Yesterday I read a new book to my students. It was about traveling to Grandpa's apple orchard to pick apples. Pretty standard story that gave rise to a lot of discussion about favorite apples. However, one page really brought back memories and made me smile: The dad bundles the kids into the car early in the morning so they can arrive on time.
My dad thought any trip worth taking should start at two in the morning! He was always avoiding traffic, or the heat, or something that would arrive with the morning sunrise. I suspect that sometimes he was just avoiding having energetic, talkative kids in the backseat. If he started off in the middle of the night we just drifted back to sleep and let him drive. However, as I got a little older I started staying awake. Often, Mom would actually sleep in the backseat and I sat in the front to "keep Dad awake". I'm not sure he needed my presence, but it was fun. I didn't talk much, but I loved to look at the stars and wait to see the first glimpse of the sun. Dad talked about where we were going and the dark country we were passing through.
Sometimes we actually did need to avoid the heat. Our cross-country trips involved many hours travel through the desert- without air conditioning. I can remember rolling ice cubes in a cloth and rubbing them on my face and arms. I can remember keeping my head as close to the open window as possible so my hair would catch the wind. Of course we didn't wear seat belts.
We stopped in Arizona once and attempted to eat lunch at a roadside "park". It was actually a group of covered tables set among the cacti and rocks. I thought we would melt into the ground and never be seen again! I don't think anyone really ate much. Mom was actually sick from getting too hot. And I think Gran was traveling with us that time. We may have been going to Roswell to see her sister. Anyway, we just milled around a bit and resumed our travels.
Once when we were traveling in the dark I suddenly realized we were in the mountains. I guess I must have dozed off because I remember seeing these huge looming shapes and not recognizing at first what they were. Then I kept thinking there must be an edge somewhere and we'd fall off of it. Funny what the mind remembers. I know as a very young child I was in an accident in the mountains with my parents. Another time we had a "close call"- also in the mountains- that involved a lot of screaming. Perhaps my young mind imprinted those images forever!
I still like to leave early if we are going on a trip. It feels right to leave before the sun comes up. However, 5am suits me just fine. I don't have to leave in the middle of the night!