A couple of months ago, I participate in a #LPchat about family travel on Twitter. People tweeted words and pictures about family travel to Prague, Venice, Sri Lanka, and other foreign locations. With international travel limited to Mexico and Jamaica (pre-children) and a one-day excursion in Vancouver (with children), I engaged in a little self pity that there were toddlers better-traveled than I.
It’s not that our family hasn’t taken vacations. We’ve visited both the Atlantic and Pacific and splashed around the Gulf of Mexico and crossed the mighty Mississippi more times than I can count. We’ve visited mountains, canyons, desert, forests, swamps, beaches, and the obligatory Disneyworld.
With three boys, the outdoors was favored with room to run and explore. Lots of National Parks (Happy Birthday, National Park Service). But we’ve visited big cities too, including: Houston, Denver, New Orleans, Memphis, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Washington, D.C., Mobile, Dallas, Seattle, and more. The biggest surprise of all? Memphis. So much music and culture. We toured Gibson guitars, Beale Street, and Sun Studios. And then we toured the National Civil Rights Museum and were further wowed.
I remember the looks of awe and wonder on my sons’ faces at every turn. Disneyworld overwhelmed us all, but Memphis followed by a trip to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast (pre-Katrina) was heaven with my youngest swaggering a pre-school body down the beach like he owned it. He always did like an audience.
At three-years-old, my oldest son told me he liked Boulder, but not Colorado. We had been in Rocky Mountain National Park post-Labor Day and his skinny little body didn’t like the cold at the high altitudes. A few years later, we visited ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings in the Four Corners area. A deer came up to him as he was brushing his teeth at Mesa Verde (we were camping). I believe the deer wanted to share. Later, he was
enthralled by the ladders he got to climb. His little brother rode in a backpack (and the youngest brother rode in my stomach). The backpack had to come off when we reached a tunnel that we had to push him through.
Interestingly, I also remember the large variety of languages we heard at the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Rocky Mountain National Park. At times, it felt like the Americans were in the minority.
My family vacations are memories I wouldn’t trade for all the exotic locales in the world. The United States is full of wonderful places to see and experience, and I will keep right on visiting them. Of course, I’ll visit locations outside of the U.S. as well. The world is full of surprises, and I plan on seeing as many as I can.