Tuesday, November 21, 2017


"Get up!  We're leaving on vacation today!"

Soon afterward, footsteps upstairs told me that four sets of feet were scurrying to be the first ones in the shower and dressed for our first day on the road.

It was 1985 and I wanted my children to experience something very special this vacation to take their minds off of the changes of the past few months.  

I was going through a metamorphosis of sorts as a newly single parent. So, carefully unfolding a state map of Texas, I highlighted my route in yellow from Rio Hondo to Garner State Park.  

When I was young and still at home, my favorite summer vacations began by loading up the camper with our sleeping bags, clothes, and a cooler full of condiments and hot dogs.  

My mom always chose scenic drives through the country so that we could drink in the beauty of the diverse land and water features of each region we crossed. 

Highlights of those trips for me were the talks around the campfire as it spits out sparks and crackled.  Laughter drifted from one campsite to the next.  

Hiking over wooded mountain trails to view a falls, far off glaciers, or trailing through extensive caverns gave me close-ups into another world that previously only existed on the slick pages of a heavy book of photos or a National Geographic.  

So like my parents before me, I wanted my four children, aged nine to three, to experience something different.  No motels.  No interstate highways.  No TV.  No phone.

Little did I know what lay ahead.

Pulling into Garner State Park, the last rays of sunlight were extinguished. By the time I had signed in and paid my fees I had to use our headlights to find my way to our campsite. As I looked ahead, lined up like an army squadron were a dozen Harleys parked... right across from my campsite. 

I sat in the car and sized up the situation. Hmmmm. After a five hour drive with my kids, was I going to back out in fear for our safety and go to a motel before heading home?

After considering my options, I decided to take a chance. Breathing a prayer and taking a deep breath, I pulled into our designated camping spot. 

As soon as we got out, all eyes were on us. It was quiet, fires were starting to burn and dishes were cleaned up from supper, so with nothing else to do, we were the entertainment. It was clear to see that I was alone with four small children. Nervously I pushed my hair back and wondered what I had been thinking to come all this way by myself without other adults to back us up?

A procession of teenaged boys walked our way. I greeted them guardedly, but they offered to put up our tent for the night. That task was finished in a matter of minutes. 

My kids helped to unload our clothes and gear and then asked me what we were going to eat. The camp store was closed and there was no wood beside our firepit to build a fire, so we scrounged around and found a few pieces of kindling, but could not get it to light since it was pretty green.

So, we munched on cold hotdogs and chips. The kids seemed fine with it, but I wondered if deciding to come out here alone was a little too risky. 
What was I thinking?

Tired, frustrated and disappointed in our disastrous beginning, I tucked my little troopers into their sleeping bags and lay awake planning our day until I dozed off to sleep.

I awoke early the next morning when the sun came up. It didn't take long for me to say a prayer of thanks for our safe journey and the kindness of the kids camped nearby. Their escape from boredom was our blessing. Maybe things were going to work out so that this would be a memorable time for these trusting souls.

In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
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