Orange Beach alabamaNot my best ever blended family travel set-up: insulting my child’s in-laws with a holiday on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Blended families are supposed to consider the feelings of all the layers of players, or at least that’s my philosophy after 33 years as a traveling mom of two and step mom of four.

Orange Beach was the spot, along the Coastal Scenic Byway. Diverse ecosystems for a diverse blended family.

This national byway has 130 miles of maritime forest, marshes and bogs, the Gulf beaches, crystal white sand and, of course, thoughts about the oil spill. All that and you’d think I could have landed in a neutral spot.

Here’s the problem: My 31-year old son Andrew married into a gregarious, generous family five years ago (or was it four? There are lots of us and the dates are challenging).

Those in-laws of his, Linda and Jerry, have a condo or two at Orange Beach, Alabama and often extend invitations to visit. Theirs are the sincere, we-mean-it kind of invites. I haven’t accepted any yet, for no good reason, and then I made the tactical error of Facebooking that I’m looking at carnivorous white-topped pitched plants near Orange Beach.

Alabama Coastal Scenic Byway with Blended Family Traveling Mom Christine TibbettsBlew my cover without even thinking about having one. Good grief. Here I was with husband G. W. Tibbetts in the very place we’d been invited to share. If only we had gone a week earlier, togetherness would have been the blended family beach mantra.

The condo-owning in-laws were there and so were son Andrew, daughter-in-law Lisa and granddaughter Mattie Jewell. Also Jerry and Linda’s other daughter and granddaughter.

Harmony instead of me feeling a bit like the little pig who headed alone to pick apples and avoid the wolf. Guess I’ll think about this anytime I read that story to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My travel in search of stories does include parts of the family some of the time. Other times, I’m gathering ideas to share with our various generations, and the ways we can relate.

Purpose-driven travel, noticing relationships throughout America, and the world. Feeds my sense of mission looking for “Aha!” moments all the time.

At the Orange Beach Arts Center Hot Shoppe, I wished for granddaughter Mattie and her folks, oh so accessible had I traveled a week earlier. Artist in Residence Sam Cornman was firing glass in his 2,100 degree oven and shaping lovely big fluted vases.

Orange Beach alabama glassblowerThis is the only public access glass blowing studio in Alabama, and perhaps unique in the southeast. I wanted little Mattie to see how it’s done, and maybe be interested in the blown glass pieces in my house.

Artist and audience were focused, saying not a word until the vase was finished.

Then, “Why did you choose to become a glass artist?” was the main question. “Because my grandparents took me often to the glass museum in Corning, New York, where we lived,” declared Sam.

So now I’m musing about my museum going, art-buying grandmothering and its potential. Delighted if I’m nurturing new artists.

Maybe I should invite the in-laws too.

Photo #1 Blended Family Traveling Mom’s son Andrew and granddaughter Mattie Jewell at Orange Beach, Alabama without this grandmother.

Photo #2 Visiting the Alabama Coastal Scenic Byway without any of the family are Blended Family Traveling Mom Christine Tibbetts and husband of 33 years, G. W. Tibbetts

Photo #3 Glassblower Sam Cornman learned to love his craft going to the Corning NY Glass Museum with his grandparents.