The Poor Mans Guide to a Rewarding Vacation - My Family Travels

The vacation of December of 2009 wasn’t one of those long anticipated, money saved, months of preparation vacations. I mean, who wakes up one morning and thinks to themselves, “I want to go Ostrich Fishing.”?  It was actually a spur of the moment decision. My older brother was registered to attend the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, only about 1,766 miles from our home in Pekin, IN. He needed to get himself, as well as all of his apartment furnishings to his temporary home, and he did not want to do it alone. So what does the Hoke family do about this? The custodian and bus driver take off work for two weeks, we pack our 1994 34-foot-long RV to the ceiling, and the 7 of us (counting a very lazy poodle and a spoiled dash hound) took off on our great adventure.


During our 36 hour voyage we faced many challenges as a family that we knew would serve as great stories when we returned home. From being deemed a suspicious vehicle by the Border Patrol to losing our beloved wiener dog for an hour when he felt the need to chase a jack rabbit in New Mexico, it was truly a wild time. Our signature phrase was “Wake me up if you see something cool!” Being a family that had never traveled out West before, we were simply amazed at things like wild cactuses and wind farms. We were those annoying, overly enthused tourists that took pictures with the “Beware of Rattlesnakes” sign. You could tell our dogs had never been out of their own backyard when they would wander around continuously with obvious confusion while looking for grass to do their business on.

We had heard all about how America’s western region is vacant, but we didn’t know the extent of this term until we rolled closer to New Mexico. We would search for hours for a campground, but there was nothing to be seen but miles and miles of never-ending roadway. We took a liking to parking in areas with public Wi-Fi for entertainment while we used our generator for air-conditioning. Dad would sleep and get ready to drive again, and the rest of us would snack on junk food, update our friends via social networking, and look at the countless travel brochures obtained from rest stops. This family didn’t need a fancy campground to have fun.

 On one of the last days during our journey, we found ourselves stopping at a place called Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, which is located between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. A ranch with a bunch of large birds prancing around is not what you usually think of as an exciting tourist attraction. I have to admit, I had my doubts about this place, but my feelings completely changed when I saw an enormous monster truck and learned that we would be exploring the 600 acres of mountainous dessert on this beast.

That two week period of my life showed me that a vacation is not about staying in the most luxurious hotels, or spending a lot of money on fancy travel- channel type attractions, but it is about spending time with those you love. Usually the most hated part of vacation is the never-ending ride to wherever you are going. But I learned that sometimes you don’t know what your entertainment will be once you get there, so you better just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.

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