Part two of a series on traveling, in honor of this season of such…

Our drive home from Florida last month was an adventure all it’s own.  “Where should we go?  There’s a Groupon for a boat ride in Pensacola.  Or we could see New Orleans.”  That’s about how it went.  Each day a wide open expanse of possibilities.  Each day a chance to see something amazing, or admit defeat in the face of boredom and bad food.  The swamp tour – amazing – the brewery in Hot Springs, Arkansas – bad food.  But we did it together, sleeping each night in a hotel found on Priceline, everyone collapsing into our discounted yet comfy beds, waking whenever the first person woke.  It gets old after a while, but for a week being nomads it’s fun.  It’s an adventure.  It’s mobile family bonding, which impacts forever.

As the alligators jumped for marshmallows on a cane pole held by the swamp tour captain, I saw in my kids’ eyes horror and wonder and happiness.  Something completely new was happening, something they’d only seen on the Discovery channel or in The Princess and the Frog was right in front of their eyesAnd mine, too.  We got to discover alligators together, and wild boars and the “knees” of cypress trees poking up through the water.  It was an entirely new world about which we, the decidedly un-cajun Kansans, were learning.  We drove through the French Quarter of New Orleans in our minivan, bikes on the back, making our un-cool way through the masses of revelers.  Louisiana was a history, geography and humanities lesson in one.  Then buying groceries in small-town Mississippi, a light-filled glass chapel in the woods of Arkansas, the ever-“interesting” world-unto-itself of Branson, Missouri.  It was all an experience.  Something we can hang on to long after the kids are gone and creating families of their own.  That will hopefully stick us together like glue – the kind that looks purple when you apply it but dries clear.  Doing it’s job but blending in with the picture.  That’s what we’re going for.

As we drove home through the evening and night, after a long day at Silver Dollar City (there is no other kind), after our tram crashed and nearly took off my foot, after grabbing  sandwiches and dosing up on tea to stay awake, I felt tired but happy.  Glad for another successful trip.  Where no one got seriously ill, no one had a fit for more than twenty minutes, even me, and everyone had an experience.  Together.  Team Havener saw the South.  It was good to be going home but even better to be carrying a big ol’ bunch of memories with us.  Amen to making those.  And to looking forward to the next ones.

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