Close your eyes—envision——-paradise—-what do you see?
I can remember family trips in the 50’s. Actually though, I need to go further back. My grandfather (mom’s dad) worked through the depression for Standard Oil. He wasn’t an executive, but he was frugal, and he believed that a family trip/vacation was important. He would scrimp and save and would usually take a family fishing trip in the summer. In the 50’s with my father and me in the picture, the family was larger, but vacations were still important. I remember a couple of trips to Colorado. My grandfather was a planner, he got the maps of the states we would travel through or to, and poured over them. He would choose scenic routes, places to see and stay. I don’t believe the “Road Atlas” had been created yet…so each state’s map was nurtured for information.
I guess this is where I get my sense of travel adventure. If not on a time line, I enjoy “checking out” new/different routes from here to there. I get “antsy” in a traffic jam, I begin conjuring “escapes” down side roads. One Sunday evening, returning from a weekend trip, we were stuck—stopped—in traffic on a two lane state highway, miles from the only stop light in town that was causing this back up. I saw a county road to my left. I took it…..gravel it was, but it headed east…something must cross it so I could turn south again and bypass the traffic jam…finally after miles, I found the turn to the right…. I traveled a short distance and the road made a bend back west….hope beyond hope….it brought me out back to the same state highway, one mile and 45 minutes later.. This was the beginning of what my kids now label as “One of Dad’s Dreaded Short Cuts”.
I have collected state maps for years…yet I never look at them because we carry an “Atlas” in every vehicle and a GPS on the dash… Too bad about my maps sitting in the drawer…they have so much more information than the condensed version in the atlas. Speaking of condensed — the atlas……my eyes must be aging, because each new atlas seems to have smaller state maps than I remember.
It was in the early 70’s, in our BK era (before kids), my wife and I decided to take a short fall trip. We decided to share an experience to Mackinaw Bridge, Michigan. Whoa…I’m not one that likes height, but we got on the bridge, I looked down through a steel-grate floor and saw this ship way down below me…..my knuckles turned white from gripping the steering the rest of the way across the bridge!!! We crossed the bridge and turned left, we got a room at the Million Dollar View Motel. We did some site seeing at the 10 shops in St. Ignace. Wanting to remember our trip experience (since we ate the fudge, there was nothing to take back) , we went back to the motel, I walked to the hill behind our room and took a picture of our million dollar view with my $5 Kodak Instamatic Camera. For the un-initiated, Instamatic’s were the rage, drop in cartridge, infinite lens, no focusing needed. The result….if you were within two feet of the subject, it looked like you were 2 miles away…you can imagine the results if the bridge was already 2 miles away???
Unlike my grandfather who preplanned his entire trip, we planned on the fly. Next morning checking the map, the only thing to see was Tahquamenon Falls up highway 123, to Paradise and turn left. Actually left is your ONLY choice…..turn right, you drive into Lake Superior, go straight and its a dead end at Whitefish point. Now in my travels, I’ve been know to make “accidental” detours..those that occur because I turned too soon or too late. So, the trip to the falls is easy….drive up 123, take a left at Paradise……ahhhh, Paradise, sure we were on a two lane road, sure there were road signs approaching, indicating the 123 soon would make a left turn….but in the back of my head…in that manly place that says I don’t want to do screw up in front my wife……I made a decision….one of those manly, don’t say anything to anyone decisions….. I was on a road I’ve never traveled and in front of me was a Michigan car………….I’ll just follow a Michigan car, a local; they’ll know the turn, it’ll be smooth and easy…..no one will know the difference. I see the 123 sign with the left arrow, the car has its left turn signal on…traffics coming, but I tuck-in with the Michigan car ‘s left turn………into a an A&W Root Beer Stand!!!
Dang-it!!! I turned 50 feet too early…..how many years did the manly part of my brain endure that story……. 😦
I close my eyes, and think about Paradise…..what I see looks like an A&W Root Beer Stand!!!!