The one thing you need to know about this big adventure is that it is a True Story.
I love that. I think I will say that about everything I write from now on.
My husband and I have been watching the newest season of the television show Fargo, and it starts out every episode with that same message: This is a True Story. Sortof like they are preparing you to be shocked. It’s like a warning label for viewing that might be deemed harmful to your health. Or maybe it’s just a way of teasing people to make them think twice about whether they are really up for the episode’s wacky or stomach-turning madness.
That won’t happen here.
Well, the wacky may happen but the stomach-turning madness, with the exception of one scene which I may or may not be allowed to share, will not. (It all depends on if I let my husband read this before I publish it, giving him the opportunity to censor me).
For example, I won’t tell you how I came to create the Montana Slammer out of necessity.
We were in Montana. We needed a happy hour cocktail. We were dangerously close to being out of Bloody Mary mix, our “Go-To” vacation fun drink that has historically set up an evening of merriment (yes, I said “merriment”) and loss of control of the motor functions in my face that allow me to speak clearlyish and without mushingtogethermywords so you really have no idea what I am saying.
Not that I have ever done that.
I won’t tell you what we had to do to maintain “vacation cocktail hour” mode whilst competitively playing mini-golf at an RV campground overlooking the North entrance to Yellowstone, using “sticks” (not putters, because, apparently, folks in Montana that run RV campgrounds that have mini-golf courses call them sticks). Or maybe we started calling them sticks because we had no idea what those long, skinny metal things with the flat heads were or why they were in our hands, due to the slammin’ beverages… Who knows.
Anyway, true story. This trip we are packing for has us last-minute hustling to find lodging when we have already passed the “It’s too late to find a decent hotel” deadline and are now into the “Whose freaking fault is it that we will be driving around in our rented RV looking for campgrounds that are not 100 miles away from our target destination: Yellowstone?”
“I thought you were handling all the logistics planning,” I say politely to my spouse. (It’s possible that the way this actually comes out is more like: “(WTF), honey, you are the map and planning genius. Where’s our freaking trip map?!”)
See how polite I am? I mean, I call him honey.
To which my beloved sweetly replies, “(WTF), you just as easily could have done the legwork to book the hotels. You always do it when we go anywhere else. Why is this my fault?”
So instead of booking lodging in a variety of hotels in or around this national treasure park of ours, we end up reserving a 22-foot Class C RV. Points for you if you know what RV stands for. I sure as heck don’t.
This requires us to now book campground lodging in strategic locations preferably within Yellowstone, so we are scouring the National Park website’s list of campgrounds for a site – any site – that is still available with full hookups. If you have ever camped with an RV you know that this is an important part of the experience. Full hookups mean you will have fresh water to wash dishes, shower in a stall that will make an MRI machine look like the Grand Ballroom at The Ritz Carlton, and be able to do your daily “business” without having to traipse to a public restroom facility.
Oh, the days when a full hookup meant something totally different……
So back to the True Story. The back story to this True Story is the other True Story about two sisters who dreamed of driving cross country before they settled down to “real life.” Wacky adventures were the norm for these two, so Lord knows what shenanigans would hatch.
(Note to self: A+ on the use of “shenanigans!” It is one of the words in my Favorite Words list concocted in the little black mini-journal I carry with me at all times. Everyone keeps such a list, yes?)
Oh, you are all in for a fun ride if you are following this so far…
The True Story is not going to bum you out so let’s just say that this version of Version 1 is the truest version it can be without changing 99% plus 1% of the facts to make this fun to read without all the heartache of reality.
My God, this is hard to write!
Before this gets too far out of hand, let’s wrap it up with the True part of the Story. My sister Joyce and I had talked about driving cross-country as young graduates so we could see all the cool sights of America. The Road Trip of our Youth, I guess you could call it. Do this while we are young and before we could be bolted down by the Bills of Adulthood, the Jobs of Adulthood, the Requirements of Adulthood. Blecch. Adulthood.
The plan was not yet fully formed, like most of the plans of teenage girls who get all excited thinking about the world as a welcoming, happy place that doesn’t hurt you, really, and doesn’t disappoint you in the realization of your Dreams.
We figured we would just get in our car (the one we didn’t have yet, because we were teenagers at the time), and drive literally west. As in, turn the key, hit the gas, Go. Keep going. Heading toward the Rockies in Colorado, and stopping anywhere along the way that we felt like checking out.
That’s how kids think, isn’t it?
Well, that’s how we thought, anyway. Dreaming of seeing all the cool stuff in the United States and just enjoying taking in the scenery and the people along the way.
So the hard part in this True Story is that all of those preconceived notions got blown up, like Nakotomi Plaza in the first Die Hard movie. (Or the Death Star in whatever Star Wars installment that was…)
As I prepare for this Trip of a Lifetime with my husband, Joyce is always there. In my mind. In my ideas of what Mike and I might do on this vacation. I have determined that there will be activities that are definite “must-do’s” and there is everything else. That way, I leave it open to the workings of the Universe and whatever it will serve up as an opportunity to meet people, embrace nature, etc.
Your reward for sticking with me through this meandering early part of the story is this: my personal recipes for the drinks that made our vacation comical at moments, relaxing at other moments, and downright yucky at one moment in time….
For now, remember. This is a True Story.