This trip was the longest time my mother and I have spent alone together since I left for college; we drove from Louisville, Ohio through Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho! It all started when we were talking about what she might write on an online dating site about her interests if she were to make one. This is the actual conversation we had:
Maranda: “Well, what do you like to do?”
“Ok…. Well, it’s great to love what you do, but what else?”
(Actual 3 minute pause)
Maranda: “Mom. Do you really not have one interest?!”
Mom: “Well… I guess I like to camp!”
Maranda: “Awesome! When was the last time you camped?”
Mom: “Umm, when did you graduate from high school?”
Maranda: MOM! I graduated from high school ten years ago! You haven’t done the one thing that you can think that you like to do other than work in a decade?!”
At Christmas I decided we didn’t need any more things and my present to her was to plan a trip out west so we could, just the two of us, camp, hike, and see the nation’s first national park! Neither of us had seen Mount Rushmore either and we really enjoyed seeing that. Our first park, after convincing my little 4-banger to drive 80 miles per hour on the 80 in South Dakota just to not be the slowest car on the highway, was The Badlands and we hiked around like kids. I’m so grateful my mom is physically able and mentally interested in hiking, camping and adventuring with me. At our campsite in Wyoming the campground attendant told us in the MOST sinister way, “Yeah, we like how quiet it is here…but it gets pretty lonely in the winter….” And he creepily looked from one of us to the other. Ew sir, no.
Very early on I was forced to question how I’m her daughter. My mom always has to have her “face” on and hair done. Every time she stopped the car she has to check and touch up her hair and makeup in the mirror. This has been happening since I was a child, by the way. Meanwhile her own flesh and blood hasn’t showered in an actual shower in days, lost her makeup in the trunk and has come to the conclusion that a messy bun is a look I’m comfortable rocking for days on end. I spent a fair amount of time standing outside of the car ready to go on a hike saying, “Mom! You look fine. Can we please go now?!” My mother is a very beautiful woman, but I wish she wouldn’t place such value in looks; she brings so much more to the table than that.
On a hike to the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone we walked past a family with a little boy who was done. He had hiked in the heat all day and he was furious with his dad for not bringing more water on the super short hike. In true anger he looked up at his dad and shouted, “All I have is my own spit to drink!” Apparently my mom and I are children and have the exact same sense of humor because we were both immediately doubled over laughing at this sweet and honest young man. It reminded us both of when I was little and would complain about being thirsty. My mom would say, “Open up your mouth and I’ll spit in,” to which I would obviously start gagging and saying, “Eww no!” And she could then say, “Well, I guess you’re not that thirsty.” Ahh childhood…
The obvious highlights of Mammoth Springs, Old Faithful, Lamar Valley, The Grand Prismatic Spring and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone were as wonderful as everyone told us they would be. We specifically enjoyed camping at Pebble Creek where our host Ray reminded us of the quintessential grandpa, Lewis Lake where we hung in the hammocks for a few hours and caught a gorgeous sunset, and The Old Faithful Inn with an awesome tour that added historical context to the trip. In the Tetons we stayed at the beautiful Jenny Lake, quite literally in the shadows of the mountains. As my grandma told me today on the phone, everyone should see The Grand Tetons before they die. We spent a well deserved afternoon hanging by Jackson Lake in the hammocks, rocked gently by the mountain breeze. We enjoyed drinks behind Jackson Lake Lodge watching the sunset for our last night in the park, laughing about the scientific name for pine tree, which is pinus (not to be confused with “penis”).
Between both parks we saw a black bear with two cubs, a grizzly bear with two cubs, tons of pronghorn, elk, moose, pikas, wolves, coyote, a bald eagle and of course all the bison! Before I drove on to meet friends in Portland to hike Mt. Rainer, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks, my mom and I drove to Boise to catch her flight home. It felt great to shower and sleep in beds for the first time in far too long. At some point during our travels, my mother lost her ID. She believes it was while she was peeing in the woods. We were worried that she wouldn’t have sufficient ID to get through security. However, her conceal carry permit worked, thank god! It was a mother-daughter camping trip for the books; we spent time away from work, the internet, and other distractions. We have been through more than most mothers and daughters have, good and bad. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way with any other woman…until she spends too long doing her makeup. That’s when I’m trading her out!!