Country Living Series

Thursday, March 24, 2011

*Sigh.* I've failed once again.

I always knew we were depriving our kids by raising them rural. Worse, we don't have the funds to jet-set all over the country to see the sights some people consider essential for raising well-rounded young people.

And now here's proof. An article on CNN explains fifteen places kids should see by age 15. Oops, Older Daughter is now 15 and she's seen none of these places. Oh the agony.  Proof that we're failing to properly parent our children.

Of course, what this CNN articles does NOT tell is how to pay for all the trips to see these essential sights, most of which are back east. Between time away from the farm (meaning, house sitters), plane fare, car rentals, gas, hotels, food, and miscellaneous other expenses, I'm estimating it would cost, oh, about $25,000 to see all these "must see" sights. Donations anyone?

Here's what my poor deprived children haven't yet seen:

• The Grand Canyon, Arizona
• Redwood National Park, CA (though they've seen redwoods since two of my brothers live close to them)
• Monticello, Virginia
• The Freedom Trail, Massachusetts
• Niagara Falls, New York
• National Mall, Washington D.C.
• Williamsburg, Virginia
• Walt Disney World Resort, Florida (though they've been to Disneyland in California)
• Independece Hall, Virginia
• Alcatraz Island, California
• Ellis Island, New York
• Yellowstone National Park, WY/MT/ID (okay, we have plans to see this - someday)
• Fenway Park, Massachusetts (To see a baseball game? We don't even like baseball!)
• Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho (waaaaaay down south, at least a fifteen hour drive)
• San Diego Zoo, California

These are all worthy and noble sights (except Fenway Park to see a baseball game, ug), but the author of this little piece of nonsense has obviously never lived on a budget, even though it's filed under the "budget travel" category.

I also found it darkly amusing that part of the selection process for these fifteen sites included catering to "kids' abbreviated attention spans." A testimony to the plugged-in lifestyle of most of today's kids, I guess.


  1. Disney World is on the list? Seriously? We used to live across the street from Disneyland and did go about once a week when the boys were little (we got a annual pass for the family). Fun, yes, but I wouldn't say that it made them better people.

  2. They are so far apart it is bound to be expensive.

    I presume all 50 States have areas of particular historical or natural interest to that State within them or (except for two) in an adjoining State.

  3. I was just commenting the other day that the American dream used to be to own a home and maybe a couple of cars. If you are on facebook for any length of time at all you quickly learn that the NEW American dream is to make sure your kids get to Disney World! Obviously you have arrived as a perfect parent if you achieve this goal!!

  4. I'm 41 years old and have only seen two on the list. I'm in big trouble because I'm not well-rounded.

  5. I went to Disney World on my honeymoon when I married my first husband, lol!
    I think the best thing is for people to plan on a two week trip focusing on a particular facet of American History for a major vacation when the kids are between the ages of 12 and 18 (when they can appreciate it most). When I was little, I got school trips to all the sights in Virginia and D.C. on the list. Independence Hall is in Philadelphia, by the way! (My parents took us kids there and to other Revolutionary sites when we were in middle school) One year we went to a lot of Civil War sites. When in Europe, my parents took us to cultural and historical sites there.
    Never got to go to amusement parks. Our big deal for that was the local county fair, lol!

  6. I went to Yellowstone National Park as a toddler (don't remember a darned thing about it, but my parents got great photos of what our picnic cooler looked like after it was destroyed by a bear), and the San Diego Zoo (don't remember much about it, I was dragged to it unwillingly -- I've always considered zoos to be "animal prisons" -- at the age of 15). My kids (now aged 18 & 22) haven't been to ANY of the places on the list.

    But here's where my kids have been (and where I think all kids should visit):
    * the beach (not a tourist-y beach, but somewhere they can wade in tide pools & dig for clams)
    * the forest (preferably for more than a few hours; camping for the weekend or longer)
    * a volcano (or lava caves, which I still have fond memories of, from my trip at age 10)
    * a drive-thru animal sanctuary (where the animals are as free as they can be in captivity, and keeping your eyes peeled for them takes a fair amount of effort)
    * a river, especially if you can manage a run down the rapids on rafts or inner tubes
    * a farm (if they don't already live on one)
    * an orchard (ditto)
    * an animal shelter (especially for volunteering, and/or adopting a pet)
    * a nursing home to visit & volunteer for the elderly
    * a war memorial (especially great if combined with an age-appropriate movie about war, and/or a volunteer visit to the local Veterans Hospital)
    * your local town council meeting, or state legislature, when in session

  7. Hm. I've visited all but three of these places growing up, and there's no way it would cost $25k to travel the way my parents traveled. We'd trade with neighbors to take care of each other's livestock and property, load the car with food from home, and spend around ten days on a road trip each summer, camping along the way or staying with friends and family.

