Pictured in conjunction to the story is the canyon we raced to arrive on the second day. The first victim after hitting the lowlands of Nebraska and the flaming yellow Penske van
The following true story contains humorous memories of a cross country trip with a family who became violently car sick. As an afterthought I decided to warn readers that the story can cause one to recall unpleasant days.
DIE ANMERKUNG DES VERFASSERS:
Die folgende zutreffende Geschichte enthält humorvolle Gedächtnisse einer Querlandreise mit einer Familie, die heftig Autokranker wurde. Als nachträgliche Erklärung entschied mich ich, Leser zu warnen, die die Geschichte veranlassen kann einer, um unangenehme Tage zu erinnern an. Fühlen Sie sich frei, es nicht zu lesen.
Diese Anmerkung ist nicht Satire.
Recently I undertook the dreaded task of going through boxes of stuff. Now I know in today's book of proper morphology, "stuff," is just one step above ain't, twern't and other assorted profanities of the English language. But I would only be pulling your leg, if I said the following essay contained a pure combination of The King's English dotted with Latin, French and the romantic languages throughout man's existence on earth.
In the past week a box of California memories, consisting of letters, old photos and dust balls arrived on my toss and destroy list. Deep in the corner of one box was a card from a one-time dear friend whose family held a very close place in my heart, but for the usual reasons our friendship drifted apart. On the bottom on the holiday greeting, the mother of the clan scratched the following words in white ink, "We had a great time, must get together someday and laugh at our trip once again." A frightful shudder, as if a cold hand had been placed on my back side, rattled through my body, as once more after 12 years, the week from Hell returned to haunt me.
Perhaps to this day my friends are still laughing, but suppose I tell you what happened. We are all familiar with the phrase, "Does it takes a rocket scientist to.......................?" (Fill in the blanks.) Well my friend Joe just happened to be a bonafide laid off rocket scientist, who decided waiting around for another rocket scientist job in California was consuming their savings, so his wife and four children chose to move back to a little town in western Wisconsin where perhaps a cheese maker could use his expertise.
Now we can use the phrase–it took more than a rocket scientist to move the family from the high desert of California to the cheesy hills of western Wisconsin. In this case it took a journalist, but more important, an ex-long distance truck driver who knew the way back home, which happened to be me, a journalist, not a rocket scientist, nor a logistic expert, just a gypsy with a hankerin' to travel.
So I received this call from Joe one autumn day stating they were in a quandary. His family had a house full of furniture, a station wagon, a Corvette and one big yellow Penske moving van that needed to go east.
I replied, "Sure thing Joe, I will get your Corvette to Wisconsin and will wait for you and your sweet family there."
Joe had something else in mind. He wanted me to drive the big truck. Not the Corvette. Kathy, the wife of the family and a bonafide overly-sensitive artist, informed me they never once traveled in their life and couldn't quite recall how they arrived in California to begin with. After pondering that statement a tad bit, I decided the whole shebang sounded like unpleasant work, but our itinerary would take us through Minnesota and my homesick heart would give a king's ransom to kiss the fruitful soils of home once again.
So our journey commenced from the deserts of California that hot autumn day. I took a head count to make sure none of the little ones were hiding in the truck. I wanted nothing but the open highway and the FM radio to keep me company. I maintained a cautious watch on the two vehicles in my rear view mirror, Kathie in the wagon with the baby and two youngest kids and Joe in his ‘Vette with the oldest child. Me, I had the yellow Penske truck pointed toward our first stop, Las Vegas.
No sooner did we get onto I-15 when I saw Joe's blinking headlights outside of Baker, California, a mere 100 miles from home. He decided to fuel up and water down the kids. Not a bad idea, but his wife started to whine about calling it a day. It wasn't barely past lunch and we still had 1,825 more miles ahead of us. I convinced the crew to make it to Vegas where we could eat and bunk down. Of course after we ate I told them better lodging was available in Mesquite, about an hour down the road (not really). This psychological warfare kept us moving. In Mesquite we bedded down, completing a good days journey for a family caravan.
