In the last month I have traveled nearly 3,000 miles to visit family in four different states, with a total of 13 states included in the round trip. It was an incredible time full of highs and lows, hellos and goodbyes. I loved the extended time with my family in the car and it helped up draw closer together before turning to the reality of school preparations for our sons and for me.
We passed from the open farmland of Illinois and Indiana into the rolling green hills of Kentucky where horses frolicked and played in the warm sunshine. We drove into Tennessee and watched the terrain begin to change, as rolling rivers carved their way through gradual foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
As we drove on the two-lane road through the Great Smoky Mountains toward North Carolina into Georgia I watched my sons. The boys were born in Colorado, a completely different mountain range, thousands of feet higher than what we saw through our windows. Somehow, there was still an awed silence and quickened comments of " Oh Mom, look over here!" or "Mom, can you see how deep that valley is?"
Our trip continued through Alabama, where crepe myrtle trees bloomed in rich jeweled tones; across into Mississippi where the humidity made the people move a little slower and their drawls come across even more sultry.
Each state had its own distinctness and wonder--colors that are not seen from a farmhouse front porch swing. Arkansas, with its history steeped in civil rights and Oklahoma, which survived the great Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.
Finally, as we turned toward home, we saw Missouri and Iowa. Two very distinct states, each with their own stories to tell, some from famous writers who grew up on the Muddy River itself.
This trip helped me appreciate my heritage, my family, home and legacy. We met my husband's sisters for the first time and said goodbye for the last time to his grandmother who had passed away at the age of 104.
As we came back up the drive, returning home, I looked around and saw that Dorothy had been so very right. No matter where you go, the adventures you have, the people you meet, there truly is "no place like home."