I am back from the Great Mother/Daughter Road Trip of 2012 and am happy to report that there was only one tiny tiff when we couldn’t locate Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house using the walking map, the GPS on my cell phone, or our brains.
In fact, the whole weekend was pretty great – full of sunshine, gorgeous vistas, discussing politics and women’s rights, and sampling some of the delicious wines and local brews that the Finger Lakes region has to offer.
I was pretty inspired by this trip and am working on the early stages of a novel – I won’t post any of it here, but any self-publishing advice would be appreciated! (Ahem, super commenter Nadine Feldman…)
In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the pictures I took along the way so you can see just how moving the scenery and history can be.
We hit the road around 10:30 a.m. on Friday. (My mother insisted we stop at “Bay Bank” for some cash first… Bostonians might recall Bay Bank from the early nineties, but don’t worry we didn’t time travel.) With a cooler packed with waters and some lunch, my mother took the wheel for the first couple hours. We talked about the health care decision, hospital safety net funds, and the impact of Medicaid funding for special ed students on health care costs. We listened to Call Me Maybe twice.
Around Blandford, Massachusetts (great name for a town btw) I started to get hungry, so we stopped at a rest area and had our picnic lunch at this beautiful picnic table on the side of the highway.
After many more hours of driving, cow spotting, serenading my mother, and playing the license plate game, we arrived in Seneca Falls. Checked into a hotel and headed out for dinner and drinks at Wolffy’s – a quaint little restaurant on Lake Cayuga. Our seat overlooked the water and the view and warm sunset paired well with cheap wine and delciously bad cover music.
The next morning, I was so excited I could barely speak. As we drove towards the Women’s Rights National Historic Park I’m pretty sure I kept “meep!”-ing and saying things like “Suffrage!”, “Lucy Stone!”, “Look how pretty!”
We parked right in front of the visitor’s center, directly across from the site of the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. My mother read the informational posters while I took approximately 258 pictures of the street corner where Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and Lucy Stone and Frederick Douglas met to discuss the rights of women.
We wandered into the visitor center and a friendly young park ranger welcomed us heartily. There was no one else there, so we got a private screening of the documentary detailing the convention. After the screening, we posed with the statues and I rambled on to my mother about the National Women’s Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Asssociation, the 13th Amendment, and the 19th Amendment. My mother may have left already at this point, but I was very involved in talking to myself.
We attempted to walk to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house and couldn’t figure out where it was. But we did find the statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton meeting Susan B. Anthony. After snapping a photo and then snapping at my mom, we headed back the the visitor center and toured the exhibit upstairs.
My mother was particularly interested in this piece of “art” hanging on the wall. Neither of us could tell what it was, but she was certain that it was made out of human hair and reminded me that I have yet to give her a lock of hair. (This is at least the 10th time she has asked. At first, I thought it was for a keepsake but now I’m frightened she wants to make jewelry out of it.)
The visitor exhibit was wonderful. I wish I could have bottled it and brought it back with me to share with my students in my intro to Gender Studies class. There were interactive stations for kids – my favorite let kids put their heads into cutouts and peer into their futures. Will you be a surgeon? An astronaut? Here’s me peering into my future as the President of the United States:
After the exhibit, we left the visitor center to drive (with the GPS) to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house. We paused to admire the monument to the Declaration of Sentiments and take photographs of the water flowing over the carved stone version of the document. My mother has a picture of me kneeling in prayer in front of it… but this photo will have to do for now.
Then it was on to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s home, but since we missed the tour we could only see the outside of the house.
And to wrap up our Women’s History voyage, we popped in to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. This museum showcased great women in history with mini biographies and memorabilia from just some of the amazing women in history. Of course, I gushed over Sally Ride’s space suit:
And just had to have my mother take my photo in the “Future Inductee” mirror. Seriously, I am a huge nerd.
We finished up our women’s history tour and popped into several local wineries and breweries. I highly recommend Swedish Hill Winery – $2.00 tasting, delicious sparkling wines, and there was a great BBQ going on out back with wine slushies!
At the end of our adventure, my mother said something to the effect of “It’s funny you have such strong feminist interests – I don’t remember your father or I being particularly outspoken or holding you back…” and I don’t know if I responded. But now, after looking through the photos, I think I finally have an answer.
You see, to me, being a feminist is about seeking equality and embracing opportunities. It’s about valuing the contributions of every member of society and striving to make the world a better place. And maybe my parents didn’t stand on soap boxes and shout this message to the masses, but they acted on it every day. From my mom’s decades of work with special needs kids to my dad’s time as a public defender and girls soccer coach, I sure got the message.
Plus, I’m pretty sure the road trip gene is hereditary.
- For Women’s History, It’s Christmas in July (blog-aauw.org)