What I Learned on My Summer Vacation
Notes from a week on the road with the kids
In theme park jail!
My family and I just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable weeklong road trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, where we split our time between history sites and theme park fun. Just a few quick thoughts to close out this long and lovely Labor Day Weekend.
- Even when you're traveling far from home, you can still get in a little local flavor. Instead of driving all the way (and no doubt sitting still in the I-95 parking lot), we routed ourselves down south with a trip on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, an area standby none of us had ever experienced before.
- It went by so quickly, I barely had time to register the exact wording. But on Route 13 in Delaware, I glimpsed a billboard protesting the Common Core curriculum standards we discuss in the September issue of MetroKids. I can't find an image online. If anyone has info or a picture of the billboard, please send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post it.
- We took much of the advice from our "Save on Summer Road Trips" article, including alerting our bank to our travel plans, taking advantage of hotel WiFi and toting along our own snacks.
- By balancing history venues with a day at Busch Gardens and its water park, Water Country USA, my husband and I were as happy as the kids. (By the way Busch Gardens, the kids had a great time on the roller-coasters, but my husband and I were not impressed. There's really nothing to engage people not interested in thrill rides, the non-roller-coasters were basic amusemsnt park fare and the staffers we encountered were a sorry, unhelpful lot. We'll return happily to Disney World next time.)
- Colonial Williamsburg remains as much a blast from the past as ever. We had a fun anachronistic stroll down its cobblestone, gas-lit street while gazing at the stars through the iPhone app Starmap.
- After spending six hours at Monticello, taking both the Behind the Scenes tour of the house Thomas Jefferson built and the illuminating Slavery at Monticello tour, I more than ever look forward to visiting Philly's new Benjamin Franklin Museum and celebrating a founding father whose legacy is not tainted by the blight of slavery. I was happy that my sons were both troubled by the hypocrisy of Jefferson's life and the dichotomy between his penning paeans to man's equality yet relying on the labor of 130 slaves to run his estate.
- Whenever we go on road trips, we listen to audiobooks. My kids couldn't settle on just one title from our Summer Reading List, so my husband and I chose a grownup fave we thought both boys could hook into: John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. Much to our delight, the kids are entranced by the story, despite the challenges of its mature themes, and we've been listening along every dinnertime since we got back to work our way through the 24-plus-hour narration.
So how was your summer vacation? Let us know in the comments below.