This time last year I was desperately trying to hold onto the dreams that I had for our Christmas vacation. The government shutdown had not ended and we were preparing to head to southwest Texas without knowing whether or not Big Bend National Park would still be open by the time we got there.
We left anyway.
While it wasn’t the vacation I had initially dreamed we would have, it was the vacation our family needed. We hiked in the mountains, toured an observatory, saw snow, learned about the borderlands, and yes, even toured parts of Big Bend. It was a wonderful trip because we embraced everything that we could do instead of focusing on what we could not do and returned home a happy family.
But we weren’t completely satisfied. We had been to Big Bend but we hadn’t done Big Bend, so as we drove home without our camper from Albuquerque after our summer vacation, we decided to take advantage of the National Parks pass that was sitting in the truck and make reservations for Big Bend National Park.
We were going to try it again.
And so Christmas is upon us again and we are on the cusp of another Christmas break trip out west.
Our preparation for this trip initially looked pretty simple. The kids and I have had enough days off that we were able to take care of the camping shopping while also finishing preparations for Christmas, and the trip itself is pretty straightforward.
But then Jeff decided that we needed a new, safer, more secure hitch after our very windy drive down the coast for Thanksgiving this year. And that hitch needed to be installed yesterday, before we packed up to leave. So after a run we went to the storage lot to get the camper, brought it home, and Jeff ran some last minute errands while I made lunch and started packing. It was still going to be a tight window to make it to the 4:00 church service on time, but I was being optimistic.
When Jeff returned he handed me the directions for installing the hitch, directions that were written for an engineer, not an English teacher. Usually we make a pretty good team and I enjoy putting things together, but the whole process left me befuddled. Then Jeff got frustrated because I was confused. Then we both got frustrated because it was taking so long. Then the kids got frustrated because it was Christmas Eve and they were ready to get the whole church, dinner, and presents show on the road.
We missed 4:00 church and just barely managed to get showered and ready for 6:00, but at least I had time to make lasagna to put in the oven once we got home from church.
But now the hitch is installed, the presents are opened, the stockings are filled, and lights hung inside the camper. While we still have a full morning of preparation ahead of us, it will get done and then we can be on vacation as a family. I’m just hoping we’ll get it done without to much yelling.
And I’ll be posting to Instagram and writing blog posts along the way, so feel free to join us on our Big Bend adventure, for real this time.