Even now, living in Bend, Oregon, we leave town every few weeks to stretch our legs and exercise our brains from becoming too used to the same bends in the road. There is much to explore in our neck of the woods—state parks, swimming holes, ski slopes, sledding hills. Quaint towns with quilt shops and deer heads on the walls. Nearby farms full of pumpkins in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter, resort lodges with veritable gingerbread-house neighborhoods, and simple Sunday drives bedecked with sun and snow.
We would explore and wander in our surroundings if we were on a deserted island—not because there’s so much to do but because it strengthens our family bond. Together, we smell smells and see sights collectively that no one else will at that exact moment—or at least no one who will also drive home to the same house and fall asleep under the same roof. When we travel, no matter how near or far, we share moments that shape our family culture. Each exploration, to the next town over or on the next flight out of the country, is one more chisel notch in our family’s sculpture. If we are each a work of art, then our life’s experiences are the tools. Traveling gives us, as parents, the chance to make those tools effective and sharp.
Would we still have the family memories if we never left town? Yes. Of course. Would we be the family we are today, right now, if we never left town? No. Our story written, so far, has been penned when we delighted in the whipped cream snow hanging on for dear life to the Fraser firs in central Oregon. We smile together, knowingly, when an innocent soul tries to sell us on the Best Mexican Food in Town, and yet we are thousands of miles away from Texas. We know what to do with a plateful of whole cloves after a meal in the Middle East. There is an unexplainable bond because of the nomadic experiences between the five of us.1