by Marcia Simon
An experience or a thing? This girl bets her money on an experience, especially when it involves a "child" who just finished school abroad after two years of COVID-induced travel restrictions.
It was time for one proud mama and her academically-fatigued son to reunite and embark on a month-long cross-country adventure. The packed car included two suitcases, two guitars, hiking shoes, flip flops, big beach towels and a cooler filled with seltzers, beer, yogurt, cheese, crackers and whatever fruit and miscellaneous snacks fit atop the ice chips. It's a joy and a blessing to fall back into step with someone you haven't seen in ages. Sometimes it's months, sometimes years, decades even. One thing's for sure though – compatibility for travel can make or break any trip, not to mention the relationship.
Being in total sync about heading west from Connecticut with absolutely no itinerary or plan, the road trip to explore America's Native roots began. When it was all done, this duo logged 27 days, 8,686 miles, passed through 25 states and visited 14 national parks, not to mention national monuments such as Mount Rushmore, Bandelier Native American cave dwellings, the striated Painted Desert, and oddities including the Spam Museum that houses the world's first motorcycle fueled by bacon, The Corn Palace with gigantic murals made exclusively from ears of corn, and the Jolly Green Giant statue that salutes the company that made canned and frozen vegetables a staple of the American diet.
Once out west, it became evident that, contrary to the politically correct language of a middle class upbringing, the term "American Indian" was preferred over "Native American," which supposedly is now falling out of favor with some Native people who use "indigenous" as their personal preference.
Marcia Simon, CTA, APR, has been exploring new places since she was 17 years old and traveled around Europe on a Eurailpass with her best friend. Decades later, she still considers travel the best investment of time and money she's ever made for herself and her family.