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What I’ve learned…

1,788 miles
32 hours in a Chevy Malibu (only includes town to town driving, no in-town)
1 cabin, 5 homes
2 bikes which became 3 bikes which became 1 different bike which became 2 bikes
43 family members
11 village members
Lowest temperature: 45 degrees
Highest temperature: 105 degrees
13 buy-off gifts for my 5 and 7 year old boys
One epic trip.

1) Whether blood, married, accidental, or chosen, family is family, and will always be.

2) It is not necessary to have video available as an option for children to survive a trip such as this.

3) Cousins make life worth living for those under ten, especially those living far away from said cousins.

4) You can never guess the impact that you will have in the lives of others, or the impact the lives of others will have on you. Live graciously. Spread joy. Love those around you.

5) Honor your dead. But also honor your living, because they will someday become your dead.

6) A hometown is made up of more than “that house”. A hometown is in the parks and streets and schools in which you LIVED your life.

7) Take pictures. They are a thousand memories encapsulated into one image. They will continue to speak for decades to come.

8) When leaving for long periods, bring whatever daily normalcy with you that you can.

9) When you are gone, you will first relish the escape from normalcy, like a child running away from responsibilities. You will find a rhythm of the new, the flexible, the whatever. Then you will crave your normal. This is homesickness.

10) Upon arriving home, normal will hit you like a Mack truck. As will laundry.

11) It is possible to create a capsule wardrobe allowing the greatest number of outfit options using the smallest number of distinct interchangeable items to do so. You will congratulate yourself on a smaller suitcase and the planned laundry stops along the way. You will hate it by the end of your trip.

12) Find and cultivate pockets of silence. They are life blood.

13) Bring a book, but a small book, with no subject of consequence. The bringing of said book makes no guarantees that you will have time to read it. Omission of book guarantees a need, and you will have to purchase one. Bringing a large book will cause you to curse it. Bringing a book of consequence will drive you to want a book of no consequence, and cause you to purchase one.

14) Leave your home in such a state that it could lay empty or be utilized. You never know.

15) Be socially open and inviting, while still drawing boundary lines of independence. Go with the group unless food, activity, fatigue, or other circumstances cause you to separate, and then make no apologies or offenses, if possible.

16) Sleep aids are a Godsend. Use whatever aids you.

17) There are moments in life that truly take a village. Large gatherings of family members can constitute a village, and make the best cheerleading crowd for removal of training wheels.

18) With the right amount of dedication, it IS possible to rouse and get on the road a family of four at 4:30am.

19) When in doubt, throw them in a swimming pool.

20) Despite it’s foibles, social media is the tie that binds us. Use Facebook to create face-to-face time. Heaven help us if we didn’t have it.

Finally, with careful planning and the right mix of activities, you can have a vacation in the midst of a trip to see family. And who knows, with practice, maybe even one day all the family trips may be vacations.

~Me

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