We found a spot in the shade facing the water to nosh on fish and chips while watching the sea lions play, fight and snooze in the pier. We sat there for over an hour, giggling at their antics and pointing out animals that were especially ornery.

We were on our honeymoon in San Francisco, and with all there was to see and do, this was my favorite part.

Going on vacation and being able to travel to new places is one of my favorite parts of life. I have been pretty fortunate to see some amazing parts of the country, and since being with my husband, Brett, we have gone on some stellar vacations. We usually pick a few sites we want to see before we embark, and then we usually find some hidden gems while we are in the midst of our sojourn.

Yet, when I look back on those vacations, the places I was most excited to see aren’t really the ones that stick out as the best parts of the trip.

When we went on our honeymoon, I was ecstatic to see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was on the top of our to-do list. We even went on what was the deemed “the must-see” night tour of Alcatraz. It was spooky and fun, and I will remember it forever. But when I look back, the moments we talk about the most or that bring a smile to my face are when we watched the sealions at Pier 39, ate homemade ice cream twice in one day and went on a scenic whale watching tour (even though we didn’t see whales).

On our most recent vacation, Gettysburg National Military Park was our top attraction. I was convinced it was going to be the highlight of our trip. It was incredible to see how expansive the battlefield was and to see these historic spots in person. And the location is truly gorgeous. I will remember it forever, but it wasn’t my favorite part of the trip. The best parts for me was seeing my niece react to all the sea creatures at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, reading her stories before bedtime and spending time with both sides of our family. Those moments were priceless for me.

As I have grown older, I have come to learn more about myself and my life. It’s the little moments in life – or when we are on a glamourous vacation – that I don’t think are important when they are happening that are the ones that end up mattering the most. Whether it’s while we are eating way too much In-N-Out Burger in California or at home snuggling on the couch watching “The Office,” it’s those moments I treasure and that bring smiles to my face for years to come. 

Ashley Bebensee

Hi! I’m Ashley, a Nebraska girl living in Wyoming. I grew up on a farm in western Nebraska, graduated with a class of 28 and ventured to the middle of the state to attend the University of Nebraska at Kearney. It was there I met the love of my life and husband, Brett. He is the most romantic, kind and intelligent person I know. And he makes me belly-laugh (truly the best kind). We have two cats and two dogs that are spoiled rotten. I am a content manager at a weekly newspaper, where I get to spend my days reading, writing, editing and designing a newspaper. British television shows, wine and caramel apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are my guilty pleasure. Shopping with my mom, going to the movies with my husband, long phone conversations with my dad and spoiling my nieces and nephews are just a few of my favorite activities. While I try to plan out all the details of life like the good control freak that I am, God is always throwing in curveballs. And so far, each of those curveballs have given me a bountiful amount of stress and love, adventure and joy, and more blessings than I could have ever imagined.