In 1985, we went on our first long vacation as a family. We had been to visit relatives in Indiana and Florida before, but had never set out just to see new places and try new things. The four of us packed up our almost new Dodge pickup with a camper shell, and headed west.
We went through St. Louis, then across the prairie. I can remember stopping for gas and experiencing that constant prairie wind for the first time. It snowed on June 13th, Hub's birthday, in the Big Horn Mountains. We followed the snow plow to Ten Sleep Canyon, where we found a little diner with the best pancakes we had ever eaten, except they had no flavored syrup for Mitchell. Yellowstone, Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore, the Colorado Rockies--it was all amazing.
Remember, this was before the internet and credit cards. Months before we started on our trip, I wrote to the Chamber of Commerce in the capital of each state we planned to visit. They all sent glossy brochures, which we pored over and debated on what things were too important to miss. Then, we spent hours at the bank getting traveler's checks. Travel is so different now. I have a Hampton Inn app on my phone where I can find rooms before I get to wherever we are going. Then, we stayed at whatever motel we could find. We learned that our standards decreased when the availability of motels decreased. We have some motel horror stories, but we survived. They are good memories now.
That trip lit a fire in us that is still raging. Back then, when we kept bread and peanut butter in the back seat for emergencies, we set a goal to travel to all fifty states in our beautiful country. It was an optimistic goal in a time when we often didn't have enough cash to eat at McDonald's. If you are going to dream, dream big.
On October 13, we began a trip to the only state lacking to reach our goal--Hawaii. We flew from Nashville to Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, where we got on a cruise ship to Hawaii. We spent fifteen days on the ship getting to Hawaii and back. We returned home on October 31, exhausted and happy, with hundreds and hundreds of pictures. I plan to share some of them (I promise I won't post them all) here in the next few days. Posting on this blog not only allows me to share with you, but it helps me to organize and remember. Stay tuned.