Saturday, July 12, 2008

Road Trippin'

As I said the other day, I spent the month of June in Ohio visiting my family. To be specific, I packed the kids in the car and drove them the 1350 miles from College Station to North Canton. I braced myself for the worst, but guess what? It was really fun!

Between DVD's, special surprises, and picnic areas, we passed the time easily. The kids are champion travelers (after all, they do have road trip experience from last year). They enjoyed snuggling with their travel blankets and pillows on the early legs of the trip, and making use of the hotel swimming pools at the end of each day.

Picnic Areas were a great aspect of the trip

When I arrived at my destination on mid-afternoon on the third day, I was tired but not completely worn out. So yay for us, we discovered that there are other methods of travel besides flying!

While driving alone all that way, I had plenty of time to reflect on the scenery. Also to get frustrated with the number of other vehicles trying to share my road, but that's another story that is much less interesting! I had such a sense of seeing America.

We drove through rural Texas on country roads for the first four hours of our trip. Once on the Interstate, our drive included Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and a bit of Mississippi. We passed from the old south (the rural "dueling banjos" part, not the distinguished historic part) through the mid south of Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, and Cincinnati. We crossed the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and passed through the Ozark Mountains.

A Riverboat in Memphis

I was struck by the fact that every state has something to be proud of, something that sets it apart and makes it special. Arkansas, which was the last place I expected to find something notable, sported walls of beautiful tall trees lining the Interstate. Twining up the tree trunks were amazing vines that made me think of far off jungles, or maybe it's what they call the bayou. Whatever the name for it, I could not get over the beauty of it. It was easy to imagine the state a hundred or so years ago before civilization carved out its stamp upon a sprawling forest.

I also discovered that Arkansas is noted for its peaches. This is indeed notable, because I have not had a good peach in years, and for whatever reason (what could it be?) I have had an insatiable craving for that full juicy flavor of a tree-ripened peach. Holy smokes, Arkansas peaches fit the bill.

Sunset in Hope, Arkansas

As I drove I also thought on the possibilities of future trips, in which we could stop along the way at different places to spend a day or two of our vacation, to break up the trip. Memphis and Cincinnati seemed to me the best candidates for future explorations; Cinci with King's Island and the Zoo, and Memphis (and Nashville) with its rich musical heritage. There is also a corridor in Kentucky, called the cave region, that seems tailor made for visiting while road tripping. Mammoth Cave and Dino World are at the same exit off the Interstate, and are exactly one day's drive from Canton, making them an ideal location for a family vacation there someday.

I just love road trips, and this most recent one was no exception. Making it even better was the fact that I was not also moving at the same time, as has been the case with most of my big trips. The whole experience was a big success, and I anticipate that in another two years or so we will repeat the drive.

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