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  • Rachel Chin

It’s time to refuel

It feels so great to be able to go on vacations again. I forgot how much I love them.


We just returned from the biggest road trip my little family has ever done. We drove almost every day for nine days straight, hitting three national parks along the way. Our drive times ranged from four hours to 11 hours daily, spending almost every night in a new place, with the exception of three nights sleeping in an RV at a campground outside of Glacier National Park.


We left the safety of home that we’ve so carefully clung to for the past year, and giddily shared the anticipation of adventure, of FINALLY traveling again -- the sound of tires rolling on the open highway for hours on end, with a car packed full of camping gear, people and pillows. Even the gas station stops were exciting – while my husband refueled on gas and coffee, my teenager would pop up out of the car, eager to spend his money on snacks at the gas station stores.


As we drove, I had plenty of time to regale my three kids in the back seat with my own stories of road trips as a kid. I told tales of my big brother repeatedly falling asleep at the wheel as he drove us through Texas, while my terrified sister and I took turns yelling at him to wake up. I described in detail the day a bear slapped my family’s car while visiting Bear Country in South Dakota, and how it left a gorgeous long scratch down the side as we carefully drove away. I recalled riding for hours in the back of a pickup truck with my sister, listening to cassette tapes, completely surrounded by tightly packed camping gear, and loving every minute of it. The best vacation stories are usually the ones with a little adversity in them.


And this vacation was no different.


Some of our best memories from this trip came from our harrowing drive down miles of lumpy dirt roads with a big RV, kids laughing and bouncing all over the seats, knowing there was NO WAY we could turn around, and praying we were going the right direction; our children running through a gulley with their cousins to catch up to a housecat as it chased (and caught) a poor defenseless rabbit; all the adults playing hangman in the car in the rain when a car accident closed the only road out of the park for over an hour; and staying up till midnight each night because it was light outside so long we lost track of time every single day.


Family trips like these give us memories that will fill us (hopefully) with repeated laughter and ever-improving stories for the rest of our lives. Much like gassing up the car on a road trip, these memories are the fuel that carry us through to the next stop, that remind us there is fun to be had and exciting things ahead of us still.


We’ve all been playing it safe for over a year now. Taking a vacation is a fantastic way to kick-start that feeling of freedom again. Remember the anticipation? The endless planning, the trepidation of not knowing exactly what will happen on your journey, but deciding to do it anyway?


We’ve had a lot of new challenges in the last year that have drained us. It’s time to refuel.


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Some of my favorite travel quotes:


“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for.” – John A. Shedd


“May your adventures bring you closer together, even as they take you far away from home.” – Trenton Lee Stewart


“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

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