Last month, our family home together in Lake Tahoe after 6 weeks of travel in Central America, I began the process of reflecting on my year — a process I go through at the end of each calendar year. We had an amazing year and I’ve already shared some of our best days. Thinking about my best days from the prior year is the first step in my process each year of setting goals for the year ahead.
I asked my wife, “Do you think people will hate me if I say one of my goals for next year is to take a vacation?”
If you’re not a traveler, such a question from a guy like me, who travels a lot, may seem strange. Maybe the question even makes you hate me. Traveling, though, is different from a vacation.
And as I began to think about 2012 I really wanted a vacation in 2013. We traveled and experienced a lot in 2012. But in 2013, I wanted to take a vacation. I wanted to stay at a nice place with lots of amenities. I wanted to take time off from work, which is something we don’t do while “traveling.”
And so the vacation planning began.
Because we’re crazy, we opted to drive the 1,000 miles from Lake Tahoe to Keystone. We knew it was going to be a haul to get there, but once we got to Keystone we’d enter vacation mode, then extend our vacation in Utah, where we planned to spend a few days enjoying some great family activities in Ogden while skiing Snowbasin Resort and Powder Mountain. Then, at the end of our ski vacation, we’d head to Santa Barbara to see my wife’s family and thaw out before returning to the snow in Tahoe.
I’ve got to tell you…. our ski vacation was amazing. It was everything I hoped for and then some.
But getting there was an adventure.
Everything started out fine. We left a day early after scoring a free room in Reno at the Atlantis Casino Resort. Not only would that take 90 minutes off our drive the next day, but it also allowed us to get out of our house in the afternoon, which is much easier than getting out early in the morning. We got to the Atlantis, played in the pool, and then in our luxurious suite the kids slept in one room while we wrapped up some final work items.
The next morning we were in our car at 6 o’clock in the morning ready to make the drive the Grand Junction, Colorado, which would put us in great position to get to Keystone early the following day.
We were on Highway 50, which is billed as the loneliest highway in America, and we noticed our car starting to make an odd clicking noise. The noise started to get louder. And it didn’t sound good.
We were on a 70 mile stretch between 2 tiny little towns, and when we pulled into Eureka, Nevada, we pulled up to an auto parts store and got directions to the one mechanic in town.
On the way there, Monica and I just hoped it was going to be something quick and easy. I was just praying that we’d pop the hood and the guy would say, “oh, here’s what’s going on….” and he’d fiddle around a few minutes, put a new belt on, I’d pay him a few bucks, and we’d be on our way.
That was not what happened.
We needed a new water pump. And our mechanic didn’t believe he had the proper tools or know-how to work on our Hummer.
We’d have to have our car towed to Elko, Nevada. 125 miles away.
The tow company also could not be there for a few hours. Once they arrived, we’d have to arrange our own transportation to get to Elko because there was not room in the two truck for all of us.
And once our car got to Elko, we were advised by the shop there that they were backed up and it’d be a few days before they could get to our car.
Our kids were having fun playing in the car and going in and out of the mechanic’s office. I was trying to stay up-beat for them. As long as I acted like everything was ok, to them, everything would be okay. As Monica teared up on the phone with her mom, I thought to myself that during this pregnancy I seemed to be putting my wife in lots of travel situations (like this one) that caused her to cry.
As we sat in the mechanic’s office waiting for an update on when to expect a tow truck, I think our mechanic had an epiphany. Here he had people sitting at his shop who would gladly give him money if he could just figure out how to help them. I noticed him starting to look things up on line. He was reading articles about working on Hummer’s and watching YouTube videos of people replacing the water pump on a Hummer. He’d go outside and look at our car then come back in and watch something on line. Back and forth and back and forth.
Soon, he told us he could fix it.
I wanted to kiss him.
We had to wait until the next morning when the part came in, but 26 hours after arriving in Eureka, Nevada, we were back on the road.
The people in this tiny little town were so friendly. We dined — lunch and dinner that day and then breakfast the next morning, at the one little restaurant across the street.
Our delay would end up being more costly than the money it set us back and the 26 hours we lost. While we were sitting around having our car worked on, a storm was coming in. Lots and lots of snow and heavy winds and more snow. We drove through stretched where the only way we could see we were on the road was by watching the markers on the side of the road. Through a stretch in Utah, high winds caused white-outs, and at times we were driving 10-15 miles an hour.
We made it as far as Green River, Utah that first day back on the road and crashed at a Motel 6 close to 2 o’clock in the morning and still 100 miles from Grand Junction and almost 300 miles from Keystone.
4 hours of sleep at the Motel 6 and we were back on the road the next morning. By lunchtime we were at Keystone and our vacation began.
While the universe seemed to conspire against us in getting to Keystone, once we arrived, the clouds parted and the heavens shined down on us. We checked into our beautiful condo in River Run Village. I stepped out on our balcony and realized we were right next to the ski rental shop. A 2 minute walk to Ski School. A 3 minute walk to the gondola. I opened the bottle of wine that had been placed in our condo for us, confirmed the time for Monica’s massage the next day, and began to look at the trail map.
That night we went to a welcome reception. We went ice-skating and drank hot chocolate.
Everything seemed right with the world.
We passed one of those claw games — you know, the claw where you try to win a stuffed animal. Jackson asked me to try to win him a stuffed animal. Who ever wins at those things? I put my coins in and I won! Emery, though, now wanted me to win her a stuffed animal too. I dropped a few more coins in and won again!
Our vacation had begun.
If you’re new to Family Trek, let’s get connected. We’re on a quest to work less, live more, and travel the world as a family. We’re trying to live deliberately, examining every aspect of life to ensure that our life actually matches up with the things we say we value most.