Epic Adventures

An Impossible Task

Other than the white noise of Rob and Nikolai snoring, it was rather quiet inside our vehicle. Tallulah had her wet nose pushed against the glass so she could keep an eye on untrustworthy strangers. I could see the reflection of the flashing crimson sign from the “Come and Go” gas station lighting up her peripheral. We had laid all the seats down and blown up the air mattress in the back of the SUV with the hopes of re-balancing our sleep schedule.

Despite the exhaustion, it was the smell of equine sweat clinging to the breeze that woke me. It felt out of place within the truck stop’s parking lot until I realized that there was a farm nearby. We popped the trunk open for better airflow and let our tangled feet dangle out the back. The temperature was near perfection but It’s hard to sleep when there is an undertow of excitement crashing over your psyche. A crack of thunder strangled the peace. Darkness danced with lightening, and the anticipation of damp earth hung like a curtain in the atmosphere.

My stomach lurched with electricity, not from the storm but from the adventure of it all. The ability to witness firsts with my family, to see things that I saw as a child with the eyes and humility of an adult. I wanted to etch every detail to memory. Thirty-one hours of driving just to get to our first destination and that didn’t include the trip back or the stops we planned to take along the way. My friends thought we were crazy but, in my opinion, the best way to enjoy the mountains… is to get lost in them.

With only a couple hours of sleep in our pocket and first morning light on the horizon, we visited the restrooms and refueled with caffeine. The first fifteen hours of driving had been uneventful but from this moment forward there would be an endless supply of amazement. You can’t (rather you shouldn’t) visit Glacier National Park without stopping by to see things along the way, like the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. There’s even an amazing town from the 1800’s where you can visit the past as beautifully preserved as if it were the present, and you wouldn’t want to miss a little town called Walldrug where you can buy a cup of coffee for a nickel.

My beautiful boy had a history book opened across his lap one day. He was sitting on his bed flipping through the pages when I heard him gasp. His blue eyes wide in wonder as his fingertips graced a picture of some faces that had been carved into stone. His mouth left agape, and his expression full of questions that had me pausing in the threshold to wait for his thoughts to materialize.

“Hey mom? What is this?”

“That would be Mount Rushmore.”

“Is it a real place?”

“It’s very much a real place. In fact, I’ve been there… more than once.”

“YOU’VE BEEN THERE?! CAN I GO TOO?! I want to see it!”

“Not today sweet boy, but I promise that someday, I’ll take you.”

I laughed a little as I walked back to the kitchen. I knew how far away Mount Rushmore was, and I had been making plans with my husband to take Nikolai to see it for a long time. He had been so disappointed that afternoon. You would think the little conversation we had back then would have prepared me for how overwhelmed with emotion he would became when he saw it for himself… but it didn’t. After bounding up the steps towards the mountain cliffs, he threw his arms into the sky and leapt as he whooped for joy.



“LOOK AT IT MOM! It’s so be-woo-di-ful!”

People all around us found his excitement just as intoxicating as my husband and I did. Nikolai’s slight lisp made everything he said that much more enduring. It was demanded of me that I take his picture immediately and explain how and why the president’s faces were carved into stone. I did what was asked of me with gusto. I have a passion for history and lovely places.

Earlier that morning, hours before reaching Rushmore, I could feel my palms turn icy cold with a cool sweat. The sun was skipping off the copper highlights in Nikolai’s hair. He held daddy’s hand tightly as he gazed into the steep canyon of the Badlands. Wind so strong it tugged at the curls in my ponytail and threatened to push me over the embankment.

Every inch my family took towards the edge had Tallulah and I feeling anxious for their safety. She cried out for them, and I was forced to tighten my grip on the black lead that kept her at my side. I’m terrified of heights, and I knew she was picking up on my concern as she had been trained to do. I considered what early Native American’s and settlers must have thought when they saw the Badlands for the first time.

Void of walkways and trails to navigate through it and the extra miles it must have added to their trip in order to go around. Did it feel daunting? An impossible task with the wicked heat of the sun beating on the crown of their heads as blustery hot winds spooked their horses. Did they find a way to work with the land or did they lose loved ones? It was within that moment of staring into the emptiness that I felt myself being restored from my busy life.

I get wrapped up in to-do lists, maintaining my health, and being a partner to my husband as we attempt to make ends meet. I lose my ability to sit quietly, to allow the strong winds of life to soften my rough edges but not to break me. I am horrible at trying to maintain control over events in my life but as I get older, I’m finding a newfound freedom in weathering the storm. In allowing myself to let go of things I cannot control; I have discovered a depth of peace that is unmatched.

We slid back into the car, and I realized that sometimes we all need to slip away in order to see the bigger picture. Two days into a ten-day trip and I was feeling more like myself already. The tension released from my shoulders when I allowed spontaneity to take the lead rather than trying to micromanage our plans. With an audiobook keeping us on our toes, a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, and an empty road kissing day two goodbye… I could hardly wait to see what would come next.

Taken with my cellphone if you can believe that!
My two favorite people in the entire world
Mount Rushmore… look at Nikolai’s face!
Our feet hanging out the trunk at the truck stop
Can you imagine trying to cross this?!
These two sleeping in the back seat
Just us and an empty road at the end of day two.

