I want to encourage families to take an old-fashioned family road trip with of course some new technology — your smartphone is a wonderful traveling companion. These are photos from our cross-country trip this summer. For road-trip tips click here!
Graceland was actually closed when we arrived. This was one time I wished we had done a little bit more research ahead of time.
We were amazed by the Mighty Mississippi River. We had lots of discussion about how pioneers traveled across it and why the river was so important to the development of our nation. What a teachable moment!
Beale Street is like a mini New Orleans. It was NOT super for the kids. I forget if it was Rose or Walsh who said "Beale Street smells like Athens on game day." I'm not sure if they were referring to the urine smell, the liquor smell or both.
Heading west into Arkansas for the night. I wish we had more time in Memphis. I wanted to see the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. Also I demand that all farmers post what they are growing. Can't tell you how many conversations we had about "what do you think he's growing?"
Rose was especially fascinated with the integration of Little Rock's Central High School. Coming from such a diverse school, Rose couldn't even fathom a time when schools were not mixed.
The National Park Service has built an excellent learning center across from the school. It has hours of film from the actual integration of the high school. Poor Rose was trying so hard to learn and Lilina was not helping!
This wonderful statue of the Little Rock Nine, the students who integrated the school, stand by the Little Rock capitol.
We didn't have enough time to visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. I don't think the kids would have tolerated it for long but I would have liked some time to go through it.
The Oklahoma City bombing memorial is one of the most well thought out memorials I have ever seen. The kids really got it but it wasn't morose.
Empty chairs represent each of the 168 victims of the bombing. Smaller chairs were used to represent the children that died in the day care. I didn't notice the smaller chairs at first but my 7-year-old did. He also theorized that the materials for the chairs were recycled from the bombed building and he was right.
We veered off and on Route 66 along our drive. It was very depressing and any child that has seen "Cars" can relate to the economic reality of what the freeway did to these towns. Shamrock, Texas took advantage of the "Cars" connection and created their visitor's center to look like the Conoco station in the movie.
And suddenly after Texas the landscape started to change. The trees got shorter and more bushy. The land looked more brown and dry.
I cannot say enough about Santa Fe. It is such a beautiful town with history from the original Native Americans, Spanish conquistadors, Mexicans and then finally the cowboys. Excellent museums exploring all these areas plus Native American art. Santa Fe had a Spanish governor before those Pilgrims even landed on the East Coast. Simply amazing.
Santa Fe also has an amazing art scene and tremendous food. Rose loved the sopapillas -- or as she called them a New Mexican beignets.
The Santa Fe museums offered ancient religious articles, real life wagon trains that were robbed and lots of old weapons! Walsh was in!
Las Vegas, New Mexico is about an hour north of Santa Fe. The original wagon trail, the Santa Fe Trail, ran through it as well as the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railroad. The Plaza Hotel dates back to 1882 and you may have seen it in the movie "No Country for Old Men."
Las Vegas, N.M. was a real cowboy town and many of the Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders were recruited there. Las Vegas is home to the Rough Riders' museum. This is TR's actual silveware!
There was this odd chapel (that I can't remember the name of-- sorry!). There were prisms all inside of it that cast rainbows all around it. The kids loved it.
These are the prisms all over the sides and top of the chapel.
The kids loved seeing the rainbows on their bodies.
The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert is a great starter canyon. I wasn't afraid here that the kids would fall in.
Ancient Native American engravings called petroglyphs date back to 1000 AD! The kids were fascinated!
The National Park Service is not fooling around about not taking the petrified wood! Do not take the wood! The will search your car! I was so afraid the kids would pick some up and land us in the pokey!
What kid doesn't love to hear about large meteorites smashing into the Earth! Meteor Crater is very interesting but not run by the National Park Service so our park pass wouldn't work there! Bummer!
The Grand Canyon is amazing but it was nerve wracking! I was so afraid somebody was going over the edge!
Hard to teach the kids not to go over the edge when they have volunteers repelling cleaning the canyon. Bad example for my 7-year-old!
A storm rolled in and them temperature dropped suddenly so keep some layers handy.