Some Dreams Have to Change
Aug 26, 2021
by Aubrey Page, Collaborator
I had a dream and I did it. We did it. We made it.
I had a dream of taking my kids on a trip throughout the southeast portion of the United States to show them a lot of history that we had studied in homeschool.
But how do you take kids who need ROUTINE and STRUCTURE all over the country? Well, you take your house with you! We bought an RV in the spring with the whole goal of taking our kids on this amazing road trip. In many ways it went exactly as planned and yet so much changed while on the road.
The process of planning this trip involved calculating distances between addresses, booking RV sites using the state park system of 4 different states, and figuring out how long we needed to go without being able to do laundry. I actually ordered a magnetic board from Amazon and some magnetic "push pins" to color code our plans.
Now WE know the plans, but do we tell the kids? No. No we do not. We told them about 72 hours before we left. Normally with trips we tell them as we get in the car, but this one we gave them some warning. We knew that even the very exciting trip would induce anxiety and we didn't want them to psych themselves out of wanting to go. We also did not tell them where we were going or how long we were going to be gone. Just that it was going to be the longest trip we had ever gone on. This gave us the flexibility of turning around mid-trip if we needed without upsetting them for breaking a promise to go a certain place.
We started off going to North Carolina and had planned to stop for the night. Despite leaving hours late we were able to push through in one day which was best for everyone. We got there and settled in and sat with the reality that we really we DOING this. This trip was happening.
After spending time with my family, we meandered through Georgia, stopping to see Nelson's family along the way. In Atlanta the kids LOVED the World of Coke and we also got to visit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s childhood home and memorial. It was amazing to be around so much history.
But that only continued as we went through Birmingham and went to the Civil Rights Museum and visited the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where those 4 precious girls lost their life in the bombing. In Montgomery, I was able to visit The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice (aka the Lynching Memorial). The impact of that was too big to describe but I HIGHLY recommend those. We were also able to see the Dexter Baptist Church where MLK was the pastor of and even cross the bridge in Selma as we retraced the route of the marchers.
As the trip went on I was so fired up about all that we were learning. And it was increasingly obvious that my kids were drained. Overwhelmed. I was asking too much of them. So we lowered the amount of civil rights visits we did to better accommodate them. Because if we hadn't, we would have had to cut the trip in half. We discussed the possibility of going home many times.
We pushed on and went down to New Orleans. This was the highlight of the trip because my kids had seen pictures and had talked about it a lot. They were gravely disappointed that the real deal didn't look like the movies. I thought our day in the French Quarter would reinvigorate them, but it's a small quarter and it was exhaustingly crowded. We did an AMAZING tour with QuarTour Kids on the history of music in New Orleans. The tour guide was a former teacher and engaged the kids SO well. But the sensory input was too much and we called it an early day.
The next day we had planned to be out of the city for a bayou tour so we took it slow in the RV and got there later. We saw a few gators, but it was HOT. So we headed to Gulfport and ate dinner overlooking the ocean. Between the wind, the live band, and the flies, it was too much again. COVID numbers were rising and we were hesitant to eat inside, but that meant dinner needed to be shorter. We went to the beach after dinner when the sun was not so hot and the crowds were non-existant. The water in Gulfport is shallow for a LONG time so the kids were safe to go pretty far out and they felt pretty cool. On the way home we got ice cream at a place that had terrible service and everyone went to bed tired.
The next day we took it slow with a tour of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum which was really oddly cool and a great follow up to our year of studying the states in homeschool. A family movie night and the biggest part of the trip was behind us.
We drove to Jackson and met up with more of Nelson's family after seeing the house where Medgar Evers (a WWII vet and Black activist) was murdered for just fighting for equality. We also visited a Black-owned farm which was NOT open, but we were able to buy a box of their produce since we were there. On a whim we decided to drive to Vicksburg to eat dinner in a shack and had the BEST po'boys of the trip. We also got to see the Mississippi yet again, reinforcing the geography of these states.
We headed home through Memphis and we were able to see the Rock'n'Soul Museum, BB King's Blues Bar, and the very famous Bass Pro Shops pyramid. The state park we stayed at was the first park in that county open to African Americans and also housed Indigenous artifacts from a long-gone village. We learned about life there for the Creek and got to see impressive mounds. We also dipped into Arkansas because checking off new states is always fun.
In Nashville we were spent. Hanging on by a thread, the most we did was visit Nelson's grandparents alma mater, Vanderbilt, and drive through the bar district in Nashville. It was SO crowded and I think it really dissuaded the kids from the glamour of getting drunk and partying for a little bit.
The last morning we woke up and knew we were almost home. Which was amazing, but also sad. There was a lot of magic on that trip. We made a lot of memories. Had a lot of amazing experiences. When would we be able to have that again? Ever?
We have more trips planned for the future, but this was one that grew us as a family and will stick with us for a long time. I wish more families got the opportunity to make memories like this.
**If you're new here I don't feature my kids images or names on anything to protect their privacy.