I am a bottler of emotions and an over-thinker of thoughts. Many nights I lay awake mentally wrangling with a burden, problem or project. Sometimes all three in one night. I stuff emotion on top of emotion deep inside until I explode on some poor, unsuspecting member of my family. They take the brunt of it all, tears and tantrums along with the joy. I can feel the build-up of feelings and thoughts that haven’t been shared. I know I’m... [Read More]Read more
Traveling is my favorite thing to do, followed closely by planning for trips, and I’m in full travel-planning mode these days. Summer 2015 has been talked about for years in our family. It’s finally the summer of our epic 5,400-mile round-trip adventure, which will land us as far away as Key West, Florida. We’re taking 20 days for the Great American Road Trip, our longest family vacation, both in days gone and miles covered. We’ll cross up to 18 states, numerous National Park Service-operated destinations, beaches, theme parks and several superlative places. We may need time away from each other after this trip.
Countless well-meaning friends have attempted to convince us to fly to Orlando, visit Walt Disney World and call it good for summer vacation 2015. It won’t happen. The idea of the places we’ll visit that we’d never see if we chose to fly makes me giddy with excitement. I guarantee I won’t be sleeping the night before we leave. I’ll be wound far too tight. When I set my sight on something, I rarely change course. It’s an annoying or endearing trait, depending on who you ask.
Gathering information was one aspect of being a journalist I enjoyed. I like taking a question and finding an answer. I like the act of gaining knowledge about everything, really: products to purchase, restaurants, schools, food, sports programs, books, vacation destinations, etc. Our first priority was making a list of destinations we couldn’t miss on this vacation and solidifying our driving route around those places.
I find it thrilling to open our trusty driving atlas and see all the possible ways we could get to where we want to go. I see the words “scenic byway” and excitement builds. While driving the Interstate Highway System, generally, makes for fewer hours on the road, highways and byways are my preference. Middle of nowhere and small town USA make me happy.
I have four primary sources for travel planning: the public library, Bing maps, travel blogs and websites. Travel books are expensive to purchase, so I choose to borrow books from our local public library. Most of the resources are for specific states or regions in the USA. Places like Walt Disney World have hundreds of pages in several books to sort through. My preferred Walt Disney World book is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. It’s comprehensive and includes information on Universal Studios Florida as well. We used the Disneyland version for our two trips to the California theme park. For state information, I prefer the DK Eyewitness Travel books. Disney scored high marks with the personalized travel planning package we received. I have opened that package more times than I care to admit just to flip through the pages. The kids don’t need a countdown calendar for the trip, but I might.
I don’t follow any specific travel blogs. I do a lot of searching for specific information as I research. Pinterest helps to narrow down the field. I’m drawn to other traveler’s photos. I like to have a visual of what to expect at places we’ll be traveling to or through. I start family dinner conversations with, “Did you know?” I’ll share a fact and then show a photo to tease everyone.
I keep a notebook of pages filled with tips, possible destinations, distances from A to B, questions, facts, etc. It’s hours of work over months leading up to a big trip. This epic vacation is the most consuming of our vacations to date. I find the researching relaxing. I thrive on projects and deadlines. Vacation planning is my favorite project. I’ll stay up late into the night or forgo housekeeping duties to look up one more thing. The house may slide into complete disarray the closer we get to vacation, but it will be worth it.
Any suggestions from fellow travelers to the Southeast United States are appreciated.
I enjoy watching my kids interact with other people when they don’t know I’m there. I like to watch them on the playground at school or while they walk to the car at pickup time. I get to know them better when they don’t know I’m watching. It’s the fruits of my labor in action. I learn a lot listening to conversations between siblings as the voices float up from the basement. Yesterday I stood outside the glass enclosure of... [Read More]Read more
I knew when we walked in the door and were greeted by two signs: white and colored, this historical site wouldn’t be like any we’d taken our children to before. We were on our way home from vacation in Illinois in July and stopped in Topeka, Kansas at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. We try not to shy away from tough conversations with our kids, but our conversation about segregation while at that place is one... [Read More]Read more
It all started in junior high when my parents invited two college-aged men to stay in our family cabin in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. We had finished dinner at a lodge near our cabin and were piling into the car to head back to the cabin for the night when my mom spotted two young men with bicycles unrolling sleeping bags on the grass. I don’t remember which month in summer it was, but it was chilly. I... [Read More]Read more
I stared at the words “please click here to enroll a new student,” and the blinking cursor taunted me. A mental roadblock stopped me from clicking. It’s not happening today. I’ll get around to enrolling our youngest in kindergarten, but for today, I’ll allow myself to forget how fast our baby has grown. I enrolled our oldest son seven years ago in the public school system. I was just as emotional then but in a different way. Our local school... [Read More]Read more
Over 10 years ago when I was pregnant with my second son, I started taking my toddler to a play group in the hopes of connecting with people and ridding myself of nagging loneliness. I made a passing comment about missing the act of reading. I wasn’t making me a priority. A new friend invited me to her book club and my decision to step outside my comfort zone and attend caused lasting ripple effects. The first Tuesday of every... [Read More]Read more
Reading has always been an escape for me. A good book can both relax and invigorate me. I’ve spent many nights reading just one more chapter into the wee hours. One of my goals when I became a parent was to instill a love for books in my children. We’ve done that job well. Our three oldest carry books with them when we run errands. They’ve been known to wake up early, hop out of bed, and curl up with... [Read More]Read more
There’s a gold box in a drawer in my nightstand that’s bursting with memories. I’ve kept one ticket from every concert, movie, amusement park and athletic event we’ve been to in our 13 1/2 years of marriage. I’m a recovering hoarder of mementos. I’m light years better than I used to be, but ticket stubs, photographs and the occasional map and pamphlet are still hard for me to part with. I’ll come home from an event and slip the newest... [Read More]Read more
I’m exhausted, always. It really never matters how much sleep I’ve managed to enjoy. During a recent doctor’s appointment for me, the doctor asked if I thought I was more tired than normal. The thing is, I can’t actually remember not being a little tired. After chatting about my level of tiredness, I realized I’m not physically tired (well, sometimes), I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted, which rolls over to every other part of life. The thing about parenting that wears... [Read More]Read more