This was, I think, around Jr. High-ish time. My parents, my sister, and I all piled into the family car to travel to Montana. We saw every touristy thing we could along the way, including Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park.
Not a day went by that something screwy didn't happen. Montana is vaguely north from Oklahoma. So, as we traveled up through Kansas and toward the Dakota's, the first 3 (maybe 4) nights in a row a tornado struck the town we were staying in.
I remember going outside with Mom while a tornado passed about 1-5 miles away from our hotel. We saw a crowd of tourists who were obviously not from Tornado Alley. They were shouting, "We have to get inside! Run!". Meanwhile, another group of similar tourists were inside the hotel, shouting, "We have to get outside! Run!". They all met around the front door, and an argument ensued over where was the safest place to be. Meanwhile, there's Mom and me - outside, watching, pointing at the funnel cloud, and trying to snap pictures.
As we approached South Dakota, we found t-shirts at a random gas station that showed the view from behind Mt. Rushmore. We bought 4. The next day, while we were at Mt. Rushmore, we all had those shirts on. You couldn't get them at the actual site... we had other tourists coming up to us and asking where they could get those shirts. I'm sure the gas station owner was pleased with all the business that Dad sent his way that day. :)
Somewhere during this part of the journey, we were traveling down the highway and Mom heard a metallic "clang" sound. She looked out her window and was shocked to see one of our hubcaps rolling along down the highway alongside us. This lasted for a second or two, and then it bounced off the side of the road.
We stopped the car and found the hubcap. It was too damaged to put back on the car, but Dad wasn't willing to just throw it away, so it went into the car with us.
I should mention at this point that the car was loaded already. There wasn't even room in the back seat between my sister and I. It was so loaded that the hubcap almost didn't fit into the trunk.
A few days later, *clank* and there goes another hubcap. It rolled and bounced alongside us for a bit, then went off into a ditch. Again, we stopped the car, and found it. At this point, there was literally no room in the car for the silly thing to travel with us, so Mom and Dad had to find a post office. We mailed those silly hubcaps back home. It was that, or my sister and I were going to have to hold them in our laps.
We reached our relatives who lived in Montana at the time. My uncle had a ranch. I don't really know how big it was... it looked huge to my city-bred kid eyes. It may have actually been huge. He did have a monster of a dog that roamed the place. "Does that dog ever get into trouble with skunks?", my dad asked. "No, he hasn't gotten into a skunk in 2, 3 years" my uncle replied.
That night, the dog found a skunk.
You know how they say that baking soda masks the odor of skunk spray? They lie. We had a lovely aromatic trifecta of wet dog, skunk, and baking soda.
Up next, we visited Yellowstone National Park. We saw Old Faithful and whatnot. It was kinda sad, because that was the summer after those terrible wildfires that took out half the park
. So, our tours were full of phrases like, "There used to be trees over there", and "Look! A bear carcass!"
I don't remember much from the trip home. My memory is a little fuzzy. It seems like we spent a lot more time on the road, and a lot less in tourist attractions or hotels. I think there was a certain urgency in getting us back home, where things were less stressful.
About a week after we got home, a package arrived in the mail. It was our hubcaps.
This was a typical family vacation for us.