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Moms share: My family’s best spring break vacation

Beauty in the desert

Kim Thompson Steel - Spring Break

Photographer Kim Thompson Steel shared a special place with her daughter:

When I moved to California 16 years ago and met my husband, we bonded over road trips to the desert, mountains and coast. I fell in love with wide open spaces.

It was Death Valley that stunned me into silence, however. Arriving for our first time at twilight, we set up camp and I barely spoke for the rest of the evening. I couldn’t believe how silent it was and yet how the stars vibrated and sang. It still defies description for me. We returned often and the magic never faded.

We recently returned after many years with our 8-year-old. We hoped she would feel the same magic, but braced ourselves for her boredom or complaints. My husband sometimes talks about how I go “feral” in the wilderness — going silent and my spirit becoming awestruck. On this brief trip, we saw the same thing happen for our daughter. At twilight we stopped by the roadside and she took off like a bird into the dusk, with no need of any interaction from us.

We were wary of trying to recreate past trips and there were a few minor disappointments, mostly to do with limited time and the need to make the trip fun for an 8-year-old. But those landscapes? They don’t change. Still magic.

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