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Family Vacations

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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:05 pm    Post subject: Family Vacations Reply with quote

Lengthy family vacations by automobile or camper around the U. S. have been a common summer event through the years. But, other than day trips such as to Swope Park in KC or Bagnell Dam in the Ozarks, my family seldom took vacations. Of course, Dad would go on his fishing trips to northern Minnesota and leave Mom and us kids to take care of the chickens and cows. However, we did take two long trips before I graduated from college and left the area. Those were the only two vacations I had as a youngster other than Boy Scout camp at Osceola and my ROTC camp at Ft. Sill, OK after my junior year at MU (if you want to call that a vacation). Otherwise, we youngsters were expected to work when we were out of school for the summer.

The first trip was to Washington, DC in the late Ď40s. Our old í36 Chevy was on its last legs and in no condition for a long trip. After World War II, cars were in short supply. One had to wait in line for several years to get a new car. Finally, we got our new í48 Buick Roadmaster from Dickís Garage. Dad decided to celebrate by going on vacation to the East Coast. It was an exciting trip for a youngster. Our first stop was at Mark Twainís home in Hannibal. We then traveled on, stopping at some of the popular tourist spots before arriving at the nationís capital.

At Niagara Falls, we went to the Canadian side and took the tunnel down behind the falls. We then took the cable car over Whirlpool Gorge. When we got to Gettysburg, we visited the battle sights and the spot where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address.

Finally we arrived in Washington and took in all the sights, visiting all of the memorials along the mall and most of the government buildings and museums. After the excitement of soaking up all that history, I didnít remember much of the long trip home.

After we returned home, we showed the movies that Dad took during the trip at many places, such as the rural schools around Concordia. Home movies were not that common back then. One event I remember very well was when I showed them in the garage area of Jul Holstenís Plymouth/Dodge/DeSoto dealership. He was having a car show to promote Chrysler Corpís new fluid drive system and the movies were the entertainment phase. I had to give a running travelogue of the trip. (They were silent movies, of course.)

The other trip we took was to Don and Bettyís wedding in Kennewick, WA. LaVerne went with us because she was the soloist at the wedding. We headed out to Denver and through the Rocky Mountains on to Salt Lake City. From there we continued on to Yellowstone Park. That was one of the highlights of the trip, seeing Old Faithful and other geysers, the boiling springs, and mud pots. And then there was the wildlife. Back then, the bears would come right up to your car and beg for food.

Before arriving in Washington State, Dad decided to make a side trip though Hellís Canyon on the Snake River in Idaho. There was talk that they would be building a dam there and flood the canyon so we had to see it before then. We drove up the narrow dirt road through the canyon as far as we could. On the way back, while Dad was giving me instructions on how to make the movies we were taking more dramatic, he hit a large boulder that had rolled into the road. It punctured the pan under the Dynaflow transmission and the car rolled to a stop. Dad flagged down a log truck that towed us to the nearest town at a breathtaking speed. Then we sat in the local garage waiting for the repair parts to arrive by bus. It was Saturday evening and at 6 PM they began playing church music from the steeple of the church. It was strange to hear church music being sung by a cowboy.

After the wedding we headed back through Montana on to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. Then, on through the Badlands stopping, of course, at Wallís Drug Store. The last sight I remember on that trip was visiting the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. After that trip, the movies we took were always a big hit at the family get-togethers. I could almost smell the sulphur while viewing the mud pots at Yellowstone.

When our kids were young, Dot and I took them on whirlwind two week vacation trips to various National Parks throughout the US and Canada. We camped out, tenting everywhere we went. We would plan at least one tourist destination for each day of the trip, but it was not necessarily a leisurely trip seeing them all in the two weeks of vacation.

Of course, we made the Yellowstone Park loop one year, but planned to see more sights along the way, like Rocky Mountain National Park and Dinosaur National Monument. On the trip, the radio reported the news that Elvis Presley had died. We camped in Yellowstone for a few days so that we could see all of the sights there. On the way back, we also stopped at Devilís Tower. (That was just after Close Encounters of the First Kind had been released.) In the early evening, we had a thrilling hike around the mountain in a lightning storm. We then camped next to the prairie dog village on the grounds of the park. After visiting Mount Rushmore and the beginnings of the Crazy Horse Monument, Wall Drug Store and the Badlands, we also had to stop at the Corn Palace. Finally, after a brief visit with Mom, we made it back to New York in the allocated two weeks.

I sometimes wonder how much of these various trips our young children absorbed. Our youngest son Bob did get to revisit some of the sights on his bicycle trip across the U. S. as well as later when he brought his bread truck/camper back from California. Of course he had to stop at the Corn Palace and added other stops, such as the Hormel Spam Museum in Minnesota.

Some traditions continue.
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