Wednesday, June 16, 2010

America the Great

After so many days of road trips, everything starts to look and feel the same. I am totally bored with taking pictures. But road trips also provide the chance to reflect on the constants. Here are some of my road trip observations for today:

The best I can count, this is Boo's 25th lifetime roadtrip day. She's been a great traveler since day one, which encouraged us over the years to say, Well, that last trip was pretty good. Let's do it again!

America is diverse and beautiful. Traveling cross country, we have crossed mountains, rivers, valleys, bridges, tunnels, and many many miles of Interstate. We have also traveled at least three miles not on the Interstate. Those miles are okay, but we are much happier on the major highways.

Along the highways we have shared the road with windmill blades, modular homes, military vehicles, farm vehicles, farm animals, and other interesting things I have forgotten right now. Just this morning I saw a school bus towing another school bus. I feel like saying, Now I have seen everything. But I'm sure there are more interesting things yet to see!

I still can't get my kids to play the license plate game with me, but I can't help myself from playing anyway. My observation this week is that the summer road trip season is not yet in full swing, because mostly I'm just seeing tags I would expect for each region through which we travel. Just now I spotted my first Minnesota tag of this trip. Earlier I saw a car with turquoise tags and now I'm dying of curiosity because I didn't catch what state it was from.

Contrary to what you might think after watching American television, America is not all big cities. In fact, rural areas seem to far outnumber urban areas. Mile after mile, we pass ordinary small towns full of ordinary cars, ramshackle yards full of old ramshackle car parts, and ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. I feel in good company.

Outback is constant everywhere you go. Except, apparently, in Bristol, Virginia, where the margaritas seemed to present an especial problem last night. But do you know what I appreciate? When we expressed our disappointment to the waitress, she presented our case to her manager, who took them off our bill. So in the end, we still got good service and satisfaction.

Another constant, I have learned on this trip, is that apparently every state has a Jefferson County. And, apparently, whoever was naming the counties in each state drew from the same list, and also took our 2010 road trip route into account, because we have passed through at least four Jefferson Counties so far, and will be stopping in a fifth one tonight. Crazy, isn't that?

The more I travel America's highways, the more strongly I feel about the importance of giving my children this eye on the world. We can teach our children about culture, industry, distance, word origins, biology and the story of our country on these trips. Our country is rich in heritage, and we have more amazing museums, natural wonders, and historical landmarks than a person can visit in a lifetime.

Today brings one of my own firsts, a trip through the state of Alabama. We are going to visit my uncle and cousins in Birmingham for the first time. I think the kids are going to love making some new friends and finding out we are all family.

Wow are we all ready to be home. The kids are getting a little restless in the car and we still have two days left to travel. But while we are here, we are enjoying what we can find to see and do along the way.

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