IMG_0693We made it.  We traveled from NYC to Missoula, MT, in a 2-week period, with kids, ages 2.5, 4, and 11. The entire trip was full of excitement with tons to do.  There were nights when we enjoyed the wonderful suites provided to us by Country Inn and Suites, both in Billings, MT and Middleton, WI.

The rooms and suites were the biggest and most beautiful we stayed at during our entire trip.  The staff was wonderful, the ambiance comfortable, clean, fresh.  Mornings included complimentary breakfasts, and FREE INTERNET!  Our room in Middleton, WI also came with a complimentary gift basket courtesy of their GM, Rob.  It is no exaggeration when I say, that this Traveling Latina Mom and her little road warriors, were treated like royalty by the *Country Inn and Suite family.

VW lent us a 2009 Routan for the trip as well, and though it was missing some bells and whistles, it turn out to be the perfect vehicle for our trip and our family.  We actually fell in love with it, which is a big deal for me, because, well, it’s a minivan. But, I loved it.

We had an awful, awful night at the disgusting and horrid Super 8 in Fargo, ND (my husband said that the online reviews were great, but I am actually in the process of writing a letter to their corporate office to tell them about how disgusting their hotel is!).

We experienced camping, in the rain. (sigh).  And after wondering why I ever left my life in Madison, WI, I was later reminded of why I left my life in Madison, WI (that’s another long post, for another time).

In the end, my boys, husband, and I bonded in ways that we never expected, 1) because we’ve never taken a trip like this before and 2) because everyone reacted as if what we were about to venture on was suicide mission, so we were a bit apprehensive.

And I won’t lie, there were moments when I wanted to die, or at least jump out of the minivan. There were moments when my children wouldn’t listen and would fight non-stop.  There was even a moment, though brief, when I got so very angry at my husband that I could not, for the life of me, stop swearing at him in Spanish! And mostly towards the end of the trip, after more than a week on the road and endless early morning wake-ups.

However, I saw more beauty in two weeks than most people see in their life, without leaving the country.  I met some great people, but have returned home with my mind full of thoughts and emotions, both good and compelling, brought about by the mere fact that I traveled, cross country, as a Latina, woman of color.

I can’t say that I experienced overt discrimination, or discrimination of any kind really, nor can I say that anyone was cruel to me.  I was stared at, a lot, especially when walking with my family down the street, and I talked about “where I am from” a lot, more than anyone should ever have to talk about these things in a two week period.  But the lack of diversity and education of anything culturally significant aside, I am nothing but thrilled about the fact that I got to experience a bit of the West along with my family.

It has inspired us to plan other road trips, to other parts of the country, from NYC.

I will say this however, as eager and willing, and even exited, as I am to do this again, and again, and again…enough to dream of doing it professionally forever, the experience of traveling across America as a Latina of color, is unique.  It’s one of those things where I personally don’t even have to think about it, but at some point, the realization of it is made aware to me.

It’s also interesting to travel as a Latina, woman of color, married to a White man. Invisibility is not an option when you are the Brown dot in a sea of White people.

For some people, this is the very reason they never leave New York City, or whatever little secure community pocket they live in.  But not me.  I may need to come back home and refuel, but I loved exploring and learning about all what is out there.  I think it helps to round me as a person, but also to guide my own biracial children through life.

*The rooms at Country Inn and Suites provided to our family of 5  (through Traveling Mom) was the 1 bedroom, King Size Suite.  The price for this room averages in price $110-116 a night.  It includes complimentary breakfast and internet.  It comes with a King size bed in the bedroom and pull out couch in the living room.  We also requested a roll away bed for our 11 year old.  Great rooms, I highly recommend them, especially for larger families like ours.

You can read all about Carol’s Road Trip Adventure series on her site, The Adventures of an NYCity Mama.