Schools closed early. Baseball was canceled. Softball was canceled. Dance camp was canceled too. As I looked at our June 2020 calendar, it was mostly blank. Our family had planned to attend a cousin’s wedding in Iowa and then scheduled our nephew’s baptism the day after. The wedding was canceled but the baby dedication was still on. I told my husband we would never have a summer freer of kids’ commitments and activities than this year.

My husband loves the mountains and has always dreamed of taking our family on a Clark Griswold-style RV trip through some of the western United States. Guess what? We took off in June and did it. Let me just tell you, it was AMAZING!

We took off early one Saturday morning with our kids already asleep in the motorhome from the night before. We arrived in Weston, Neb., and parked for the night. We enjoyed a visit with cousins and family while we celebrated our nephew’s baptism. From there we stopped and had supper with some much-loved aunts, uncles and cousins at our other family’s century farm in Remsen, Iowa.

We took off early on a Monday and headed north up through the South Dakota. We made stops at the infamous Corn Palace in Mitchell, the Pioneer Auto Museum in Murdo and Wall Drug Store. We traveled through the beautiful Black Hills and Badlands to campout near Mount Rushmore National Park. I did not know what our kids would expect but it was exhilarating. What a beautiful American achievement of artistry. We took in a lesson from a local native American culture studies teacher while at the park. It was so amazing we went back at night too.

While in South Dakota we enjoyed the wildlife of Custer State Park, the Wind Cave National Park and the goldrush town of Deadwood. From there we traveled over to Devil’s Tower and hiked up to this national monument. More amazement from all of us. We went on from there to Buffalo and Cody, Wy. The rodeos had not started back up yet but we enjoyed all the cowboy culture. The land was beautiful and untouched.

The highlight of the road trip was Yellowstone National Park. I could have stayed there for a week taking in all the wildlife and natural wonders. My favorite was spotting a momma grizzly bear and her cub along the way. They do not allow me enough column space to describe the majesty of this national treasure. It was beautiful and there was so much to enjoy while visiting.

From there, we went on to Jackson Hole, Wy. and rafted on the winding Snake river. We made stops in Glenwood Springs and Colorado Springs, Colo., and enjoyed Fish Creek Falls, the Garden of the Gods and the Cave of the Winds. Our final stop was in Pawhuska, Okla., to shop at the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile and bakery. 

We made it back to Fayetteville safely, my husband may be ready to sell the motorhome after driving over 4,000 miles. The thing I am still reflecting on is this, America is beautiful. There is so much to see and do. Most of the people here love our country and are proud of our history and achievements. I am thrilled to celebrate Independence Day this year. God bless America, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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