Road Trippin’ Through The South – PART ONE
The hubby, the kids and I took an honest-to-goodness real road trip this summer. First time ever. Don’t get me wrong, we vacation nearly every year. However, we usually have a destination in mind and just drive right through until we get there (or to designated hotel stops, if it’s more than a day’s drive). We live in central Kentucky and needed to travel to Ft. Sill Army Base in Lawton, Oklahoma, about 15 hours from our home.
We were headed there to attend the basic training graduation of our 21-yr-old daughter’s boyfriend. Ten weeks away from home, in basic training, with (VERY) limited access to communication means…she was so excited to be able to see him again even if only for a short time before he goes off to Texas for further training. They have been dating for over a year and a half so that long apart has been difficult for her.
First Stop — Nashville, Tennessee
We have always loved Nashville, so we decided to make the first day’s drive a short one and stop in Nashville for the night. We’ve been before and seen quite a few of the sights people most want to see there. So, we decided to make it a low-key evening and just go out to eat and do some shopping at Opry Mills Mall.
My son, C., (age 15) is not a lover of photo taking. I was lucky just to get this one. He found a Star Wars Darth Vader pocket watch while shopping at the mall in Nashville that he just had to have. He was so excited about it that he took it out of the packaging as soon as we left the mall, totally not paying any attention to the fact that his Dad couldn’t help him while he was driving!
While in a toy store C. also came across a beanie baby. Yes, a beanie baby toy — an ostrich, of all things. Just a little miniature one that cost about $5. He insisted he needed to have it. I thought he was just goofing around so I told him to tell his Dad (who was at the cash register paying for something). He told him and though none of us could understand why a teenage boy would want such a silly toy, he stuck to it. So, we bought it for him. He had the grandest time being silly pretending to talk for the ostrich as we walked through the mall. He named him Jeffrey … and he was HIL-A-RIOUS!!! C. has a pretty dry, witty sense of humor (as most of our family does) so I’m sure we looked pretty crazy walking down Opry Mills Mall, all five of us cackling our heads off. LOL
C. has also had a long-standing love for bouncy balls. Really! When I worked as a social worker back in the day, I would always keep quarters in my pocket or work bag and every time I passed a bouncy ball machine I would pop the coins in. He was so excited anytime I came home, called him to me, and reached in my pants pocket because he knew what was coming. I gave him a huge glass jar to collect these prized possessions in. He still has it in the bookshelf in his room. Of course, we passed this bouncy ball machine in the mall in Nashville and he asked for quarters. He got them, too. More bouncy balls for his collection. 🙂
My oldest daughter, J., has taken after her mother, enjoying t-shirts from places that we travel. Most usually I am most interested in picking up new Destin, FL shirts when we vacation there. That’s because I used to live there and I miss it. So, she had to get a Nashville shirt. She took SO LONG in the store choosing which one to buy that the rest of us were starting to get a little aggravated standing outside the store waiting for her. Cameron & the hubby wandered next door to a Lego store for a few minutes, returning to find her Still In There choosing a shirt. Cameron proceeded to go in and sort of harass her a bit trying to get her to hurry up. Hey, that’s what bros are for, right?
There is a huge candy store in the Opry Mills Mall, though I cannot remember the name of it now. I knew I was planning to blog about this trip, I should have taken notes. In any case, they featured oversized versions of many different kinds of candy, some more recent but also some I remember from when I was a kid that you don’t find everywhere anymore. J. & I had a great time in one corner of the store where they featured a bunch of Saturday Night Live themed candy bars and refrigerator magnets. We saw a hilarious magnet with a quote from the vintage “Cone Heads” SNL skits, though I failed to take a pic. J. chose to purchase these two candy bars. I liked the Stefon bar the best. It tasted pretty much like a Nestle bar with its chocolate crunch, but a few seconds later the pop rocks this candy bar is made with kick in. We couldn’t stop giggling! Loved it!! And Stefon is one of my favorite characters from more recent seasons of SNL, he just cracks me up.
J. & I had a great time wandering through the Vera Bradley store, where everything was half off! Man, if I’d needed a new bag I could have spent some serious coin in there. As it was I didn’t really need anything, but I wanted a little something. So, I picked up a little pocket notebook (cuz I LUV my writing implements) and a pretty nail file (which came in handy as I’d forgotten to pack one). So, I got to carry a cute little orange Vera Bradley bag around the mall and feel like I’d treated myself to something frivolous and fun, but (truth) I spent less than $10 in that store. I would have bought a new bag or wallet or any number of beautiful things, but I have stuff here at home that I need to go through and get rid of as it is. J. bought herself that cute black wallet in the pic above (with her orange t-shirt). She loves her wallets, too.
My youngest daughter, L., who is 12, is in love with anime and rock bands lately. I will probably catch grief from some parents for allowing her to wear “band merch” as they call it. But, you know what? I loved hard rock and heavy metal bands when I was a teen (I still do) and I’m a responsible, moral & good person. So is she. She is loving and kind, thoughtful and intelligent. She makes mostly A’s (with a scattering of B’s) in school and is a self-starter when it comes to schoolwork and academic projects she is assigned. She is always on the honor roll and is in gifted classes. She also plays clarinet in the school band. She has been a member of archery club and Beta Club at school and took ballet/tap/jazz dance classes for 3 years. She wants to learn to play guitar, so that is in the plans for her sometime soon, too. So, blast me if ye must. But, I’m comfortable with allowing her to be as independent as she wants to be and with encouraging her love of drawing and writing and music and all things alternative as long as her core being continues to grow and she doesn’t become a delinquent. I wrote poetry and fiction, dabbled in different hair and makeup styles, styles of dress, music, etc. I was edgy in junior- and high-school, some called me a trendsetter (those darn cheerleader’s kept stealing my hairstyles, too!) I experimented with color streaks (compliments of colored mascara) in my hair before that was even a thing. Guess what else? I’m allowing her to experiment with those fun streaks of hair color this summer, too. <gasp!>
I love it that she is comfortable exploring herself in ever-changing ways. And she was SO thrilled to go shopping and find these awesome things to buy that she loves! It’s more important to me for her to be happy than for her to conform to some conservative societal expectation. I want my kids to be whoever they want to be (as long as they are not hurting anyone else, of course).
Sorry for getting off topic, there. It’s a hazard with me on occasion.
We also saw a couple of guys playing live music while walking through the mall, which was pretty cool.
In any case, we had a great first day on our trip. Stay tuned for more on our first ever family road trip in subsequent posts. I will update this post (along with the other posts) with links to view the rest of the road trip as I get them completed.
Where are your favorite places to travel? What kinds of activities, like car games or stopping at attractions, do you like to do while traveling?
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