I have never wanted to go to Connecticut, ever. But now I feel as if I've been. We were really driving to Kentucky, not Connecticut. For the first two days of Spring Break, our family went to see The Ark Encounter. It's a life size replica of Noah's ark in the Middle of Nowhere, Kentucky. Actually the town is Williamstown, but I won't remember that.
I will remember the gigantic wood structure that housed a gazillion animals and was built by a 500 year old man (500 was the new 40 evidently). I will remember the rainy day of our visit to the ark. I will remember that the power went out about an hour into our ark tour, so we visited the rest of the exhibits by the light of a generator and the flashlights on our phones. I will remember TJ and Bauer doing the ziplines and Cash doing the aerial obstacle course, and Story and I sitting on a bench out of the rain working on the next verses of "Puppy and I" and "How Did You Die?" I had to keep telling her not to climb on the cable robe, and boy, were we cold! I might remember being cold.
I will definitely remember Connecticut, though. Our family visited two places on that trip, for we listened to our very first audio book as a family, a book called Strawberry Hill. It told the story of Allie, a 10-year old Jewish girl whose family moved from New Haven, CT, to Stamford, during the Great Depression. I picked the book because of the time period, having just studied the Great Depression with the kids. I also picked it because there was not much to choose from at our little local branch of the library. I had no idea I was picking for our family to visit Connecticut.
Yet we spent a year with Allie as we drove to Kentucky and back, two days through the mountains of NC, the flatter stretches of TN, and then on to the big open spaces where the ark sits. Forever in my mind, our trip to the ark will be connected to our time spent with Allie, learning about the true meaning of friendship and about not saying all the thoughts that come into our heads and about the best surprises being little sacrifices we make for others.
Perhaps what made this first experience so good is that I had very low expectations for our family's first attempt at listening to an audio book in the car. I thought we might just get in an hour or two of the 4.5 hour running time, and test the waters with it, and maybe finish some other time after we were back home.
We have always let the kids watch the iPads (the whole time) during the occasional road trips we've taken. They have come to expect that, yet it felt like we could push for something better, somehow, this time. Maybe it's because I've been reading books like Mere Motherhood and Consider This. I have been considering this, this sacred family time with a living book, and more. And now I can retrospect with a wow. What a blessing that our first audio book experience as a family was a pleasant one. The kids kept asking for more, more, and even Sailor sat quietly in her carseat, mesmerized.
My low expectations were far exceeded, and though it didn't feel as "easy" as giving the kids iPads, it felt good and right and true and beautiful. I am happy to have lived out something I read about, and I am thankful that we got to visit two places when we set out for just one.
So excited was I that I went to a different library branch the day after we got home from Kentucky and Connecticut, and now I feel expectant about the other places we'll visit next time, maybe even while we just stay home in Greenville.