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We are in the midst of our long anticipated National Park to Park Highway tour. Being away from home on this extended adventure has brought up the question “What is home?” Many phrases talk about it – Home sweet home, There’s no place like home, Home is where the heart is – but what is it?
Is home a feeling or a place? As we’ve been traveling from park to park this last week Little G will often say things like “When we get home can I go to Eden’s house?” or “When we get home can we watch Kung Fu Panda?”
To her home is a physical place, our house that we won’t be seeing for another month and a half as we travel along the National Park to Park Highway. But home is more than a house, more than a place to sleep, eat and rest.
Is home a feeling? When you’re in a place that feels ‘homey’ you know you can kick off you shoes and relax, you don’t have to worry about who you impress or offend.
To me home is both a place and a feeling. It’s somewhere you feel safe and comfortable, where you know what to expect and what is expected of you.
We’ve already had several homes on this trip. We carry the main one on our truck like a turtle shell. The Ultimate Adventure Vehicle holds our things, both the essentials and luxuries. It’s where we eat, sleep, travel and spend time together. Compared to our house back in Sundance, Utah it’s cramped, disorganized and requires constant shuffling of things, but it’s a place we can be where we feel safe, can sleep and know what to expect.
We’ve stayed in other people’s homes and will again on our National Park to Park Highway tour. This trip includes two family reunions, one near Yellowstone and the other in Southern California. For those gatherings our family rented other people’s homes. I like renting a home when we’re traveling for the luxury of hot water, a comfy bed, laundry and a kitchen. Since Big E is allergic to wheat, eggs and nuts we make a lot of our own food on the road. It’s just easier than custom ordering baked potatoes from Wendy’s for every meal.
The final home away from home we’ve had on this trip is Togwotee Mountain Lodge. Located 16 miles east of Moran Wyoming, Togwotee Mountain Lodge is close to Gand Teton National Park but far enough away to avoid the crowds. It’s secluded, which is good for feeling connected to nature, but bad if you want quick access to Grand Teton or Yellowstone. Driving to and from the park each day required an extra 40 minutes, which feels extra long after driving hours to get there, but it’s comparable to other lodging options in the area.
What I loved about Togwotee was the private family cabin with sleeping for six. The beds were comfy, the stovetop, microwave and fridge in the kitchen handy and they had an on site gas station, restaurant, convenience store and laundry. Plus they offer horse rides and snowmobile rentals on site (Mountain Dad’s already interested in a winter trip).
Although the cabins feel like a home away from home with all of the luxuries of a hotel, there are still reminders that you’re in the middle of Targhee National Forest. One night of our stay a lightening strike in Moran, Wyoming knocked out power to the resort for several hours.
At first I was annoyed. I was staying in a hotel and as such had certain expectations, like being able to turn the lights on when I wanted. But then I stopped my mental complaining by reminding myself that this entire National Park toPark Highway tour is essentially an extended campout. Instead of feeling annoyed, I dug through our Ultimate Adventure Vehicle for flashlights. It’s not like Togwotee controls the weather anyway.
On this adventure the concept of home is important. For me, home is a feeling of safety and peace. A place I can relax and sleep. Whether that is in the back of our truck, in a rented home or at Togwotee Mountain Lodge, it all feels like home.