Well, my youngest son, Ethan, just finished his high school sophomore year.
As I've done with each of my kids when they've reached this age, I'll be
taking him on a two week road trip to an area of America that he has chosen
to visit.

Friday morning we head out for Utah and northern Arizona, with our route
also hitting parts of Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, and Nevada.

We will be hunting trilobite fossils and topaz, renting ATVs, visiting a
gaggle of National Parks, touring Anasazi ruins, scrambling through slot
canyons and various back-country areas, target shooting our handguns and .22
rifles, mountain biking, hitting a few Hopi and Navajo trading posts (I
spent four months as a midwife at sage Memorial Indian Health Hospital in
Ganado, AZ a long time ago), getting to know some regional history and
cultures, and doing whatever we feel like doing.

Outside of making sure Ethan gets an authentic Navajo meal of mutton and fry
bread, we are playing our eating needs by ear. We will eat at a lot of
hole-in-the-wall joints, hit some fast food places, snack on junk food, keep
alert for the favorite places of local inhabitants, and seek out regional
specialties in the locations we travel through. We will avoid -- like a
plague of boils and festering sores -- any place that even remotely smacks
of fussiness and dress codes. We will eat when we feel like it, sleep when
we get tired, and avoid burning daylight with insignificant crap.

The goal is to create a singular life-long memory for Ethan, so things are
geared toward his needs and sensibilities. Nothing is set in stone so we can
be flexible about what is going on and make changes as needed.

As for me, this is a bittersweet trip. It will be - just like the other
trips - a wonderful and special time that I will always cherish. But it also
marks a passage. It is the last trip of its kind that I will take since
Ethan is the last child. Sigh.

Dave www.davebbq.com

What is best in life? "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you,
and to hear the lamentation of the women." -- Conan