It was sort of a last-minute idea.
My husband hadn’t seen his Atlanta-based sister and nephew in quite a few years and his sister hadn’t ever met our youngest, 7-year-old Westley. So, what better way to catch up with far-away family than with an impromptu road trip?
In addition to a sister, my husband’s nephew and family of four also lived near Atlanta, in the northern suburb of Alpharetta. So, we’d decided to make an event of it. It would be a holiday family reunion.
There are five people in our family, and we were planning to leave in a week, so spending a small fortune on plane tickets was out of the question. Yet, we knew the 12-hour drive could possibly result in me killing the kids or them killing each other. I asked Uncle Google if there were a few interesting stops along the way. As usual, Uncle G didn’t disappoint.
The journey took us along I-20 from Dallas through East Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. We stopped in Meridian, in Mississippi, because it was late…okay, the Dallas Cowboys were playing, but it was the perfect place to recharge for the next leg of our trip. The next morning, we veered a little off course to visit a small southern town with a large historical impact on the Civil Rights Movement – Selma, Alabama.
Selma is the home of the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site remembered for its bloody encounter between officers and protesters marching from Selma to Montgomery in the ‘60s. The kids asked a few questions on the way to the site, but curiosity gave way to reflection as we walked over the bridge like protesters had so many years ago.
Following in their footsteps, we headed to Montgomery, Alabama. There, we toured the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. The exhibits fascinated the kids, especially the replica of the bus Parks was on and a taped reenactment of her famous arrest.
We arrived in Atlanta late that evening. After a short period of eating, laughing and reminiscing, it was lights out on Day 2 of the holiday road trip.
Atlanta was the perfect place to continue what had become our mini Civil Rights Tour. We visited the area known as Sweet Auburn, childhood neighborhood of Martin Luther King Jr. There, we sat in the pews of his family’s church, the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Next door, a reflecting pool surrounded the tombs of the Civil Rights leader and his wife.
For all of the memorable and historic sites we took in, it was the time with family that brought the most happiness. After seven years, my husband got see his baby sister, and cousins who hadn’t seen each other in years, or seen each other at all, quickly became friends. We ate too much, stayed up too late and laughed too loud because it had been way too long.
I’m not going to lie. We took the 12-hour drive back to Dallas head on with no interesting stops, and it was just about all we could take. But it was well worth it because the holidays are for family.