Many stories herein are subject to the faulty, and sometimes creative, memory of the blog owner and should not be taken as factual, although the names and events are real! Kind of.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Traveling with the Fam--70s style

Since we went to Canton for fall break, I've been thinking about and remembering family trips. When we were growing up, we usually went camping for vacation in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. That was back in the good old days. Back when you could drink out of the stream and not worry about disease. Look to the right. Did you ever drank from the log in Cimmeron Canyon, New Mexico? There we are, my friend Danna, me, Dad, Paula, David and Andi, all lined up for a refreshing drink of that Rocky Mountain water, never knowing that it harbored dangerous substances that could make us sick! That was also back in the day when you could camp about anywhere and no one cared. Back when the biggest threat really was a skunk or raccoon raiding your food--or perhaps a bear. But not your personal safety.

Did your parents ever make a bed in the back seat by filling the floor up with pillows? That was before mandatory seat belt laws! My parents always left REALLY early in the morning, before the sun was up. The theory is that the children might sleep on this bed for a few hours, but the reality is, the children are so excited to at last go on a TRIP, that there was no sleeping once they get in the car!

What really happens is, that with the pillows filling the floor for the bed, there is no room for legs. So if there's no room for feet and legs on the floor, then you must put them on your brother and sister. Then you must draw imaginary lines down the back seat that no one must cross because your siblings retaliate by putting their legs on you. Then you must trade places with your sister so she can have the window side and hold the trash can in her lap and be ready to leap out and throw up at a moments notice when car-sickness hits. Probably though, you will make your brother trade places with your sister cause he's the youngest and and the youngest must sit in the middle. And don't cross the line!

My mom, bless her heart, was prepared for these little squabbles (bloody battles) and had little dime store (before dollar stores!) gifts to throw over the back seat amidst the turmoil. Things like books (comic books--Archies!), or yo-yos (How do you do this in the car with the floor boards full of pillows?); vinyl stick on/peel and cling scenes--You know the kind--a laminated piece of cardboard that might be a house scene and then you had little furniture and such to stick in there; new books, stuff like that--Oh and lacing cards--remember those? With yarn and a picture with holes punched in and you threaded the yarn through to outline the picture! My mom was prepared. My poor sister pretty much just got the window seat. Everything she tried to look at caused us to screech to a halt beside the road so she could throw up. Again. My littlest sister got to sit in front and would stand up and look over the back of the seat. I guess she was waiting to see who would emerge the victor from the latest battle!

Occasionally, the Battle in the Back would escalate to the point where my mom had to turn around and then her derriere would be in the front window (much to my mortification) as she knelt in the front seat and swatted whoever didn't duck fast enough in the back seat. If the worst came to pass, Dad would pull over (even though my sister wasn't sick) and administer discipline. No one wanted that to happen.

Eventually, we would arrive at our destination, where family fun would begin!
We did a little hiking, and a little picnicking, visited obscure museums and famous churches, and investigated grave yards with Gothic looking headstones and iron fences. We explored mining towns, saw Santa Claus (in July!) at the North Pole, peered into Native American cliff dwellings and slid down a giant slide in Red River. My favorite lunch memory is when we would go to a local grocery store and buy summer sausage, crackers, cheese, and fruit, then go somewhere to picnic. Dad was always prepared with his pocket knife. Was this the same knife he used to cut calves and earmark? Surely not....... Someone was always tired. Someone was always grumpy. And my dad was always ready to go home! But we always had fun! Go figure!

You know our memories are really tricky! I recall having fun on those vacations, but I don't remember what was fun! Thank heavens for photographs! I remember my brother and sisters being there. But I don't recall one conversation or one event that didn't entail utter mortification for me. Me, me, me--it was all about me! How self-centered I was! And from my memories of the Battle in the Back Seat, I wonder why on earth my parents took us anywhere! Surely we didn't fight as much as I recall.
That's my dad to the left. He's looking into the Cliff Dwellings near Denver and my brother is climbing the ladder. My dad enjoyed vacation, but he was always ready to go home. He is a farmer and rancher. There is always work to be done. The work will never be caught up! So he was always worrying about his cattle and the farm work and the calves that needed fed in the pens by the house and all that other stuff that hopefully was being taken care of by someone at home. When the fun was over and vacation was done and we started home, Dad was ready to get there. Five minutes ago. He drove swiftly eastward, towards home. Unfortunately, 55 miles per hour is not swift, so of course Dad drove faster than that. Therefore we usually spent some time parked on the side of the road. Not at a scenic overlook. Not for my sister to throw up. Not for someone to go potty. But for him to have a visit with the Highway Patrol. More mortification for me! And did that trooper happen to see my mom leaning over the back seat? Oh my, I hope not!

It seemed like the mountain nights were colder back then. I am now impressed that my dad carried my littlest sister for so many miles when we hiked up the mountain, or walked around Santa Fe. I was always compelled to buy new moccasins and a turquoise ring. And I wore the moccasins the rest of the summer, riding horses, feeding pigs or sheep, exploring the pastures, working in the garden, gathering eggs. And I wore them, of course, without socks. 'Cause Indians didn't wear socks. And since I had read biographies of Pocahontas and Sacajawea, I knew all about Indians. And I usually lost the ring on those adventures. I think my brother always got a beaded belt, but I don't even remember what my sister's souvenir of choice was!
Vacations are much more luxurious these days. We fly or drive in larger vehicles. We stay in nicer accommodations. We don't have to go down the path to potty except when we stay at the lake! But some things will never change. Because whenever we travel and I see a display of Minnetonka Moccasins, or a tray of turquoise jewelry, I have to squelch the desire to buy another pair of moccasins or try on all the rings. Cause really, that style's not me now. Is it? But perhaps a beaded belt.....

1 comment:

Andi said...

Funny, I don't remember those trips...Oh yeah, by the time I was old enough to enjoy vacations, they quit taking them. Poor me... you don't know what a burden it was being the youngest. You think you had responsibility? Well I had to miss out on all the fun. Boohoo. Poor me...Wait a minute is it all about you or all about me? I'm confused.

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