both places were our favorites again on this trip because we were able to spend those days completely immersed in our family.
It’s been said before by others, but it bears repeating. The journey is the destination.
Mya and I didn’t argue or fight along the trip even stuck in a car together for so many hours. Why? Well, we generally have a very healthy and positive relationship and aren’t prone to fighting anyway. But we didn’t know for sure what would happen being together in the car for some 60+ hours of driving. We stopped often to have fun, to explore and to stretch our legs. Listening to each other is a priority. We kept reminding each other if we got tired that the journey IS the destination. Making an intention to focus on the joy in any moment made our trip truly enjoyable! We listened to books on CD, we looked at the country side, and we talked about everything under the sun. By focusing on the present moment and choosing joy, we felt joy! I vow to remember this even when I’m not traveling…but when I’m stuck in the daily minutiae. I invite you to try the same. By finding joy in the moment, the journey becomes joy-filled.
I’ve missed you all these past several weeks and have thought a lot about you. I hope you have had a wonderful summer and are on your own joy-filled journeys.
If this brought a smile to your face or warmth to your heart, please consider sharing. My intent is to spread love and light far and wide. This world doesn’t have to be a scary place filled with division. We are all connected. We are all one.
All my love,