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So sorry that there has been a bit of a lag between Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. This should be the final chapter of what I call “My Trip Out West” – or as the title suggests – “Over the Rainbow.”  After all, I was only four years old – almost five. So everything about this trek from Ohio to the Pacific Ocean and back was magical!

In the last installment, Mom, Dad, and I were finishing up our time at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Marine Land in California. From there we drove to Victorville, California which sits on the edge of the Mojave Desert in San Bernadino County.

We spent September 21 and 22 at the home of Captain and Mrs. H.B. Alexander, friends of my parents. September 21 was my mother’s birthday. I thoroughly believed my mom was 29 because as is common, once she passed a “certain” birthday milestone, she always said she was only 29. Wow – imagine my surprise a couple of years later when I realized that she was much older than 29!  I was also confused when I realized my grandparents were also in the area!  They were on a tour of the western United States as well and it was probably by design that they were able to celebrate their daughter’s birthday.

     

Leaving the Alexander home, we traveled to the Grand Canyon. Breathtaking, beautiful, scenic, awesome are only a few words to describe what a magnificent wonder it is. When we had left California, the temperature was over 100 but as we got to the rim of the Canyon, the temperature had a drop of over 40 degrees. I remember wearing a sweater as we stood gazing out over such a majestic sight.

Leaving the Grand Canyon, we drove northeast toward Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. We stayed with the R.G. Schuster family and toured the Academy.

  

While there we saw 1800 cadets marching in formation and the beautiful Chapel. It is one building I will never forget being inside. On September 26 our western trip was complete and we began the drive back to Ohio, arriving on September 28.

There are many things I remember very well about the trip – items that weren’t part of a tour or a national park or a wonder of the world. Mom had packed a hot plate because even though we were able to stay in the homes of so many family and friends, we were also in a lot of motels!  The hot plate enabled her to heat up oatmeal for breakfast or a can of soup for lunch.

A lot of my breakfasts (when not at a home or in a restaurant)   were Keebler Cinnamon Graham Crackers and milk (hey, I loved it and still eat it!!). I can remember restaurants we ate at or purchased food to go from: Jerry’s (I think it was like Denny’s), Kentucky Fried Chicken (before it went by it’s initials!), and Howard Johnson’s (which is a hotel chain but we’d eat at the restaurant). I remember laundry mats – and oh goodness, there were many laundry mats that Mom and I were at washing clothes. Well, she washed and dried, and I sat and watched. I believe a lot of them were a dime. Mom would always need dimes. I remember lying across the backseat of the Pontiac either sleeping or trying not to give in to my car sickness. Every once in awhile, Dad would rouse me so I could “see the sights” – something he knew that I just had to see!  Except for the accident. I don’t know where it was but we were bumper to bumper on the road.  As we got closer, and my parents saw the ambulance (back then, they looked like a hearse) and the emergency vehicles, my Dad realized that whatever it was – was very, very bad. He told me to keep lying down and not to look.  I think later after I was older, Mom told me that it was a fatality and there was lots of blood. I also remember the little Wet Naps we always got – especially at KFC. And guess what I thought those little sudsy napkins were for? Cleaning the car windows!!  That was a big mistake!  Those windows I so carefully “cleaned” were loaded with streaks and probably were dirtier than when I started!

Oh – and going over the rainbow? Yes, I feel as if I certainly did!  At one point, after my mother could not stand to listen to me asking if we were in Kansas and where was Dorothy’s house, she pointed to a run down farm house and said – “That’s Dorothy’s house!” I spent many years believing that I saw the actual house!  (Ok, then I thought that maybe it was the “actual” house from the film until Mom told me she just could not stand to hear me ask that question one more time!)  So I don’t know if we were in Kansas (which would have been on the way back to Ohio – so I think we were probably in Montana or Idaho when she did that!).  I was young enough to see Disneyland as a child would but old enough to be able to remember quite a bit about that trip. And I have tons of pictures to help me remember!

I hope you have enjoyed my Travel Thursday series of Over the Rainbow!  I hope to begin a new series soon!

Sources: 

Personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.

Wikipedia Article online for “Victorville California”, 27 July 2012.

Photo of Cinnamon Graham Crackers: Keebler.com, 2012. Kellogg.

Photo of Rainbow: Rainbow in the sky by Jonathon Coombes (Public Domain)

All Other Photos taken by Gene or Mary Amore, digital or original slide/print owned by Wendy J Littrell, address for private use. 

