In the summer of 1962, Linda’s family took the first of many adventures to come! She found a copy of the “Westward Ho Agenda” that outlined dates and places we were to go and stay on this journey, as well as a diary Mom kept; most of the details for the trip are taken from Mom’s dairy.
I was surprised at the number of flat tires we experienced; Jim says they make tires a lot better today. And I guess the folks drove a lot at night while we slept. Since I was only 5 at the time, not much of this trip is in my memory except for home movies and colorful stories I had heard of this epic adventure! This was the first big trip we took and each summer after, for many years, we pulled an ever larger travel trailer and explored most of the US and much of Canada. It was all of this travelling that put the “travel bug” in me and I am really looking forward to our adventures in Acey!
Thursday June 14, 1962, odometer reading: 14,654. My Dad picked up a small 14’ Aljo travel trailer from a friend. We were to go on a month long adventure! We left our home in the suburbs of Detroit at 6pm– we camped overnight near Jackson, MI
Early on June 15, 1962, we headed for Chicago – 296 miles. The crew consisted of my folks and my 4 siblings – ages ranging from 3 to 11.
June 16 – odometer 14,950 – We left my youngest brother, Rob, with grandma. So the count of youngsters was down to 4. We headed out for Independence Mo; 406 miles. We stopped at Hannibal to see the home of Mark Twain and we stayed at Pershing State Park; 406 miles from Chicago. Left at 9pm while the children slept in the back of the station wagon. Stayed in a wheat field overnight, slept 2am – 7am.
June 17 – odometer 15,613 in Manhattan Kansas. Next destination, Colorado Springs, staying at Woodland Park; 663 miles. On the way, we saw the Eisenhower Memorial, library and museum; odometer 16,154 at day’s end.
We saw the Garden of the Gods on June 18 – Mom notes that “the kids climbed up the red rock mt. and Linda slid down on her seat – no seat left and one less outfit to wash!” I seem to recall tales of Dad pulling the trailer UP Pikes Peak as there was no sign telling him NOT to do so. A majestic view at the top, but biting cold!
June 19 odometer 16,237 Had a flat tire fixed as we headed for Mesa Verde National Park; 429 miles. Drove through the Monarch Pass at the Continental Divide and the Gunnison and San Isabel National Forests. Past Ouray CO – a picturesque site! And then the car boiled over… right by a beautiful waterfall. After that was resolved, we drove on and on through the mountains and on to a campground at Mesa Verde, arriving around midnight.
Now as I recall, the kids usually slept in the back of the station wagon, Ted sometimes slept in a tent and the folks slept in the trailer. The trailer had a small kitchen but no bathroom.
June 20 odometer read 16,666.6 We visited a museum and some cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde and then headed for the Grand Canyon; 390 miles. We drove thru Utah and a Navajo Indian reservation. Had a flat tire in Monument Valley, and stopped in Tuba City around midnight. Drove 294 miles in 9 hours – less 2 hours for dinner. June 21 odometer read 16,960 – we got to the south rim of Grand Canyon, mileage 17.019. .
The story goes that the children were only somewhat impressed with the first viewpoint as we gazed at the canyon – but after stopping at several viewpoints and not seeing much change in scenery, we opted to stay in the car to play cards, eat candy or look at books while the folks looked at the canyon at several more viewpoints.
A new tire and fan belt was purchased at the Canyon gas station and we headed toward Las Vegas, Dad saw a sign for an airplane ride over the canyon – and I suppose Dad wanted to impress us with the magnitude and grandeur of this place, so he arranged for a flight over the canyon! Eve suggested he pay the $30 only if we made it back!
We drove toward Hoover Dam, stopped in Williams AZ to fix dinner then headed toward Vegas until 2:30am – stopped at a campsite and slept till 5:30. 371 miles
June 22 odometer 17,333 – on the road at 7am and got to Hoover Dam and took the tour. Got to Las Vegas and stayed at a TraveLodge; 287 miles. The folks went to dinner and a show at the Tropicana while we watched TV and had snacks and pop in the motel room.
June 23 odometer 17,384 we left for Disneyland; 275 miles – Mom notes “we had 5 hours of sleep – the most we’ve had since we left home I believe”! We drove through the desert where we noticed that the juice from the canned peaches that I had mixed with KoolAid in my plastic canteen a few days ago that had been hanging in the car, in the sun, had turned into a odiferous concoction “Linda’s Liquor”. Not exactly what I was expecting when I opened it to have a drink as we drove through the desert! Odometer 17,680 as we arrived at Disneyland. We stayed a couple of nights at the Disneyland Hotel and us kids were enthralled by the Bell Boy there! We all thoroughly enjoyed the time at Disneyland!
I am wondering if this was the hotel we stayed at where the children were sent out with money to get ice cream, but me, being a bit contrary at age 5, decided I didn’t want ice cream. So apparently, I was put in the tub to play while the folks enjoyed a romantic interlude!
