Life on the scenic route is now a fond memory, and the last few months of schedules, meetings and responsibilities have been an adjustment. As I wrap up the blog and prepare to print it out for our record, I wanted to make one last entry to highlight a few of our favorite memories and unforgettable experiences of our six month adventure. If you don’t have time to read all the words, here’s the three-minute slideshow of our trip!
The last thirty miles before the Washington border brought with it an amazing high–the kind of high you can only feel when you’ve accomplished something you thought might be bigger than you. We did it! We made a goal to visit all 48 states, and at just a hundred miles at a time, we did it! As we stopped for a celebration dinner in Spokane, we high-fived one another, hugged and basked in the satisfaction of a road well-traveled. As we ate dinner, we reviewed our favorite memories from the trip. They include, but are by no means limited to, the following top ten places we LOVED:
Washington, DC is such a family friendly town filled with a million activities for kids to participate in. This was my first time to DC, and I loved seeing all the sites that I have heard of my whole life. We loved the Lincoln Memorial, standing where Dr. King stood as he told the world of his dream, visiting the White House, spending hours in museums and my experience at Arlington National Cemetery is still close to my heart.
We visited The Redwoods on about day three of our trip, but the awe-inspiring giant trees made a real impression on all of us. We LOVED just wandering through the deep dense forests with no one around but ourselves. If you haven’t been, go. Soon.
8-The Everglades, Florida
The Everglades made the list of top places we visited because it is SO different from anywhere else we went. The air boat ride through the swamps, the alligators, picking up hitch hikers and the crystal clear waters of the state parks made Florida a place we will long remember.
7-The Smoky Mountains
The mountains themselves weren’t what impressed my boys about the The Smoky Mountains, but it makes the list because of the horseback riding we did through the trails. Riding horseback for the afternoon on a crisp spring morning thrilled my children. Follow that up with a stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee where the roads are lined with carnival rides for as far as the eye can see. Christian was ready to bail on the 48 state gig and buy a house and live there forever.
No need to explain this wonder of the world. Completely and totally AWESOME! We loved the Maid of the Mist boat ride out to the falls! It is beautiful, and everyone should see it!
5-San Francisco, California
The curvy streets, piers, Alcatraz, pizza, bridges, bays, friends, vineyards and streetcars…seriously, what’s not to love about San Francisco? The night playing in the water at The Golden Gate Bridge as the sun went down is one of those memories that I hope time never erases.
My kids LOVED the largest indoor water park in America. Though it is certainly memorable to have the pool shut down and the paramedics called because of my poor surfing skills, I would not add this to my personal favorite places I visited. Nathan, however, loved the surf simulator, and Christian thought the slides were everything they were talked up to be.
3-New York City
Oooh! Where to start?! New York is charming. It calls to me. I love the busy rush of a bazillion people hurrying to get somewhere important. I loved that I was not one of those people rushing to get anywhere, but that I could simply take it in at our own pace. I LOVED the double-decker bus tour, Times Square, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, riding the subways and wandering through Central Park. After several years of telling my boys about WICKED, I loved being able to sit with them in the Gershwin Theater as the curtains rose and the music started. Unforgettable.
Pennsylvania in general was off the charts! We did visit it during a beautiful time of year, and the rolling green hills and classic farm houses entranced me. We loved the Amish carriage ride through the countryside and, of course, Hershey Chocolate World! There was nothing not to love about making your own candy bar, tasting chocolate and diving into a world of Hershey. Two enthusiastic thumbs up for Pennsylvania!
1-Hot Springs, Arkansas
Our family’s favorite day of the whole trip was in Hot Springs, Arkansas! Who would have guessed? We spent the day in the dirt digging for crystals. That’s it! There were no thrill rides, computers, electronics, movies, or high-priced entertainment. We paid our $5 entry fee and dug as many crystals as we could put in the back of our truck. Whatever happened in the crystal mounds that day in the minds of two little boys made the whole trip worthwhile. It ranks at the top of Nathan and Christian’s favorite places. Hats off to Hot Springs!
I could easily make a different list…a list, not of the favorite places we visited, but a list of my favorite moments. This list would include watching Nathan and Christian dangling their arms off the end of a dock watching the rocks fall to the bottom of the lake in the Napa Valley and listening as Nathan sang, “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay…wasting time.” The list would include hiking through any of the many forests we went to and looking ahead at my children and feeling my heart fill with gratitude for two kids and the love they add to my life.
It would include the night at The Golden Gate Bridge when I thought my heart would burst as I wanted to bottle up time and never forget the dancing silhouettes of my ten and eleven year olds against the setting sun.
It would include making silly videos with one sister, chasing cows and trying to ride a bicycle built for two with another sister and delivering goats in Idaho with my third sister. It would certainly include making giant shadows in a cemetery in the midwest and dancing to the radio in a little camper while we played Bananagrams. It would include the many wonderful friends we were able to catch up with and the friends we met along the way. Skipping rocks, long hikes, campfires and reading books as we snuggled in a hard bed–all moments that I hold dear to my heart.
The places we visited made those six months an adventure, but the uninterrupted time together made this trip a slice of time that we will never forget. None of these moments cost any money, and most of these memories could be replicated here at home at my discretion with just a bit of planning and effort, so that when the time comes for my kids to leave home, we can say with a bucket full of memories, “What an awesome road we’ve traveled together these last eighteen years! We did it together, one little moment at a time…”