This summer I chose to leave my hometown, Huntington Beach, CA, to spend 5 weeks in the small town of Iowa, Louisiana.I don’t think most people would do the same, but I’m a week into my trip and although there are currently hundreds of bug bites covering my body, I don’t regret a thing. Here is why I chose to leave a summer in paradise for a summer in the swamp:
- To get away from the tourists—I’ll start off by being brutally honest. One of the main reasons that I love to travel for long periods of time every summer is because I hate being home. I hate being home because my hometown, Huntington Beach, is swarmed with tourists for the summer. I don’t really blame them, Huntington Beach is amazing. Beautiful beaches, great nightlife, fun people… I’d vacation there as much as I could. But when you’re spoiled with having a beach pretty much to yourself and being able to drive down Pacific Coast Highway without it being backed up for miles, the summer crowds make it a little less enjoyable.
- To get away from home—Although I will have plenty of things to miss in Huntington Beach like the weather, beach, line dancing bars, friends, and foodie restaurants, it’s always a nice refresher to get away. It makes me appreciate home so much more by traveling. I’ve gone to so many beautiful places, but have never been somewhere that I could see myself living. Missing the things and people I love makes for so much joy when I return. Taking a long trip away from home also makes me thankful for the friends I have. The people who are occasionally checking in with me and telling me they miss me are the keepers! 😉
- To be around good people—Everyone knows about southern hospitality, and wants to marry the sweet little southern bell. I’m hoping that during my time here, it will rub off on me. The south is known for it’s kind people who will make you feel at home and make sure you’re stuffed with homemade biscuits before you leave. I have always wanted to be that person who welcomes everyone and anyone into their home, will make guests a part of the family, and has an unending supply of delicious food. During my time in Louisiana, I hope to be immersed in the southern culture so that I can learn how to better myself now and in the future as a wife and mom. I wouldn’t be upset if the “y’all” thing rubbed off on me either.
- To spend time with my family—There’s no way I would have ever picked a small town in Louisiana to spend 5 weeks of my summer in. There’s bugs and alligators…ew. So I guess it’s a good time to tell my story. My mom got pregnant when she was 20 and in college. She just transferred to San Diego State University, and my dad was in the Marines. They weren’t even officially dating, but drinking in a jacuzzi one night led to an unexpected and amazing daughter. My dad asked my mom if she wanted to get married, but she said no because she didn’t love him. My mom grew up hearing her parents argue everyday, get divorced, and fight over custody. That was the last thing my mom wanted for me, so she basically told my dad “I’ve got this,” and he never contacted us again. Growing up, I always wanted to get into contact with my dad, find out where he lived, see a picture of him… but my mom didn’t want him to deny that I was his kid, or try to get custody of me. Finally, when I was 15, my mom let me call my dad. I called him on Father’s Day. I got so lucky… I couldn’t ask for a better dad, step-mom or brothers. They are so loving, they take care of anything I need, and love spending time with me. After 6 months of talking on the phone, my mom & I went to visit them in beautiful Iowa, Louisiana, and I’ve been going back twice a year ever since! This summer is the first time I will be spending more than 2 weeks with them. I want to live with them, and really get to know my family. I want to see what their everyday life is like, and not just what they are like on their vacation time. I want to get in the normal arguments with my little brother that siblings are supposed to get in, and I want a chores list like everyone else has. I wanted to spend 5 weeks and really live with my dad because I’ve never had that experience before.
- For my last real summer—I’m getting old. I mean, okay, not really. But it feels like it! Next summer I will be done with college and in the real world! I’m not an adult yet!!!! Adults don’t get every summer off?! I’m so not ready for that! This summer is going to be my last summer before I’m supposed to have a job and do adult stuff. I don’t plan to do that when I graduate, but I won’t have my summers free to do whatever I want anymore. Spending time with my family for a long period of time is what I needed to do, and this might be my last chance to do it!
- To learn a different family dynamic—The Orange County life is so much different than life in the south. Especially because at home, it’s just my mom & I living together. And most of my family are girls, so we just get done what needs to get done. We mow the lawn, take out the trash, pull weeds, wash the cars, and refinish the floors. By spending time with the other half of my family, who are mostly men, it gives me a while new perspective of families. The women are mostly cooking and cleaning, while the men are doing the “dirty work.” Don’t get me wrong, the women aren’t afraid to help and get dirty, and the men help cook and do dishes, but I’ve never been in a family that splits the household work like it probably used to be done in the past decades. It has shown me how well a family can work together and I hope that when I have my own family one day, it will be similar.
- To slow down—I love being busy. My mom will actually ask me if something’s wrong if I’m at home the whole day. I always seem to have something planned whether it’s going out with friends, going to Disneyland with my mom, babysitting, doing an odd job to make extra cash, going to a church event, going to the gym, or line dancing. I have to write everything on a calendar because I have so many things to do, I can’t keep track. And I love my life like that. I am constantly having fun and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. Sometimes it is nice to take a rest day though, which VERY rarely happens. It’s true that the pace of life in the south is slower. Town is 20 minutes away, so if you go at all, it’s only once a day. They make time for rest. Before we go out to watch ant of my brother’s baseball games, there is a scheduled rest time for at least an hour. I don’t have as many friends to go out with here, and even when I do spend time with them, it’s just sitting around talking. There aren’t very many bars, and there’s no line dancing! I’ve also gotten at least 9 hours of sleep most nights which is like double what I usually get at home! I am hoping that slowing down for this month will continue in my life back home. I’m loving the tons of sleep and family time.
- Since I live the country life style, I might as well live it right—At home, I spend all of my time with the people who either grew up in the country, or wish they did.
TheyWe listen to country music, go to country concerts, line dance, two step, drive trucks, and hate Obama. I don’t wanna be a “wannabe.” I want to get to know their culture and what it’s like to be a true southerner. I was excited about spending my summer in the most southern, redneck, swap people, duck dynasty style.
- For new experiences—I mean, why else would I travel? Okay there’s other reasons, but I love trying new things. I’ve only been here a week and I’ve already tried so many new things! I went “froggin,” where you go out in the middle of the night in a little boat, literally surrounded by alligators, and catch frogs sitting on the river banks with your bare hands. I learned how to skin and cut off frog legs.I played with a neighbor’s pet raccoon, Reggie. I went tubing and water skiing for the first time.There are so many fun and exciting things to do when you travel that I really could never do in Huntington Beach. I’m so excited to see what the next 4 weeks of my trip brings!