In the early years of vacationing the family would pack up the car and drive to historic locations within a one-day drive from the Washington D.C. suburb where I grew up. We visited places like Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia; Valley Forge and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Any farther and my parents would go crazy because my sister and I would argue in the back seat of the car.
One year, my parents came home with an RV, and said if we liked it, they would buy it. So we loaded it up and drove to the beach where we camped at Assateague State Park, Maryland. It was there that I discovered one of my favorite childhood books, Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. Needless to say, the RV, affectionately known as Big Bird because of the big yellow stripe down its side, was a big hit! In the years that followed, we took many vacations both near and far, but one particular vacation stands out in my memory and shaped my future in many ways.
My parents saved up their vacation time so that we could take a six week vacation to drive across the country and back. No longer was I stuck in the back seat where I couldn't see where we were going, I got to sit right up front and look at our beautiful nation. I learned to read a map, and follow route markers. We camped in National Parks like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. We visited interesting attractions like the San Diego Zoo and Disneyland. We saw amazing natural wonders like the Painted Desert, Redwood Forests, and Indian Pueblos. We saw man-made wonders like the Alamo in Texas, curving Lombard Street and Alcatraz in San Francisco, and the Grand Old Opry and Nashville. And in all of these places there was an opportunity for education.
Now as a parent, when I travel with my kids I always plan to include something that is both educational and fun into our vacations. Finding out-of-the-way places such as Natchitoches, Louisiana when driving to Texas to visit family was a piece of luck and became a favorite stop. It’s claim to fame: the Louisiana Purchase was signed there. Visiting National Parks and National Historic Sites to get a stamp in our National Park Passport has become a tradition.
So, as you start to plan your summer vacation, let Neill Public Library help you. If you are planning a vacation in your own backyard then these books may be helpful: Exploring Washington’s Backroads: Highways and Hometowns of the Evergreen State by John Deviny, Backroads of Washington: Your Guide to Washington’s Most Scenic Backroad Adventures by Diana Fairbanks, and Frommer’s Washington State. Or if you want to go a little bit farther afield try one of these books: The 10 Best of Everything National Parks: 800 Top Picks from Parks Coast to Coast or 100 Best Affordable Vacations by Jane Wooldridge. And remember to relax, have fun and learn along the way!
Lori C. Lewis,