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!|
|These two pictures make me smile!|
|"Look, kids, another state!" We traveled through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.|