You might think this post is about hiking, swimming, bear sighting during our family vacation to Glacier National Park.
It is not, although we did hike, swim and sight a bear at a safe distance.
Or you might think this post is about biking the stunning Going to the Sun Road.
It is not, but I did conquer that beauty, and actually wished the 21-mile climb were longer just so I could soak up views like this.
You might think this post is about pushing my limits.
It is not, although I did take deep breath and launch myself off the Old Belton Bridge with my kiddos. (And yes, getting a picture was my main motivation for the leap.)
Instead, picture yourself at a campsite with four grills and picnic tables, already generously socially distanced before social distancing was a thing. Your posse (kids + husband + family of four you are traveling with) at one table at the end of the line. Another family of four, with what looks like two young teenage boys, at the other end. Two tables separate you.
You have two teenagers: one fourteen, one seventeen. The older bought a portable hammock with some birthday money, and the younger one is constantly pecking, asking to put it up/lie in it. The typical sibling power struggle. The frequency with which the hammock conversation occurs is, quite frankly, unnecessary and annoying. But you have been able to ignore it; you’re on vacation.
But now? Now you’re hangry. You’re hot and have a sunburn on your neck and dirt under your fingernails and bug bites on your leg. Plus, you got your period unexpectedly, and are mentally rallying to drive the 15 minutes you need for Super Plus tampons. Your daughter’s pencil thin ones don’t cut it.
The tangerine LaCroix you guzzled wasn’t as refreshing as you wanted it to be, and there’s no room for you to sit down at the picnic table. And you’ve got to chop a bunch of veggies so your (picky) kids can have a few vitamins this trip.
The hammock banter begins again.
“I am going to go get it out of our tent and put it up,” says Ben.
“No you’re not,” says Amelia, “It belongs to me!”
“But you haven’t used it on this part of the trip,” he says.
“I don’t care. It’s mine!”
And then, out of nowhere, you yell. At a volume you reserve for those special FIRST MIDDLE LAST NAME: GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW occasions at home.
“Quiet! I am SO SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THE HAMMOCK! Stop it now. Don’t SAY ANOTHER WORD ABOUT IT. Enough! EITHER ONE OF YOU!”
Silence at the campground.
Embarrassment at the campground.
The parents with whom you’re traveling likely get it; they’ve been around for a couple of days and are as sick of it as you are. But the parents at the other table? They seem so quiet, such a happy, cooperative family.
You don’t really know how, but your table’s chatter returns to what’s on the docket for tomorrow. You eat an excellent meal—chicken and steak and grilled veggie skewers—and wash it down with a refreshing lager, and you feel much better. Even your bug bites seemed to have shrunk.
Tossing a bag of garbage, you pass the mom from the other table on the grass, and think about saying something like, “Sorry for the eruption. Long day.” But you decide against it. It feels like hours ago.
That happy family of four finish their dinner, and start playing a game of cornhole. As you walk towards your car to head into town, the mom says, “Dimity? The Mother Runner?”
Embarrassment at the campground.
“Um, yes. Hi! What’s your name?”
“Brigitte. From Portland.”
Immediately, the dad chimes in. “We were so relieved to hear you yell at your kids; now we know we’re not the only ones.”
Phew. Connection at the campground.
You chat for a bit with Brigitte and her husband, and laugh about how travel is great, but you’re still with the same people you’ve quarantined with for five straight months. This COVID thing? Hard for everyone, even when you’re grilling steak skewers and planning a glorious hike through Glacier National Park tomorrow.
You drive to the store, relieved they have Super Plus tampons. You throw in a pack of Peanut M’n’M’s to enjoy on the drive back to the campground, and look forward to getting up and doing it all over again.
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