During the summer months many families hit the open road for vacation. In the U.S., families head for popular tourist attractions like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, or resort parks like Dollywood. But there is no reason a family vacation can’t also be an edu-cation (get it). How about a road trip with a biker named Stan as your guide?
Stan Ellsworth is host of BYUtv’s new series American Ride. The show, now filming its third season, is a ride through 250 years of American history—a motorcycle ride that is. Stan Ellsworth, former NFL player, history teacher and actor, rides his Harley throughout the U.S. visiting historically significant locations and talking to Americans along the way. Travel and history: my two favorite things.
From the get-go, it is clear that Ellsworth really knows his stuff. Yet even he admits that he is surprised occasionally. When asked what the average American citizen might be surprised to learn, he notes historical events that were blown out of proportion. For instance, the media and popular culture make the Salem witch trials seem like an event spread through the nation when in reality only a small percentage of the population was affected in a very narrow geographic region.
Learning about Freedom
What can we learn from history that is applicable to our lives now? His answer: Freedom.
While filming season two, Ellsworth and his crew visited the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, which houses the world’s first museum-quality permanent exhibition on the subject of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Ellsworth explained that while slavery may be in America’s past, it still exists in the world and so we, as Americans, should pay attention to it by learning about our past and applying it to what can be done in the present.
I asked Ellsworth, what are the 3 must-see historical places that families should visit to learn about American history?
After some hesitation (there are so many) he said, “Independence Hall, to learn about the Declaration of Independence; Gettysburg, to experience the most important battle in American history, and; Valley Forge, to learn about the sacrifices made for our freedom.”
No matter where you travel, you can find history. Even if your family is having a stay-cation this year, find historical places of interest where you and your family can learn and have fun. Check out episodes of American Ride on BYU tv’s website to see if the show visited your town.
The promo trailer for the series says, “not your high school history class.” Well, it should be.