Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Five: Road Trips

Jan once more has posted another good Friday Five:

My husband and I just returned (on Wednesday night) from a long road trip up the middle USA to Canada, going through various national parks, and on to the Puget Sound of Washington State. This brought back memories of family road trips with my children and when I was a child, so the idea of today's Friday Five arose.

Tell us about five road trips--in your childhood, in your family, in your recent past, with friends, and/or hoped-for-places-to-drive-to. Don't forget the one that stands out as the BEST or as the worst time

1. One of the first long trips I remember taking in the car was to Rocky Mountain National Park. I must have been in my early teens. We were camping in an old tent that was difficult to put up and it rained almost the whole time we were there. It was cold and our equipment old. It was not a good time for a 13 year old.  But it was my first encounter of snow capped mountains and clear streams.

2. Most of the trips I made as a child were to visit grandmothers. My father worked for the railroad so we were able to ride the train for free. Both grandmothers lived on the railroad lines. It would be hours of looking out the window. By the time I was 8 or 10 I knew all the stops between Ft. Worth and northern MO and Chicago. I was a seasoned traveler by the time I was 6, able to keep my balance walking down the aisle and hustleing bags between stations. Mom would always make boxed lunches (liverwurst and green grapes) and sometimes we would go to the dining car for bran muffins.

3. In 1995 I took sabbatical and was able to make the pilgrimage from Canterbury in England to the ancient shrine of Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Many years before I had read James Michener’s Espana and wanted to make this medieval pilgrimage. I went with a group and I guess it was more like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales than I would have liked, but I saw parts of England, France and Spain that I would never have been able to see. We saw many of the cathedral sites of the 10th and 11th centuries rather than the 12th century gothic places. We even visited an 8th century church in France with its Byzantine apse and mosaics. The history of the Church really became alive. But when we arrived in Santiago I was moved not by the buildings or the completion of the journey, but by noting that the steps to the crypt of Saint James were so dished by the trod of centuries of faithful pilgrims. I stood there flooded with the awe of being a part of something so much larger than my personal faith.  On my return I road the train from Madrid to Paris arriving on a Sunday morning in time to go to church at the American Cathedral in Parish.  I arrived early and the priest asked me to assist at the altar that morning because he was short handed.  It was a remarkable conclusion to the pilgrimage.

4. About 3 years ago J and I took the Canadian Railway from Ontario to Vancouver. I had heard about this trip as one of the classic railway journeys in the world. I knew I would never get to take the Orient Express to Istanbul so as a way to return to my railway roots, we decided to go to Canada. It was both an awesome trip and BORING. The equipment on the railroad was vintage—was the same equipment as was running when I was a child. But by this time I had experienced the trains of Europe which put the western hemisphere railroads to shame. The meals were awesome. So we ate, slept and sat. The scenery was spectacular through Ontario and even Saskatchewan’s mighty plains were beautiful. The only problem was that we went through the Rockies at night so we couldn’t see the mountains. The only real set back to the trip was that the trains were so late.

5. In 1985 J and I traveled from Ft. Worth to Anaheim for General Convention. We allowed ourselves some time to play tourist. We borrowed my brother’s camper van and camped in various state and national parks. We were able to visit family and friends along the way. We were living in Syracuse, NY at the time and met our neighbors on the streets of Santa Fe by happenstance. We spent an incredible 2 days at the Grand Canyon with a huge harvest moon coming up over the canyon. I fished some of the streams of the High Sierra and drove across the Mohave without air conditioning. It was a part of the southwest I had not seen before.

Once J has gotten through all her treatments we are hoping to take a cruise. We aren’t sure to where yet—most likely to Mexico but we need to get out of Dodge just to celebrate life.


Sharon said...

What wonderful trips! I totally get the need to "get outta Dodge" and I hope you will just do it.

Jan said...

I loved reading your stories. You brought back memories of traveling by train sometimes when my dad wasn't going with us to visit relatives on our moves. I've always wanted to go on that trans-Canadian railroad trip. Sad that you missed the Rockies, but I'll have to check our the time we'd be passing through them--maybe it's only at night?