• You will be thankful for a small beautiful church in Carlsbad, New Mexico, playing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” as you head back out into your smelly minivan with your chicken butt children. You will also regret not accepting their invitation to a Green Chili Potluck. But you are Southern and so you do not show up at potlucks without a side dish. And you do not know anything about how to cook with green chilis.
  • Speaking of regret and minivans, renting one of these incredible vehicles will make you regret that you did not ever considering buying one. They are willing to be disgusting and they hold everything. Which is basically the perfect car for your stage of life.
  • You will wonder what it will be like to visit a Natural Science museum without children but then quickly realize that you may never want to step foot in one for sheer pleasure.
  • Hikes in Colorado take two hours. No matter what. Even if they say “25 minutes” or “easy,” it will take your family the length of the Griswold Family Vacation movie. Your kindergartener will complain incessantly about the fact that you cannot “skip” on hiking paths. Your third grader will hike like a mountain goat that longs to be lost. 
  • Young people without children will not speak to you on the hiking paths. You look too scary with your jumble of people and nonsense. You look like a disease they might catch: Hiking with Young Children Fever. Symptoms include yelling things like STAY ON THE PATH or our personal favorite DO NOT TOUCH THE STALACTITES WE COULD ALL GO TO JAIL. But elderly people will give you a knowing laugh like, “What the hell were you thinking” and you will telepath back, “Iknowthankyouexactlywhatwerewethinking.”
  • When you make the long walk (okay hike) down into Carlsbad Cavern your youngest child will yell, “YOU GUYS ARE HAVING A GREAT TIME BUT I AM HAVING A TERRIBLE TIME” and you will realize that this is the best description of a family vacation you have ever heard. 
  • You will learn that there is a genre of AirBnB’s run by well meaning people in their late 20s. Their furniture will all be from Ikea and their great aunt’s storage container. The mattresses will be on the floor in a bad attempt to appear “zen.” The decor will be cultural appropriation. Lots of Chinese character art alongside a Virgen de Guadelupe. They cannot help it. They mean well, these young white people. And besides, you can actually afford their house. And they are really cool when your kids break their toilet paper holder.
  • When you finally have that much-longed-for night at a cheap hotel (upscale from the usual motel), the kids will ask what that smell is and you will opt out of saying marijuana and instead proclaim “that’s what the west smells like!” Which is not entirely a lie.
  • All of your control mechanisms will fall apart: what you eat, what you drink, and if you can exercise at all. 
  • Related: Fritos will seem like an appropriate breakfast.
  • Altitude sickness will take hold of your body and you will be terrified you are pregnant. You will lay in bed counting the months and realizing that next summer could be a real beast too. 
  • Middle-aged white women in Santa Fe have a very specific look. They are big hat, big scarf, and an artistic flowy dress that just sings I would have gotten on Georgia O’Keefe’s nerves. You will evaluate and realize this is also your lewk.
  • You will be able to distinguish your family members’ farts.
  • When the waitress brings out the wrong beer and then comes back after 40 minutes of waiting to tell you that she forgot to put your order in, then you will take the opportunity to talk to your children about going with the flow and forgiveness. 
  • But then, when she forgets the second beer, never brings the five-year-old her ketchup, and does not put the eight-year-old’s order in at all, you will find out that unlike our Risen Lord, your grace is actually limited. In truth, you are the kind of people who call the manager over, pull out a chair, and ask him to take a seat. Cause we gonna need a minute.
  • Your kids will be batshit crazy in the five churches you visit. And you will love every freaking minute of it. Because it will be heartbreakingly sweet to realize that they feel so at home in church that they think all churches are their home. While people are shushing their little ones and telling them to keep their hands to themselves, your crazy church family is like “OMG THEY HAVE A FOUNTAIN BAPTISMAL FONT LET’S ALL TOUCH IT.” And then, you’ll ask a stranger to take a family photo in it. Because you did not haul your brood of zoo animals across the country on a family vacation to look normal. It’s far too late for that.