All year long we save our change, bits of my tip money, and tax returns for our only major vacation - 3 weeks in the deep south. This year, it looked like that trip may not happen. Even when we flew into an out of the way airport, even when flying into the deep south in the middle of July, even having multiple lay overs, airfare was almost 200 dollars more per person this year. We just plain cannot swing that.
Out came the calculator. Numbers were crunched. Over-estimates in cost were made and numbers were re-crunched just to be sure. We would have to camp. We could mail ourselves hiker boxes and then not need to eat out as much. My car would need a new radio so we didn't kill each other. But we could see Yosemite; we could see the Sequoias; we could see the Tetons and New Orleans. We do short hikes across the United States and show our son a respect for the beauty of all different ecology. It was settled, we're roadtripping it!
You see, Jules' people live in Georgia. The problem is we live about as far from Georgia as you can get and still stay in the continental United States. The trip is an essential part of our lives, bit it is a bit like visiting another planet.
Jules' people are they are very Southern and very Georgia. I do not mean that in a bad way. In fact, I kinda love Georgia. I mean it as the simplest illustration tool I could think of to explain the contrast.
We are very Pacific Northwest. The last time we visited just stepping off the plane you could see people react. "I aint never seen no white girl with dreads [dreadlocked hair] before," was a phrase I became very used to. "Boy, is that your real hair?" was asked of the Barracuda's screaming-blue mohawk at least a dozen times. In the summer I believe in wearing the smallest item which could possibly pass as a shirt (many of which tie on) and Jules wore shorts to church (appalling even me). The Barracuda sports his dashiki as well as very loud plaid shorts. He rocks both of them pretty dang hard.
Rural Georgia wasn't quite ready for us. In all honesty, I wasn't quite ready for rural Georgia.
I think my favorite part was the picture we now have of Jules and The Barracuda at the Georgia Mountain Fair sporting inflatable AK 47's decorated like American flags while kneeling in front of a large Confederate Flag giving me the "Thumbs Up." Both the AK-47s and the large Confederate Flag wall hanging were prizes which children could win. Families were lined up to try. The sheer incredulous amazement warranted a picture.
We have repeatedly survived Georgia. A couple near misses with food poisoning, my complete loss of faith as an environmentalist, The Barracuda informing us about "our Savior Jesus, the beloved Son of God," and having to explain discrimination to a 4 year old have been slight set backs. The South definitely approaches the world differently and they tend to raise children a bit differently too, but that isn't a bad thing. Our son called out one of his friends for racist comments at 5 years old, my views of environmentalism and preservation have been fortified, I have seen the other side of some very complicated U.S. History that I never learned as a Yankee kid.
At this point, I think we are starting to approach it as "what will this year bring!?" If anything, we are building story line and characters for a novel.