    Being otherwise quite frugal let us afford these trips. Then again, my parents were not preppers and did not have the expenses that go along with that lifestyle.

    Sorry to post as anon,

  8. We have never been to Disney World so neither have the kids - I just dont want to buy into it - literally or figuratively.

    Now - that said, my kids have seen some of the other things on the list. Monticello, for instance, was a HUGE hit with the kids. The youngest was 3 at the time but all 3 still talk about it. They had a "kid's tour" which told things kids would be interested in. Thomas Jefferson was an inventor and really a great grandfather. He had neat little tricks and quirks and the kids loved hearing about him and his house.

    We still talk about President Jefferson, his house and that trip and its been years :)

  9. Well, we've got Disney knocked out. Of course, we live in Florida.

  10. Well I feel better. Our girls have been to the National Mall in DC (Their big brother graduated from Naval Academy) and they've been to Disney World (Thanks to grandparents). What I can't believe is that they didn't include Gatorland in Florida. Now that place is a character builder.

  11. Wow, I'm am going to remind my kids how blessed they are. They have been to 5, 6 if you count Disneyland. Those spoiled brats, thanks to a Daddy and Grandpa who love to travel.

  12. My kids have only seen Yellowstone, and I (34 yrs) have only been to a few of these other sites. We do have plans to take them to the Redwoods soon, but Disneyworld or Disneyland (even though Disneyland is just a day drive away) thanks! I would rather spend the money exploring our country, rather than be entertained by some over priced theme park. :)

  13. I notice the flaw in this article, you got it from CNN. I think as long as you teach your kids right and wrong, discipline, respect and love they will be well rounded.


  14. When my boys were growing up, all their friends were going to Disney World. We splurged and took our kids to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Figured it cost about the same and no standing in long lines. I personally think the kids that go to Disney World instead of one of America's beautiful national parks are the ones deprived.

  15. All I have to say is that I grew up in the country, and every kid MUST grow up in the country. Period.
    Okay, well, that's not exactly realistic, so I'll take any list I read as a "should" rather than a "must." (I've been to 5 places on this list, all out west. DisneyWORLD? Not DisneyLAND, the real deal? Where are their priorities?)
    Every person has different experiences in life. Growing up on a farm is -- I think -- the best, hands down.

    Jeanne S, I LOVE your list! I've been to all, except an *active* volcano.

  16. I've only been to two of the places on the list.Alcatraz and the Redwoods. Do I feel deprived? Not at all. As a child in California, my mother who was also on a strict budget, would take us for day rides. We got to see the wine county, mining camps and many other great places.We even got to pan for gold.We also went camping a lot.Its not where you take the kids that's important,but the time you spend with them,and the memories you build together.

  17. Well, honestly, I'd personally love to do all but maybe 2 of those things (Fenway Park and Disneyland - meh). Not gonna happen. Not even by the time I'm 51.

    Our younger two have seen the Grand Canyon but the eldest just wanted a burger and fries and the younger one wasn't walking yet, so... probably not really helpful.

  18. I'm in my 40s and I've seen 8 of them. Of course, I lived in Boston and in NoVA. My kids have seen one. They'll see a few more, eventually, because I'm planning a trip to Boston in a three years, to hike Battle Road. And my husband wants to take them to DC at some point. We live 12 hours from DC, so it's not impossible. But I do not in any way think seeing any of these places is a requirement for a well-rounded child of 15. Well-traveled, okay. Well-rounded or well-educated? Not.

    Xa Lynn

  19. Ok, I'm going on 60 and I've seen 4 of those. A good number of them, I don't want to see, so even if you gave me donations, I would use it for more prepping.

    I wonder how many of those CNN watchers' children have helped a cow give birth? How many have planted and harvested a garden? How many have literally fed their families on the fruits of their labors. Talk about miracles!

  20. Gosh.

    I'm deprived.

    I've only driven the length of the Al-Can Highway, over the Continental divide, to the very tip of Baja California, across three Hawaiian islands and the island of Jamaica. I've only been to Yosemite and Kings Canyon and Bass Lake and Big Sur so many times I can't count them, and driven to Savannah Beach, stopping to climb and hike all over Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. I've toured Carlsbad Caverns and been scuba diving off the Channel Islands. The view out my living room and kitchen shows me the San Juan Islands and snow-covered Canadian mountain peaks. Seventy five per cent of all this I'd done by the time I was fifteen, and it's only a partial list.

