Saturday, September 03, 2005

On the Road With Mom and Dad

I don't remember everything about our family vacations when I was growing up, basically because I didn't pay much attention to things when I was little. Sometimes I'll see pictures of places out West and think, "I've been there. I have no idea where it is, but it looks familiar."

I have to admit the West was great fun. And the two week car ride was nothing less than memorable.

Boy were those some fun days of driving! But, it was worth it in the end because I got to see all those things I'll probably never see again, or at least I'll probably never want to.

I do remember driving over Royal Gorge Bridge, though, and thinking,
"What lunatic would stuff his family in a two-ton Chevy Impala assault vehicle and then cruise over a rickety old bridge that would be condemned in any city with a population of 37 or more?"

Who? The man in the front seat. The one who always had that sinister little grin on his face - like he was having this great dream that we would never know about. But that's okay; I trusted him. He was Dad.

This was the same man who made his three sons pee in a coffee can in the back seat because he refused to stop every hour or so at a rest stop. Let me tell you, when you're six years old there's not much more difficult than trying to steady a half-filled can between your knees on the middle hump of a moving car floor, keep it from sloshing on your brothers, and pee in it - all at the same time. Potholes were a nightmare! Then Mom and Dad got ingenious and stuffed paper towels in the coffee can so it wouldn't spill so much.

Nope, couldn't stop at a rest stop, but we did of course have to stop at every Stuckey's in the Northern Hemisphere.

We also had to stop at five thousand museums that Mom thought would be "fun and educational".

I guess that's something teachers understand, but in my life I haven't found much museum-type education that I'd consider fun. Interesting and enlightening at best, but fun...sorry, Mom, wrong adjective.

Fun was putting firecrackers in Ken and Barbie dolls and watching as their body parts blew off - then bringing in GI Joe to rescue the survivors.

We saw Wall Drug store, where I got blown away by a two-bit, dime-store electronic gunslinger. "Draw," he grunted. I did, and shot a hole in the table next to the bar. He laughed and laughed. I laughed later, knowing that someday he'd be turned into a Western Speak-N-Spell.

Then there was Four Corners - where you could get down on all fours and stick an appendage in four different states at the same time. That was a pretty big achievement for a six year old.

I did think it was a little strange though to be on a concrete slab with the names of four states engraved on it, in the middle of the desert, and be surrounded by nothing but dirt and tumbleweed.

In a million years people will think it was a landing pad for alien spacecraft.

But then, speaking of landing pads, how about that haircut of Dad's - huh?! He'd do a Brillo pad proud. But at least he was always smiling. I guess there must have been a Stuckey's nearby.

They just don't make trips like that anymore, do they.


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