Monday, December 15, 2008

Travel and Surviving It

I was going through my photo album, an old one and found this picture. The little girl in this picture is around 42 yrs old now with two little girls of her own.
This picture was taken while on a trip to Florida; a "winter escape from the cold north" trip. This is a friend and her daughter. I spiffed up the picture a bit. Old and faded, I Photo Shopped it to correct the cast and color or at least to improve it a bit.
We were headed for Daytona Beach for some sun and fun.

I think we were in Daytona for two weeks. It's been a while and lots of years ago and I may be a bit off on the length of the stay.

There are many things about that trip I do remember. The parties we were invited to and the clubs we hung out in and the days on the beach I remember. Late nights followed by late mornings were our schedule.

The Pier, a bar that was built on the end of a pier that ran way out into the ocean is where we partied. I remember my friend parking her new Caddy convertible on the beach and we headed for the long walk down the pier to that bar.
I remember coming out hours later and the Caddy had disappeared. The beach had disappeared. It had disappeared into the ocean. High tide! Being inlanders, high tide was not something we thought much about. I think this might have been my last trip to Florida with this friend. I'm sure she made more trips. I wasn't on them with her. I'm sure this one trip was the most memorable for both of us though. We got home, the caddy didn't.

It was a year later I left the eastern part of the United States for the western USA. Exploring the states west of the Mississippi for the next years were adventure filled. I remember when I first saw the prairie, I was expecting Indians in full war paint to come riding bareback in a cloud of dust. I could almost see the covered wagons and I have to say I felt lots of sympathy for anyone crossing without air conditioning, soft tires and motel stops!
I had never seen so much land with so few people. I had never seen cowboy hats and cowboy boots as normal dress either. I thought they were dressed up for a parade and actually asked a waitress in a cafe if there was a parade in town. She answered "no, why do you ask?". I didn't mean to make her angry. I was serious when I said "why are they wearing cowboy hats and boots?" Thereafter I did more watching then asking questions.

I crossed Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa wondering where the corn stopped and the towns began, where the next gas station was or even a house or humans.
Seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time was akin to my seeing the ocean for the first time. I was stunned. Huge and impressive. I went sledding in July on a cooler lid on the snow that was still high up in the mountains. I got to watch the Basque shepherds with their flocks of sheep in the high country for the summers. The shepherd's horse was hobbled; he lived in a two wheel 15ft homemade looking trailer and he stayed up there till the winter temperatures dropped and the grazing disappeared. Party time when they finally got back to town. Six months of pay saved and no human interaction; they were ready to rock and roll.

I was in a little town in Colorado during the oil boom period. A man walked into the supper club where I was dining with my boss and his famiy. The man was wearing a duster. The long duster concealed the gun. He walked up to the bar, laid the gun on the bar and removed the waitress's head with one shot. A sawed off shotgun does much damage especially close range. When he swung the gun back off the bar, I was sitting about 5 feet away with my group of people. To this day, I only remember the barrels of that gun. I have no recollection of what the shooter looked like. He dropped the gun back down; it disappeared at his side hid by the duster.
I had my hand around a mixed drink that the waitress had just served. The ice hadn't melted off the glass yet. I remember this because she was gone before the ice. (picture of duster------>
not the shooter)
My daughter was playing the juke box with quarters donated from the patrons. As soon as I realized what was happening I raced toward her, picked her up and headed for the double doors in the back. My next recollection is when I burst through those doors and saw some fellows sitting around a table peeling potatoes. I shoved her towards them and yelled "watch her for me".
Clearly, I wasn't thinking clearly because I headed back to my group in the front. I can describe the back bar in one word...grisly.
The gunman had left. He just walked out into the night and was gone. The police came and sealed off the bar and questioned everyone for hours. The bar was shut down for 3 days for the investigation and cleaning. When I transferred to Texas a few weeks later, I was contacted by the prosecutor. He wanted my testimony. I told him the only thing I can remember seeing was the end of that gun!

During those years I stayed on the road with stops of six months to a year in different states. From Portland to Providence and back across the U.S. more then once. I took pictures, met lots of people and had some great experiences and some not so great experiences (see above).
The west was definitely different then the east. The east of the Mississippi where I was raised.
Ah travel! An education without a classroom.


  1. geezee god..i couldnt begin to compare my post with your exciting is amazing how different we all are..and how are lifes are so vastly different

  2. Now, now! Living on the road increases your chances and exposure to all kinds of adventures! I'm just happy to have survived some of those adventures.


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