It was early spring 1975. We must have been feeling a bit guilty —Art and I were (already!) approaching our third wedding anniversary, but we hadn’t yet made it “home” so Art and my family could meet one another.
We had our excuses, of course. We moved twice before our second anniversary—the first time as newlyweds, the second because of military orders. In between times, Art had deployed aboard two different aircraft carriers, and I spent a summer away in order to participate in a semester-long training course. Military assignments, time, money, and distance each figured into our delay but, once Art was transferred to shore duty, we decided the time was right for a summer adventure.
It’s long enough ago that I don’t remember the details of our planning process, but there’s no doubt the trip was a tremendous undertaking. We were each able to secure three weeks’ worth of leave—surely that would be enough time to cover the 7,000 miles between our several destinations! And I should mention that our ride, a sporty 1972 Mercury Capri, was NOT air conditioned and, rather than boarding him, we decided to take our cat along for the trip.
The first leg of our journey took us from our home in Key West, Florida, to central Montana to visit my family. Except for a couple of overnight stays with friends, we were on the road well before dawn each day, taking advantage of cool early morning temperatures so we could cover at least 500 miles each day.
I was a bit nervous about this first meeting (I was afraid Art would be overwhelmed by my large family compared to his much more compact version). I needn’t have worried though. Art fit in immediately, and it didn’t take long for my parents to realize that Art was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It was an interesting visit—my youngest sister was nearly four years old and very shy, most of my younger brothers and sisters had grown so much I hardly recognized them compared to when I had last seen them, and there were a couple of in-law spouses in the mix as well.
Our next destination was San Diego, California, to visit one of my Navy roommates. I honestly can’t believe I managed to persuade Art to take on the additional distance, though I do have vague memories of conversations along the lines of “if we are going hat far, we might as well go visit Gloria too.” (It’s obvious I didn’t have a good grasp of geography.)
We probably didn’t spend more than a couple of days in San Diego because we still had to make a hasty beeline across the entire width of the U.S. and the combined width and length of Florida. I have NO memories of that portion of the trip, so I can only imagine that it was a day-after-day repetition of 10- to 12-hour drives and too-short stays in roadside motels. But, since I’m still here to tell the story, it can’t have been too bad.
We had only one disagreement that I can remember. As we were driving through Colorado, I pointed out every sign I saw that advertised Pike’s Peak. At first Art just muttered variations of “we don’t have time” but after a while he didn’t even bother to comment about whatever billboard or road sign I noticed. We eventually passed the “last chance for Pike’s Peak” sign—I was so disappointed we didn’t stop that I think I didn’t speak to Art for at least a couple of hours. (Note: We were finally able to visit Pike’s Peak on a family reunion trip a few years ago. It took us more than three decades to get there, but it was worth the wait. And I probably enjoyed it more when we did finally get there because of all the family drama around the first non-visit.)
So there you have it…precious memories of a long-ago trip. Wherever you go this summer, whatever you do, I wish you fun, safe travels, and wonderful memories.
P.S. I just realized that I’ve already told a version of this story for an earlier Storytelling Sunday. I apologize to anyone who read this and felt a sense of deja vu. The only excuse I can offer is that the start of summer always reminds me of our first, and probably favorite, vacation.
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Posted for Sian’s Storytelling Sunday, a first-Sunday-of-the-month meme. This year’s optional theme is Pick Your Precious. Feel free to join in with your own story—about a souvenir, a family heirloom, a memory, or something completely different.