Make Plans To Spend Time With Your Family This Summer
article by Cindy G. Foust
Sometimes I wish this column was set up to get feedback from my readers…or, maybe I don’t because I might find myself without a job. Nevertheless, I think it would be great fun sometimes to get input from our readers about events and issues that are happening in their lives. It would be so interesting for families to give their slant on topics such as family traditions, breast feeding versus formula feeding (did I just say that in a children’s column?) and nutrition. While I would never touch the subject of how you should nourish your infant, I would however like for readers to weigh in on other topics such as their favorite Christmas memory or their most memorable road trip.
Road trip…now there’s two words that can mean different things to different people, am I right? For instance, a road trip to the beach with several of my girlfriends brings to mind a completely different feeling than when I recall the road trip my youth group took when I was a sophomore in high school to Big Piney, Wyoming. I know that sounds like a made up place but let me assure you, Big Piney, Wyoming was and still is very real.
I know I digress in the column sometimes, but if I do nothing more than tickle the proverbial funny bone of our readers, let me start by saying this…I don’t know whose great idea it was to spend nearly an entire year training and preparing 15 high school students to go on a mission trip to teach Vacation Bible School, load these students/missionaries in an RV that was pulling a travel trailer (girls sleep in one, boys in another) and head nearly 1,600 miles, that’s 24.5 driving hours, (probably more in an RV and did I say we were pulling a travel trailer) cross- country, but they probably are still in the Witness Protection Program. I mean, the trip was cursed from the onset when we had to pull the caravan over on the shoulder of I-20, in Bossier City (we barely made it 90 miles), because the axle broke, in half, on the travel trailer we were pulling.
You know, in 1982, we just didn’t have the same reservations as we probably would today, about leaving the travel trailer on the side of I-20 overnight until we could get back to it with a wrecker the next day. But alas, even in 1982, there were suspect people who decided to vandalize the poor, decrepit travel trailer and leave it for dead. The curse had started and it was telling us to turn back…go home…it’s not too late. We did not turn back however, as we were determined to bring the sports camp to the children of Big Piney, and we rented another travel trailer and rolled on. Yes, this trip might be the original version of National Lampoon’s Vacation, only instead of arriving a Wally World to find it closed, we arrived in Big Piney to have only two children show up for bible school. What? Oh the stories I could tell if my big boss would allow, but the simple truth is, everyone has an infamous road trip story, right?
Last summer I wrote about some easy ways to help keep the children occupied and the adults sane during a road trip. This summer, during the national vacation month of July, (not sure that’s accurate, but it sounds plausible), I thought it might be useful to offer up some different road trip ideas, without having to actually leave home. Is that even doable? Why yes, it is. We are very fortunate to live in a community that offers inexpensive and interesting things for families to do, without having to drive to Big Piney, Wyoming (it’s the trip that will not die.) In fact, I think with a little effort, a summer road trip map would be fun to make; something easy out of cardstock, and simply print pictures from the internet of local places of interest that you might visit over the summer with your family. You could have a place for your children to check off after you visit each destination. If you plan for weekly road trips, the map will give them something to look forward to every week.
For instance, and of course the place you knew I would start, a trip to the library with your children is an easy and certainly affordable road trip for every family. In fact, I didn’t realize the extensive video library that is offered, until my son had to read and watch To Kill A Mockingbird. In other words, you can get everything from the most current to the most classic to enjoy with your family. Another gem in our community is the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. Who knew learning could be such fun, and your kids can literally spend hours exploring this great resource. If you are really adventurous, you can lather everyone up with sunscreen and head to one of the two parks we are also fortunate to have. Of course, you might want to consider going in the early morning or late afternoon in July, but kids never seem to be bothered by a little heat when a jungle gym is involved. There are also a number of festivals during the summer months, not just July, in our area or with maybe just a short drive. I have found that kids love the whole festival atmosphere, and usually the good food and entertainment can minimize the heat somewhat. Also, don’t forget the skating rinks and bowling alley we have in our area. I know these businesses offer reduced summer rates and provide another affordable outlet to take not just your own children, but their friends. I wish I had time to share the details of my last skating experience, but space is limited, and I’m not sure our readers can handle Big Piney and the Hokey Pokey all in one column.
Finally, and these suggestions are just a few I am sure, a great road trip for any family is just a simple jaunt to grandma’s house. In my case, our “MeMe” has a pool, so it is the most popular point of interest during the summer for my family. But even if grandma doesn’t have a magnet like that, it’s hard to beat the treatment we get when we visit our grandparents’ houses, correct me if I am wrong. When the door to grandma’s house swings open, “the hills are alive with the sound of music.”
As in columns past, I will always make a plug for spending time with our families. Now, I am sure the travel agents in town are frowning as they read this month’s column, because they like for us to go, go, go. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go, go, go as much as the next person…but even when we have the luxury of wonderful vacations, we still have plenty of weeks during the summer, as parents, that we have to fill with entertainment for the kiddos. So if Disney World or Dollywood is not on your travel agenda for this summer, take a few minutes and create a schedule of local points of interest. Northeast Louisiana is full of wonderful opportunities for local adventures, that won’t require a 22-hour drive to see the Jolly Jim and the Mystery Tree.