Thanksgiving: A Road Trip

I-80It’s been a while since I last posted. We’ve arrived at that time of year when everything seems to happen at once, including the end of the academic term. Somehow, in spite of this, Jennie and I drove the 2400 miles to and from my daughter’s home in Illinois for Thanksgiving. The drive over was fun, our time with my daughter and her family was marvelous, and the drive home in a driving rain was grueling. We’ve spent this week catching up on work.

Usually we fly, but this year flights during the Thanksgiving holiday were numbingly Adirondack_Riverexpensive, so driving made sense. It had been a while since we went on a road trip, so we gathered ourselves and set out through the Adirondacks towards Illinois.

We drove all day the Friday before Thanksgiving, managing to get within 90 minutes or so of Cleveland, where we hoped to see the Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, at The Cleveland Museum of Art. We arrived at the museum just after opening, secured tickets to the exhibit, and spent a leisurely morning drifting from one painting to another. There was a steady stream of patrons viewing the show, but it was never truly crowded. As we neared the end of the exhibit, I overheard a guard explaining to a guest that the exhibit was only being shown in Cleveland and London, and had already sold out, in advance, in London. He explained that most days were also selling out in Cleveland, and that we were quite luck to have gotten in. Indeed, people had been flying to Cleveland from all around the world, just for the exhibit. It was a magnificent show, and we counted ourselves truly blessed!

DSC01615 Turkey_Run_State_Park_IndianaThe trip was also an opportunity for me to visit old haunts. That evening, we had a lovely visit with my sister, who lives not far from our high school and the university we both attended.  Sunday morning we were off to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. On the way over, we stopped in Indianapolis, to see the Conversations: the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum. The exhibit showcased five contemporary Native American Artists, and kept us engaged for much longer than we had planned. Eiteljorg Fellowships are awarded every other year to a new cadre of outstanding Native Artists who are working in a Contemporary, Native focused, visual arts.  (As usual in Indianapolis, we found ourselves hopelessly lost while trying to find the museum, and were rescued by a very helpful bicyclist!)

DSC01633

Red Headed Woodpecker!

Turkey Run State Park was a favorite get away for my family throughout much of my childhood. Back then, it seemed little known, but today more than one million people visit annually. We stayed overnight in the Inn, and although there was snow and ice, were able to explore some of the easier trails, and visit the nature center.

Since the park was a much loved destination of my extended family, Jennie and I were surprised to read, in Last-Native-Americansome park material, that Indians no longer visit. In fact, we were shocked to discover that the Last Native American had died there, while fishing! This was, and remains, news to us.

On the way to my daughter’s we stopped in the Illinois village where I grew up. Actually, it was the place I contracted Polio, shortly after arriving there. Still, it is a place of many sweet memories.

House_LotWith a bit of effort we were able to locate the place where our home stood, now a sort of parkland. We then had dinner at a lovely, family run Mexican restaurant. The restaurant used to be a diner. It stands beside my junior high school, and was the place of many greasy dinners eaten before basketball games. Oddly, the food at the new restaurant was just as greasy…..

Then on to my daughter’s where we had four splendid days with family. At night, our hotel room overlooked downtown and the HolidayAdirondack_river decorations that filled the streets with light and color. Thanksgiving brought conversation about being Native American, the challenges and gifts that go with that, and, of course, the mandatory overeating. Oh, the pies!

Early Friday morning we were back on the road, in a driving rain. Somehow, we managed to make our way back across the soggy miles, through the snowy Adirondacks, and arrived home early Saturday evening. We were tired and happy; it had been a good trip!

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19 thoughts on “Thanksgiving: A Road Trip

  1. Sounds like an incredible trip. It seems like you were meant to be on the road instead of the air for a few reasons.The trials and tribulations of being an Indigenous person are pretty much a daily observance here, but you know what’s not? Pies. Oh, how I love, love, love pies, but definitely a rare and limited commodity in our house.

    • Oh, Blog Woman! May you have pie! I must admit pies are my favor desert, even though most are not made of chocolate. My preference for pie is legendary in our house. Woe to the person who brings me birthday CAKE.

      Yes, in many ways we are insulated from the daily tribulations of being Native, although we face the occasional racist incident, and much too often receive phone calls from elders (meaning those older than me….) who have been harassed or threatened, or worse. I know it was much worse for my parents, and understand their desire to keep us from harm. But relative safety also comes at a high cost. Still, may you and all others be free from harm.

  2. It is very nice to read about your time around Thanksgiving and that your experiences were many and so good. A road trip gives more freedom to stop and have breaks, to look around and visit so much art as both of you also appreciate. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post Michael 😀

  3. Sounds like a great trip. I love to visit old haunts, walking them in two different time zones. I take in everything I see, but at the same time in my inner eye I see it how it was. Nostalgia-not what it used to be 🙂

  4. Michael, that was rewarding road trip. You combined art & nature, past & present. And then to spot that red-headed woodpecker, what a stunning bird that is. Upon seeing such bright red bird, my mind would get flooded with questions how that bird fits in with all that is happening. But maybe red-headed woodpeckers aren’t rare or remarkable in your area.
    Kind greetings from Ireland,
    Paula

  5. Road trip! Sounds like my favorite kind of trip. I grew up in Michigan and my mother would load up the kids into the VW bus just to see the new art exhibits in the Toledo Museum, or pull us out of school to drive to Niagara Falls when the water was diverted to shore them up against erosion. How wonderful to go back to the favorite places of your childhood, and especially to have such a nice time with your kids. Sounds perfect! A belated Happy Thanksgiving, and may there be many more pies in your not too distant future!

    • Oh, Naomi, I love pie! So thank you!

      I believe I like road trips as an adult more than I did as a child. Now we can stop when we want, or at least often. I love the improvisation that happens!

      Here’s hoping your Holidays are filled with joy, light, and adventure!

      • Road trips for grownups, YES! I LOVE sitting behind the steering wheel, as I am more likely to pull over for a picture or to investigate a historic marker than my husband. Thank you for the good wishes, and wishing you all the same, Michael!

      • Hi Naomi, I have finally finished grades, and now may turn towards the gathering mystery. I, also, am the one most likely to stop, although I am no longer sure this is true. My wife has taken to being more spontaneous than me of late! It is wonderful! Anyway, may the season bring you peace and joy, and the warmth of love, friends, and inspiration and creativity.

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