I’m sure that there are families who go on vacation together and everything is perfect. I imagine these families going to the beach, and flying there of course. I imagine that they calmly and politely eat breakfast together, laze about reading glossy magazines, and then stroll along the beach before playing perky games of volleyball where the strong members help the weak and everyone high fives at the end regardless of the score. I imagine that these families go out to eat at swanky seafood restaurants before returning to their beach house to watch movies where no one interrupts the film with snarky comments or annoying questions and then they go to bed with a ritual that rivals the sweetness of that of John Boy on The Waltons.
These families are not like my family.
For starters, we never go to the beach. One time we did and everyone got burned and hated it and we swore that we would never again be seduced by clear waters and pristine sands. The Stones go to the mountains. And we drive there. When we get there, we hike. A lot. We wake up and my dad makes breakfast, and then we hit the trails. We usually hike farther then intended, lose the trail, get lost, get annoyed, snap at each other, run out of water, eat all the granola bars, and wish there were more. At some point, we pause in our frustration and set up the tripod that my dad has lugged along, decide which of the obscenely large cameras we should use (having brought 3 on the hike), and pose happily for a photo. There are mornings spent reading and debating with each other about books, but no glossy magazines unless you count the medical journals my mom brings. She likes to shove one under your face while you are reading and suddenly you are staring at a boil about to burst or a weird toe fungus. Sometimes we engage in game playing, but mostly so that we can have intense smack talk and gloating over winning. And after cooking dinner together, we all just kind of drag our sore feet up to bed. We usually have at least one fight during the trip, and I inevitably cry at some point because I am an overdramatic middle child who does that sort of thing and takes everything personally.
And there is no one I would rather vacation with.
These people are my family, and they are everything. They populate the otherwise perfect backdrop and make it quirky, interesting, and intensely dear. Having James with my boisterous family in our #stegmannsgowest (yep, I forced everyone to embrace a hip trip hashtag – let it never be said that we aren’t with it) adventure is something I have dreamed about for a long time. These people make it worthwhile to go to this place.
If you are reading this and have my dad for a morning class, you should probably just demand that he make breakfast, because it is kind of his spiritual gift.Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes my mom did do her hair in hot rollers before every hike. I mean, “you never know who you will run into out in those woods!” It does mean she looks awesome for the million photos we took. I took the other route, foregoing all hair rituals and makeup application for the whole time in the mountains. This is also evident in the million photos. That last scene was a common occurrence… even if we sometimes chose to ignore the map.
I also got to spend some time in Colorado with a couple of my closest friends from college, as well as one from childhood, who is now friends with those college friends, which is pretty much the best thing ever.These people. They’re my favorites.