    Reckon those smart folks at CNN would feel sorry for me? *sigh* Guess I'll just have to sit here and stare out the window and wonder, won't I?


  21. Yep, 60 here as well, and apparently my parents were failures, too! The only way I saw my share was because I traveled with a touring choir in college. Otherwise, nada !

  22. I am thinking the Alaimo in Texas should "trump" Disney by a long shot for the list. Lotsa history there


  23. How about a trip to church on a Sunday? Now that's a place that could make a difference.

  24. Ok, well, I've been to 2 of those, neither of which has Disney in the name......

    I think I'm well rounded, LOL.....

    Best time of my childhood were the summers spent on a relative's farm...never wanted to go to the majority of the list, don't miss not going either.....but I'd have ended up severely "whatever deficient" if I hadn't had the farm experiences.....

  25. You have inspired an envy in me that is difficult to deal with A.McSp. I have yet to leave the mainland. I hope to do that before I am burned down in a nuclear fire. God willing.Panama here I come. If not,then oops I will head off younder with a few million others.

  26. What about Mt Rushmore? What about Magnetic Hill? Or Dallas Stockyard/Stocktown? Deadwood, SD? And JC Penny's?? (Just had to throw that in!)
    I actually did see all of the DC stuff when I was a kid - I lived there. :-) And most on the list on the east coast because of relatives living in various locations as well as an uncle who worked for Disney World (we got in free). I don't see how a family could do all this these days with gas the way it is. There ARE educational videos!!

  27. My kids are 10 and they have been to 8 of these places, but that is part of the reason that we homeschool -- so that we can accompany dad on business trips and travel during less expensive and less crowded times of the year. Some of these on the list definitely don't seem worth it to me however -- not sure how they came up with these.

  28. my two cents
    • The Grand Canyon, Arizona--worthy
    • Redwood National Park, CA--worthy
    • Monticello, Virginia--worthy
    • The Freedom Trail, Massachusetts--on our list
    • Niagara Falls, New York--worthy, but what about Hoover Dam?
    • National Mall, Washington D.C.--went there in 2002...played the game,"How many of the guys milling around here are undercover police watching for terrorists."
    • Williamsburg, Virginia--YORKTOWN was less crowded
    • Walt Disney World Resort, Florida--fun but, not a deprivation if you miss it --please!
    • Independence Hall, Virginia--on our list
    • Alcatraz Island, California--never been there and don't really want to go there...Am I missing something?
    • Ellis Island, New York--worthy of the list
    • Yellowstone National Park, WY/MT/ID --looks more interesting from the great Nat. Geo. aerial photos! ...after seeing one boiling hissing pot of you really need to see the other 250? What about Yosemite???
    • Fenway Park, Massachusetts --Yikes!Who cares!
    • Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho-- how many miles of lava do you need to see to get the point?
    • San Diego Zoo, California--a Zoo really?
    -- @OPCCook--Mt Rushmore was AWESOME!!
    --What about the EVERGLADES???
    --A camping/canoe trip to the U.P.??

  29. have not been to any of these places-but many others just as good over the last fifty years...used to have a dream of two tvs, two telephones, two cars, a house that was paid for, and a job i liked. nowadays, cannt afford the gas to drive both cars, can only watch one tv at a time, could not get landline repaired so now have a cellphone that i cannot hear the speaker with, but by golly the house is paid for. and my dream trip before i die of old age is just to get a chance someday to see with my own eyes the "northern lights". sigh.

  30. Well, I'm deprived, too. I missed a lot on the list. I've been to DC National Mall, Williamsburg, Alcatraz, and both Disney locations. They missed Mount Vernon home of Washington and the Capitol and the Senate while in session?? In addition to those, I've only been scuba diving in the Florida Keys and cave diving in Florida, sailboat racing to Miami, water skiing, competing on a swim team in Columbia, South America, and a tour of Europe; including taking a ski lift through the clouds to clear sky on top of the clouds in the Alps, (Switzerland), the Louvre in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, White Cliffs of Dover in England. Also tubing for hours on 2 different rivers in North Carolina and snow skiing in NC and CA, too. Most all before the age of 20. My education sure was lacking and it's a durn shame I didn't get to do all the things on that list. Then I would be really educated.
    - K in OK <><

  31. Good Lord, K. You have indeed been sorely deprived!! LOL

    It's neat how this has jogged my memory, and one of the first things that came up for me was Frontier City! Is it still open? Best gunfights and rock candy anywhere!

