When I was a little kid--from about eight years old until around twelve or so--I used to beg my parents to take me to Yellowstone National Park. I didn't care if the rest of the family went, or not. I just wanted my parents to take me there. Leave the rest of the brood at home, for all I cared.
When I was in the third grade I lived in a really nice working class neighborhood in Decatur, Georgia. At school, sometimes the other kids would bring photo albums to show in class. Routinely, I would meet up with kids whose parents took a long driving vacation every summer, and quite a few of them had toured out west to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park and Yosemite National Park. Those seemed to be the big three that I kept encountering in the photo albums.
But it was Yellowstone that had captured my kid's imagination. I'd see photographs of Old Faithful. I'd see pictures of amazing mountains about five times bigger than any mountain I'd ever seen in Georgia.
These other kids would show off images of bison wandering around in open fields; of elk walking through their campsites; of grizzly bears ambling up to their cars! I had to go!
So I'd head home after school and just kind of mention it to my mom or dad. "Hey. Have you guys ever seen Yellowstone National Park? No? Don't you think we should drive out there some time?"
Alas. Despite bugging them about it year after year, it never happened.
A Dennis the Menace issue that I found in my dad's stock of old comics only exacerbated the problem. One Vacation Special dealt with Dennis and his family traveling to all of the great western National Parks, including Yellowstone. Oh, how I wanted to ride along!
I never walked around thinking we were poor, but we obviously didn't have what it took to head west for weeks at a time. I stopped mentioning the whole Yellowstone deal to them around the seventh grade or so. There it has remained for me all this time. Just a dream. Just something to think about doing some day in the future.
When I was self-employed it was just plain impossible to get away long enough to go to a National Park more than 1,000 miles away. Even if I'd flown I'd have had to return to my shop in quick order. Then, when I closed down my retail store I was just too gotdamned poor to so much as think about going such a distance.
Well, we've decided it must be done. We're going to go. We ain't gettin' any younger. In 2009 it's going to happen. All that we're debating now is whether we're going to hook up the Casita and drive out for a four-week tour of Yellowstone/Grand Tetons and some other parks, or whether we'll fly in to some airport, rent a car, and stay in several National Park lodges while we go roaming around the park lands.
At any rate, I'll finally get to share space with grizzlies.