When we are little, we learn quickly that running our mouths is not a good idea. Perhaps it is the pain we experience from siblings’ punches when we “out” them for eating all the Oreos, or the humiliation we experience when our friends call B.S. on our claims that we actually did discover a dinosaur in the back yard — “Really! Swear on my mother’s grave.” — These painful experiences teach us to measure our words before letting them escape from our mouths. 

Now let’s talk about when adults run their mouths, like I did. As an adult, running your mouth means saying something to a large group of people before you really grasp the true meaning of what it is you are saying. For me, this happened when I told everyone in the world that we were planning a driving tour of the US this summer.  Sounds great, right?

I didn’t know I was running my mouth until I began putting sticky notes on a very large map of all the places we were going. You’d think after living in Chapel Hill, Chicago, DC, Michigan, and Alabama I would know a bit about how big the US is, but you would be wrong. I don’t know squat.

Apparently, we live in a very large country that takes quite a while to drive around. The state of Montana alone can take up a whole day, and when you are going through 20 states, a “whole day” is a big deal. After having an “OMG! What was I thinking?” moment of sheer panic, I decided to call on the expert packer to help us. My father.

Always being one to seize the moment, I saw packing for the camping portion of the trip to be a unique opportunity for some grandfather/granddaughter bonding time. We will be camping through Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and possibly Arizona (depending on the fires and temperature).  Because of my work schedule, I did not have time to properly pack us, but not to worry, my father knows how to pack for anything, since he spent a significant portion of his life leading outtrips.

I gave everyone a list of camping supplies I printed off the internet, and, according to both my father and the kids, the packing went very well (except for the match-lighting lessons, which ended in a few burn marks). However, when I asked follow up questions like “Where did you pack tinfoil for the hobos?” the blank stares were not reassuring. Fortunately, we do have a remote-control lantern in case we find ourselves needing to hunt moose with spoons because we haven’t eaten in several days.

Needless to say, this will be a tremendous character building journey into the heartland of ourselves and America. Our first stop: Silver Bay YMCA, Lake George, NY for sailing lessons and world’s shortest 4th of July parade.