I realize that it is a privilege to be able to travel with my family. We might not stay at 5 star hotels, or spend a month in Europe, but we have taken many a memorable trip together.
This year we left the planning a little late - we just couldn't decide on a destination, and eventually resorted to a complicated weighted-voting system to narrow down, and then ultimately choose, where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do.
After deciding that we would be going to the Smoky Mountains, we made a conscious decision to focus on the destination, and not so much the trip. Because we chose to drive, and we knew that time spent doing other things would take away from time spent in the mountains, we wanted to get there, and maybe take some extra time coming home. Among our other destination choices had been western Tennessee, and we set out to make sure that we weren't trying to see too many things in one trip, lest we not see enough of anything worth remembering.
Traveling with kids means that you stop. A lot. Short of forced dehydration, there really isn't a way to coordinate bladder capacity and holding times for an age range that spans 40+ years. No matter how hard we tried to plan a swift road trip, I kept getting distracted by all the things we could do in the predetermined overnight stopping points, so we made a couple of concessions, all turning out to be worthwhile.
I'll recount the trip in the coming days, and get some pictures uploaded. During the same time period that my family took their All-American Road Trip, my stepsister and niece did the opposite, heading across the pond to see the sights in London and Paris. I am sure they had a fabulous time, eating at the best restaurants, drinking French wines. Good for them.
Somehow I can't see a trip like that ever filling my heart the same way that it was earlier this week, when I called out to my family ahead of me, capturing all of them in one photograph, heads turned back to me, sun streaming down through the trees, as we hiked the Appalachian Trail together.
Different strokes, I guess.