For two and a half weeks in the early nineteen nineties my husband, the Dad Driver, our Pre-Teen Daughter and Daughter’s Best Friend travelled in our over-sized family van to California and back home. Their tent-camping odyssey stretched west from one state or national park to another, beginning in Kentucky.
Their second day found them traveling in lots of snow. Snow drifts on the side of the road were as high as the van and they were at an elevation of eight to nine thousand feet. As they were headed toward Salt Lake City, they would drive through three rainstorms Dad reported during his evening check-in call. But if there were anything Dad Driver did not fear, it was snow, ice, or rain. Any kind of inclement weather bothered him not one bit! He did concede to the cold and Daughter’s Best Friend’s upset stomach that night and they checked into a Best Western Motel.
On the third night, the temperature and weather were fine for tent camping, so they set up at the Timber Creek Campground on the west side of the Rocky Mountain National Park. By moonlight, of course!
Hot cooked food was prepared on their take-along grill or camp-site grill. Daytime fare included sandwiches prepared and eaten in the van while Dad continued to navigate the road. Dad Driver could be heard saying to Pre-Teen Daughter, “Get the mayonnaise and ‘bolonie’ (our southern style pronunciation of bologna) out of the cooler.” And to Daughter’s Best Friend, “The bread is in the brown paper bag right next to it.”
From the Rockies their itinerary led them to their two big destinations: California’s Yosemite National Park, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Each justly deserved and received three-day and three-night stays filled with exploration along hiking trails. Stunning views of lush greenery led to Yosemite’s Upper Falls, a cool cascade of water unequalled in power and height in North America. Just as stunning but in colors of red, purple, orange, and blue were the dry desert views of the Grand Canyon.
Somewhere as they travelled through California, they stopped just long enough to buy a large bag of freshly picked dark sweet cherries. Pre-Teen Daughter and Daughter’s Best Friend sat in the van enjoying every juicy bite they took as Dad Driver resumed his day job as the girls’ chauffeur. “Do you want any, Dad?” Pre-teen Daughter asked. Now, Dad Driver was very efficient at holding a sandwich or beverage in one hand and driving with the other. But popping a cherry in the mouth, biting into this savory jewel, and managing to spit out the seed into who knows what seemed a feat he wasn’t going to attempt. “I don’t want any right now,” he answered. But save me a couple and I’ll eat them the next time we stop.
Well, maybe you have guessed the end of my little story today. The girls continued to munch their cherries and dispose of the seeds with reckless abandon. Those huge dark sweet cherries were so good! And Dad Driver continued driving . . . until his body and appetite for fresh fruit told him it was time to take a break. He pulled off the road, opened the van door, stepped out, and stretched his arms over his head. “O.K. Where is the bag of cherries?” Pre-teen Daughter and Daughter’s Best friend looked at each other and then handed him a large orange plastic bowl brought from home. It contained two large beautiful dark sweet California cherries. You heard me right—two cherries. But Dad had said, “Leave me a couple.” So that’s what they did!
“Leave me a couple.”
Here are the front and back covers of my soon-to-be published book, Alphabet Excursion and Higgledy-Piggledy… More details next week! 😃