A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Road Trip!

On Saturday Ed and I are taking a road trip to Tucson to spend a week visiting with friends and family. I grew up in Tucson, but moved from there to California 22 years ago. For the past three years, we've taken a trip there just to relax - Ed has fallen in love with the place and is even thinking about retiring there.

We'll be heading home on the following Saturday and plan to take the southern route through San Diego. Going there we'll drive on the incredibly boring Hwy 5 and equally boring Hwy 10. And the fact that is will be 100+ degrees will make it even more jolly. We'll pass Palm Springs as it melts in on itself, go through Blythe (or, as my daughter calls it, Blight), then hit Arizona and just keep driving.

But, when I was a kid going to Southern California for the annual Disneyland/Knotts Berry Farm escapade, we always took Hwy 8 from Tucson to San Diego. Which passes through Yuma. Which is why we always started our road trips at 4:00am. No air conditioning in cars back then and word had it that if you didn't get to - and out of - Yuma before 8:00am, you would die in the heat! Not sure if this was true or not, my family never tested it. We'd be in the car by 4:00am. Still dark outside. I remember the truck stop that my dad stopped at to get gas. The lights were so bright and it meant Vacation! So I loved it. There was also a power plant somewhere out there that was all lit up and the only time I saw it was on our way to California. So it also became a beloved icons. My mom would have coffee in a thermos, and pour some for her and Dad after placing a dishtowel carefully on her lap to avoid spills. The smell of coffee in the car early in the morning still warms my heart.

We'd drive through Gila Bend which was a total speed trap. The speed limit signs went from 75 to 35 so fast that you couldn't possibly slow down. And the Rufus-type sheriff would stop you and write the ticket. After a few trips, you learned.

Back then there wasn't a big highway, just 2-lane roads so the trip took several more hours than it does now. I remember we'd be driving along and then, up ahead, we would see a fairly small white sign on top of a wooden post that said "Yuma" with an arrow pointing left. No big green highway signs. No mileage indicators every few miles. When you saw the sign, you turned left. Pretty simple.

Other prime memories from the trip include Pine Valley and the Hobart House. We would always stop there to smell the pine trees and have banana cream pie. Sometimes we would stop at the sand dunes in Yuma if our trip wasn't in the dead of summer. And then there are the hills somewhere near the CA/AZ border that look like huge piles of rocks. Really beautiful. And along the way there were little water supplies for overheated cars. Plus the always horrifying run-away truck ramps. Never saw any of them being used, but they brought all kinds of apocalyptic visions to mind.

Finally we would get to California. Always knew we were close to the ocean because the trees would be leaning a funny way from the breezes. Along the side of the road were stands selling dates, orange juice, and other California goodies. Then you round the bend and there was the ocean! And I knew that Disneyland was only an hour away. Such wonderful memories.

So this trip we'll come back home via the San Diego route. The small roads are gone. No more slamming on the breaks through Gila Bend. But we'll stop in Pine Valley (I think there's an ice cream shop there now) and drive through the piles-of-rocks hills. No more little white sign saying "Yuma". No more date stands or leaning trees. Mostly just freeway. But it will be fun to take a different route back and maybe stroll down memory lane for awhile.


namaste said...

i love the smell of pine trees. but would you believe i have NEVER tried banana cream pie? and i love all things banana flavored.

take lots of pics on your road trip. be safe and drive safe.


Fleur de Lisa said...

I've actually been through Blight, er, Blythe. I must agree with your daughter's assessment! Have a great trip and enjoy the sunshine!

Anonymous said...

I have family in Tucson and they love it. Not me! I'm a cold weather person :)
Safe trip!

It's Me said...

ahhhhhhhhh....smell of hot coffee in the car ....nothing better!!!

i love traveling and being in the car reading a good book with my little night light (if needed)!

Lori E said...

Hi there. I have one piece of advice for you when you are putting together your information on the family tree. Make sure you note the source of all the information. If your relative hasn't supplied it ask them where the info came from whether it be a government office, library archives, church, family interviews etc. Really important