My parents didn’t take my brother and I on a lot of vacations when we were little—money was short, vacation time was hard to come by, they didn’t like plane rides and driving long distances wasn’t exactly on their list of favorite things to do. I think I can count on one hand how many vacays I had as a child; all of them, save for one, involved really long car rides to the South. Mommy would pack a cooler full of sandwiches and snacks, a few jars of water and homemade punch and a few diet Tab sodas for herself. And we would straight-shoot it from Long Island to wherever, windows up, cigarette smoke choking my brother and I near to death (both my parents were smokers), mostly in silence—or with my brother and I slap boxing in the back seat when my dad wasn’t giving us the stink eye from the rearview mirror. Somewhere deep in the recesses of the back of my mind, I remember a jar—one that stood in as an alternative to stopping at gas station bathrooms. Yeah. Let’s just say Daddy didn’t believe in making a whole lot of stops. I don’t know, maybe he thought it wasn’t safe for a car full of black folk to stop at random gas stations in the South. Or maybe he was just driving to get where he was going. I think that’s where I get my “I’m driving to get where I’m going” verve from. Though I leave the jars at home.
Ahem. I digress.
Nick and I are a bit more adventurous with our family vacations; planes are usually involved, but we think nothing of piling the girls into the car and driving to Hilton Head, St. Simon’s Island and Savannah for a few days on the beach and some sightseeing. The kids already are back at school, but heck, it’s the middle of August and I think we have one more last summer hurrah in us. We could go somewhere close and easy to get to—maybe a long weekend visit to my Dad’s up in Virginia, or a quick ride over to Chattanooga, TN, or Memphis, where there’s some cute kids’ activities to get into and decent family-friendly restaurants to eat at. I’ve been thumbing through 535 Best Beaches In the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico, a new book by Fodors, for some quick getaways that we can take with the girlpies. Maybe we could hop over to St. Helena Island to visit the Penn Center Historic District, home to the South’s first school for freed slaves. Or maybe we could go to Cumberland Island here on the coast of Georgia—see if we can spot some of the wild horses that roam free on the island’s undeveloped, pristine beaches.
If we do choose to do a last summer getaway, I’m sure I will pack sandwiches. A few snacks. A drink or two. Definitely no jar. (Ahem.) Definitely a few books on tape, my girls’ new obsession after Mari listened to a few on her great adventure with her girlfriends to camp this summer.
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HOME by Toni Morrison
THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE by Christopher Paul Curtis
BRENDAN BUCKLEY’S SIXTH-GRADE EXPERIMENT by Sundee T. Frazier
CHOMP, by Carl Hiaasen
BRINGING UP BÉBÉ, by Pamela Druckerman
CROW by Barbara Wright
A BALL FOR DAISY by Chris Raschka
CALICO JOE by John Grisham
MAINE by Courtney Sullivan
500 BEST BEACHES by Fodor’s Travel
“Have Good Nights” Activity Book
Recess Reader Magazine
Fodor’s Family Travel Tips for Summer Road Trips
Living Language flashcards for learning ‘summer words’ in different languages.
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Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.