It’s officially summer, and not just because of the solstice. I’m done with work for the next two months, and I couldn’t be any more thrilled about it. Side note: to all of you naysayers who complain that teachers get summers off, trust me, I earned it!
I kicked off my vacation time with a road trip across the country – on the back of a motorcycle. My dad has a Honda Goldwing, which is the biggest motorcycle in production. It’s basically like straddling a Cadillac. The backseat it pretty comfy, although at the start of this adventure the most I’d ever ridden consecutively was an hour and a half.
I knew I was in for a tough time, but I was up for the challenge. I mean, how often is a daughter afforded the opportunity to go on a road trip with her dad, let alone on a motorcycle? This was pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so there was no way I was going to turn down my dad when he invited me to join him.
We figured we would be gone for about two weeks, another eye-brow raiser, but the promise of an unique experience and the opportunity to see some remarkable sites was too good to pass up. We saw The Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devil’s Tower and Lake Tahoe for the popular sights, and what we saw on the rides from location to location was equally fantastic. My favorite ride was through Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota. We got up early enough so that there were virtually no other vehicles on the road. Trees, rivers, mountains, peace. My experience with South Dakota was my favorite. Gorgeous scenery, fun activities (in Deadwood), and super friendly people.
When Dad and I finally reached Wyoming, we made the sad realization that we would not be able to make it up to Yellowstone due to snow storms. So, we began to make our way across the windiest state in America (this is my assumption since for several hours straight I thought I was going to be sucked off the back of the bike), through a little bit of Utah past The Great Salt Lake, and into Nevada. The ride was unbelievably gruelling. In one day we went from riding in frigid weather to sweltering weather. The wind was so dreadful, it even made my expert driver dad nervous. I started to panic about the ride back; the wind and desolate desert of Nevada broke me.
I decided that after Yosemite, I would fly out of Reno and go home. This was always a contingency plan since my dad was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it more than a week. I’m proud to say I made it 8 days. The only major bummer about the entire trip was that I did not get to see Yosemite. My father’s friend had told my father that it only took two hours to get to Yosemite. It takes four. With eight hours of driving round trip, that left us no time to actually tour the park. I was pretty devastated since that was the coup de grace of the trip. Dad decided he was going to go the following Monday and then continue driving, and I was getting on a plane. If I stayed to see Yosemite, I would’ve had to ride the bike all the way home, and I was not mentally or physically able to do that any more.
Rather than sitting in the hotel room and sulking about it (Dad felt really badly about not double-checking his friend’s claim), I suggested we drive to Lake Tahoe. We’d both never been there, and we heard that it was pretty. It was stunningly beautiful. The weather was perfect, and more importantly, I could tell my dad was happy that we were having one last hoorah before I left the next morning. We were both glad to end our time together with such a fun and lovely ride.
While I’m still a little bummed that I didn’t get to see the two major parks, I’m thrilled that I was able to have this adventure with my dad. I learned a lot of things about him, and I even learned a few things about myself.
The rest of this summer will now be dedicated to taking care of things around the house (I will finally paint our bedroom; it’s only been four years since we moved into the house), training for my triathlons, and reading the pile of books that has amassed on my desk. Mark and I may take a long weekend in August, but as for now, I look forward to just spending any time with him at home.
So, here’s to you, Summer! May your weather be pleasant and your adventures memorable.