Some of my happiest memories as a child were made during family road trips to Tennessee. My sister and I spent the entire drive being as goofy as possible; we built "forts" with blankets in the backseat of the mini-van, which in hindsight was probably not the safest thing for my dad as he drove; we blasted the air-conditioning so we could bundle up and get a little break from the heavy, humid air and Southern heat; we laughed until our stomachs hurt and tears ran down our cheeks, usually over things no one else would understand. As I head toward 30, I'm happy that my sister and I can still recreate that silly, giggly feeling from our younger years, even if those moments are few and far between now that we live so far apart.
Brad, Riley and I began a similar tradition with our family when we drove to Crested Butte from Denver last week. Riley may not have a sibling to laugh with yet, but he and Decorah the dog entertained each other just fine. Sometimes, Brad and I would peak in the backseat to find Riley smiling like a total goofball at himself in the mirror attached to the headrest of his seat. Other times, we would sit and listen as he babbled on about this or that. We had no idea what he was saying, but he was quite sure of himself and every sound was wonderfully expressive.
Just as my family had places where we had to stop on the way to Tennessee, we have our favorite as well. Camp 4 Coffee is one of those places. The first time I went to Crested Butte was probably 5 years ago. Brad and I made the trip with his parents and they showed us around the town. Camp 4 was one of those places that, long after leaving the little mountain town, I never forgot. Each time we return to the coffee shop, everything tastes even better than what I remember. The lattés are absolutely perfect when enjoyed outside the shop in the crisp, mountain air and warm sun. A fresh-baked cake donut doesn't hurt either...
One of my favorite memories from this trip has to be taking Riley sledding for the first time. The smile on his face was so infectious. I was reminded of winter days spent sledding in Minnesota on the hills of a nearby golf course. We would sled until our cheeks were pink and slightly numb from the cold and we had screamed in excitement at least a dozen times as we flew down the hill in our plastic sleds. We would then go home to the warm kitchen and sit down to sip some hot chocolate and thaw out. Quintessential winter moments like these should be experienced by every child. I can't wait for next year when we can do it all over again and see how Riley has grown since this first ride.
One of the greatest parts about the trip was being able to take in the view from the patio. Each time I see the massive mountains all around us my breath catches in my chest and I am in total awe of how amazing this earth is. After living in Japan, I had forgotten that the United States has some pretty incredible sights to see. This trip was exactly the reminder I needed.
I think we tend to take short vacations for granted. No matter where you go, a few days away from the stresses that can accumulate at home is often enough to make you appreciate the day to day stuff. When we returned from this trip, I walked into our new house and felt, for the first time since moving here from Japan, like it was a relief to be "home". Between the new memories we made, traditions we started, and the quiet time Brad and I had together, this was the perfect vacation.
Now the question is, when can we go back?