Happy Mother’s Day! Travels with Mom Across the U.S.

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Mom during a Stop at Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, April 1994

Mom during a Stop at Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, April 1994

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share my most memorable trip with my mom. Growing up, as a family we always took short road trips departing from our Buffalo-area home, whether it was to Titusville, Pa., to meet up with my mom’s childhood friend and her family, or around Western New York. Our vacations were typically focused on loading up the car and driving south over Spring Break to spend it with Grandma and Grandpa in Sarasota, Fla.

Admiring Badlands National Park, S.D.

Mom Admiring Badlands National Park, S.D.

Seeing the U.S.A. in My Chevrolet

In April 1994 my new, blue Beretta was loaded up with essentials, including my beloved Diamond Back mountain bike. My mom and I departed Western New York and hit the road for Yellowstone National Park. I had recently returned home from my first (and only) winter working in the park and was entering my fourth summer season. I had dreams of living and working there year-round and at the age of 23 going on 24, I finally jumped into car ownership.

Since this was my first extended road trip, my mom traveled with me to see the country and make sure I safely reached my destination. Plus, she always made sure the car doors were locked…

Mount Rushmore, S.D., April 1994

Mount Rushmore, S.D., April 1994

Mom did all of the driving while I provided what navigation I could – this was in pre-GPS days and a time when we relied on AAA TripTiks and paper maps – as we traveled for five or six days along I-90 seeing America’s Heartland.

With my aging mind, my memory is a little fuzzy with the details but some of the things I remembered about that trip includes needing to have a crazy amount of change to pay for tolls in the Chicago area; stopping to see Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame Stadium, Wisconsin Dells and Walnut Grove, Minnesota, home of author Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Mitchell Corn Palace (South Dakota), Mt. Rushmore, the insanely huge Mall of America (Bloomington, Minn.) and Devil’s Tower National Monument were also visited during the trip along with seeing friends I had met while working in Yellowstone.

Mitchell Corn Palace, Mitchell, S.D., April 1994

Mitchell Corn Palace, Mitchell, S.D., April 1994

Most memorable was our extended stay in Wall, S.D., due to a snow storm. We spent two nights in Wall, famous for Wall Drug which serves up free ice water to thirsty travelers in a huge (as in 76,000-square-feet huge) attraction complex with dining, shopping and quirky little exhibits. My bike had iced up and we placed it in the bathtub to defrost while we went out exploring Badlands National Park and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands once the road cleared.

At the journey’s end, I dropped Mom off at a bus station in Idaho where she began her own 48+ hour adventure of taking Greyhound back to Buffalo.

Mom Watches a Bison in Yellowstone National Park, April 1994

Mom Watches a Bison in Yellowstone National Park, April 1994

Mom has always encouraged me to get get off-the-beaten path both figuratively and literally and she continues to nurture my inquisitive nature. During this trip, it was just the two of us and we connected on another level. I was no longer a child but an adult and she was no longer just a parent but a friend.

Happy Mother’s Day! Have you ever taken a road trip with your mom?


Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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