Teacher, family take a trip of a lifetime out West

Posted 8/19/18

Editor's note: This is the first story in a series looking at the summer adventures of Walker County teachers.SUMITON - Most school children can’t wait for the last school bell to ring in the …

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Teacher, family take a trip of a lifetime out West


Editor's note: This is the first story in a series looking at the summer adventures of Walker County teachers.

SUMITON - Most school children can’t wait for the last school bell to ring in the spring as they dream of a few months of freedom in the summer sun. Many students are unteachable the last few weeks of class because they are thinking about all they will do. One question that often asked is: What do teachers do in the summer?

Lisa Hester, who teaches second-grade at Sumiton Elementary School, has had an exciting summer so far. She and her husband Dewayne, along with their two teenagers, Tanner and Emily, went on the trip of a lifetime.

Back in February, Hester’s son said that one of the things he wanted to do in his lifetime was to see the Grand Canyon. When she shared this wish with her husband, he said no. Trips like this tend to be expensive, and Hester was aware of this fact.

Not one to disappoint her children, she devised a plan. She spends some evenings and weekends selling Mary Kay products. She began saving her profits in a vacation fund. Then seven days before they were scheduled to leave, she broke the news to her husband. He reluctantly agreed to go on the trip.

When the day arrived, the Hesters loaded up their car and headed west on a 14-day road trip. They drove through the heart of America. Their destination was the Santa Monica Pier in California. 

At Midpoint Café in Texas, Hester picked up a Lumberton Rock. The Lumberton Rocks are small painted rocks. Some of them have short inspirational messages on them, according to the Lumberton Rock Facebook page. The Facebook page said, “Our mission is to simply spread God's love and to brighten lives. You can feel free to keep the rocks or to relocate them for others to find. We hope this brightens your day!”

Hester’s rock is about the size of an egg and is painted with vivid colors. She named the rock Georgie. 

Over the rest of the trip, Hester gave updates on Georgie’s travels. “Being a second-grade teacher, this was right up my alley,” she said. Hester will share the adventures of Georgie with her class. After that, she plans to hide Georgie somewhere around Sumiton.

Another place they visited in Texas was the Cadillac Ranch. The ranch is a tourist attraction where vintage Cadillac’s are buried with only the rear half of the car sticking out of the earth. “We almost missed this attraction, but we turned around and went back,” Hester said.

Leaving Texas, the Hesters headed north to Oklahoma. Stops in Oklahoma included the Cowboy’s Museum and the Oklahoma City Museum. 

They headed out of Oklahoma on the historic highway, Route 66.  In New Mexico, they drove down the Singing Highway. It’s one of only a few singing highways in the world. “This stretch of highway has rumble sticks, and when you drive 45 miles per hour, the tires crossing the rumble sticks sing America the Beautiful,” Hester said.

The Hesters stood on the corner at Winslow, Arizona. “They have a fabulous mural there, some statues, and a flatbed Ford,” she said. This is meaningful if you loved the Eagles. "Take it Easy," which is one of the Eagle’s iconic songs, has the lyrics: “I was standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, turned around to take a look at me.”

Later, her family ate at the Airport Mesa Grill in Sedona, Arizona. Then, they toured the small chapel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Two stops on the trip included the east and south rims of the Grand Canyon. It thrilled Hester to see her son check this off his wish list. After the Grand Canyon, they drove on to California.

After visiting the Santa Monica Pier, they toured other hotspots in Southern California before heading home. “It was a once in a lifetime trip for my family,” Hester said. 

After 14 days and 4,800 miles, the family was glad to be home again. While her husband was hesitant in the beginning about the trip, “He came around,” Hester said.