I knew immediately who was calling—the dinner hour, traveling for work, alone, no one else to talk to. It had to be our older son, Craig. At 48, he still called home when he needed to talk or ask a question. Your kids may grow up but in some instances, they never grow away.
At the dinner table, I put the phone on speaker so Bob could hear.
Hey Craig! What’s up?
He began by reminding me he was in Eastern Oregon on business and happened to be in Pendleton. A town with which we have a little travel history from our trip moving to Portland. We drove cross-country with two dogs and a cat. Our itinerary had planned stops in interesting places. At age 12, Craig had much he could learn by traveling 2200 miles from Tennessee to Oregon. One stop brought us to Pendleton, a rodeo town full of cowboys and interesting places and people.
Mom, can you remember the name of the hotel we stayed in?
I couldn’t and neither could Bob so Craig continued with his description of the place in question.
It’s the place we stayed and when we went down to the restaurant for dinner, we sat by the window. There was a sidewalk there, and I looked out the window and saw this guy walk into a lampost. Then he turned around and walking in the opposite direction, he stopped and peed on the post! Remember how hard we laughed?
No doubt we remembered the story Craig was sharing. We had to work hard to calm ourselves down to stop drawing the attention of other diners.
Amazing as it seemed, Craig remembered that night. His recollections were detailed and as funny as the time it happened.
As a family, we have many memories from that cross-country trip in 1983. And it was gratifying to have your son call to share one with you. Maybe it’s one of those forever memories I talked about in a post several days ago. A memory you’ll never forget and have ready to tell your kids or grandkids someday.
Transitions are never easy. We are habitual creatures and enjoy life when all goes along as usual. Move-in day my freshman year of college is a memory like none other. It is representative of life going any way but the usual.
My parents drove my roommate, Nancy, and me to the small town of Pulaski, TN, about 70 miles south of Nashville. Daddy had done his very best at getting everything into the trunk or between Nancy and me in the back seat.
When we arrived at the address we’d received for our dorm, we found a mass of cars, parents, and other students. Dad began to unload the car, and Nancy and I ran ahead to the front doors of the building. When we gave the receptionist our names, she had less than a large smile on her face.
It was not good news. The room assigned to us was on the first floor. Unfortunately, the first floor of this brand new building was still under construction.The first thing that popped into my mind was where would we sleep that night. But better yet, where we would shower the next morning?
Our housemother arrived just then with new living arrangements. We would be living on the third floor of the home of the Dean of Students and his young family.The dean’s home was in an old Victorian house. This meant no air conditioning and no bath on the third floor.
The Housing Office had gone out of its way to provide comfortable accommodations. Finding space for eight freshmen girls and one sophomore “big sister” in one place was a challenge. However, the situation provided the nine of us with the opportunity to get to know each other in a smaller community. Solid friendships were formed during this time.
Many good memories grew out of this experience. We did get noisy at times. Dean White had a clever way of alerting us to lower the noise level. He used the light switch at the bottom of the stairs to douse us into total darkness if we were bothering his family.
Spending your freshman year in college at “The White House” is not something everyone can brag about!
Forever memories are those that stay with you for…well, forever. In conversation with others, forever memories trigger a certain response from you. You want to share the excitement, the reactions you felt, the way the memory has lasted. Almost as if whatever happened was yesterday.
A decade or so ago we took a vacation that has become a forever memory. And if you’ve read William Least Heat-Moon’sBlue Highways, you know what blue highways are. If not, the answer is simple. Older Rand McNally road atlases and maps identified the various types of roadways with color. Major highways appeared in red. Out-of-the-way highways running through small, almost unknown, rural towns appeared in blue.
Our trip was not as long as Heat-Moon’s nor was it circular as his was. But we did have certain restrictions that forced the use of blue highways:
The direction in which we traveled remained unknown until our morning of departure. This part of our trip was decided over breakfast. We would pull a direction—north, south, east or west—from a hat. Bob drew north.
A hard and almost fast rule depended on one condition. Travel had to be via blue highways unless there was no access between Points A and B other than a major highway.This forced a sense of nostalgia and relaxation as a major component of our travel.
We confirmed no reservations for overnight accommodations. And only once had a difficult time finding availability.
No time schedule was set for each day. Serendipitous activities awaited us. We visited attractions we’d never heard of and visited parks we’d never passed. Meals took place in some of the greatest eateries along the way.
As we headed out of Portland north on Highway 30, we had no idea where we’d end up that night or what we’d see along the way. By lunchtime, we found ourselves at Mt. St. Helen’s and enjoyed a brief visit there as well as had a picnic lunch we’d brought along. The rest of the day we wandered along blue highways. The casual drive presented beautiful farms with old barns and outbuildings. Another bonus was the beauty of the world around us, the peace and quiet of rural Washington state.
By dusk, we started searching for a place to stay. A look at the map showed we were not far from Centralia, WA. Centralia is 90.8 miles and 1.5 hours from Portland. It is clear we didn’t make it very far that first day. Yet, our plan was to relax and enjoy this trip, not worry about a schedule.
Over the next 10 days or so, we spent our time the same way. We visited interesting towns and places we’d never thought about or heard of. Our travel took us as far north as the Northern Cascade Mountains where we saw snowfall during June.
Our memories of this trip are quite memorable. Their uniqueness makes them unforgettable. We have talked many times about how much we enjoyed this trip and how we’d like to do it again.
We haven’t yet, but there is always tomorrow. And there are plenty of blue highways we haven’t hit.
Yesterday afternoon I took a few minutes to sit in our porch swing on the back deck. Something I haven’t done for quite some time. I’ve loved swings since childhood, but the variety of my swinging delights are many.
Dad put up a swingset in our backyard that had swings, a glider, and monkey bars. Out of all its features, I loved the swings best. To soar through the air and feel the wind in my hair was pure delight.
Swings at our favorite park were even better because they had the ability to go higher. Sundays were a highlight because we’d gather at the park with family. This called for a contest among the cousins to see who could swing the highest.
A friend’s dad created one of the best swings ever in a large tree in their backyard. The harder we pumped the higher it would go. I’m certain neighbors could hear our laughter and screams across their yards. Standing on the ground, the tree made me feel very small. Looking up, I could see the sky through its branches and even up to the branch where the swing began. Oh, how high up it was.
Today sitting in our swing made me think of another swing with many memories tied to it. It was on the front porch of the home of friends of my folks. Their oldest daughter and I were classmates in grade school. Their front porch spanned across the front and down one side of the house. The swing hung at the corner where the porch made its turn. Our joy was to see how far out we could get that swing to go. All the while we giggled and laughed—and hoped our folks wouldn’t catch us at our risk-taking.
Robert Louis Stevenson summed up the delight of swinging in his poem, The Swing: