imagesOne of the most common criticisms I hear about raising kids in Telluride is the lack of culture. This always puzzles me because I’m fairly certain that if I lived in a city, I wouldn’t be taking my children to the symphony, the opera or the local Korean meat market.

But I’m open to criticism and absolutely agree that there is very little to lose, and much to gain, through exposing children to different ways of life. So, whenever we leave Telluride, I like to pay attention to the pieces of American “culture” my children get.

This Spring Break’s agenda had us driving from Telluride to Arizona to San Diego with vacation time in both.  To reach our first destination we drove through a charming, southwestern, desert town called Cave Creek. One main street runs a mile-long stretch through the center of town and is lined by cafes, art shops and antique shops. There are also a few significant outdoor bars that attract a colorful motorcycle crowd.

This particular weekend happened to be the kickoff for Arizona Bike Week, a motorcycle “festival” that attracts over 60,000 bikers. One side of the street was closed to cars and lined by shiny Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Bikers wearing descriptive t-shirts, adorned in leather, and decorated with tattoos strolled happily. Festival-goers entered and exited town as the sound of their motors roared, hitting cacophonous crescendos.

We slowed down, rolling down the windows to take in the vibe. “Now here’s some culture, honey,” I said to my girls, six and three, as we passed.

Our next adventure took us on Interstate 8 from Phoenix to San Diego. The section of I-8 we drove runs parallel to the Mexico/ US border for over 300 miles. Pointing south, my husband announced that we were in fact looking at Mexico. We stopped at a gas station and peered down an arroyo. From that vantage we could trace a brown fence that ran parallel to the highway for as far as we could see. When my daughter asked about it, we performed the delicate dance of fact and story that parents often do when asked about politics, religion or sex, then we turned up the radio and continued driving. The brown fence followed us.

In San Diego, top on the agenda was Sea World. We saw the Shamu show, which is now called One Ocean, and a dolphin show called Blue Horizons. Sea World did not disappoint. It was just as I had remembered as a kid with the giant orcas flipping their magnificent bodies in the air then obediently retreating to the trainers to receive a bucketful of fish in their mouths, before swimming out to preform the next trick.

As a backdrop, a digital screen with graphic lights hung behind the orcas and inspirational Disney music filled the stadium evoking additional emotion from the crowd. Before and after the show, the screen showed clips of whales Sea World had saved. Over and over, the trainers on the screen spoke of the importance of the conservation of our oceans.

IMG_4766I hadn’t researched the ethics of Sea World in depth, but there were some obvious contradictions in their message. I also noted the critical mass of throwaway cups and plates in the park and the fat lady sitting next to me downing a funnel cake topped with ice cream and hot fudge. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a curmudgeon. I thoroughly enjoyed Sea World, but left with a few questions.

From our journey into idiosyncratic America, a few things came to light, all of which remind me why we travel even when it’s just a car ride away. I’m reminded that we can find culture in many places, even at home. And, from these experiences, at the very least, we are offered  a glimpse into different lifestyles and, at the very best, we are compelled to ask questions.

Hopefully, as our children grow up, they will be able to delight in those who differ from them as well as ask their own questions. Then, maybe even answer a few.

1 Comment
  • Ralph Reagan
    Posted at 10:52h, 03 May

    There are tons of things to do between Telluride and Rico, no need to leave the state.