A few years ago, I decided to embark on a “grand adventure” and take my kids cross country for a summer family road trip. We covered 8000 miles and 14 states in 4 weeks- and it was an amazing experience! This post is part of the series of Road Trip Diaries from that Great American Road Trip!
“All good things must come to an end.” -Chaucer
After leaving St. Louis, we only had two stops left before we returned home to New York, and the first was at an incredible place called The Wilds, which is located about an hour east of Columbus Ohio. The Wilds is a huge conservation area dedicated to helping breeds of animals that are facing the threat of extinction. I like to think of this as the next best thing to being able to take my kids to Africa on a true wildlife safari!
We boarded our open-air tram to take us on our tour where we saw Grevy's Zebra, including a baby who was only nine days old!
We stopped to observe wild horses, several different types of antelope, two species of rhinos, camels, ostriches, and at the mid-sized carnivore center, we even saw 4 cheetahs and a pack of African wild dogs.
As our guide Megan drove us across the rolling hills that make up this conservation area, she explained that all of this land used to be a mining site owned by the local power company during the 1940s to the 1980s. When they had completed their mining operations, the company was required by the government to perform land reclamation, and so they put down topsoil and planted native grasses, shrubs, and trees, to turn it back into a beautiful open space. Having thousands of acres of land, the power company began making land donations and The Wilds was one of the recipients of the which they used to create this conservation area.
Partnered with the Columbus Zoo, The Wilds works hard to create breeding programs for species of animals that are facing extinction. It was exciting to learn about their efforts and to hear their success stories.
Our final day of the trip was spent visiting the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos (Pennsylvania), a gift from my brother to our family last Christmas that we had yet to use. It was a perfect ending to our month-long road trip- the kids and I had a chance to relax, play together in the pools and on the slides, and just enjoy some downtime before we headed back home.
During the final hour of our trip, my kids were so excited to get home to our own house, see their dog whom they missed so much, and sleep in their own beds again!
A Little Reflection…
I am just so grateful that we had this opportunity to take this long road trip and see so many special places across the country.
Was it all sweet, happy, moments of family togetherness? Of course not! There were times when the kids' silliness, fooling around, or general not listening to me- made me insane. There might have even been one or two phone calls where Dad had to give them a “talking to”. But once that day is over, you forget about the stuff that made you crazy, and you just remember the sights that you've seen, the amazing things you did together, and the fun and laughs you shared.
Would I do this again? Absolutely? In fact, I am almost itching to do so!
The driving and covering the distance in the car- that was actually the easy part. The challenge is in finding great things to do that makes everyone happy, and managing the downtime when you need to rest and you just want them to each get along! But since dealing with “sibling togetherness” in all its forms happens at home or on the road- I say let's travel!
I hope that you enjoyed following along on our adventure and that perhaps I've inspired you to think about how to travel with your own family.
I would love to hear about what holds you back from taking a road trip? Is it the driving? The fear of something “going wrong”? Is it the planning? Please leave me a comment and share!