    Where 'bouts are you there? I have family in Okfuskee County and the McAlester area.

    I imagine we'll all be recalling lots of fun sights and memories thanks to Patrice and this fun thread.

    Fish camp on the North Canadian river....deer hunting in Modoc County...the hot springs at Mammoth...the Louisiana bayou...the California Missions...Marine World-Africa USA...


  32. Hmm... the list, perhaps, should start small:
    public library
    local animal shelter
    place of worship
    live theater
    art museum

  33. What you see when you travel is less important than the experience of meeting and learning about different peoples. Foreign travel is more valuable at increasing understanding and tolerance than mere sight-seeing at home.

  34. A.McSp, I've hunted deer in Modoc and got one! That was when I was 43.

    By the age of 16, I'd been fortunate enough to see most of the sites on the list (except DisneyWorld, which wasn't built back then - did see Disneyland, though). Saw many other sites that were just as great as those on the list, or more so. Loved Mount Rushmore! I like baseball, but wouldn't go out of my way to see Fenway Park. Who needs the crowds and the parking problems? Saw the Meteor Crater in AZ. Went to Niagara Falls - saw it from both sides of the river. Waded in the Gulf of Mexico. Stood in awe of the Statue of Liberty. I'm nearly 61 years old and there are still many places in this grand country that I'd like to visit.

    I do think seeing these places, especially the historical ones, are good for kids. It's one thing to read about history, it's a whole new dimension to see these places up close and personal. We walked on part of the Poney Express Trail. And we saw the wheel ruts where the pioneers' wagons crossed the plains.

    When I was 12 years old, we drove across country to Washington, DC and went on a tour of the White House and sat in the gallery during a session of the Senate and then went into the basement of the Capitol and saw the restaurant and the little tram that ran through the hallway. (Who knew?) Try doing any of that now.

    We went to all kinds of places in those 3 weeks that year (1962). Once, we got lost and drove through a part of Philadelphia that was having a polio outbreak! And we got caught in a flash flood on the way to see the birthplace of Davy Crockett. We saw a waterspout in Florida and a
    relentless hailstorm in Montana. It was a great trip and a very good learning experience.

    Seeing so much of the country, 49 of the 50 states, is one of the reasons I love this country. It is vast and different, and yet so much alike.

    Anonymous Patriot

  35. I sincerly HOPE that 10 year old kids will get the chance to see any of these places.I swear to God I have never seen anything like this. It is amazing how fast things can go south. We need a hailstorm,tornado and maybe a hurricane to rake D.C. Maybe that would catch the fancy of these dirty politcians. I know it would not. I can still dream can't I?

  36. According to the official list, we are horrible parents. But on a more encouraging note, the list posted by Jeanne S, has been accomplished. I would love to add Disneyland to our trips, but since the oldest leaves for college in August, it probably won't happen.

  37. Man oh man, the WIND is kicking up in a bad way. It's a shame that I have not experienced the Santa Ana winds of CA. That may be easier to take than the bragedosious wind howling here.

  38. ROFLOL, ah, Anonymous 11:40am, formerly Anonymous 7:13. How nice to see you again. I enjoy posting things for you to ridicule. Perhaps you would be happier if I said I'd never been anywhere or seen anything and been trapped in a basement my entire childhood? Or better yet, maybe you'd like to know how bad my health was during my younger days? Sorry to disappoint.

    Have a marvelous day. Or a lousy day...always your choice.

    Anonymous Patriot

  39. Please A.P. get a handle on your emotions. This is only images on a computer screen. I urge you for your own good to not take impersonal things so personal. I do not know what all those letters mean except maybe LOL. If you want to insult me then you will have to type it out. O.K. I admit it was directed a certain way but you have quickly made this a personal thing. Probably 50% of the people I talk to every day blow hot air.

  40. ROFLOL = Rolling on the floor, laughing out loud. Not an insult, sorry to disappoint (again).

    If you'd quit dogging my trail, you wouldn't have to read my "hot air."

    I'll pray for you - Light is missing from your day.


