Thoughtful Husband and I both have big birthdays this year, ones that end in a “0”. We wanted to do something to mark the occasion. Throw a party? We could, but that could get expensive. We both grew up in the Bay Area, along with many of our friends, and we both have good sized families, so there would be a lot of people to invite. A party would be fun, but would only last for one night.
I thought about taking a special trip with Thoughtful Husband and Tom and Huck, one that would make a great family memory. I tried to think of something that might be especially enjoyable to Thoughtful Husband yet still kid friendly. I secretly planned to take him to a hotel in Oregon where a friend of ours stayed with his family. They had a great time and highly recommended that we take our family there.
What’s the big deal about a hotel in Oregon, you’re probably wondering?
Well, this hotel is made entirely of tree houses.
That’s right. Tree houses.
I can just see the pure joy on Tom and Huck’s faces when they learn that, much as their namesakes Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn might have, they will spend a night in a tree house fort. Thoughtful Husband, being basically a grown up boy himself, has wanted to travel here since his friend told us about it a few years ago.
I hesitated in mentioning my idea to Thoughtful Husband. What if he really just wanted to bask in the sun and relax in a hammock in some tropical clime like Hawaii? Fun, but too expensive in our case. Would playing treehouse fort with me and the kids be exciting enough for a __0th birthday gift/celebration?
One day, Thoughtful Husband, said, “What do you want to do for our __0th birthdays?”
“I don’t know,” I said, secretly hoping he’d come up with something amazing.
“I know you’d probably like to go somewhere fabulous, like London, or Paris, or Rome,” he said, frowning.
“Yes, but I don’t think that’s realistic right now.” (I’ll admit it I would like to go any of these places, but like Hawaii, it’s just not a possibility at this time, and I know it.)
“Well,” said Thoughtful Husband, “I’ve been trying to think of something meaningful and fun, even if it’s not exotic. And I thought of something, but I didn’t want to mention it because I worried that you wouldn’t think it was good enough.”
“Guess what?” I interrupted. “I thought of something we could do, too, but I wasn’t sure it was good enough for you either.”
“What is it?”
I told him all about the tree house. He thought it sounded like a great family trip. “I can’t believe you are agreeing to camp in a treehouse,” he said. (He knows I like pioneer women, but I don’t actually want to live like one. I’m afraid of snakes, bugs, and too much dirt.)
Next, he told me his plan.
“I know you collect books by and about pioneer women, and I know how much you like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I thought we could rent an RV, drive across the country and see a few of her old homesites. I figure if you visit places like Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota, it will help your knowledge of Western Americana in particular. You never know, you might find some good books along the way! We can drive home through Oregon and stay at the tree house hotel. There is a Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite in DeSmet, South Dakota and another just over the Minnesota state line in Walnut Grove.”
Stunned silence. Thoughtful Husband is not a bookish sort. I cannot believe he has taken into consideration my love of books and Laura Ingalls Wilder in planning our family vacation. Wow! I love this man. How many husbands would indulge their wife’s amassing of books in the dining room, the bedroom, the hallway? And then still want to take her on a book-related vacation? Oh, yeah! He’s a keeper.
“I didn’t want to tell you at first because I was afraid you wouldn’t want to drive in an RV and I thought you might want to go somewhere more glamorous than South Dakota.”
“When I aspire to be a bookseller specializing in the history of the west and the people who settled there in the past 200 years, where else could possibly be more glamorous than South Dakota? I love this idea! Thank you, thank you for thinking of it!”
I’m going to be a pioneer woman this summer. I’ll be headed East instead of West, but since I’ve spent my whole life in the West, going East will open a whole new world to me!
I’ve gotten varied responses from friends and family here in the cosmopolitan Bay Area. The general consensus is, “Two weeks in an RV with kids and dog driving through flyover country? You guys are crazy!”
I realize this isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. But it’s not everone else’s __0th birthday. It’s ours.
Yes, we’re crazy. About each other.
Tomorrow: One bookseller’s advice to those new in the book business