50 thoughts on “An Impossible Task”

  1. You brought me to absolute tears with this beautiful post. I made that trip as a child and remembering my own joy at seeing those presidents faces, getting ice cream at Walldrug after seeing the signs promising all kinds of exciting treasures for miles and miles, and the absolute alienesque beauty of the badlands. You’ve brought it all back with such clarity and joy. You made my day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful trip! I remember when I drove through the Canadian Glacier Park and the Canadian Badlands and then, on our way back through the states, stopping to see Rushmore as well. Awe was what I felt, too. Nikolai will remember this one, that is for sure!
    Beautiful photos, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s on my list of places to take Nikolai but he needs his passport first ❤️. We’re thinking about doing a trip where we hit Alaska and drive into Canada that way. Alaska and Hawaii are the only two states I have left to see 💪 then I’ll have been to all 50

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The only two? Wow, that is fantastic. I have seen Hawaii and dream of eventually going to Alaska, but also the Yukon and Northwest Territories plus Nunavut (where I have a friend).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hawaii isn’t high on my list but Alaska is! That’s incredible that you have a friend out that way. I also wanna see Scotland and Ireland. There’s some other countries I want to see too but I’ve been to a ton of places in Europe and I lived in South Korea so I’ve hit Asia as well.

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      4. We had babies with heart problems at the same time so she was medevaced to Montreal. Weird set of circumstances.
        I want to go to Scotland (my paternal grand-father was a Scot) but I’m in love with Italy.

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      5. I haven’t seen Italy but I’ve been to The Czech Republic and Holland and a bunch of other places like Belgium, France, and we lived in Germany for a while too.

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      6. Nope! Well sorta but not really. My biological father was navy. He trained dolphins to find underwater bombs but he left me when I was a baby. So the only cool thing about him was his job 😬. My husband was Army but the only traveling we did while he was in service was to Korea and Tennessee. 🤣 every place I’ve been to is because my family loved nature, traveling, and my husband does too! I’ve lived in a lot of different states because of that as well as other countries. I’m pretty lucky I’m that regard!

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      7. Yeah. Not cool. At least Korea was a cool post! Wow. I’ve never lived outside of 18 miles from the place I was born! Very cool that your family were/are travellers.

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      8. It’s probably why I’m obsessed with nature but by the time I meet my husband I was done with living life like a nomad 🤣. It’s so good to have a place to come home to. Love to travel but I love my farm!

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  3. This was delightful! Glad you took the initiative to comment on my blog, because then I found YOURS! 🙂 How fun! I could feel your son’s infectious delight at the sight of a place he’d seen in photos and had nourished his dreams. There are memories and events that cannot be quantified. Good for you for making memories with him! 🙂 Na’ama

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment! My internet on my farm is spotty at best but as soon as I can get your blog to pull up again I plan on being a new follower! 🥰❤️ just bare with me for a bit 🏡

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      1. Yay hurray! And, I think it is healthy to have some times when one is more connected to the earth than to the (oft finicky) ether. So, here’s to life in all its glorious dimensions! My posts don’t expire … They are happy to be read anytime! 🙂 Na’ama

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      2. Welcome aboard! I gets a but nutty on my blog … as you can never know what kind of ditty or soapbox or little story or clinical vignette will come outta my keyboard … but, you are welcome to read as much or as little as you want! Here’s to stories and travels and children and beauty and all the things that fill our hearts. Na’ama

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  4. I love the question, “Is it a real place?” The wonders we adults take for granted! And then the place he’s wanted to visit for his Whole Life! Love it when kids say that, the eternity of their first 10 years. Good characterization of your son. He sounds like fun.

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  5. There was a novel-like quality to this post. As if I was reading a book in the store rather than a blog post, lol. Awesome stuff.

    And you took those pics with a mobile phone? Surely, you showcase the meaning behind ‘it’s the artist, not their tools’.

    It’s hard to let go of things we can’t control. No matter what, we still find a way to worry, but being able to do so will leave us so much happier. Wishing you all the best in that regard!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Stuart for the thoughtful comment AND the brilliant advice in your blog that I read today! I 100% shot all of those with my phone and if you think those are good… I’m DYING to hear about what you think of next week’s!!!

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  6. Beautifully written, LaShelle. You brought out Nikolai’s unbridled joy, a delight to read. I used to live in the Dakotas, and now our son lives in Montana (He loves it there), so all the places you referred to are fresh in my memory. Your excellent description puts me right there.

    In one of your comments, I read that you’ve now been to 48 states. My wife and I made it to Alaska before the pandemic, and that was my last one. I think there should be an asterisk because I’m counting a few states when I was so young that I can’t remember them. International travel is where I’m lacking, only having visited Canada and Mexico.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel as if very few people can say that they have been to all 50 Pete so that’s a fete to me!! I found that making new memories with Rob and Niki in Montana and Colorado were even better than the old ones. Seeing Nikolai light up was the cherry on top. There’s nothing like it as I’m sure you understand! Thanks so much for the wonderful comment. It means everything to me 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If only we could all hold on to Nikolai’s pure joy in that moment – it does bring us back to basis, doesn’t it? Seeing the things we might take for granted as adults… “I’ve wanted to see this for my whole life!!!” 💓💓

    That sounds like a rollercoaster of a trip, your words were beautifully conveyed, I felt like I was on that journey with you! The beauty of the open road is that the possibilities are endless.. love that last pic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading it and sharing your thoughts with me 🥰. Thank you for the compliments as well! I can’t wait to share this week’s post. Pictures and videos that are sure to blow you away 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Other than my blog, and reading the work of people I find interesting, I have no social media presence. While not living in a remote location, I’m blessed with having the wilderness almost within a few minutes drive, and its there that I go to recharge my batteries. Surrounded by family, friends and nature, you will remain one of the richest people on earth. The fact that your writing talent allows you to share the experience with others just makes it even better. Keep it up!

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