After being back home with my family in Michigan for probably the longest amount of time since college, I’m packing up to head out West. Tomorrow I will reunite with Mr.YemenEm who’s been livin’ it up in Washington DC for the past 10 days, making me crazy jealous by going to bars galore and at least one of our favorite restaurants. Without me.
This trip — The Great American Friends and Family Tour (totally open to a catchier name, btw) — is our “Home Leave,” a congressionally mandated vacay that Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) must take following an extended tour overseas. I think it stems from an old timey Congress wanting to ensure that FSOs don’t because commies after serving, in say, Europe. By traveling around the U.S. the nearly-brainwashed FSO will replace memories of croissants with apple pie and be reminded of the majesty of his or her own country and will jump back in to work with the renewed vigor that comes from being a True American.
Our first stop on the trip out west will be the quaint pioneer town of Las Vegas, Nevada. My grandpa has lived in Sin City since he retired at age 55, and my childhood included quite a few visits to Vegas, which is surprisingly fun for children. I’ve been there at least once a year for the past few years, including a memorable trip to get hitched to Mr.YemenEm in 2011. After visiting Gramps for a few days, winning hundreds, nay, thousands in Black Jack and eating at at least two buffets, we will hit the road for Zion National Park in Utah. I’ve already done a good number of the National Parks in that part of the country during my first honeymoon (the one after the Vegas wedding), but I’ve always felt bad since I went on my honeymoon with my bestie, LJo, as Mr.YemenEm had to return to Yemen the morning after our Vegas nuptials. So this time, I’ll see the parks with my husband. After a night or two in Zion, we’ll make a split-second decision about Bryce Canyon (already seen it several times; Mr.YemenEm has not) and then make a split second North Rim or South Rim decision on the Grand Canyon. From there, we’ll drive through Sedona, and then visit my little cousin in Tempe, Arizone. After that, it’s on to LaLa Land to visit my dear friend who will likely be too busy being high-powered and handsome entertainment lawyer working on the Michael Jackson trial to hang with us much. We’ll also visit another little cousin of mine who works in San Diego and one of Mr.YemenEm’s aunts who lives in LA.
From there, we’ll overnight in Monterrey and visit one of my high school best friends, whom I’m pretty sure no longer wears glow bracelets and does E at raves in downtown Detroit.
Then, we’ll be in San Francisco for a bit visiting several of Mr.YemenEm’s friends, including two awesome and adventurous ladies whom I’m excited to spend some time with. This stop will hopefully include a day trip to Sonoma or Napa, places that I assume Heaven was modeled after.
Then it’s up to Portland, Oregon to stay with Mr.YemenEm’s awesome uncle and little cousin. Never been to Portland, but I’m very in to the TV show Portlandia, so I assume it’s just like that and hopefully I can bring back a few books from that lesbian bookstore.
Our last stop is Seattle, to stay with my bestie from my early years in DC (who moved West for law school) and to visit my aunt.
From Seattle, we’ll fly to Boston to visit many friends, including two of my best friends, and a few of Mr.YemenEm’s besties, as well as another one of my cousins and his family (I have a lot of cousins). After five nights in Boston, which will include a wedding at a summer camp, and an overnight at Mr.YemenEm’s alma mater (Dartmouth College in Hanover) we’re back in Michigan for a few nights for some more time with my family before setting up camp for several months in my beloved Washington DC.
Whew. So, if all goes as planned, this trip will include: eight states; 3-5 national parks; one grandfather; four cousins; two aunts; one uncle; more than a dozen close friends; panaramic views; several wine tastings; a handful of wild animal sightings; six solid hikes; at least two good tell-over-and-over-again lifetime stories; and lots of quality time in a car with my boo. Awww.
One time, on a vacation with my parents through England and Scotland, an Australian couple told us it was their dream to travel throughout the United States. I was 23 at the time and I was thinking that was a weird goal because any place sounded more exotic than the U.S. But I’ve seen more of this amazing country in the time since and now firmly believe that there is no country more varied in geography, stunning sights, and cool things to see and do than boring old America.
To seeing America the Beautiful,