Alfred Hitchcock Planned My Family Vacation

When I started Five Day Discipline I quickly realized that unexpected things happened when I tried new things. I started liking salad, coffee, yoga, etc. So maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised that an innocuous week catching up on Alfred Hitchcock movies would turn into something bigger.

img_2862Confession: Before Week 46 of my Five Day Discipline I had only seen one Alfred Hitchcock movie. Not the heaviest confession, I know, but for cinephiles it really is criminal to not know the Hitchcock catalog. The one I had seen was Rear Window and I loved it. But I decided that it was time for me to get more familiar with the master of suspense so I rented The Birds, Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest and a few others.

An aside: Choosing to watch a movie every night for a Five Day Discipline sounds like a gas but it is really taxing. Most movies are over two hours long and sitting down on a Tuesday night after a day of work and putting the kids to bed to watch a movie isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Aside over, back to Hitchcock week.

At some point during Week 46 I watched North by Northwest starring Eva Marie Saint (swoon) and Cary Grant (double swoon). When I pressed play the only thing I knew about the film was that it featured a famous scene wherein an airplane chased after Cary Grant. By the end of the film I was sold. I dig the time period, the espionage, the love story, Captain Nemo (James Mason), the sets, locations and of course the climax atop Mount Rushmore. In a week of enjoyable films I enjoyed North by Northwest the most.

Then, being a person alive in 2018, I posted about watching the movie on the internet. My mom saw my post and commented that North by Northwest was the reason she had always wanted to go to Mount Rushmore. That prompted the following text exchange:

Ah, the bucket list. I’m sure you fine, educated people all already know this but a bucket list is a list of all the things you want to do before you die. Problem is, none of us know when we are going to die. I’ve lost six family members over the past six years and only one of them had any idea that Death was fast-approaching. Both of my parents are 65 which realistically puts them way closer to the grave than the cradle. It’s nice to pretend that they will live forever but it’s not going to happen so whatever they have left to cross off their bucket list needs to be completed as soon as possible.

So, we decided we would take a big family vacation up to Mount Rushmore in the summer and planning commenced. My parents decided they’d rent a big van and we’d drive up from Texas together. Our crew totaled 12 in all: my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, their two kids (ages 4 &2), my wife, our four kids (ages 7, 5, 3 & 1) and of course me.


img_6580In short, yes. But my mom did a really great job of planning stops along the way to break up our trip and my wife and sister both worked really hard to make activity binders and games for each kid. Plus we had two iPads and two DVD players. Don’t get me wrong, there was crying, and whining, and “are we there yet?” but all things considered they handled it like troopers. *Additionally, my tolerance for loud noises and crying is also pretty high as I am unequivocally the loud, annoying one of my family*


Typical family vacation road trip stuff. Driving, eating, National Monuments, etc. The point of this post isn’t about what we did as much as why we did it and since most of you probably don’t want the minutiae of our trip anyway, I’ll sum it up as quickly as I can:

  • Day 1 
    • Honor Heights Park and Butterfly Garden in Muskogee, Oklahoma
    • Stayed in Pittsburgh, Kansas.
  • Day 2 –
    • BBQ lunch in Kansas City with my father-in-law (who also lives in Texas but happened to be in Kansas City for work)
    • Stayed in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
  • Day 3 
    • Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE
    • Stayed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
  • Day 4 
    • Falls Park in Sioux Falls
    • Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota
    • Birthday cupcakes for my youngest who turned 2
    • Stayed in Chamberlain, South Dakota
  • Day 5 
    • Badlands National Park
    • Prairie House
    • Custer State Park
    • Stayed in Custer State Park
  • Day 6 
    • Mount Rushmore!!! My expectations for this National Monument were actually pretty tempered because I had heard tell of people saying it wasn’t as big as they expected it to be. Maybe my rose colored glasses were on, but I was not disappointed by the size of Mount Rushmore at all. It looked pretty dang big to me. They also had a great museum with lots of artifacts related to the creation of the monument and a fun video and gift shop. I was thoroughly impressed by the whole experience and it was a worthy focal point and highlight of the trip.
    • Stayed in Custer State Parkimg_6874
  • Day 7 
    • Wind Cave National Park
    • Stayed in Holdrege, Nebraska
  • Day 8 
    • Cawker City, Kansas, home of the largest ball of Sisel Twine
    • Arrive back at home, safe and sound.

Our journey spanned 2,500 miles, 8 days and a ton of fun. Mount Rushmore and the other stops along the way were great but really it was about the journey together. And while the journey is over, the time that passes will only sweeten the memories. My dad driving the whole time because he is where I get my stubbornness. Swimming in the hotel pools with my kids and how joyful they were. The pizza we ate in Sioux Falls, SD and how my mom said it was the best she’d ever had. Playing at random parks along the way. My youngest throwing massive fits if my wife wasn’t sitting by him.

Another aside: Isn’t it funny how even unpleasant behavior can turn into a fond memory? Life is precious and time fleeting is the reason, I think. When my two-year old has moved out of the house I will want nothing more than to go back in time and have just one more massive fit. I digress. And there is something in my eye. Moving on.

We did it, Mom! This is the prize of my trip, helping my mom get to Mount Rushmore. I didn’t realize until I was typing this caption that my daughter is also making an appearance in this picture.

Five Day Discipline has continually surprised me with where it leads me. What started as a week of watching movies turned into a wonderful family vacation. If you’re reading this, and you are, I encourage you to try something new in your own life and see where it leads you. And, perhaps above all, chase down that bucket list with the people you love.



P.S. My Five Day Discipline the week of this vacation was to take a picture with every member of my family each day. It turned out to be a great idea because it gave me a special moment with each individual and it also documented a lot of great memories. Below you’ll find a few of my favorites.

This joker turned 2 in the middle of this trip and was quite the trooper. He won’t remember anything from this vacation but he helped make it extra fun. He also got the award for “Cried The Most In The Car”.


Posing for our carvings. I love taking pictures with this kid because he’s either got the sweetest smile or the toughest face ever on.
Feeling monumental.
I bet George, Thomas, Teddy and Abe give each other bunny ears all the time when no one is looking. Just kidding, I know how rocks work.
Snuck in an “original family” photo. With spouses and six kids between us it’s a rarity to just fit the four of us into a picture.



2 thoughts on “Alfred Hitchcock Planned My Family Vacation

  1. Denise Harman

    This is the reason we live. Because you did this for your Mom, I promise that your kids gained more from it than you may ever know. This is a prize winning post…


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