The Miles Ahead
On the trip, I often reminded the kids that we were only scratching the country’s surface. We could spend far longer at any of the places we stopped, not to mention the countless places we skipped. And this trip was a privilege. It’s not time or cost everyone can afford.
Still, we reached my main goal: giving the kids a broad sample of the nation. We marveled at majestic mountains and world-famous architecture. We visited monuments to past wars and research centers for future weapons. We saw neighborhoods wasted by opioid addictions and forests charred by wildfires. We touched dinosaur bones in the quarry they had been dug and shot three-pointers in the town where basketball was invented. We ate pizza in Chicago, BBQ in St. Louis, fried chicken in Kentucky, cheddar in Wisconsin, lobster in Maine, cheesesteak in Philadelphia, and more.
Every stop, every sight, and every bite was a taste of America.
The journey was physical but the destination was intellectual. And, in a sense, the next steps are spiritual. Has the trip changed any of our beliefs about the nation or the world? Will it change our behaviors today, or in the future? Why, or why not?
Life experience is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. Whatever experiences I provide, I want my kids to consider them thoughtfully, as building blocks to become better people.
Then the miles behind us, and the miles yet to come, will all be worth it.
This post is the final of 4 parts, the sum of which was previously published on Medium.
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Photo © 2019 Tor de Vries: We brought this paper map and marked our east and west routes along the way, though not our gallivanting around New England.