In 1984, my father, his girlfriend and I took off on our own version of the nuclear family’s summer vacation. Dad strongly suggested that I keep a travel journal.
I didn’t. As a result, here’s what I remember:
We flew into Stapleton in Denver (this was 11 years before DIA opened). We rented a navy blue Chrysler K-car (with great disappointment all around) and spent the next two weeks driving to California along the route that AAA had planned for us in our road-bible, the TripTik. One night, we ate dinner at Fred & Sophie’s in Winter Park, Colorado (it isn’t there anymore). Named for the owners’ dogs, it may have been the first time I’d ever had tortilla chips that weren’t Doritos. We drove through Moab before it was mountain bike mecca, we drove through Winslow and sang “I was standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona; such a fine sight to see â€” it’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.” We were in Bluff, Utah on my birthday. We saw dinosaur tracks, petroglyphs, buffalo, Dead Horse Point, the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and Canyon de Chelly. We drove through Las Vegas at night, and I couldn’t believe the spectacle that was the Strip. I asked my dad to turn off the car lights, which he did, and it made no difference at all on the road. There was a torrential rainstorm when we drove through Death Valley. We ate dinner at Sonic one night, and I was ill all evening. Every day, we would stop at a supermarket for cheese and a box of crackers (I remember a lot of Triscuits, but we may have mixed it up a bit) and we’d eat a picnic lunch somewhere. Eventually, we reached Los Angeles, and spent a week at the house of a family friend who lived in Pasadena. Los Angeles was completely decorated for us, I mean the Olympics, in festive pastels Ã la the Memphis design group. We walked past Tower Records, ate dinner at Spago, and fit our hands and feet into the sidewalk impressions at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. We took a day trip down to the San Diego Zoo, and spent an afternoon on Venice Beach
I guess I didn’t need that journal after all.
West Side Sinners, a local RAB emporium, has recently started carrying a line of enameled outdoor chairs. They are lovely.
My family didn’t have anything of the sort when I was growing up, but we did have a front porch, and a bench swing.
Seeing those chairs brings me back to a time of lazy evenings spent on the front porch, watching cars drive by, and quizzing my dad about each one… “What’s that one, Dad? And that? What about that?” He knew â€™em all, year make and model. Every once in a while, he’d be stumped. Usually by something unremarkable and American.
My dad had a two-hour commute home from work each day, so if it was light enough outside for us to watch the cars, it had to be summertime.
Also summerrific, I had my first hunk of watermelon of the season the other night. It was sweet and juicy and delicious. I think I may purÃ©e the rest of the giant chunk, and make watermelon-swirl ice cream. Or, at least try.
Note: You can find the Bellaire chair/glider style at Improvements and Walter Drake if you don’t live in the Denver area. Stacks and Stacks seems to have the largest (online) color selection.
Terminal illness. Family deaths. Looming divorce. The swift and unexpected wreckage left behind by a tornado, which killed at least one person and destroyed crops, homes, and businesses in a community about 60 50 miles north of me on Thursday.
None of it makes my own problems go away, but it sure makes me feel like a heel for getting worked up over them.
David: …well this is thoroughly depressing.
Nigel: It really puts perspective on things, though, doesn’t it?
David: Too much, there’s too much fucking perspective now.
So I’ll take a deep breath, I’ll put on a smile, I’ll enjoy the time I have with my friends. A Friday night showing of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A belated birthday party. A barbecue at a friend’s house. Maybe a barbecue at my house, to celebrate my new patio umbrella (lunatic squirrels finally ate through the old one). A moment remembering my grandfather, who served in the Army during WWII, and thinking about my great uncle Harry, who was killed in service. A lot of time devoted to perfecting the artwork I’ll be having permanently embedded under my epidermis on Tuesday night. Not at all anxious about that, no.
Best wishes for a weekend spent with those you love, and who love you.