GAIL WHITE 'How The West Was Fun': one family's travel tale

In June, I wrote about our family planning a vacation out West. After much investigation and discussion, we determined the West was too wild for our young children.
I received an e-mail at that time from Janet Weisberg of Liberty.
"My family read your column with an incredible amount of interest," Janet wrote. "My husband and I, along with our 5 children [ages 21, 14, 12, 10 and 8] are driving to Yellowstone in a minivan."
While excited about the trip, the Weisbergs had some reservations.
"What scares me," Janet wrote before they left, "is that the official state map of Wyoming has more mountains on it than roads!
"When I asked my husband how he really felt about the trip, he told me hoped he could tolerate it and wouldn't have to get a one-way airline ticket back home."
The Weisberg clan left Ohio on June 16 and returned to "civilization" on June 28.
"We are back and recovered," Janet e-mailed me upon their return.
Taking note
Janet kept a journal of their adventure. The title is encouraging, "How The West Was Fun."
"As we pull out of the driveway Sunday morning at 5 a.m., I wonder if we will regret what we are doing," Janet begins her journal. "Only 3 out of 7 people want to drive to Yellowstone from Ohio."
Janet explains that their oldest son, Matthew (21) was the instigator of the trip.
"David [10] became enthusiastic," she continues. "Others only wanted assurances that every motel we stayed in would have a swimming pool."
Day One -- So far remarkably smooth -- at 9:45 a.m. after leaving at 5 a.m. Only had to yell at the kids 3-4 times. Big morning event, we enter Central time zone and immediately feel like we had gotten up even earlier.
Day Two -- Up at 6:30. On the road by 8:00. No breakfast, no showers for most. It's clear that this group takes time to organize.
The day is spent traveling through Iowa and Nebraska.
Nebraska is extremely flat but more rolling than we thought. ... Counting down miles is about all we are doing.
Day Three -- We dipped into Colorado so we could claim as having traveled in that state. Onto Wyoming! Stopped at the highest point on I-80 in the U.S., 8500 feet. Went from 94 degrees to 68 in one hour. The kids played in the snow. Nice break for all.
Day Four -- Flaming Gorge Reservoir -- a side trip found by Matthew. He and his dad are interested in the journey, not the destination, while the others just want the destination. ... Some in the group want to maximize the number of states we go through, even if only for 5 or ten minutes. It counts, they say.
Day Five -- Another early day. Jonathan (12) wants to know if this is a vacation, why does he have to get up so early everyday?
On to Yellowstone ... geysers, paint pots, wildlife ...
Got to Montana and turned around after we crossed the line that is halfway between the equator and the Arctic Circle.
Day Six -- No one got moving early. Went through the Tetons to Jenny Lake.
Day Seven -- Quiet Day, rested.
Days 8 and 9 are spent driving through Montana.
Montana is a large and lonely state.
Day Ten -- Crazy Horse Memorial, Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave, hail big enough to dent the car.
Days 11 and 12 are spent driving home.
We have mixed feelings about the number of people we see now. Seems very crowded.
Day 13 -- Into our driveway by 5 p.m. Everyone is glad to be home.
With the trip over, Janet concludes her journal, "Would I do this again? Recommend it to others? In a heartbeat -- YES!"
"Last night, Hannah [14] and Zachary [8] were looking at an atlas and talking about next year's vacation," Janet writes.
"Florida is only two days to drive," says Hannah.
"That's all!" exclaims Zach. "We can go to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky on the way!"

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