Posted by Nancy
I'd like to think of myself as a young mom, but the truth is my
oldest will be going off to college in 2011 just as my youngest
will embark on his high school journey. Next December, my daughter
will be on a school trip during winter break, so you can see the
urgency I had to plan what was possibly our last family vacation
this past December.
When I came upon this realization in October, I started to dream
about where to go and what to do to surprise my family. I needed
time with them, time to talk, sightsee and discover new places
together. I settled on a week-long trip south to Panama City Beach,
Fla., by way of Nashville, Tenn., and Montgomery, Ala. It would be
a family road trip with several stops along the way. I checked with
my husband to make sure he was on board with the idea. Of course, I
knew he would be because he loves to drive and see the country. I
had visions of revealing the exciting news to my kids. "Guess what!
Instead of being at home this winter break, we're taking a road
trip to Florida! Isn't that great?"
My kids were less than enthused. "A road trip? Really? Can't we
fly there? Why are we going to the northern part of Florida? It
won't be hot or sunny enough to get a tan? How many hours in the
car?" What was I possibly thinking? Here I was in my Brady Bunch
world while my kids were in The Simpsons mode. I refused to give
up. "OK," I said matter-of-factly, "you guys can stay home and Dad
and I will go." No, it will be fine, they both said half
As the days grew closer to the trip, I called a family meeting.
Everyone gave their input of what they wanted to do during the
vacation. We scoured the books we checked out of the library to
choose the most interesting sites. My son wanted to fish, my
daughter wanted to hike, my husband wanted to see the country and I
just wanted to be a family on an adventure. By the time we started
our trip, my kids were buzzing with excitement. They looked forward
to the part of the trip they helped plan.
I am happy to say, it was more than fine. We did
it all. We saw Belle Meade, an historic horse plantation in
Nashville; got an education on the Confederacy and the Civil Rights
movement in Montgomery; caught 11 fish deep sea fishing aboard the
SS Jubilee and hiked/climbed the jetties of St. Andrews State Park
in Panama City Beach. My kids returned happy, more enlightened
about other parts of the country and even a little sun burned! We
shared lots of laughs and I honestly can't remember any
I knew the trip had made an indelible mark on them when my son
beckoned me to admire the art he had been working on for days
following our return. It was a painting that integrated the shells
he picked up on the beach in Florida. His art was sunny, vibrant,
but most important it was his expression of what the trip had meant
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