Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Planning A Southeast Adventure

I will take my first trip in December, so have begun preliminary planning. To date I have perused the Internet for interesting sites to visit and have bought a couple of travel guide books that I have been consulting. Best of all, though, a group of  seventh graders has signed on to assist me in determining exactly what I will see, photograph, and write about in each place that I visit. 

Over the course of my travels I will visit the seven geographic regions in the United States with stops in nineteen cities:

  • Northeast--Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, Boston
  • Southeast--New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta
  • Midwest--Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit
  • Southwest--San Antonio, Santa Fe
  • Rocky Mountain--Denver, Salt Lake City
  • Pacific--Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle
  • Non-contiguous--Honolulu, Juneau 
Because I will begin my travels in December, I have decided to make my first trip to the Southeast as it will be warm there and traveling by car shouldn't be a problem. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida and used to laugh at tourists who would go to the beach in the winter. Now I may be one of them. I saw snow for the first time after I moved to Virginia; I was in my mid twenties, and while I love the snow, there is something alluring about kicking my shoes off and strolling along the beach in winter. To experience Christmas with bare feet again will take me back to my childhood and I am sure will evoke myriad memories. 

Another decision I made is to do my first regional excursion as a road trip. I will drive to New Orleans first, and then it will be on to Miami. From there I will venture north to Atlanta and then will drive home to Virginia. I have not been to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, so it will be interesting to see the ongoing recovery in progress. It's been far longer since I have been to Miami, though I have visited Florida--mostly the West Coast--many times since I moved to the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Likewise, it's been a few years since I have visited Atlanta, although I have vivid memories of driving on the interstate there (12 lanes wide) and feeling like I was in a NASCAR race, a far cry from the sleepy Atlanta I remember from my childhood.

For this first trip, seventh graders Tyler, Monica, and Brendan will be helping me decide exactly which sites I will see in each city I visit. When I met with the students I asked them to think about the types of places to suggest. Possibilities include ...
  • Art museums
  • Monuments
  • Historical places or museums
  • Geographic sites
  • Sports and/or entertainment arenas
  • Restaurants
  • Other places of interest 
It will be interesting to see what my co-planners suggest after they conduct their research. I've told them to come up with at least five-ten sites for each city knowing that it is likely I will have to pick and choose from their lists because my time in each place will be limited.

As I sit musing about my upcoming trip, I keep thinking about once again savoring Cuban food, a cuisine I grew up with. Black beans and rice, pork sandwiches with mustard and pickles, and flan. Mmmmmmmmmmm!  I imagine I'll bring back at least half a dozen loaves of Cuban bread. And to again have a Cafe Du Monde beignet with cafe au lait makes me salivate. The food! The scenery! The historic sites! I'm ready.