Saturday Special – California There I Went- Part 1

Good Saturday friends. If you’ve been reading the past several Saturdays, you know there’s nothing particularly chronological about the stories, they’re just as they come to mind. One of the events I mentioned was my trip to California with dad. As I told you before, the mom had acquired her license and the folks went into business. During the time, the economy was really going into the crapper. By the time of the last half of my senior year in HS, it was flushed around here. My father had decided to go out to California to work with his brother because there was no work to be found around here.

The time chosen to make this move for dad was spring break. While the rest of my class went to Florida, I helped dad drive out to California. I was to drive out with him and fly back. That would be my first plane ride ever. We sold our pool table to pay for the ticket. The folks had been selling all non essentials anyway to pay the bills with. My spring break week started a few days early that year as we wanted to leave Thursday if I remember correctly. So we spent a couple days packing the truck and set out.

At the time, the speed limit was the ole double nickel, 55. Dad, not wanting to spend any of the precious little cash we had on a speeding ticket, insisted we keep the speed at around, 55. Truth be told, the way that truck was loaded down, we would have been doing good to pass 55mph anyway. I think we made it as far as East St Louis that first day and we were using Truck stops of America (TA) as milestones for breaks. The next day we headed down through Missouri and made it as far as Oklahoma City. The following day took us through the rest of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and some of New Mexico. Now, I had always heard about the Petrified Forrest. To me, Forrest means Trees. This was the one tourist attraction we talked about doing on the way out to CA. We decided not to if I remember correctly because I only remember doing it one time, 15 years later. I can remember that we were climbing out of Albuquerque just after sunset because we could see all the city lights in the rear view mirrors. That was a Saturday night and we drove a couple more hours, and stopped for the night.

Now this wasn’t a hotel trip. We slept in the cab of that pickup and there was only the one seat. This wasn’t a crew cab with a back seat. No reclining seats, no stretching out, none of that. Bathroom breaks were just that, breaks at the truck stops or rest areas. The following Sunday, Easter Sunday, we set out and head into Arizona. I’ll never forget this part of the trip as long as I live. I had taken over driving for awhile. While dad was asleep I would push the speed some because there was nothing more boring and sleep inducing than being pegged at 55mph. I can remember seeing the signs, for Ft Courage AZ as well as the signs that lie and tell you last gas for 25o miles. I don’t know if they still are but those were plentiful along I-40 back then. Anyway, Dad is asleep, I’m driving, and I feel the passenger rear of the truck sink to the ground. Flat tire. Easter Sunday. Last gas for 250 miles. Ft Courage. Phuck! Time to change the tire. Remember here, the truck is loaded with tools and lots of them. We got the jack out, fought with getting the tire loose from that shitty rusted carrier it’s mounted to on all pickup trucks, and attempt, to jack the truck up. Not going to happen. Not with that jack and the load that was on the truck. I don’t know that that jack would have worked even without the load. No problem. Just whip out the cell phone and call AAA, Right? Wrong. This was 1982. How many of you feel naked if you forget your cell phones at home, even for a one mile trip to the store? I know that’s the most likely time for there to be a problem for me. Anyway, after a couple hours standing there with our thumb up in the air, someone finally took mercy on us and stopped to help. Between his jack and ours, we got the tire changed. Then the next problem arose. The tires on the truck were made to handle a heavy load. The Spare, which had never been off the rack, was not. It wasn’t going to last, certainly not all the way to California from Ft Courage. Do you know how many service stations are available and open near Ft Courage on Easter Sunday in 1982? One. That tire cost us $150. I think we made it to Flagstaff that night. Maybe Kingman. They aren’t very far apart, at this point I’m not exactly sure. The following day got us to Barstow where dad finally popped for a hotel room so we could freshen up. I can’t tell you how welcome that was because we were both, pretty ripe. The next day put us at our destination, La Mirada, California.

Dad and I did a few touristy things for the rest of the week. We went to the Hollywood Wax Museum, drove out to one of the beaches to look at the Pacific Ocean, stuff like that. Neither one of us are beach people so we just looked and left. For scenery, I’m more of a mountains type person and had my fill of natural sight seeing on the way out. I think I flew out of there from LAX that Friday to come home and finish HS.

This isn’t my usual long post about my family or my mother but it sets the scene for next weeks story. Tune in then for the rest of the summer of 1982 and the year that began mom’s home improvement business.

Til then,



About MelTheHound

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6 Responses to Saturday Special – California There I Went- Part 1

  1. mth, Your Saturday posts are becoming one of my favorite parts of the weekend – just a nice break from all the goings on in our own little pieces of the world. It’s a pleasure to read how much you loved, respected and enjoyed the times spent with your parents. I know that you feel the same way towards your sister and her family. So if there’s one thing you really want to be grateful for and proud of, it’s that Andy Cohen will never offer you a contract. 🙂

  2. Kæreste says:

    You don’t know how lucky you are to have spent that time with your father. My parents did not spend time with us alone. In fact my dad was very awkward having a conversation with us. I know that he loved us. But he didn’t let get to know him that way.

    I wish that we had driven across the country and had a flat tire. What a great story.

    Happy Father’s Day.

    (Dad I miss you. 4 1/2 years now. I’m taking good care of mom.)

  3. thedesigndiva2 says:

    It reminded me of my road trips back n the early 80’s while discovering myself after my divorce…Met some really GREAT PEOPLE and had a BLAST doing the cross country thing… The stories I could tell !!!! Oh YEA !!!!!!
    I still have my RED felt cowboy hat…. that hat saved my life so many times !!!
    Cant wait for the next installment…..

    Hugs and Peace

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