My family is blessed to live in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It’s also one of the most expensive. Many months ago, after lots of hand-wringing, we thought, why not live in a home with a smaller cost, to give us less stress and more freedom? It could be down the street or across the country. Either way, change is good.
Long story short, we leased out our home. In the heady moment of becoming untethered, a choice was made: Let’s go! We gave away half our stuff and sent the rest to storage, and began planning an adventure: two months traveling our country, to places that formed the heart of the history. Philadelphia. Boston. New Hampshire. Vermont. New York. Virginia. We will be hot on the trail of history, and looking for fun before settling down again into comfortable, familiar rhythms.
We chose our first stop – Bucks County, Pennsylvania – not for its immense beauty, charm and historic place in the American Revolution, but because that’s where Grandma lives and it was time to celebrate her birthday and that of our younger son, Emmett.
First stop on our tour: Six Flags Wild Animal Safari in Jackson, New Jersey. Okay, so it’s not part of history, but we were looking for fun, too!
While most visitors here drive their own cars through the 350 lush acres, past 1500 animals representing 52 species from 6 continents, ogling creatures from bison to Bengal tigers, and from emus to elephants, those guests are required to stay in their cars with the windows rolled up – just in case. We splurged for the V.I.P. tour, which allowed eight of us to get in and out of our two guided Land Rovers (painted like zebras), stand within three feet of lions and tigers, pet Roosevelt Elk, giraffes and a rhinoceros, and feed various animals fruits and raw vegetables as we went.
I have never seen my children voluntarily let a raw sweet potato touch their teeth, until now, when they decided to feed the giraffes mouth-to-mouth. I think they would have taken them home with them if we could have sneaked them out. Animals aside, Emmett was over the moon simply because he got to sit in the Land Rover’s front passenger seat, another birthday perk.
And so the first day of our two-month travel adventure began with a theme we hope will carry us through: experience the unfamiliar, get out of our comfort zones. I must confess, however, that as I write this, I am quite comfortably sitting in the air-conditioned home in which I became engaged to my husband nearly 14 years ago. So there you have it: a perfect balance of creature comforts and wild creatures. And a very auspicious start to our journey.
FamilyGal Laura Diamond of Southern California is in the midst of a two-month adventure on the East Coast with her husband and two sons, ages 7 and 11. This is her first installment. Follow along here at The Vacation Gals to read more about her adventures!