Smith family Seattle relation-trip

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Surrounded by love, Becky Hefel, "Aunt B," is surrounded by her traveling companions from left: Robbie Nelson, Tonya Schaefer, Joy Meyer, Jessie Eulberg, Ann Charette, Katie Sargent and Abbe Jackson; seated is "Aunt B."(Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

The word vacation conjures up a host of pleasant emotions. We look forward to stepping away from our daily obligations and spending time with family and friends. It’s exciting to travel to a different local or re-visit an area we once experienced. There are vacations, stay-cations and relation-trips. 

Former Press writer and Guttenberg native Becky Hefel and her nieces, Joy Meyer, Jessie Eulberg, Tonya Schaefer, Ann Charette, Abbe Jackson, Katie Sargent and Robbie Nelson, gathered together from various starting points across the United States and traveled by car and airplane to reach their relation-trip destination in Seattle, Wash. Hefel shared their adventure with The Press. 

Hefel said, “Two summers ago I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Colorado with a couple of my nieces. On the return trip home one of the girls asked, ‘Where are we going next?’ I expressed a desire to go to Seattle.”

She continued, “My father’s side of the family all live on the West Coast in the Seattle area. I am one of the last living connections to that part of the family. My desire was to gather the girls together so they could meet and bond with their distant relatives.”

Hefel’s father, Dan Smith, was the oldest of seven children. His family was comprised of four boys and three girls. All six of Smith’s siblings moved out to the western part of the United States in search of a new frontier. “Many of my father’s sibling returned to Iowa to visit the family farm but several never made the trip,” she commented. 

Hefel texted her eight nieces inquiring about their desire to travel to Seattle as a group and meet their distant relatives and enjoy the area. “All eight of the girls responded back with an ‘I’m in!’ within 15 minutes. Sadly one of the nieces, was unable to make the trip due to work requirements beyond her control,” she said. 

On the day of the trip, Hefel was in awe at the thought of her adventurous nieces traveling by different modes of transportation from various locations to arrive at their final destination in Seattle.

The group enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Seattle area, visiting several of the more popular tourist attractions. The best memory the group brought home from the trip was the closeness and camaraderie they shared. 

Hefel commented, “We rented a house in Seattle and settled in to our surroundings. There was so much visiting, laughing and giggling in addition to a few tears. We shared so much wonderful food and drink during our cherished time together.” 

Prior to the vacation Hefel printed off a simple family tree to show the lineage of her father’s side of the family. She shared the print-off with the group on the day of the family reunion. “It was such a heart-warming experience to see my nieces interact with their distant relatives and a pleasure for me to reaquaint myself with cousins, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 52 years!” she said. 

In addition to the family tree, Hefel brought along a video of her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and her father’s 75th birthday to share with the group. She had the VHS tapes transferred to DVD format for viewing.  

Hefel was encouraged by her nieces to share their experience with Press readers. She said, “Our desire to share our experience was to inspire others to seize the moment and create cherished memories of their own.” 

Katie Smith-Sargent shared this final thought, “As the baby of the Smith family (Bart was my dad), I was really too young to remember many of the Iowa visits from the Seattle Smiths, but remember vividly when dad would talk about them so fondly. It was a trip of a lifetime for me to join my dear Aunt Becky and my other cousins to spend time reminiscing and connecting with our extended family. Anyone who knows Becky knows what a joy she brings to all she knows, and to share in this adventure with her was something that will forever hold a special place in my heart. We’ve all learned the hard way that life is too short, and we know to take the trips when you can, take pictures to support your memories and never pass up an opportunity to hear a story from days gone by.”

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