1. I love technology more than I thought. It was refreshing to be unplugged but when we found a lodge lobby with a Wi-Fi connection it was like eating an entire box of frozen thin mints with milk.
2. The happiest people at national parks are the older couples with matching sweatshirts on cruiser motorcycles traveling in packs.
3. Being a teenage boy is an interesting experiment but I’m profoundly thankful for my gender.
4. Flexibility, kindness and patience are the only essentials for a road trip. Everything else you can buy at a gas station.
5. Bears Part I: I’m really scared of bears. I could endure being trampled, charged and butted by Elk, Mountain Goats, Moose, and Big Horn Sheep but being attacked by a bear just seems so bloody.
6. Bears Part II: I love bear mace. Spraying bear mace is probably just a distraction for the mind before being killed by a charging bear but it makes me feel safer on remote hikes. I saw a lot of bears but never had to use it. I’m thinking about buying a can for the house.
7. Bears Part III. According to FAA rules, you cannot board a plane if you have just been sprayed with bear mace. As my mace was being confiscated at the airport, the boys begged the security checkpoint person to let Eli spray Leo outside. The security personnel and I both said no. (Side note: Leo is the same person who wore a dog collar to see what it felt like to run through an invisible dog fence. According to Leo, it only hurts for a moment and then freedom.)
8. I’m the Mom. It’s a line that will always be there. The boys and I love each other but we are not friends.
9. Every road trip needs a theme song. It has to come about organically. You will know when you hear it. If you are wondering – Safety Dance, Men Without Hats.
10. Many of the most famous sites at the parks were underwhelming. There is a big payoff to being curious and asking for advice from people who can direct you off the beaten path. Good rules for everyday life.
11. Eli and I are still scared of heights. Leo is not. We are both scared that Leo is not.
12. The boys can survive without me. Construction work closed the only road through Glacier National Park. I got caught in East Glacier while Leo and Eli were at our place in West Glacier. I could not get back until the morning. They didn’t realize that I was gone until 11pm. They were not worried, they knew I had my bear mace.
13. Jack Horner, lead paleontologist and curator at the Musuem of the Rockies, served as the technical advisor for all of the Jurassic Park films. http://www.museumoftherockies.org
14. When you find the best huckleberry pie in Montana eat a lot of it. Better yet, find out how you can have it sent to your home. http://www.huckleberrypatch.com
15. A road trip doesn’t change you or your relationships but it does give you a different perspective and a lot more wiggle room to take notes – that’s a good start.
17. Montana ranks third in the country per capita for microbreweries behind Vermont and Oregon. I want to go back to Montana with someone who is of legal drinking age. http://www.bigskybrew.com/Home
18. Glacier National Park is our favorite, followed by Grand Teton and a far trailing third for Yellowstone. If you can only visit one park, make it Glacier.
19. I can still run down mountains at full speed. I hope I can do so at seventy.
20. I really missed my husband, Matthew. Our kids are passing through. Matthew is here for the long haul.
This is the last road trip post. I promise.