When Zoë was little I was a single mom supporting us on a minimum wage income. Money was definitely tight. One thing that I really wanted to do, but that was waaaaay outside of our budget was taking traditional summer vacations. There was no way I could drop a couple thousand dollars (or more, if we’re being realistic) on a full week vacation. Despite my lack of funds, I was determined to give Zoë the experiences that a vacation would bring. So, every payday or so we would take little day trips or overnight trips.
We basically went where ever one full tank of gas could get us in any direction from home. At that time we lived in Knoxville, TN, and went to the Smoky Mountains (Cades Cove), Atlanta, Asheville, Nashville, Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, Chattanooga, Lexington, KY and many, many places in between. We often had friends that lived nearby so for overnight trips we’d crash on their couches. We could often eat pretty cheap since it was just the two of us and we were not above McDonald’s dollar menu 3 meals a day.
Sometimes we would splurge and get a hotel room. I remember this one time that a friend of mine worked at a hotel booking center for Gatlinburg. She hooked us up with an insane discount for a pretty decent hotel. Of course, I also remember a time we slept on top of the covers at a hotel in West Virginia because we were afraid to sleep on the sheets. Whatever the experience, we were always ready for the next trip.
We were out there making memories and enjoying her childhood. I got to watch Zoë develop a passion for history through touring historical landmarks like The Hermitage in Nashville. We bonded over a mutual love 70’s and 80’s music especially The Cars and Def Leopard. At the time, I was just in it to have fun, but looking back from an older and wiser perspective I think those trips exemplified the future homeschooler in me coming out and sharing a wonderful education with my daughter.