I have good news to share - only because I know you were all so worried about me (wink, wink). Gander Outdoors re-stocked their supply of bear spray, and I was able to purchase a can a couple of days ago. Just in time, as far as I'm concerned, since we had yet another bear sighting in the neighborhood. They're only black bears but, still, I figure it's best not to take any chances, especially since there are a couple of cubs out and about. So, I'm all set. Thank you for your concern.
Over the course of the past six months or so, I’ve recounted our family’s travels during the first of three cross country National Parks camping trips with our kids and travel trailer in tow. Our second trip (in the summer of 2010) was to the “Grand Circle” in the southwest and future posts will cover the tale of this epic journey. Suffice it to say for now that this trip included 9 National Parks - 2 in Colorado, 1 in Arizona and 6 in Utah - and at least 2 State Parks. In preparation for those upcoming posts, I pulled out our itinerary and have been scrolling through our photos, opening the floodgates to a whole host of memories.
|Long Pond - Acadia National Park|
It’s not so much that I’ve been reminiscing about that particular cross country trip. No, I’ve actually been thinking more about our travels in general – both with and without our travel trailer – from the perspective of the kinds of adventures they have allowed our son and daughter to experience, and how the two of them were impacted by those adventures. Every one of our family vacations seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye, whether it was one week long or five weeks long, and it’s in looking at our kids’ overall travel history that I realize they have been blessed in both the quantity and quality of their experiences.
|Cruising with a Park Ranger in Glacier Bay National Park - Junior Ranger #1 and . . .|
|Junior Ranger #2 (The kids will kill me when they see these photos.)|
Certainly, everyone’s idea of a great vacation or travel experience will differ due to personal preferences in the style of travel, type of accommodations and selection of activities involved. But vacationing, whether done locally or in the far flung reaches of civilization, often provides us with experiences not easily obtained in our normal everyday life (unless, that is, your normal everyday life is that of a full-time RVer!). When we open our eyes, our minds and our hearts during our adventures, those adventures have the potential to teach us, entertain us and even change us.
|Ryan, Anya & Whiskey paddling on Great Lake Sacandaga (Is that a shark fin I see?!)|
Our son, Ryan, now 24, has woken up in a camper crib under the shade of an umbrella on an ocean beach, in a tent along the wooded coast of Maine, on a powerboat in a marina and, of course, inside our travel trailer nestled amid the gorgeous scenery of the mountains or desert. Ryan was an easy going kid who always woke up with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye and he grew up into an easy going adult with a quick wit and that same twinkle. He and his girlfriend, Anya, have been together for a little more than five years now. Because Ryan was interested in many things mechanical when he was a child, Alan began teaching him at an early age about tractors and trailers and, eventually, about boats and RVs. Due to his inclinations and our family pastimes, Ryan has followed our footsteps into the water (he has a jet ski and both he and Anya have kayaks) and into the woods (they have a tent, as well, and often go hiking with their dog, Whiskey). Ryan is, by nature, a quiet guy, with the soul of an old and experienced explorer. In my mind’s eye, I see him when he was 12, smiling on the fly bridge of his uncle’s boat in the Gulf of Mexico; at a truck stop in the mid-west when he was 13, manning the gas pump; and on Long Pond in Acadia when he was 17, just drifting in a kayak, quietly enjoying the afternoon.
|Kyra enjoying the view at North Cascades National Park|
Our daughter, Kyra, now 19, has climbed to the top of an old fire tower to see an osprey nest, taken up paddle boarding on a lake in Minnesota, hiked to the top of the dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan and gone horseback riding along the Pacific Ocean. This kid takes to exploration like a fish to water. Unlike her brother, who will let an adventure unfold and just roll with it, Kyra isn’t satisfied with an adventure until she has turned it upside down and shaken every last bit of excitement out of its pockets. This is the child who wants to see the world (heaven help it) and she wants to see it all right away. Fortunately, she’s a licensed Cosmetologist and will be able to support herself financially. For now, Kyra is still in the education phase of her young life. But, it won’t be long before she sets her sights on the city in which she plans to live – and my guess is that it will be someplace big, vibrant and in a much warmer locale than the northeast. Then her eyes will turn to the Bucket List she’s already compiling and we’ll be getting texts and photos from some of the most magnificent places on earth. She loves our National Parks and quiet days on the lake, but she loves the energy of large cities, too, and I have a feeling that she is the kind of person who can (and will) be happy in many different places. In my mind’s eye, I see Kyra when she was 6, playing on the boy’s Little League team because the only thing the girls were worried about was the color of their gloves; when she was 11, accepting the challenge to hike the slickrock in Canyonlands to the top of Whale Rock, and when she was 18, walking the west coast beaches at sunset with wind-blown hair and a pensive but peaceful expression.
I don’t know what the future will hold for these two kids, nor do they. But I believe that the thousands upon thousands of miles they have traveled, the amazing places they have seen and the adventures they have enjoyed have helped to shape them into the young adults they have become – kind, caring and intelligent people who love the outdoors, understand the importance of family bonds and ties to friends, and are willing to work hard to achieve their life’s goals. And the best part? Alan and I have been with them, every step of the way, taking the greatest of pleasure in their journeys across the country and through the years.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Reflections Around the Campfire. I realize there are SO many other things you could be doing and I truly appreciate the fact that you made this blog part of your day. Enjoy your summer adventures – big and small. May each one of them delight you and teach you – about your friends, your family, the world in which you live or, best of all, about yourself!