There it was: The Motherland.
I hit the gas, nudging our Ford to the upside of 80 miles per hour.
“Look, kids, we’ve made it,” I said, blindly reaching around several empty Big Gulps to swig from a full one.
The big, blue “Pure Michigan” welcome sign was proudly hoisted alongside one of the most magnificent roadside stops we’d seen in eight states. There were the usual picnic tables but also a thoughtfully constructed playground and a dog run. Dozens of tourists spilled out of overloaded cars hauling kids, kayaks and keepsakes.
These were happy signs of a civilization I knew and loved.
Beyond it, were my fresh water lakes. My deep green forests. My soft sand dunes.
We’d soon be with family who could make us belly laugh. There were Northern friends, too, who understood fireflies and grass so kind you could roll naked in it.
Yet I was filled with melancholy.
The past 30 days were hardly easy–I crashed my car, cleaned up multiple rounds of vomit, administered enemas and endured interrupted sleep every single night–yet I still wanted more.
My mind flipped through a catalog of images: Jim reading “Huckleberry Finn” aloud under twinkly stars as a fire crackled somewhere in Iowa, my hungry twins giving their snacks to a stray dog on an Indian reservation in New Mexico, our manny Joel gleefully running up a glacier with squealing Charlotte on his shoulders in Colorado.
I had cried with Shannon and Kim, celebrated with Michelle and Kathy, evolved a professional relationship into a friendship with Kay.
But that’s not all.
My brain was stuffed with new ideas and fresh perspectives. I furthermore felt a deeper appreciation for both the diversity of our great nation and its many hard-working people.
It’s downright hard to be a farmer. A Native American. A small-town gas station owner. An American river.
In fact, this road trip has been such an eye-opening experience, I’m starting to wonder: Could we spend a year traveling together? Overseas? In say, a boat?
Now that would create some lore.
I hope this series has inspired you to consider traveling with your kids–or at the very least travel to new places within your own community.
Thanks to Kids Activities Blog and Holly Homer for having me.