First it rained. Buckets. We didn’t care. Nothing could dampen our enthusiasm as we kicked off the 11th annual “Cousins and Kids” Summer Road Trip.
This annual pilgrimage began many years ago when my cousin and I decided to take ourselves and our respective kids on a little getaway vacation.
Just us and our children — no daddies. It should be noted that when we decided to do this our children were 1, 3 and 7 years old respectively.
It should also be noted that we were roundly thought to be C-R-A-Z-Y. We started out small — and local. We’ve aimed for educational, natural and historical fun.
In their 11 years of tri-state travel, our children have seen nearly every major (and countless minor) attraction our region has to offer.
Amish country? Been there. Caves? Seen ‘em. Great Lake? Multiple times. Presidential Library? A favorite! Birthplace of anyone even remotely famous who may have slept here or even just nodded off while his carriage rolled through town? We’re in.
If there is a museum, geography of note, birthplace of someone famous, or any point of quirky or historical significance within a reasonable drive of home, we’ve probably been there. Heck, we’ve probably all posed for a photo quite proudly next to it.
We took our children in the rain to stare into the Blue Hole of Castalia, and it goes without saying that Ohio’s shortest street was a singular thrill.
This year, in homage to our brave and selfless grandparents, we set off to retrace the steps of a trip they took with us — our first as road-tripping children ourselves.
Three decades ago our brave grandparents took three young grandkids on a one-week trip in a motor home to The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village and lived to tell the tale.
It was the first time I had ever left my home state, and I was as thrilled as if we were anthropologists visiting strange and wonderful new lands.
“They are just like us! Only Michiganders who think ‘Down South’ means Toledo!”
The Henry Ford is a complex museum of pieces dismantled and rebuilt under the watchful care of automotive innovator, Henry Ford.
These include old storefronts; a railroad roundhouse; a bicycle shop, where Wilbur and Orville Wright first conceived of flight; and an entire steam train.
Here you can see the first home Edison ever wired for electricity (I could have sworn I owned that house).
It’s ironic, really, that a man who would make his fortune and fame out of creating the automobile to take people far and wide would dedicate a fortune to collecting much of the “far and wide” and bring it home to be saved for history.
Traveling the recreated “village” we “met” Orville and Wilbur Wright and thrilled with them after their first flight. We rode in a Model T and recited lessons in an old country school. Ironically, we would travel almost 600 miles to see the Firestone Farm which was once located within minutes of our house.
Who says you can’t go home again?
By day three, Boy Wonder, while still enamored of the trip, had finally had enough of trying to pass for civilized. Standing on the shaded grass of a candle-making demonstration, he leaned back on a split rail fence and kicked off his shoes.
He took our mercilessly teasing about his “country” ways in stride. He didn’t care, he was still having fun — now that his feet didn’t hurt.
Looking around I realized we were standing in the shadow of a historic home. The quaint, quiet streets rolled out in every direction.
Behind us, farmers in the field were bringing in hay. It struck me, then, why he felt so comfortable there.
We had just taken him on a road trip to experience a place that was an awful lot like home. Of course what we really experienced was rain, sun, close quarters, wrong turns, a whole lot of laughter and some amazing memories.
Every one of us came away enlightened, educated and entertained. We came away with a greater sense of history, of the amazing power of belief and risk, and of the importance of honoring the past while looking to the future both in vacation destinations and family traditions. Not bad for the price of admission.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt urges everyone to see the world far, wide and right outside their front door. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or www.kymberlyfosterseabolt.com.)