8650 Candlelight Lane Suite One, Lenexa, Kansas 66215
A Trip IMade a Thousand Times ...
When I visit my family in northern Utah these days, we just get on a plane to Salt Lake. And so do my brothers and sisters, with one exception who I’ll talk about later on. But, for the better part of the 1970s, my family would pile the kids in the Ford Country Squire station wagon and hit the road from the Bay Area, where we lived, to my mom’s family up in northern Utah. That meant driving on I-80 up through Donner’s Pass and Reno and onto Winnemucca, Nevada, which was still a divided freeway that went through all the little towns along the way. Because Clarkston, where Mom’s family lived, was significantly north of Salt Lake, we’d get off the 80 just past Elko and get on the “rabbit road,” home to a buffet of rabbit roadkill and some very chubby coyotes. Thank God we never broke down on the rabbit road; it was just two lanes stretching for hundreds of miles in some of the most desolate, salt-flat desert in the country. It seems the car always broke down in Reno or Winnemucca. A radiator hose this trip, a flat tire the next trip, and sometimes my dad would just say, “We’ll try this next weekend instead” and turn the car around. The car issues doubled when we bought a second car, a Ford Pinto Wagon, to caravan our growing family up to Utah and back.
Two cars also added a new logistical element. At first, we’d communicate by flashing the headlights at each other, usually when two kids were fighting and needed to be rotated, or if someone got carsick, which happened fairly often. Eventually my parents hit on the idea of using walkie-talkies, which worked better than headlights or hand signals. They were short-range, though, which didn’t help if someone just took off without you, like my father did to my brother Curtis and I on the way home one time. We walked out of the gas station in Winnemucca, and they were gone! Forty-five minutes later, my dad pulled up with no explanation. “Ready to go?” You bet we were! By now, you can probably tell why my siblings and I always fly back to Utah. As “memorable” as those road trips were, we’re happy they’re in the rear-view mirror. I mentioned an exception, though, and that’s my brother Chuck. He’s still in the Bay Area, and he’ll get in his pickup and drive the same route we took as kids. According to Chuck, it’s a great drive, although some things have changed, like a grove of trees on the rabbit road that didn’t used to be there.
I think I’ll just take his word for it.
– Dr. Bridensti ne
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