Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Part II - South Dakota

Part II of our road trip consisted of; The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore and The Badlands. Needless to say, South Dakota had some amazing sights! 

Autumn is at an age where we are teaching her who she is, the background of two resilient cultures; African American and Native American. Her mind is still young, so we are not going in depth or into the specifics, not even the bad, but an idea of what is behind those strong ethnicities. At my niece’s graduation, ceremonial dancers and drummers started the Graduation commencement. We stayed on the Blackfeet reservation and our trip to the Little Bighorn Battlefield and the Crazy Horse Memorials were introductory learning experiences for her. There is still so much for her to absorb. As a child, until age 9, I was raised on the Navajo reservation; I was surrounded by my elders, family, friends, teachers, etc. Everyone was like me. For me, it was not so much “learning” who I was, but more so a way of life. I know for her it is going to be different, but I always want her to be proud and knowledgeable.

You Don't Know Where You Are Going, Until You Know Where You've Been...

PART II Highlights:

1. The Little Bighorn Battlefield was unplanned and spontaneous, but also one of my favorite sites to see. The history behind it. There was a calmness about the area; the green pastures were very quiet and serene. 

2. I preferred the Crazy Horse Memorial over Mount Rushmore, but I thought it would be an interesting site for Autumn to see.

3. The Badlands were breathtaking. I had a friend recommend the Badlands and I am so glad we went. One of my favorite stops of the entire trip. I now have a bucket list goal; to camp and sleep underneath the stars at The Badlands. Hopefully some day…

4. We stopped in Chamberlain, South Dakota to view the 50 foot tall statue, Dignity. Dignity is a stainless steel statue depicting a Native American woman draped in a star quilt. We stopped 2 Native youth with basketballs in their hands walking alongside the road. We asked them for directions to the statue. Shy and giggly, they looked at each other then looked back at us saying the statue was off the interstate. I said thank you and thought of my youth. I was one of those girls with a basketball walking on the side of the road. A young Chimmey with Issy and Michelle. That moment made me smile. 

"Standing at a crossroads, Dignity echoes the interaction of earth, sky, and people. She brings to light, the beauty and promise of the indigenous peoples and cultures that still thrive on this land. My intent is to have sculpture stand as an enduring symbol of our shared belief that all here are sacred, and in a sacred place." 

-Dale Claude Lamphere, Sculptor and South Dakota Artist Laureate

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The All American Jackson Family Road Trip - PART I

WOW! It has been almost a year since I last blogged. I will say it; I've neglected this blog, but hoping for a resurrection. I still continue to write even when I don't blog. Writing is therapeutic for me, even if I quickly jot my thoughts in the endless notes I've collected in my phone, which is what I've been doing this past year. I think in an upcoming blog post, I would like showcase a few of those, along with some old. A glimpse into the chaotic and wandering mind of Adrienne.

To ignite this resurrection, I'll start with our recent road trip; 8 days, 4,000 miles across 8 states. Nine days later, I managed to unpack the suitcases, about 2,000 bugs are still splattered across the car (need car wash ASAP) and I promised photos and route information.

Our destination; Montana.

The Jackson All American Road Trip, as my husband would call it; he has a fascination with National Lampoons Vacation. We have experienced a great deal of traveling in the U.S., but this was new territory we were about to experience. Autumn ended her first grade year, and we thought why not begin summer vacation with the open road and the great outdoors! A non-traditional trip for us. We usually fly to our travel destinations, hotels are always pre booked along with an itinerary of food and recreation. I am a planner. This was a trip where not much was planned except the list of places we wanted to see/explore. So we packed up the SUV, left Illinois on a Wednesday evening and embarked to our first destination; Kansas City, Missouri.

From Kansas City, MO, we drove through Nebraska, and arrived in Cheyenne WY. From Cheyenne WY, we were anticipating our journey to the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone Park. Upon entering the parks, we encountered snow, bear sightings, mesmerizing lake and mountain views. On a Friday evening, having no plans or hotel reservations, we found ourselves scrambling for a place to stay, minimal phone/internet coverage and for me, the anxiety of navigating Yellow Stone Park at night! Ask Re, I had about two panic attacks, along with one triggering Autumn as she cried in the back for no reason. We managed to find our way to Cody, WY at 1 am. A beautiful local Wyoming town. The following day, we began our day with brunch at a local eatery then set off to our second day at Yellow Stone. We explored more wildlife, waterfalls, geysers, and Old Faithful. We would often stop on the side of the road to ask the Buffalo for directions. Autumn LOVED that.

“Ummm, Mr. Buffalo or can I call you Bill? Can you tell us how to get to Yellowstone Park?

We entered Yellowstone through Grand Teton National Park North Entrance. Exited the East Entrance to stay in Cody, WY. Leaving Yellowstone, we used the North Entrance entering Montana.

On Sunday we reached Browning, MT/Glacier National Park. My niece graduated High School. The first grandchild of our family, the female doppelgänger of my older brother. Her smile is his smile and just being in her presence, is being in his again. It was such an emotional, but PROUD day for our family. I remember when I graduated High School, my brother was there, along with my niece. At the time, she was very young. On her BIG day, she whispered to me: “Remember when you graduated and we were there, I have that picture.” On the day we left, she text the photo to me (tear). We watched our young woman walk across the stage and receive her diploma. She dedicated her cap to him; he was there. I know he is proud of the responsible, intelligent, funny, full of life young woman she has grown up to be. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her!

**Photo by Cheryl Deswood

After the graduation, we still had to embark on our journey back home. 
  • Glacier National Park
  • Little Big Horn Battlefield Monument
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Mount Rushmore
  • The Badlands

As soon as we touched the Nebraska state line, we were ready to be home in our beds. Hotels weren't as exciting, driving had official become tiring, and the cool northern air began to disappear, soon we began to feel the midwest-southern heat again. 

Part II of our trip should be posted in the next few days! More scenic photos and details about each location.