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Family Vacation: Snow in Utah.

Often stories start with a question. This morning I thought about “What is a vacation memory that comes to mind?” As you tell your story, try to zoom in on what was something specific you remember? Think about how you felt, even further in, how did your skin feel, how about your heart? What were you thinking? Now tell why.

Here’s mine.

Our summer vacation always included a trip taken as two families- the Lovells and us. We had a van and a tent trailer and they had a motorhome. My mom and theirs would plan the meals and the route.

The kids, the six of us, would do the dishes each night. We’d have a bin for washing, one for rinsing and a place to dry. The little boys were always the rinsers and maybe even helped with drying if they didn’t drop the things onto the forest floor. The three of us girls rotated washing and drying. The little boys were not allowed to touch the knives so when there was a knife we would dip it in the rinse and set it to be dried all while giving them the stink eye to not touch it.

When we started going on these trips, we had “the green van” with the open area in the back where we would huddle together on the long drives, a big open area where my mom would set up the pack and play for one or both of my brothers. We even had a portable toilet that when closed made a great extra seat between driver and passenger; between mom and dad.

There were no seatbelts but we did have an eight track player and a CB.

The portable toilet which I can only remember us using once on a trip to the desert smelled of Pine-Sol and would be traded out for an ice chest on later trips, still located in the perfect spot to see the world.

It would have also been the perfect place to launch us onto the highway if an accident were ever to have happened. It is a wonder how years later I felt comfortable sending my children on road trips with my parents!

The sink, too, would be traded out eventually for a toy chest and the pack and play would be folded up and put away as well. We had a piece of lumber that stretched across the bed in back and could be put in place to prevent us from sliding away with eyes and hooks on either side of the van. Dad would call out. “Put up the board.” It often happened when we'd be going up mountains or where there was traffic to presumably keep us in the back and not wandering up to the projectile spot. Occasionally they would tell us to lie down. Even now, I don't know if it was to keep us safe or to hide us. I hypothesize it was to protect us from anything bad outside because it usually came when we'd happen upon an accident or when Dad was stressed by something. A great tool to keep us quiet that piece of lumber from Handyman.

I think about the number of times there would be five of us in back there and no one complained about space or touching the way my own kids needed their space decades later.

The green van had curtains on a rail that worked great for us to have our own private space when we'd be camping. When the green van became the blue van my mom made new curtains we'd put up with velcro. The stripe pattern I can still see today–orange and white, green and blue.

I can't remember which van it was the year we drove to Utah, but what I do remember is that when we arrived we couldn't stay. Growing up in San Diego you never think about the weather and the only time it is even in conversation is when you wonder how long the June gloom will last. So while the moms planned the meals and the dads did the driving, they couldn't control that there would be snow on the ground when we arrived a Brian Head.

I remember being shocked to see snow on the ground in the wild. I'd seen snow before but in the mountains, at the cabin. But this was wild snow, still on the ground as part of a winter long gone. It made no sense to my preteen brain. it was summer, how could there be snow? We touched it and jumped on it, we picked it up and threw it. We laughed and played.

It is only now I wonder what was going on with the adults. I don't remember any of the four of them being all that nimble so having to find a new place to stay was probably rather stressful but what I loved about traveling as a set of families is that it seemed like my parents were happier.

There was less yelling and they all had each other to talk to. Even now, my mom and Mrs. Lovell walk the neigh­borhood every morning and when my Dad died a few years back it was Mr. Lovell I was the saddest for. I always hated being the last one at camp and it felt like that was what it was for him. My dad left him with all of us; without his traveling buddy. I digress though.

As I think about what they had to consider in the snow that afternoon, I imagine it was rather stressful. How would they find a home base for 10 people in the eighties without internet. We were packed and prepared without a place to settle.

Decades later, I'd go to the same campground with my husband and son and we'd have to make a run to Walmart for more blankets because I've never been so cold. It was easy to imagine a snowpack closing the same space. Perhaps if I’d remembered this trip sooner I wouldn't have spent a sleepless night in the Suburban turning the car on and off to keep warm, but alas, some memories only float to the top once you go back to the space.

So now that I have shared one summer story, I’d love to know what questions you have? What do you want to know more about? Those are the questions I want us to focus on. No feedback around me using even now as a transition at least twice (I know I did and it was a slight nod to the Barry Manilow 8-track I loved singing along to). No editing, just questions.

And then how did it make you feel? That's the kind of feedback that binds us; the kind we need to practice. If you felt unease at having to lie down in the back of the van, I want you to know, I did too, or if your excitement about snow was the same, I'd love to know that because it is in that space that our souls connected. it it there where even when i'm alone, I feel connected because I know there is someone feeling like me.

And finally for today, what memory does it bring forward for you? Do you have a story like this or one it makes you think about? Will you tell us your story?

So there you are a story about summer, just a memory, a snapshot, a place for all my senses and a way to connect. Other days the stories may teach a lesson or hold you in suspense but today-a memory.

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