Friday, June 29, 2012
Column: Just add water
Day trip leads toa wonderland or two just down the road
Summer vacation. The two little words encompass an endless world of possibilities for the average American family.
Our family is comprised of five busy people with five busy schedules. Therefore, my husband and I struggle every year to keep vacation, an American institution, alive. It isn't always easy.
Past vacations have ranged from camping at local campgrounds to crossing state and country borders in search of the largest ball of yarn on the east coast. I'm kidding, of course. But it is exciting when we come across something unusual while sightseeing.
On Father's Day, my husband had a break in his work schedule. My children and I told him he could do whatever he wanted on his special day.
We fully expected my husband to choose something that didn't involve a lot of activity - a nap, for example. But instead, he suggested we visit Natural Bridge for the day.
I got onto the computer right away and began looking for hours and directions. We had never visited this local tourist attraction and were looking forward to seeing it with our own eyes, up close.
That morning, the five us got into my car and ventured out. As my husband navigated our route, we each stepped into our expected roles. It had been awhile since we had all been in a car together for this long.
The radio station became a topic for discussion. As usual, my husband won that argument.
A few elbows were thrown back and forth between the kids. And it wasn't long before our youngest daughter began asking repeatedly, "are we there yet?"
As we approached "there," I became very thankful we weren't driving to California or flying to Australia. Still, it was nice to remember what this family thing was all about.
Soon, we pulled off the interstate and noticed the very large signs pointing us toward the Natural Bridge entrance. After purchasing tickets and getting a bite to eat, we walked down some steps and down a winding trail to our ultimate destination - a huge stone archway that rose more than 200 feet into the air.
As we explored this wondrous bridge, I read a little of its history.
George Washington had carved his initials into bridge, and Thomas Jefferson had bought this piece of natural beauty in 1774 for just 20 shillings. I also noticed that Natural Bridge once was considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I relayed this to my kids.
"What are the Seven Natural Wonders of the World now?" asked my son. I got out my phone and sent his question to Cha-cha, an informational texting service. About 30 seconds later, Cha-cha sent back the seven amazing destinations officially considered "wonders."
While disappointed that we couldn't visit any of them soon (they were too far away), I believed we had found a hidden gem in our own back yard.
On our way home, my husband and I decided to stop for dinner at a local buffet-style restaurant. It wasn't long before we were seated at a table among other families celebrating with their own fathers.
While waiting for our waitress to take drink orders, I noticed an advertisement boasting the restaurant's chocolate tower as the "8th wonder of the world."
I smiled as I read this tidbit of information. After all, how many of us are lucky enough to find more than one wonder of the world on less than a tank of gas?