We left Alabama 10 days ago, heading west with our Little Guy Max in tow. We were anxious, nervously reading and rereading our owner’s manual and constantly checking our mirrors to make sure the Max hadn’t disappeared behind us. But luck prevailed, our trailer remained attached, and we pulled in to our first destination about six hours later — a riverfront campground outside of Memphis.
It was a lovely start to the trip. We took our time carefully setting up as our son ran up and down the bank, picking wildflowers and throwing rocks in the water. We cranked open the windows, popping our heads out like prairie dogs, and curled up together on the queen bed. We sat there for hours watching tugboats cruise up the Mississippi River under a deep pink sunset.
The next day, my son gleefully ran around the campground, introducing himself to all our neighbors’ dogs. I sent my husband out to chase him while I cooked up breakfast on the two-burner stove. We sat outside to eat, enjoying the breeze off the river and watching plovers hop around their ground nests. My husband and I looked at each other and smiled, embarrassed about how nervous we had been to start this journey. This was going to be so much easier than we expected.
And then the flu hit.
The next few days were a blur of urgent care visits, trips to the pharmacy, and feverish naps. It wasn’t pretty. Because we were all in such close proximity in the camper, we passed the virus to each other in a matter of hours. Luckily, the worst of it was over after a couple of nights, and we continued our trip with cautious optimism.
We finished recuperating in Oklahoma City, where my son befriended the sweetest campground cat. We passed through Amarillo, Texas, where we chased each other around Cadillac Ranch and watched the most beautiful sunrise. From there, we drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we stuffed ourselves with Mexican food and watched the sunlight dance over the mountains. And then, finally, we reached the Grand Canyon.
I had been there before; my husband and son hadn’t. But even having previously stood at the rim, seeing the canyon stretch before me made me gasp. The grandeur, the sheer incredible scale, the range of colors and textures on the canyon walls… it just never gets old.
Our campground at the Grand Canyon was just as idyllic, teeming with elk that moved sedately through the pines. We threw the windows open to catch yet another epic sunset, with vivid purples and oranges streaking across the sky, and fell asleep watching shooting stars from our bed.
We became so comfortable in our Max that we started referring to it as home. “What do you want to do after this?” “Let’s go home to the campground and have lunch before our hike.”
It made me smile every time I caught myself saying it. We quickly fell into a daily routine. We’d wake to our son cheerfully patting our faces and climbing on top of us, and my husband would pull juice and fruit from the fridge while I heated up water for the coffee. We’d climb outside and eat breakfast at a picnic table and greet our neighbors, the kid dashing off toward any dogs he saw. My husband and I would split the tasks of breaking down camp and then we’d leave the campground just before our son’s typical naptime, letting him snooze through the drive to the next destination. Having that regular schedule and having a familiar place to sleep each night has made the adjustment to constant travel an easy one — for all of us.
Beyond all of the incredible sights we’ve seen from our Little Guy Max, it’s been wonderful to spend so much time together as a family. My husband and I are both seeing the little developments my son makes every day, instead of only one of us catching it or having to hear about it from a babysitter. He’s saying new words every day. We both got to watch his jaw drop at his first sight of an elk (and then we both got to chase him as he sprinted toward the beast to try to pet it). I can’t wait to see what happens when he sees a bison or a moose for the first time… and I’ll have my running shoes ready, just in case.
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