On Travel

It’s a phenomenally busy time of year for us. Nathan’s working 6/12s at a job in Kansas, and I’ve got a full load teaching this semester. We’re doing the homeschool cooperative, which I love, and have quite a few field trips scheduled for the next few months (the pumpkin patch next week, Missouri Theater’s bringing in Chinese Acrobats the week after, Addie’s theater is doing Our Town, and then Charlie Brown, another MU performance with Daniel Tiger Live, then a train trip in St. Louis for Santa’s Wonderland). Last weekend we hit the Renaissance Festival, and tomorrow we leave for Chicago.

The Chicago trip is “because” Rebecca is taking Art Appreciation in college right now, and needs to visit a museum to evaluate a work of art. We could have hit Kansas City or St. Louis, and I hear Columbia even has a good museum, but we missed Chicago. The Art Institute there is really spectacular (and the two other museums in town, Modern Art, and Children’s Museum doesn’t hurt our selection). By happy coincidence, this weekend the Children’s Museum has free entrance Sunday morning.

I’m excited by the trip simply because I love to travel. I moved 34 times over my life before settling here with Nathan. Quite a bit as a child, more as a teen, most as a young adult. Addison and Rebecca were uprooted a lot, and while I weigh the costs and benefits of that (emotionally, mentally) against the experience Miles and Ruthie will have living on a farm their entire formative years, travel is good.

Ironically, the dear husband doesn’t care for it, unless it involves a hunting trip somewhere. I think we’ve gotten to a place where we’re both good with that. He does his big hunting trip, and I do a lot of short weekend getaways to see other parts of the country. He prefers his non-hunting time to be on the farm. I like theater, museums, trying out new (exotic!) foods, visiting the parks, seeing the local majesty (like the Arch in St. Louis, or the Plaza in KC, or the Sears Tower in Chicago, even though I don’t think it’s technically called the Sears Tower anymore). I love the time sitting on the porch watching my chickens peck the yard, or listening to Lady (the Drama Queen beagle) yip at my ankles for some attention. However, doing that for the rest of my life without seeing more of the world would definitely *not* satisfy my restless soul.

I realize travel gets expensive, but we research and plan so we can do it on the cheap. The one big trip we took with Nathan we blew our budget in triplicate; he’s not keen on eating ham and cheese slices out of a cooler, doesn’t enjoy sitting and people watching, and would rather be *doing* something than window shopping a downtown area. We take a lot of food. Snacks, water bottles (EDC and BPA free environmentally refillable ones, of course), crackers, cookies, fruit are always staples with travel (as is the Scooby Doo blanket, because you never know when you’ll stumble across a park that begs for some chilling on a blanket). We will eat out twice in Chicago (definitely pizza, definitely a Chicago beef sandwich @ Navy Pier). We’ll enjoy our free continental breakfast in the hotel room I Pricelined about 4 weeks ago. Rebecca found a neat Pinterest post about things you *must see* in Chicago, so we’re checking out a couple of fabulous bookstores, and it’s said the Harold Washington Library has a magnificent enclosed garden area. In short, we’re doing the super cheap and free stuff. I’ve never explored the Navy Pier, and I’m looking forward to that. The Chicago Cultural Center is supposed to be very interesting, too!

For the price of a couple meals, a hotel room, and gas to get there, my children get all the wonder that comes from getting out and experiencing the world. They get to see new places. They get to experience a completely different climate (most of our time will be spent right by Lake Michigan in the Wiiiiiiindy City). They get to walk around the urban area and people watch. (Ok, truth be told, I’ll probably pull them in the wagon most of that part). We’ll pack our sweatshirts and coats (just in case) and our walking shoes, and sun hats, and swim suits (there’s some rule that if the hotel has an indoor pool, you have to swim in it). We’ve got about a dozen activities to fit in in 48 hours. A few will get scrapped, undoubtedly. I’m always flexible when it comes to travel, and we may be led astray by something captivating, such as this bicycling puppet show I keep reading about.

I was watching Poirot’s Appointment with Death the other day, and Dame Westholme said that travel wasn’t as broadening as people thought, because really, people are the same everywhere. It always comes back to the people, and I appreciated that point because one of my favorite parts of traveling is the people-watching part. Both of my girls are people watchers, but Miles and Ruthie haven’t gotten there yet. I hope that they do. I hope that they want to travel to see the sights of the world, and that it broadens their mind and fills them with a fire to learn. However, I hope most that they recognize people who may look different than us really aren’t, because we’re all God’s children. I hope they see people who make decisions that are different from ours, but learn not to judge them. I hope they offer help when they see someone in need. Maya Angelou wrote, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” I agree with that.

I also prefer having smaller Christmases, or smaller birthday presents because we’re sharing experiences together as a family. What’s a Fisher Price toy set compared to remembering the feel of the waves at your ankles? Miles looks through our travel pictures and tells me how much fun he has at this beach, and when can we go again? I love having those memories with them. There are a few places which will be staples for our getaways (like Chicago, and New Orleans, which I can’t wait to get back to). However, I might only be saying that because I haven’t stumbled onto another staple yet. I’ve got about a dozen other places to see on my bucket list (which regretfully has a rather domestic scope limitation until the children are all grown and out of college). Someday I’ll get to travel abroad. Still, I’m excited about the trip. I don’t even mind the 5 ½ hour road trip to get there. All part of the experience!