Beaver Creek Valley State Park

Our first night on our road trip out west was in Minnesota at the Beaver Creek Valley State Park.

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

We drove our longest day on the first day because, like my wise friend Leanne told me, they’ll be the most excited on the first day. So go farther. The car is still fun! We were racing this sky on our way in to the state park, hoping to set up before it started pouring.

Ominous sky on our way into first night of camping

We just made it, I got soaked but the kids were dry and the camper was up. We had a dry night and an early one. The kids woke up with the sun the next morning (the entire road trip we were up around 5:30 every morning with our adorable non-sleepers, thankfully we kept gaining hours on our way West) and since we didn’t have service we didn’t know what time it was exactly, but were sure it was still before the parks quiet time ended.

They hopped on their bikes and we went exploring.

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

I felt some feelings, this place was kind of magical.

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

We packed up the camper after breakfast and were on the road before 8 am that morning.

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

Night 1, Day 2 of Summer Road Trip West

We had rain (usually thunderstorms) every day. My mom called it our daily storm.

And we got through it just fine. The adventure had begun.

Home

We’ve been on a cross-country road trip for the past week or so, finally landing in the Pacific North West for an extended stay for the summer, then we traverse back across the country to land in the midwest again before school starts.

This has been in the works for over a year. Last summer we had a family vacation planned that suddenly got canceled due to the airline we were using and it kind of fell apart. Then my brother moved his family away and I fell apart.

I started researching this idea to relocate for this summer then and had to sell the idea to Aaron. I came up with a plan to save for the trip and the rough outline of what it would look like if just the kids and I did this, or if Aaron wanted to come too. And it changed a lot over the last year from conception to actually renting a house and driving across the country. We kept it a secret from the kids for 11 of then 12 months and worked hard to make this happen.

Then we woke up last Friday morning and left. Aaron had a fever over 100 for the first 5 days, I drove 90% of the trip out here. We lived through high winds, 100 degree weather days, cold nights, a thunderstorm every single day on the trip out here, over 2,700 miles, pulling a popup camper through the Black Hills and not entirely knowing what we were doing at any given moment.

But it’s been amazing.

I had all these grand ideas about writing a poem every day for the entire summer, then I was the one in charge of driving and I only just opened my journals to write the other day. I’ve written one. But I have more in me.

My expectations have been countlessly revised to meet with the realities of this trip. Of the actual movement, as well as the ideal outcome – and I’ve come to the happy place of taking what comes.

Yesterday we walked to my grandparents house and the vault inside of me opened. My grandma walked me around her garden telling me about her roses and flowers. What went wild, what she did or didn’t plant, who bought what for her and when. My grandpa told us he’d take us fishing and show me how to smoke my catch, then he let my kids ride the 4-wheeler and Jessica found my grandma’s piano and started pecking at the keys and everything made sense.

I came back to
the one place we
can all agree
belongs to me.

My varied history, nomadic pattern of history. A vagabond heart with a patchwork family … this place, this place doesn’t change. This place is one place I can always come home to.