Growing up and living in Naples, a town where most dream of vacationing to, has always sparked questions from those not-so-lucky to live in the “239” to ask, “Where do YOU go for vacation?!” As a person whose entire life has centered around travel, most of which has been for work, I have to say that I spend a great deal of time asking myself the same question.
Especially these past few months, summer was approaching, we were vaccinated and trying to figure out when and where we were going to take our trek. I have discovered that my vacations usually center around destinations that will entertain, educate and enrich the lives of my family. So I have this list of considerations that we (my two adult children and I) discuss:
How do we get there? Do we fly or drive? What can we do once we get there? Are there any hotels, resorts owned by Tribes that we
can stay at? Can we visit a tribally-owned destination? The next two are very important… and are usually the areas that narrow down our options:
Does Guy Fieri have any Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that we can visit? If not, what is the foodie scene like? Are there any good bead stores or art districts we can rummage through? I must say that this year, my family has suffered so much loss that another huge consideration was traveling to a place that brought back memories of good times, great food, unforgettable experiences and friendships made. The kids and I seemed to be on the same page and agreed New Mexico was the place to go!
As usual, I would be responsible for how we got there and when we would go and the two of them would scope out where to eat. Together we would decide what to do and where to shop. The Southwest, especially New Mexico and Arizona, holds a special place in my heart. During the summer of 1976, my parents loaded their single cab Chevy Silverado pickup truck with boxes of arts and crafts, a tent, my brother and I (we were 7 and 8, I’m older) and headed out west for the entire summer. We had a few Pow-Wows and festivals booked, but for the most part they were going wherever the road led us. They had no criteria or Google! Their navigation was a Road Atlas and maps we would pick up at local gas stations. Who remembers the time when that was a “thing”?
I remember going to the Grand Canyon for the first time. It was more than I could ever imagine. The photos in my encyclopedia and in my mom’s Arizona Highways magazines, did not do it justice. We stopped along the roadside and gazed out over the open expanse of the canyon and I felt so small. We don’t have many photos from that summer trip, so I made sure we documented our trip this summer. I loved watching the expression on my granddaughter, Mia’s, face as she looked out over the horizon. We took photos of our food, shopping expeditions and scenic drives.
As much fun as we had in the NOW, I brought my memories with me. Memories of my brother and I, our countless good times with my parents leading the way. I can only hope that my children will do the same with their families and fondly look back and remember the good times.
As our plane landed back in humid southwest Florida, I also remembered what I liked most about traveling… coming home to paradise. I love my life in Naples!
Note: Feature photo is Miakoda taking in the vastness of the Grand Canyon, South Rim