We drive 12 hours across land that’s flat and beige as far as the eye can see. Antelope graze on sage behind miles of listing wooden fence. The wild west’s Great Wall unfurls under low-hanging clouds. Heat bounces off scorching asphalt as I roll the big blue suitcase across the motel parking lot. Hand across my brow, I squint at shimmering foothills in the distance.
The next morning the minivan climbs, chugging between cliffs that loom like rugged skyscrapers, plunging into lush valleys, trees just now budding, grass the fresh green of early spring. I lean my forehead against the cool window, dizzy and breathless but unable to stop looking at the glittering stream that wends through emerald far below.
The first couple of days in the Grand Tetons are a whirlwind as we clamber over glacial boulders and crumbling scree, frigid mist from roaring falls settling like a web on our hair. We pose and snap and scramble through charred aspen and pine. Young fir, needles soft, push through decaying wood.
It’s easy to make that mistake on vacation, isn’t it? You want to see it all, squeeze in every possible activity, hike every trail, admire every vista. And you end up exhausted, frazzled, the scenery and memories a blur, smudged in racing from place to place.
We spend the next afternoon perched on the shore of Jackson Lake. Rowan fashions a driftwood boat, complete with twig-and-leaf sail (we marvel when we find it the next day on the far side of the harbor, still intact).
Noah methodically hauls stone after stone to create what he calls Splash Rock Island three feet from the beach. I kick off my sandals, turn my face toward the sun and read Henri Nouwen while Brad excavates an old coin from the dirt.
One evening during a power outage (we had three during our stay in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone!), Brad and I sip merlot and snack on crackers and hummus outside our cabin while Noah and Rowan construct a hotel for carpenter ants out of pine needles, stones and sticks.
So tell me…what’s your favorite do-nothing vacation “activity?”
** And might I invite you to come back Friday for a new special summer link-up here? You might have noticed my “Graceful Summer” series that I started two weeks ago… Well my friend Diana suggested it might make a fun community link-up, and I agree. Each week we’ll share how we are enjoying the slower, quieter moments of summer. See you there?