It’s been a little quiet this week because our family took a Spring Break trip to Big Bend National Park in far west Texas. There will be a few additional posts with tales from the trails but for the first one back I had to write about perspective.
You may remember we vacationed in Yosemite National Park summer before last. It was an amazing vacation. We hiked the park and stayed in a lovely home outside the park. Bray had wanted to visit Big Bend for years so we settled on a road trip to this remote Texas park for this year’s Spring Break. Last fall, family friends of ours decided to join us. It was then both of our families realized we had waited too long to find accommodations.
We searched for a house we could share but everything was booked or far away from the park. My friend’s mom knew some folks in the area and found us a trailer park in Terlingua only minutes from a park entrance. Two trailers were open on the mountaintop with great views and secluded from the other trailers on the property. We booked it and hoped for the best.
One of the most significant problems involved three seven year olds. Remarkably, traveling with three seven year olds turned out to be much harder than traveling with three five year olds. Who knew? We drove seven hours Saturday to Del Rio with massive fighting and screaming during chunks of the trip. Granted, it’s smushed with three boosters crammed into a middle bench seat to make way for all the gear, but Lord have mercy. It took another five hours Sunday, with stops, to arrive at our destination.
Oh, the destination.
By way of background, I grew up with very little money and we did not do family vacations. We visited my grandparents until I was in high school when we did two or three mini-staycations at a Holidome in town. We loved it, but vacation travel did not exist in my childhood. Then, after stints abroad in college and law school, I got bit by the travel bug. I won’t buy expensive shoes or cars, but I am a BIG fan of lovely accommodations. Whether it was an inn on the water in Cape Cod when I was single or a Four Seasons for a work conference, I’ll spring for luxury (for me) when it involves me sleeping away.
This. Was. Not. Luxury.
This 11-trailer trailer park developed 40 years ago and hadn’t changed, in all likelihood, one iota since then. Our trailer was teeny-tiny with one small room with a double bed and one twin bed in the hallway. You couldn’t turn around in the bathroom and the towels were small and nearly transparent. I couldn’t sleep for fear of bed bugs. Or the coyotes and black widow spiders in the mountain outside my window. Bray waited to tell me about the mice in the trailer until we’d left town.
Despite our plans to stay through Thursday, and the view from the mountain, Bray suggested a day-early departure only 24 hours in. I nearly attacked him with joy. Yes, anywhere, please please please. He’d wanted to head up to Fort Davis so we decided to stay in a motel closer to Houston to break the trip back up (given the brutality of the trip up).
So Wednesday arrived, and with it great joy and anticipation. The kids must have sensed we were frayed thin, so they behaved the whole way to Fort Davis.
We had a lovely day, picnicking on the grounds at the Fort. Earlier, we met the nicest, incredibly colorful, fellow at the McDonald’s south of town. He overheard us debating where to stay and he recommended the Comfort Inn at Sonora. It would be another three hours in the car after the Fort, but it would guarantee arriving back in Houston before dinner. We took it as a sign and booked the $86 deal over the phone.
We checked in, dragged our two motel chairs into the parking lot to watch the kids play, while Bray popped open a left over beer and I poured some remnant red wine into a plastic water glass. Just off I-10. Heaven.
After a super nutritious dinner at the Dairy Queen next door, we all took turns showering in the now-seeming-gigantic bathroom. After my long shower, I popped out with sing-songy voice: guess who’s wrapped in a big thick white towel? Meeeeeeeeee. And guess what music you are about to hear? A blow dryer! Attached to a wall. (I hadn’t blow dried my hair all week!)
Bray couldn’t help himself from laughing: Um, a week ago, you would have flipped out about staying at a “motel” off the freeway with “door open to the outside;” now you think you’re in a palace!
That, my friends, is perspective.
Oh mercy did I get a dose of perspective.
Lots of perspectives on this trip actually. More to come.
But among the new perspectives was how out of touch I’d become. My husband reminded me how many people would have been grateful for our aging trailer. And how many more people don’t get to vacation. Or change their plans on the spur of the moment. Growing up, I might have considered a trip like this exotic. Now, I let discomfort get in my way.
I needed this trip. For a number of reasons. I learned new things and saw new places and we all arrived back in one piece. But one of my happiest vacation memories will be the five of us crammed into a two double bed room at the Comfort Inn in Sonora, Texas. Right off the freeway with white towels and blow dryers.