The holiday season is upon us, and for many people that means traveling by car to visit family and friends. You can make the trip fun and learn a few things along the way by taking in the "in betweens."
My brother and his family make a practice to plan their rest stops at historical sites. En route to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, we took his lead and spread out our picnic lunch by a stream at the foot of Montezuma Castle National Monument. As we munched, we tried to imagine life in the well-preserved cliff dwelling far above our heads, built by the ancestors of present Pueblo Indians.
The great thing about off-the-beaten-track side trips is that there's often a link to local lore and history. Here in Minnesota, for example, heading to the Mall of America might mean pulling off of a side road at a nature preserve only to find yourself waist-deep in swooshing prairie grasses. Pushing your way through, you're back in Minnesota the way it was, the real Midwest of a time gone by. The Gap and Macy's can wait!
Here are more tips for experiencing the "in betweens" of your next family trip:
* Keep a "places worth visiting" file. When you come across an interesting locale described in the newspaper, magazine or on the Internet, jot down the information and save it. If friends share a fascinating or enjoyable place with you, inquire about directions and pertinent information.
* When your child studies a captivating event in history, discovers an unusual phenomenon in nature or science, or reads a series of books from a place that piques her interest, look for places you can visit that support the current fascination.
* Give each member of the family the opportunity to plan a side trip on a day trip or a cross-country trek.
* Be flexible. Not everyone likes the same thing. Chances are at least one person in the group will prefer a side trip to a souvenir shop!
Donna Erickson's new book, "Donna's Day: Fun Activities that Bring the Family Together" (HarperCollins), is available in bookstores nationwide.
©2000 Donna Erickson
Distributed by King Features Syndicate
Donna's web site: Click here.