Imagine driving in an era when every major highway went straight through the middle of every town, every city, every wide spot in the road. Imagine using maps that might be years out of date. Imagine no warning of major construction and suddenly being stuck in it.
He did it at least every other summer. He drove his family to see their many relatives, scattered across much of America. We would start off in East Texas, driving five hundred miles west to Lubbock. From there we would travel to New Mexico, then on to Colorado.
Next we would trek across Wyoming, through Montana and into Idaho. From Idaho, through Washington, to Oregon, down to California. From there through Nevada, to Arizona, back through New Mexico and home to Texas. We would visit relatives in most of those states.
Even today - with a remarkable interstate highway system, remarkable roads, mostly accurate and mostly current maps, with guidance systems, air conditioning, no kids making a ruckus and the best of circumstances - that is a summer drive of magnitude.
We kids were the big benefactors. We got see every state west of the Mississippi River, and several east of it. We got to see Mesa Verde, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Tetons, the Snake River, Royal Gorge, Yellowstone Park, Yosemite Park, the towering Sequoia forest and countless other sights along the way.
We got to see our aunts and uncles, our cousins, and the towns they lived in. We got to see grandparents. All four were living.
We got to hear Daddy preach familiar sermons in unfamiliar churches along the way. He frequently preached at churches on our trip. We were going to church whether he was preaching or not, and he liked preaching better than sitting.
We made the trip with almost no motel stays. We might have two nights in a motel in a trip that took a month. We stayed the remainder of the nights with relatives and friends. When the occasional night came when we would pay for lodging, we kids always hoped we would get one of the tee-pee cabins, or maybe a cottage, or perhaps a motel with a pool. But we were on a tight budget, and Daddy always brought the trip in on time and under budget, with my Mother closely watching every dime spent.
We also made trips to Kentucky, which took us through Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee. We drove the Midwest. Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota - we saw the breadbasket of America.
Daddy drove the whole way, listening to children sing the same songs over and over and over and over and over. If we were not singing, we might be arguing. Or seeking a ruling from Mama on whether some small part of the backseat was being wrongly appropriated. Reflecting back on it now, I marvel at their ability to put up with us.
He’s been gone 43 years. He only lived to be 45. If not for him and his willingness to take those long driving trips, my sisters and I would not have the rich heritage of seeing America. We would not have those memories of Old Faithful, and cliff dwellings, and giant redwoods, and mountains, and beaches, and sand dunes, and a hundred other memorable places. We would not have seen our cousins, and aunts, and uncles, and grandparents.
I owe him a huge debt. Thanks, Daddy, for driving us across America.
© 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org