by Kristalyn Patzkowski
Before I tell you about this year’s summer excursion, I need to revisit August 22nd of 2009. To anyone else, it was a regular Saturday — the one day of the week to sleep in — but not for me. I had been looking forward to this day for a couple of weeks, so I was not able to sleep late. I got dressed and ate my breakfast then waited anxiously for my grandparents to arrive. They were taking my mom and me car-shopping in Clovis and our first stop was Bingham Toyota. Although I had convinced myself I would not get a Toyota, my mind changed completely when I saw it. In the showroom was a gorgeous, blue 2010 Toyota Camry S.E. I got to test drive it and instantly fell in love. However, my grandparents told me we had to visit other dealerships. No matter where we went, though, or what cars we saw, the Camry was all I could think of. Later that day, we returned to Bingham and my mom put a down payment on my new car. This is the car that my mom and I decided to take on our summer vacation, a road trip through the United States.
On June 14th, we started our two-week long trip that would take us across 13 states — Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho and Kansas, to name a few. My mom and I traveled for hours each day until we arrived at our next hotel and we made quite a few stops for food, gas and restroom breaks along the way. Yet, at the end of every day, it was a comfort to sleep in a bed. Some hotels were more luxurious than others and a few supplied us with a continental breakfast. I must admit my favorite hotel was the Marriot in Lincoln, Nebraska. My mom and I stayed on the second-to-top floor and had access to the concierge lounge. We got free breakfast, dinner, desserts and Starbucks coffee. How awesome is that?!
Aside from the long days of driving, my mom and I did visit a few tourist attractions. We drove through part of the Painted Desert yet I found little interest in the rock formations. We passed through the Grand Tetons and that was the first time I had seen snow in June! We also quickly stopped at one of the original Pony Express Stations in Nebraska.
I greatly enjoyed the few days my mom and I spent in Branson, Missouri. It is home to the largest Titanic Museum. When you arrive, you are given a boarding pass with the name of a Titanic passenger or crew member. There is a self-tour you find out at the end if he or she lived or perished on the Fateful Voyage of the Titanic (both mom and I “survived”). There are also hundreds of artifacts and a few interactive activities, like touching a frigid iceberg. Everything felt so frozen-in-time and I was somewhat disappointed to have to leave.
One of the reasons for our road trip was to visit relatives in Portland: Uncle Tom, Aunt Cindie, Cousin Nicholas and the twins Sophie and Katie. We don’t get to see them very often so it was inevitable the experience would be memorable. After all, I do have a few new images burned into my mind. I remember Nicholas holding up his green inflatable Crayola crayon. I can also picture the twins dancing to accordion music in the German restaurant. And how could I forget my uncle’s driving habits? Tom had picked my mom and me up from Powell’s Books and Nicholas was also in the car. I, for one, thought Tom was driving too fast so asked him to slow down to a safer speed. Once we were in a residential area with no other cars near, he slowed down to approximately 5 miles per hour and would occasionally put on the brakes. It was such a ridiculous stunt, but Tom was just trying to get everyone to smile.
After visiting the Portland Patzkowskis, it was time to head home. Two long days of driving meant we would soon return to the heat and reception for my favorite country station. The few days following our return were dedicated to unpacking, doing laundry and running errands. Now my plans are to spend the rest of the summer quietly reading books, working on my summer assignments and writing for the Kings River Life Magazine. Once in a while, though, my mind wanders back to those two weeks and I am reminded of the saying, “it does not matter where you are but rather who you’re with.” Indeed; I was blessed to spend that time with my mom and the other members of my family.