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog

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I don’t know if anyone else has a “travel” day of the week, but I’m going to start one!  This fits really well as I began my latest travels a week ago Thursday, March 31.  I added 3 more states to my list of those I’ve visited or traveled through. One I had been to but only when the plane stopped there and we were able to get off and outside the terminal (pre-9/11).  Didn’t think that really counted.

In early March I started thinking about my dad – he was getting ready to turn 90 years old.  I haven’t seen him in several years – since his and his wife’s last trip from Florida to Texas around Christmas.  Age and some illnesses have curtailed their long road trips so I knew that they probably wouldn’t be back for a visit.  Wishing there was some way I could see him around his birthday, I thought about how I could pull it off – especially with all my responsibilities at home plus my college course.  I thought about checking for an inexpensive flight – but I wasn’t sure what the nearest airport would be and really didn’t want to add the expense of a rental car or having my dad drive any distance to pick me up.  I went to sleep that night thinking that I’d think some more about it in the days to come.  The next morning I woke up with the thought that it would sure be nice if my sister also decided she wanted to see Dad on his birthday and perhaps we could ride together.  Our road trips have become famous (if only between ourselves)!  As I was thinking about it, I checked my email and saw that she had sent me one about 30 minutes before.  Her first sentence said that we needed to take a road trip to see Dad for his birthday because of his birthday and the second sentence mentioned that it felt like she’d been hit over the head with a hammer with that thought while she was out walking her dog.  Sister ESP! 

So with the opportunity, I made the necessary arrangements and she contacted Dad to let him know that we would like to come to visit him – there’s no way you surprise a 90 year old man like that.  I’m not sure who was more excited – my sister and I or our dad. 

So last Thursday morning she picked me up and by 7:30 am we were on the road going east toward Florida.  We traveled through Louisiana – even going through the town of the airport I’d seen briefly back in early September 2001.  Then on through Mississippi and we stopped for the night on the east side of Mobile, Alabama.  We arrived at our Dad’s about early afternoon on Friday.  My sister has been to his home a few times.  I have never been to Florida – it was never a state I really wanted to visit. 

The next day my sister’s daughter – who is only a few years younger than me – drove down from her new home a few hours from Dad’s and spent the rest of the weekend with all of us.  They took us out each evening to the club they go to and the meals fixed at the house were delicious.  We talked and visited and took pictures and relaxed!

My dad’s birthday was the day we left so we all went out to breakfast that morning to celebrate. He had not wanted a birthday cake or party or any fuss and at his age, he can get or not get what he wants.  Yet I ask you – does he really look like he’s 90?

Dad and I

Leaving was bittersweet.  Not knowing if I’d be able to get back and see him soon but so very thankful I had the opportunity to spend just a few days with him. 

Where do your travels take you?

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leaving battlecreek

When my dad got orders for Japan in the early ’50s, he went ahead of the rest of the family.  Mom had to get from Ohio to the Pacific Coast in order to sail to Japan. 

The photo at left was taken when my mom, brother and sister were leaving my Uncle’s home in Michigan headed west.  They drove 450 miles in one day and got to Fargo, North Dakota about 6:15 p.m.  In a postcard to her folks, Mom said they stayed at a cabin for the night – the cost: $4.  They traveled through Montana and went to Oregon in order to visit my great-grandmother for a short time.hughgaffey naval ship  Then north to Seattle to Fort Lawton where they had to wait a few days before sailing to Japan on June 9, 1953. 

The trip, aboard the USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey, would take 12 days – although by crossing the international date line, they lost a day.  While on board, my sister tap danced in a Variety show and my brother – when not seasick – made friends.  The ship carried 2400 troops – all on their way to Yokohama. 

dad_nash

trainMy parents were in Japan for two tours and while there, they drove the Nash that had been transported via ship with them.  Sometimes they jim school busrode a train like the one pictured (left) and my siblings rode a bus (right) back and forth to school or on field trips.

While on their 2nd tour in Japan, my parents and brother all learned to fly courtesy of the Tachikawa Aero Club.  They even “starred” in a short film promoting the Aero Club Family Plan.  Back in the States and after I came along, my parents still flew every once in awhile.  Here’s a picture of my Dad in ’72 getting ready to fly.dad by plane

My parents had some very interesting adventures in the air and on land.  I feel very blessed that not only do I have stories and pictures, but memories of when I accompanied them on some of their adventures!

