Vacation 2014: A Big World

From 2004 through 2010, our family's trips were to my parents' homes in east Texas and south Louisiana to clean out one and tend to the renters in the other.   We travelled for three funerals of parents.   After that, we made a trip to Corpus Christi, a weekend trip to Houston and another to Waco, and a two trips to Oklahoma, one to purchase a headstone and the other to celebrate my Aunt Nadine's birthday.

This summer, we took our first big vacation.   No funerals, no headstones, no selling family homes, and we were gone for a whole week.   It was a very big deal for us.   We decided to make our first tours of national parks.   Our main destination would be the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina.   Along the way, we would visit Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi.   There is so much to experience in our own vast nation.   We wanted to go somewhere that had a very different landscape from our home.   A more comfortable climate would be nice, too!   I like the traditional, old-fashioned elements of a Smoky Mountains vacation.   As we were in lines with other vehicles, I would imagine the various makes and models of family vehicles, packed with shorts-clad vacationers and picnic baskets that had travelled before us.   Visions of pioneer wagons and trailblazers on foot came to mind.   History, in the setting of God-created wonder, was all around us, offering a respite from manufactured and orchestrated entertainment that existed small-scale in some of the towns near the Smokies.  

Our trip accomplished my hopes for our family travels.   Home is the place where I want my children's world to be small.   To know parents' love and God's love for them.   To know that they are of great significance to God and that no small detail of themselves goes unnoticed by Him.   Outside our home, though, I want them to also know how very wide the world is.   The people who seem to matter so much in the political and social life of our hometown are unknown to the vast majority of the world.   The people who are mean to you don't really matter in the grand scheme of things.   If you don't fit in somewhere, there are other places to try.   There are different landscapes and a variety of people who fill them.   Our history is full of the proud and the humiliating.    You don't have to travel to foreign locales to learn these things.

So, we walked simple trails.   We witnessed gorgeous waterfalls and clear-bottomed streams whose situations surpassed any creation of the most accomplished landscape designers.   We saw a mama bear and her cubs, deer and other wildlife on their own turf.   We were quiet.   We were loud and silly.   We ate and slept out of need.   We connected to our pioneer and Cherokee ancestors and to the land which sustained them.   We were just present in each moment.   It was beautiful and the trip of a lifetime that we are still carrying with us.

A few odds and ends from our trip (details in following posts):

The night before: the van was packed and our shoes were lined up, ready to go!

We toyed with the idea of taking Joey's Corolla on our vacation because we could save money on fuel.   Due to our cattle operation and the cow's calving and breeding schedules, we went on very few vacations when I was a child.   The few trips we made involved driving in my dad's Toyota Celica and there was one trip in our VW Golf.    Until the day before, we planned on it, but then we worried about the safety of the car seats across that small backseat.   After the trip, I admitted that physically, I could not have made it very well in the Corolla.   Our van was great and I'm thankful for such comfortable travel.

There are lots of "How to Tell if You Live in the South" tests.   Certain states, like Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky are always surrounded by controversy when it comes to their status as southern.   This has to be a qualifying item: your local Wal-Mart has a section like this one in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

I have never eaten any of these items, but it made me very homesick as I realized how long it's been since I've seen a section this large.  Another realization in Mississippi.   I remembered Mc Donald's plain ol' hamburgers from my childhood as being SO good.   I didn't eat them again until a few years ago, as I've tried to eat the least unhealthy item on the menu when the kids beg to stop there.   I thought the taste difference was to be chalked up to nostalgia.   On this trip, I had the BEST little Mc Donald's plain hamburger in Vicksburg.   It was seasoned liberally on the outside of the patty.   I figure the Mc Donald's restaurants in south Louisiana probably did that, too.

These two pictures make me smile!

"Look, kids, another state!"  We traveled through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.



  1. That is so awesome, Terri! I'm so glad that you all had such a wonderful time & that you made such lovely memories together! =)


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