We left the evening of the 25th and headed to WIll Rogers State Park in Santa Monica and arrived there at 1am only to find the gate locked and ended up parking at a Presbyterian Conference Ground until morning. We visited Marineland and then visited with the Justins that had a bakery in San Gabriel CA – perhaps a Bays English Muffin bakery as there was one in the Los Angeles area at one time.
June 27 odometer 17,876 leaving LA and headed for Monterrey and Frisco; had a flat tire on our way and another flat in the mountains – by dinnertime, we only got as far as Bakersfield; just 109 miles out of Los Angeles, but ended up going another 153 miles to Pasa Robles and called it a day at 11pm.
June 28 odometer 18,140 and the car battery was dead! We drove to Carmel and Monterrey, planned to have lunch at the beach, but it was too cold, so we ate in the trailer. We stopped at San Mateo on the way to our destination in San Francisco. The folks left us kids with the camper to go out on the town – and came back to sleep in the back of the station wagon.
June 29 odometer 18,472 – we drove around the Berkeley campus and back over the Bay Bridge and to Fisherman’s Wharf, rode the cable cars and went to China town – drove to the top of Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower – Had dinner at Nikko Sukiyaki, sitting on the floor on cushions- quite the experience for us young ones! It was quite a day!
June 30 odometer 18,515 Left at 6:15 and stopped to cook French toast at 9:30, left again at 10:30 and at 12:30 something went pop and the right rear wheel was coming loose near Willits CA! A wrecker towed the car and repairs were made – Got to Patrick’s Point State Park at 1am! 355 miles from S F
July 1 odometer 18,870 As we enjoyed the scenery – the redwoods, the mountains, the rocky coast and the ocean – we hit a fallen rock and busted a hole in the gas tank! Ted recalls the rear wheels of our merry Oldsmobile were so bogged down- the trailer did not have an equalizer hitch which contributed to this event. We were at the Oregon Caves National Monument, so we explored the caves and then saw about getting the car fixed – what next?! At 8:15pm we headed for Crater Lake National Park, but stopped for the night at Laurelhurst State Park. 300 miles that day!
July 2 odometer 19,170 That day was our folks’ 15th wedding anniversary! Dad changed the route as we were running behind… we got to Crater Lake in the afternoon. We were all amazed at the depth of the snow on either side of the road, leading up to the lodge. It was over our heads! [And I DO recall that beautiful place and we hope to stop at Crater Lake on our way to see Ted & Nancy!] We camped that night at Tumalo Park. 160 miles; Mom noted “It was 24* during the night – water frozen in the dish pan and all the wet towels were frozen stiff”
July 3 odometer 19.330 a cold morning in Bend OR – We left at 7:30 and stopped to make breakfast at 10:30. Stopped at the Vale city park where the kids played on the playground and saw a Little League game.
July 4 odometer 19,830 at Casey OR Stopped by Crater of the Moon National Monument and on to Yellowstone! The road was under construction and was some of the worst roads we had been on – and the car boiled over again. We entered the Grand Teton National Park – beautiful! Camped at Pelican Bay on Jackson Lake, just south of Yellowstone. The kids burned sparklers by the fire in the evening; Happy 4th!! A rough 240 miles today.
July 5 odometer 20,070 and we made it to Yellowstone Park. Dad slipped into a cold water geyser and got muddy up to his hip, but fortunately was not hurt. We saw a total of 19 bears! One brown bear jumped up and peeked into our car window, and we all screamed with joy! We drove 190 miles around Yellowstone! Camped at Grey Hill Camp.
July 7 odometer 20,440 Mom got up at 3:30 and drove 2 hours – couldn’t find a gas station open – made breakfast and 1½ hour later a station opened and we left. Arrived at Jewel Cave National Monument about 3:00 and explored the caves 20,800; 360 miles so far today. Then we drove thru beautiful Custer State Park where we saw lots of animals then drove on to see Mt Rushmore. Then drove on to Rapid City where we got dinner from McDonalds and ate in the trailer. Dad drove on and we stayed in Pierre that night; 607 miles that day!
July 8 – Sunday – Mom couldn’t sleep, so decided to drive on – but the battery was dead; the generator belt was loose and not charging the battery; got going again at 4am and everyone was awake at 7 so we had breakfast at Lake Preston and drove on to my Aunt’s place in Minneapolis where we stayed for a few days.
July 11 odometer 21,528 drove on to Milwaukee where we visited some old friends of my folks that had moved there from the Detroit area.
July 12 odometer 21,900 headed to Chicago and young Rob was very glad to see us again and showed us around Grandma’s place!
July 14 odometer 22,061 headed back home at 11am and arrived there at 9pm Home Sweet Home – almost 7,500 miles driven on this epic adventure!