On September 16 we started driving west from Chicago with the intention of seeing some of the western part of the U.S. that we had never visited and to move toward our goal of visiting all 50 states. We arrived home with two states left – Washington and Alaska. They are on our list of places to visit in the future. We saw some of the great natural wonders of the western part of the country – Pike’s Peak in CO, the Grand Canyon in AZ, Bryce Canyon in UT, Grand Teton and Yellowstone in WY. We also visited some of the wonders built by humans – Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Salt Lake City and Mt. Rushmore, SD. We were in constant awe of the mountain landscapes that kept changing as we moved from one place to another. If you are interested, you can see some pictures here.
This has been a busy year for me – the seminar in Haiti held my focus from Feb through Aug – and there were times when Rita felt abandoned, even though she supported me through the process and was my assistant in Haiti. We looked forward to this trip as a time to reestablish contact. While there is more to do with the data we collected and that will probably go on for some time, I made a promise to put it all aside while we were traveling and to give her my full attention. (He did other than when he was taking pictures. :))
On this vacation we drove 5000 mi in 20 days. That means that we spent a lot of time together in the car and everywhere else. We were together 24 hours a day. We took turns driving and spent much of our time just “visiting”. We talked about many topics as they came up. We commented on the sights we were seeing. On some days that meant repeating the word “wow” over and over. On long stretches of less inspiring landscapes (endless corn fields or pine trees) we sometimes listened to the radio and drew material from it or listened to music. Since we had no fixed itinerary, we spent time in the car and in hotel rooms planning a couple of days ahead and finding accommodations.
And it was all great! We were reminded that we still like each other a lot – necessary under the circumstances. Looking back on the trip, I am reminded of our dating days when we could talk for hours on any subject and enjoy being together. The Denver Museum of Art is a building with walls, ceilings and windows that meet in crazy angles.
It messes with your balance and we laughed as we held hands to steady each other and gripped the hand rails on the stairs to keep from falling. We held hands as we looked down from the top of Pikes Peak and other high places. We enjoyed an organ recital at the Mormon Tabernacle.
It was also necessary to be flexible. Something will always happen that will force a change in plans. The day we drove from Colorado Springs into Utah, we stopped for dinner at a truck stop in Green River, UT with the intention of getting a hotel there. (It was the best restaurant available. Not my usual fare.) The food wasn’t bad, but we didn’t know that they had a watermelon festival going on and all the hotels were full. We had to get on the internet (thank heaven for smart phones) and find another stop. There isn’t much along I70 in UT and we had to drive for another 3 hours. The drive turned out to be interesting (especially for Rita, who was driving). She was freaked out when she could look ahead and in the mirrors and to either side and see NO lights. At first she thought something had happened to the mirror. In the end, we survived it well and had a good place to sleep. Sometimes the glitches lead to pleasant surprises. As we were leaving Yellowstone the car indicated that it needed an oil change. Since dealerships were few in the western states we decided to go to the one dealer which was not far away in Bozemen, MT. It is a very nice town with interesting shops and stores. We enjoyed walking around downtown and getting lunch at a nice restaurant.
I arrived home feeling relaxed and close to Rita. It was a great time to be together. I am also determined not to let the other things I do get in the way of having time for us to spend together. On the last leg of the drive home we talked about things we can do, like day trips to nearby places.
It’s time to start planning our next vacation…Europe?
Please leave your comments below.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.