In the summer of 1995, my parents (in a moment of either bad judgement, or just plain naivety) made a decision to take their cranky pre-teen daughter, fiery red headed son, and picky eater youngest child, on a two week long road trip around the Western United States. It would not be the first road trip we’d embarked on, however, it was only trip in our lives that would ever involve a Winnebago.
Favorite family memories, volume I
Early one weekday morning in late July, we left in the sunrise hours for Lake Havasu. We’d planned to spend our first night camping on the lake, followed by river skiing the next day. I promptly fell asleep in the back room, dreaming away about all the fun to come (or rather, how I was going to develop the characters in my latest teen romance novel I’d write while we were driving). Several hours passed before I woke up to an unfamiliar, and very scary looking gas station. We were in Barstow, the armpit of America, which only serves as a rest stop for happy American families such as us, and truck drivers.
It doesn’t really matter what technically happened to our sweet RV…but we soon found out it’s engine trouble was fatal. We hadn’t even made it over state lines. You can bet that Papa Sebek took matters into his own hands– my dad had paid good money for that RV and someone (namely, a creepy man with a moustache at El Monte RV Center) was going to pay for his mistake.
So, in 100 degree weather we loaded into a tiny taxi cab and made a day for ourselves at Calico Ghost town while we waited for Creepy Guy to drive us out a new RV. None of us were particularly happy about this delay in our adventure, mostly because we were sweating like bullets. When Creepy Guy arrived, we watched my parents move two weeks worth of food and luggage to the new RV. My mom was only slightly (um, ok, more than slightly) upset about this, considering she’d spent several days packing up the other RV to near perfection.
And on we went! We spent the afternoon and early evening hours rumbling across more California desert until we rolled into Lake Havasu. All set to enjoy an evening together eating dinner and enjoying the warm water, our night quickly changed when the air conditioner broke. Yes. I said air conditioner. In 100 degree weather. Mama Sebek and her cubs were not happy.
So, mom and dad made a compromise. Dad’s wish: Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. Mom’s wish: get a motel room for the night. We got a big ol’ bucket of chicken and were each handed a piece before we waded into the lakes shallow waters. All of us ate standing up, trying to cool off.
I’m not sure if my parents considered turning back or changing their plans, but somehow the air conditioner got fixed the next day and we continued on our journey as if nothing could stop us. I’m grateful for their persistence because we saw some of America’s most beautiful places during those two weeks. I spent long hours day dreaming, as we passed tiny towns and rolling hills. We saw Arizona and Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho, Montana and Washington. We visited random monuments and big museums, spent evenings camping or checking out some of America’s finest motels, and enjoyed long hours fighting and screaming in our Winnebago. We even had a brush with death when the RV’s breaks gave out on Colorado Rockies’ Million Dollar Highway.
I’ll never trade those two weeks for anything. As for my parents? In retrospect, I think they knew exactly what they were doing when they rented that RV and carted us around America. They knew through our fighting and screaming that we’d be forced to enjoy each others company, forced to daydream, forced to see how other people live. I think my dad wanted to teach us that motels are ten times better than hotels. I still don’t buy it.
So, thanks for the memories Mom and Dad. And, enjoy that airstream of yours okay?