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What Does 4500 Miles in a Car Look Like?

Like the car has never been detailed. Enough bug carnage on the front bumper to make an entomologist jealous. And by the exhausted smiles on the faces of four happy Boyles, like they’d just had the trip of their lives. For three weeks, we camped, hiked, swam and explored our way across seven states. Just where did we go? Here it is:

Seattle to Montana. Montana to Yellowstone. Yellowstone to the Grand Tetons. Across Wyoming. Into the Black Hills of South Dakota. Across South Dakota. North to North Dakota. Went to a wedding. Dipped our toes into Minnesota so we could say we “went” there. Crossed North Dakota. Camped by the Missouri river. The Badlands. Montana. More Montana. And just when you think there isn’t enough Montana, believe me there is more. Idaho. Washington. Home.

Now most people who know me will laugh at the idea of me camping. Believe me, my usual mantra is that any hotel without room service is camping, but that is probably because as a child we always went camping. Always. And I had forgotten how much fun it is. How wonderful it is to be outside. The joys of a campfire. Swimming in a clear, clean river. The stars on a dark night. The unexpected visitors–we saw bears, bison, elk, deer, prairie dogs, wild turkeys, antelope. The incredible majesty of the Grand Tetons.

I have flown over my nation, going from one coast to the other and always looked down and thought it was just empty. But the beauty and incredible landscapes that spread across those “empty parts” will take your breath away.

I daydreamed endlessly as we passed fields of sunflowers, high cliffs, remarkable Western vistas. Marveled at the life of Buffalo Bill Cody, revisited every John Wayne movie I’ve ever seen, hummed the theme song to Bonazana, sat on great big boulders and looked at sparking waters and let the views just fill my heart. And every time I thought we couldn’t see something more breathtaking, we’d roll around a corner and see something else.

As for living all of us in such close quarters for all that time? We learned to laugh with each other, got to the heart of things that have been unsaid for too long, and just shared the joy of exploring hidden corners well off the beaten path.

7 comments to “What Does 4500 Miles in a Car Look Like?”

  1. terri
    August 25th, 2010 at 7:50 pm · Link

    This sounds awesome. Great pictures!

    I never camped until my late 30’s – and did lots of camping until 2 years ago. Now I like the RV type camping, though I want a smaller RV. I want to get into all those cool places and still have a fridge, potty, a rain proof roof, and not sleep on the ground. 🙂

  2. Tracy M.
    August 30th, 2010 at 4:53 pm · Link

    It sounds like you had a fantastic time with your family and the pictures are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your trip memories. I’m sure this will be a trip that your children remember for a long time.

  3. Micah C.
    August 31st, 2010 at 5:58 pm · Link

    Isn’t camping fabulous?! Several years ago my husband and I made the decision to invest in our Family by way of a small, servicable travel trailer. We have spent countless nights getting closer to our children (7, 2, and 9mo.) and teaching them the wonders of a world without TVs, Phones, Computers and every toy imaginable. There is nothing quite like spending quiet evening in front of a campfire. I am glad you had a wonderful time!

  4. Erin E.
    August 31st, 2010 at 6:06 pm · Link

    Sounds like a beautiful trip, Elizabeth. Time like that with your family is truly treasured moments.

  5. charmayne b
    September 15th, 2010 at 9:44 am · Link

    Well I hope you had fun in South Dakota and the weather was nice for you. I’ve lived in South Dakota for my whole life and I love it here.

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