  41. Response to: A.McSp March 24, 2011 11:06 PM
    Isn't it great to be in this beautiful country, the home of the free and the brave? There are so many wonderful places yet to be seen. My grandmother took a trip around the world and she was 77!! We have just begun to fight, I mean travel 'to infinity and beyond!'
    I'm in Broken Arrow, OK (to answer your question) and yes Frontier City is still there although it is 'carnivalesque' when compared to either Disneys. I loved the Mission in So. CA at San Juan Capistrano where the swallows return every year on March 20th!
    If I were to change the subject so as to not appear to be bragging: I have only touched a cow once. I've only milked a cow once. I've never seen a wheat field of 'Amber waves of grain.' I've never seen 'For purple mountains majesties, Above the fruited Plain... From sea to shining sea!' Isn't it great to live in a free country? So many places to visit and so little time.
    K in OK <><

  42. Of course, there is one thing that CNN failed to mention, and that is that the wealthiest children of all, are those who have the love (and dare I say) adoration of a loving father and mother.
    K in OK <><

  43. I like Jeanne S and Dustin's ideas

    I, personally, have only been to one of those places listed. And even then, according to the list, I did not do that right. I have been to Niagara Falls- the Canadian side.


  44. I have a couple of good friends with large, wonderful families (9 and 11 kids, respectively) and they get the question all the time "HOW can you AFFORD it?" It was funny that top of both their lists was "We don't go to Disneyland." That, or some other equivalent, expensive yearly trip, has never been considered essential equipment. Dad's vacation time is used camping, visiting family or tackling large projects together and, shock, the kids are all happy, well-adjusted people with priorities and expectations that will likely put them in good stead for whatever life throws their way. On the other hand, I was sad to hear from another friend, recently, that she and her husband had decided not to have any more children (despite the fact that they are young, healthy, and in good financial shape) because her husband wants a lifestyle that involves frequent travel and they can barely afford that with the two little ones that they have AND with mom continuing to work full-time outside the home. I worry much more about the life-lessons these two un-deprived children are learning...

  45. Hey in Broken Arrow! I got a big kick out of your cow-free upbringing! LOL

    And you're soooo right about the wealth of a child's home with a loveing mother and father.

    BTW...I know I've already asked, but has anyone seen our Katie J? Germany is a long way away...I hope she checks in soon.

    AP, it sounds like you've made as many Route 66 miles as I did as a kid. Hope we can get together at Fort Bidwell for some coffee one day!

    A. McSp

  46. The list mentioned Fenway Park in Boston, but omitted Chicago's Wrigley Field? Really?? This is an obvious case of East Coast Elitism!

    There is, hoever, an even better sports venue to visit--Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Hinkle Fieldhouse (built in 1928) is one of the truly great basketball arenas in America and is the home of the mighty Butler Bulldogs, who have just earned a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Final Four. Butler plays the game the way basketball was meant to be played. They play honest, they play hard, they are committed to academics as well as athletics, and they are a joy to watch.


  47. A.McSp, the old store in Fort Bidwell has been closed for many years. If you want to drink coffee there, you'll have to bring a thermos. LOL There is a great little coffee shop in Cedarville, however. Come on down.


  48. Wow...I am almost 50 and have only been to the Grand Canyon. Would go back in a heartbeat if I had the $$$. It took me over 40 yrs to even get that one from the list done. Poor poor me...I was a deprived child as were my own children. Funny thing is, they wouldn't say they were deprived.

  49. oh..And why would I go to Fenway Park anyway? SEriously? I have been to Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals one time and that was enough boredom to last me a week.

  50. Wow, so sad. I've seen 1 of those places. Sure it'd be great to see those places, and in fact I plan to in the future sometime, but how does that make me a better person?

  51. There's No Place Like Home (esp. if it's a good one!), and there's nothing like contentment (if you have thankfulness in your heart for all God's given you--even if it's a little)! :)

  52. Well, I've got 4, but I only visited one of those before I was 15.

    And what is it with Disney World anyway? People act like Disney World is the Holy Grail - but every time my husband and I start adding up the cost (we don't actually have the money to do it, but just "fantasy" planning) we decide we'd rather spend the money traveling cross-country to visit family and see sites like the Grand Canyon.

  53. I personally feel that the CNN list is for rich people whose spoiled children don't understand where our country came from and is built on. And Fenway Park is ridiculous, I agree, how does that have to do with anything, other than baseball being an American past-time? And we can see it on TV or hear it on the radio any day of the week.

    I didn't read all of the comments, but I'm 24 and didn't see any of those before I was 15. I'd say I'm quite well rounded, just maybe not well traveled. When I was 20 I went to Disney World with my cousin with money I made during a summer off from school. I think that earning it made me a more "well-rounded" person than if my parents had foot the bill. Just my two cents because the whole idea upsets me.