The title sounds like something out of Star Trek, but the actual trip proved to be more fun than space exploration. A few years back, when the kids were in High School, we decided to take a trip to Colorado with my parents, our teens, and an extra neighbor boy, Chris who had spent a lot of time at our house, and was very close to all of us. We planned the trip with Mom and Dad driving their big RV, and we would follow in our Yukon with all of our camping gear. The kids rode mainly in the RV with Mom and Dad and I rode with them a lot too. Poor Joe had to drive by himself a lot.
We stopped along the way to eat. It was great having the RV and its refrigerator with all of those constantly hungry teens along. We had reservations at Rocky Mountain National Park with the tent in a site close to the RV site. My dad was always the grill master and did a lot of the cooking for the crowd on his little grill. It took us a day to get there and our weather could not have been better. We settled in and as we looked around I could see this amazement on the kids faces. We had done a lot of travel with our kids, but Chris had not been so lucky, and none of them had been to the Rockies before. It was worth the entire trip just to see Chris’ face as he saw these beautiful mountains rising above the large cool pines. The campsite was right in the middle of all of this beauty. The sites, cool moist air, and beautiful smells were almost overwhelming at first.
The mountains are so large, it almost made you dizzy to look up, and of course at that altitude the air was thin. It is, in my estimation, one of the most beautiful places on earth. I am old enough that I remember John Denver’s best song, Rocky Mountain High. I could not help but think of the lyrics: “He was born in the summer of his 27th year coming home from a place he had never been before…” The Rocky Mountains are majestic enough that it does give you a natural high and there is a certain comfort level when you are enveloped by them. There is no way to be stressed from the office when you hike the trails and witness the majesty of this most beautiful park.
We did activities for everyone. My parents were really flexible with that and actually it was nice having them along to give rides and pick us up. We planned a twelve mile hike up into the mountains to see a lake in the park. Dad drove us with his RV to the site to drop us off at the trail head. He got in a little trouble with the ranger for driving his RV on a narrow road, but he had so many years experience as a truck driver that he accomplished the task with no problems at all so the Ranger just smiled and let him go.
I loved having teenagers. On that same hike, we started off on the trail and I happen to look at my daughter Jenny’s feet and here she was going on a twelve mile hike with her purse on her arm and in flip flops. Well the RV had already left so nothing to do about that now. I told her she should have worn her hiking boots, but she insisted it would be fine and of course it was. It is nice to have young and tolerant feet! I had to smile sometimes, because I saw others on the trail look at her sandals and kind of cringe, but she did not even have one blister or anything.
We hiked up the six miles to the lake and it was worth every step to get there. It was a beautiful blue crystal lake surrounded by those majestic snow kissed mountains. I took a picture of Ben, Chris, and Jenny resting and eating our sandwiches by that lake. I actually have it blown up in my office, it is so gorgeous. Chris kept feeding his Oreos to a squirrel. It was so cute. We ate our lunch and took stock of our water supply. It was a little low, but to our surprise that big purse Jenny was carrying on her back also had a large bottle of Gatorade in it. That purse and little girl in her flip flops made everyone’s day. Gatorade was just what we needed for that hike back down the mountain where Dad and Mom were waiting with their RV. We also went White Water rafting down the Royal Gorge, and Mom and Dad stood on the Royal Gorge Bridge, watched for us and took pictures when we went by. We did a lot of fun things together on that vacation
I have to admit I was a little hesitant at the beginning of the trip as to how it would all work with three generations traveling together, but I have to say it was one of the best and most memorable vacations we ever had. I hope my parents can say the same thing. At that time Mom and Dad had been empty nesters for quite some time and were not used to the noise and commotion of a family of teens, and of course these children took after me and were loud and could have fun no matter where they were. But Mom and Dad were always upbeat and never seemed bothered by the commotion. They seemed to enjoy seeing the mountains through the eyes of this curious group of teens, who had never been to the Rocky Mountains before. They took in stride the shoes that they had to trip over going in and out of the RV and the constant feeding and care that it took to keep this group happy.
I was a little worried that the kids, with all of their electronics and such, may not like the rustic camping and all of the hiking and being in close quarters with us and the grandparents, but they also were never crabby or a problem of any kind. Once in a while during the trip one would retreat to a bedroom and play a game on their phone or something by themselves, but soon they would be back again in the thick of things. They never once fought or got into any trouble. They were easy to be around. It was fun seeing how everyone interacted. They would help with cooking and small chores around the RV.
Everyone got along the entire trip and some became very close. I think my kids became closer to their grandparents and I know Chris became closer to them and to us too. Our kids became closer and they still talk about this trip as one of the best. It was a one hundred percent success story and now that our kids are gone from home and my parents are not as flexible to travel that far anymore, I am sure thankful that we did that trip with them. It has provided fond memories for our kids as well as us, and for my parents. Life is short and the time you have with your kids at home and your parents is short. Take those opportunities to try something out of your comfort zone. For us intergenerational travel meant witnessing the beauty of our county together and seeing it through the eyes of the young and the older. For us it strengthened our family bonds and created a common memory and stories that we all share.