Since I’ve been a parent, we've taken countless day trips and weekend trips with our kids and a few that have been longer yet. Not one has been by plane, but we’ve taken road trips that were far enough to exit the country and to see the ocean. We’ve also taken many trips to explore historic sites, museums, amusement parks and natural beauty close to home. Traveling opens up a whole new world to children and gives them an opportunity to see what exists beyond the walls of their home and boundaries of their neighborhood.
I’ll never forget the trip I took the summer I turned 13. My dad’s two older sisters had been in town for my sister’s wedding and they decided to take my younger twin sisters and me with them to their homes for a visit. First we went to stay with my Aunt Ramona and Uncle Roland on their farm in Missouri. We did at times complain we were a little board, but we also loved riding around in the country and visiting their neighbors who had farm animals. It was a completely different experience from being home in our suburban Chicago home. We stayed there for two weeks and then my Aunt Marilyn and Uncle John came to pick us up and bring us to their home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It happened to be my birthday that day and I thought it was the coolest thing that I got to travel through three states on my birthday.
The week with Aunt Marilyn and Uncle John was full of activity. Life on the farm for those two weeks was fun but laid back. Aunt Ramona, who had raised 7 children, was so patient and accommodating.
Aunt Marilyn and Uncle John were teachers who never had kids of their own. They were excited about the fun-filled week. I remember shopping with them and spending time at the area parks and visiting the Valleyfair Amusement Park, where my aunt rode the roller coasters with us. At the end of the week, we drove north into Canada and spent a night there in Thunder Bay, Ontario. They provided some fun experiences that were completely new to us. For example, we’d never been somewhere where we had to be warned to watch out for bears.
That trip stayed with me and I am always eager to introduce my children to new places and new experiences. Last month, we went down to the Springfield, Illinois area for a family reunion on my cousin’s farm. It was so nice to see family members I haven’t seen in many years and the boys loved running around and exploring the farm.
The next day, we visited several attractions in Springfield, including Lincoln’s Tomb, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the State Capital and the Lincoln Home. At each place, there was much to see and do and learn. And as it was with me, I’m sure that trip and the memories made will stick with them.