The “profit” of three years of work and the sale of Apple Hill, all three thousand dollars of it, went into our cross country trip.
Linda has always had an enthusiasm for camping, an enthusiasm which at first I did not share. When she first suggested that we go for an actual camping trip, one that would last nearly an entire summer and take us all over the country, I thought she’d lost it. To actually spend days driving hundreds of miles with two kids in the back so as to be able to sleep uncomfortably on the ground at night? Not my idea of a vacation. Linda, can be extremely convincing. We soon traded in our collection of S&H Green Stamps for all sorts of camping equipment. Don’t know about S&H Green Stamps? They were little stamps (naturally, they were green) you obtained in supermarkets with each purchase and pasted into passport-sized booklets. Without making any effort at all, Linda had acquired a great many of these stamps and booklets, and she now decided to trade them all in for “free” camping equipment.
We had also recently acquired a big, blue Buick station wagon, which I packed with all of our gear. There wasn’t enough room in the car for all our luggage, so I tied some of it down to the roof rack. We had also hired a teenage baby sitter to accompany us on this trip (our kids were 5 and 3), after which we were ready for our great adventure.
At the time I was not a really experienced car packer, and therefore the moment we got on the access ramp to the New Jersey Turnpike, everything on top of the car, on the roof rack, came tumbling down onto the highway, and I had to make my first unscheduled and inauspicious stop. I might have thought that an omen of evil things to come, but I didn’t, and the trip was great.
Linda had planned our itinerary in exquisite detail, and her choices of where we stayed along the way, at which motels, which campgrounds were excellent. All I had to do was drive. One of Linda’s more inspired choices was an overnight stay in a motel that had “rooms” in the compartments of an old-fashioned and restored Pullman car. We also stayed at KOA campgrounds, often alternating between motels and campgrounds on our way west, to the fabled national parks. Setting up camp was somewhat of a nuisance, as I had to set up two tents, one for the kids and one for us, but it all worked out. Inside the national parks, we camped of course.
What with snow in July in Yellowstone, the constant bear warnings, the wandering wildlife, the geysers, the flowering meadows, the mountains, the beautiful meanderings of the Yellowstone River, it was all very exciting. Old Faithful was a disappointment, as that particular geyser didn’t do whatever it was supposed to do, and when it did spew some steam and water, it a wasn’t a big deal. I wished we could have stayed longer, but we had several other parks to explore and couldn’t spend too much time in any one of them, which became my constant complaint. Wherever I was, I was so taken with the scenery, with the natural beauty of where we were, that I didn’t want to leave. It was all so magnificent that I wondered why we hadn’t gone camping earlier.