A family vacation.

Last week we vacated. On the morning after our 16-hour travel day to Yosemite National Park when the children woke cranky and unreasonably early, we thought: what are we doing here? This trip was such a mistake. And later on day one, it hailed and rained, and the construction in the park had us in traffic for what felt like hours. At multiple points, we were all on the verge of tears of rage.

But you know what? As we sat around the campfire on that first evening, eating dinner and toasting marshmallows, we knew we'd been wrong. We were together, with no internet or cell reception or other modern distractions, in the wild.

The week toured us across Yosemite and then to Lake Tahoe, a place so magical that we almost didn't come home. After four days of "hiking and walking and nothing else to do" (our four-year-old's words), the little ones were ready to splash in the pristine alpine waters and dig in the sand for treasures. And so were we.

This much togetherness can be exhausting, but there's nothing else quite like it. We learned new things about each other, and had the time to appreciate the old things about each other that we already knew but forgot to pay attention to before. I was just about knocked to the ground with a flood of old memories of cross-country travels with my own mom and dad in their 1970s Buick LeSabre, back in the mid '80s.

In so many ways, it was a trip. And every time we travel together, I appreciate our familyness more.

Here are some stories from the road.