Day two, Joe fed the family at a fancy breakfast buffet. I showed them the outline for our days journey. A rather long one, but the view would be magnificent. I hoped to make it to Grand Junction, Colorado. Other than Green River, Utah, there was little to distract the pilgrims with lodging signs along the highway, or so I thought.
After we hit I-70, the little town of Salinas was our next stop for fuel. We got a quick snack and as soon as Kathie started looking at the lodging map in the gas station I reminded them about the most spectacular sight of the day,the Canyon as you descended into Green River. If you arrive after dark, well you blew it. Plus, there are zip, nada, nothing for lodging all across Utah. The Mormons don't want folks to spend much time across sheep herding country.
As the sun started to set I pulled into the scenic canyon vista for all the necessary ooohs and ahhs. After another meal of snacks I herded them back into the vehicles and set Grand Junction as our next stop. I admit hauling them such long distances started to get a bit cruel, but what could I do, there was no lodging. Finally, tired and weary I brought them to Motel 6 across the Colorado border, much to her chagrin.
The next morning I received an earful about the cheap lodging but Kathie soon found civilization started to appear once again. After the young ones were fed we took off, but for my punishment the oldest boy had to ride in the truck, which worked out fine because boys and trucks are a marriage made in heaven.
About 1 p.m. we started up the pass after motoring through Glenwood Springs. I prayed for a slow peaceful day but when the Corvette begin to lag behind I knew we were in trouble. Nothing lags behind a moving van going up a mountain. One can easily step out of the drivers door,stretch the legs, grab a breath of fresh air,and jump back in without losing a beat. Joe became a bit green behind the gills and somewhere about 7,000 feet the whole family gave out.
I reminded them mountain resort communities would take away the rest of the money and we should move on to a healthier spot. Money meant nothing at this point, so the first sign of lodging the stupid lights started flashing again. They put me up in a fine hotel so I would not to bother them anymore since there was still lots of daylight driving left. Denver would have to wait.
Somewhere during the evening sickness moved throughout the family and they needed lowland oxygen, but they begged not to be disturbed. Obviously nobody wanted supper, so I trudged to Wendys. The air was so thin at 12,000 feet I thought to get back to the hotel 911 may have to be dialed.
We gathered for breakfast the next morning and somehow I knew it would be the day from Hell. I gazed upon their white-as-ghost faces and we still had some altitude to overcome before I got them down to the flat lands.
By some miracle we made it to Denver to fuel up, but Joe still had the greenies, so redistribution of the children was necessary since the Corvette had now became a rather smelly mess. As we rolled into Nebraska one family member after the other fell to the auto-disease and Karen was sure it had to be a rare disease they caught from the Mormon sheep herders back in Salinas.
By the time we hit North Platte, Nebraska the station wagon had now become more toxic than any human could stand, so we stopped and washed out the car. The oldest boy got into the truck once again and before long he started up-chucking and decorating the big yellow truck with various forms of pre-digested foods (I warned you in the second paragraph). He returned to mamma's car and I took the next youngest. By the time we hit Grand Island, he caught the same sheepherder disease, so once again we stopped and scrubbed down the truck interior.
I often wonder how we ever made it to Omaha that day. I rode with both windows down and little did it matter what we sprayed in the truck, it just plain smelled nasty. The family spent a three day R & R at a dismal Holiday Inn, forcing Joe to call home for more money. I spent the days by the pool. By this time, I too felt rather indisposed.
After the layover the family still looked anaemic but time was no longer on my side so we headed out for the last leg. We cut up to I-90 and across the wondrous plains of Minnesota into Wisconsin. A week after departure we arrived at his mother's house. I stayed for two days of good food, charming company and pretty scenery, but the home turf called and Winona was my first leg to California. With a tearful departure, the puddle jumper headed for the Twin Cities. After switching planes in Minneapolis, the luscious green foilage swiftly disappeared and in few hours I landed back in LA in time for supper.
On the flight back home, this former Midwestern gal realized how much easier the people around Wisconsin laughed at the journey. Sickness meant bonding. Joe and Kathy swore off traveling. I had many more miles to cover in my life, though at that time this journalist had no idea how many more hundreds of endless miles lay before me.
Still, I wonder to this day, just how many rocket scientists would it take to move a family from California to Wisconsin?