Written for the 18th Edition of Smile for the Camera - Travel.

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Yes, YOU!  Where have you gone?  This post has to do with traveling or relocating somewhere besides the area of land you’ve always called home.  My challenge to you is to write about the places you’ve traveled or lived (or at least one!) and send me the permalink so I can share with everyone. 

A bit of background first: I was the baby of the family and not just because I was the last child born but because my brother was 21 and married and my sister was 16 when I was born.  My parents, brother and sister had already lived a family life way before I came along.  I was the “oopsy” baby.  Just when my folks thought they’d be empty nesters soon, wham – there I was!  My mother tells me my dad used to joke and say they’d put the dog in the house and the baby in the garage!  I’d like to say I can’t imagine what they felt like, but I can.  No, I didn’t have a “later in life” baby but we have been raising our grandson since he was 9 months old.  When he first came to live with us, I was almost the same age my mother was when she had me.  My children were basically grown – I had three left at home.  One starting college, one a year and a half away from graduating and a middle schooler. 

Back before I was born, my father was in the Army Air Corps (which later became the US Air Force).  My family lived in Japan during two tours in the 1950s.  They lived in Florida upon their return to the states the end of the 50s before my dad retired from the Air Force to take a civil service position and move to Southwestern Ohio.  The place I was born and raised.

As a young child, I’d see slides and pictures of my family’s travels and their homes in Japan. Yes, I was jealous.  I never got to live anywhere “cool” like overseas.  It didn’t matter that my sister told me she really didn’t have any close friends.  Why bother getting close with someone when you just picked up and moved three years later?  The place she calls “home” is the same place I call home – even though she was born in a Western state and lived in a lot of places prior to that. 

However, because of my dad’s job with the civil service, he had to go on lots of business trips.  Before I started school, Mom and I were able to travel with him.  So I got to see the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Empire State Building in New York City; and the Hancock building in Chicago.  One of my favorite memories is when we went to New York.  We saw the “Odd Couple” movie (Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon) at the movie theater, walked along the New York city streets, shopped in the amazing department stores, and rode the city buses.  I saw Rockefeller Plaza.  We took a fairy boat ride around the Statue of Liberty.

Empire State Building

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

  

 

When I was a year away from starting (what my school called Kindergarten), my dad took a lot of vacation time and we traveled to Disneyland.  No, we didn’t board an airplane.  Nor did we drive straight there.  We took an overland excursion!  From Ohio we went to visit my aunt in East Central

Niagra Falls

Ohio first, then up to Michigan to my Uncle’s home.  We cut over to Canada to see the Niagra Falls from the Canadian side and then down to Montana.  My parents had lived there when my sister was born and their friends were still there so we spent a couple days with them.  Then on to Idaho where we saw the “Craters of the Moon” and then into Washington to visit my great-aunt and friends of my parents they had been stationed with in Japan.  We took a fairy boat ride to Victoria, British Columbia where the town looked to me out of a story-book.  Then down to Oregon and the great forests and into California.  We saw the Giant Redwoods, went to Marineland, Knotts Berry Farm, and then Disneyland. Me and Pluto!

 

 

Talk about feeling like a fairy princess.  It was more wonderful than anything I’d ever imagined.  I met Pluto, the three little pigs, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Snow White! 

After a few days at the magical kingdom, we traveled south to the desert and stayed with another family my parents knew.  Saw my grandparents who were also traveling out west about the same time!  Then on through Arizona where the majesty of the Grand Canyon took my breath away and the beauty of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest enthralled me.  Up to Colorado to the Air Force Academy.  Through the midwest back home.Grand Canyon

 

 

When we got to Kansas I kept repeating that I wanted to see Dorothy’s house (Wizard of Oz).  So my folks picked out some random farm and told me there it was!  Of course it was real!  I had just been “over the rainbow” so I believed with all my heart that Dorothy had been too! 

So in the course of my very short life, I’d been to: Michigan, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York.  Canada was the only “foreign” country I’d visited.

Since that time I’ve also gone to (or through!) Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  I live in Texas now.

I’d love to go to New England, the Dakotas, Virginia and Washington D.C.  For foreign travel I’d love to see Great Britain, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Austria, Germany, and of course where my family lived in Japan. 

So where did you go?

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