Monday, 7 July 2014

Tornado In The Tetons

I'm having a clear-out as part  of my Happiness Programme. Goodness! My mood has taken a swing as I remember, and am trying SO hard not to sing, the eponymous Kenn Dodd song. Isn't it terrible when  you know you're not going to remember more than the opening lines, and, disliking incomplete information, your brain isn't going to let it go until it gets closure?

Pom-pom-POM, pom-pom-POM, the greatest POM  that I pom-pom ... 

Back to the point. In clearing out a dusty desk drawer, I find a few pages of a travelogue I wrote in August 1996. The girls were aged 16, 12, and 9, when their father and I decided to take them away on a humdinger of a holiday, to celebrate being family, before they were too old to want to go away with mum and dad.

First stop Bellevue, Washington, to renew our friendship with Dick and Darlean Hanner, then onwards in a Mega-Mobile-Home, to Redmond to say 'Hi' to the Pollards. The first notable event of the tour was discovering that the MMH was so big, we couldn't make a right onto the Bel-Red Road.  We had to find the Freeway by an exciting series of left turns. I say exciting... Memorable, certainly. 

We camped our way across the Olympic Penninsula, then down through Montana and a few other States taking in as many National Parks as we could en route. I bought a picnic basket at Yellowstone Natiinal Park, that had to be dismantled before it could be made airborne .. . It was THAT big. I turfed it out just now.  Minus handle and flaps. It now serves as a repository for my Banner-Making Fabrics. Been a while since I made a banner ... . We narrowly missed a tornado at the Tetons National Park. The Ranger said we'd be blown over for sure if it hit. 

You know that thing which happenss at railway stations when you think you're moving and you're really not, as another train passes you: it's an illusion? Well that happened to me at Yellowstone. I thought we were moving, so I ran the length of the van and hit the brake - releasing it, of course, because we were stationary, sending so many tons of mobile home and family sliding towards Old Faithful. No harm done, just another, "Mum can't be trusted in charge of a vehicle" moment. Scary, I tell you. 

6:30 am Tuesday 30th July

I don't know what the body clocks of my daughters are doing, but they clearly need stopping! Dick's on breakfast duty, and the girls sample French Toast and sweet cure bacon. 

"I've left the American bits and eaten the  English." Explains Jenny, separating the fat from the meat. Dick has made some of the toast with coloured egg white. He's watching his chloresterol level.

What DO you do with a wide-awake crew at 8:30am? Go shopping, of course! So we walked to the Crossroads Mall. I first shopped here in 1978, and it has changed beyond all recognition. The only familiar landmark was the Post Office. It has a comfortable community feel. There are pavements and a large open eating area, and a stage for free concerts. Ray's eyes light up at the giant chess set. Fanatics are playing already and it's only nine o'clock in the morning!   It doesn't surprise me. I spend a few dollars on a 13x9 inch cake pan and a set of measuring cups and spoons. I recall I want to buy an updated 'Betty Crocker' cookbook. But not today." 

The journal continues on Friday 13th August. Ray won the "Who wants to go flower- hunting with Mum or to Disneyland with me?!"  Competition, and I got a day off...

"I stick to my resolve to skip Disney and find plants. The $61 trip to Catalina Island provided some memorable snippets:

The 'Queen Mary' berthed at Longbeach. I recall that my brother Adrian had toured the great liner the year before with his daughter, Samantha.

Karl "Trust Me" the the German-American coach driver. Anaheim was settled by such as he, 150 years ago.

Bougainvillea, so many vibrant colours.

The hike from the boat to  the Wrigley Memorial Gardens : The Wrigleys made their fortune in chewing gum. I find gardens wherever I go. Stunning plants, stunning views. 

The youngster who sells me  lemonade for 50c a cup. "Are you from Scotland?" Not far out considering. "United Kingdom, certainly!" I reply. He looks puzzled. I should have said, "Och, Aye!" 

My first gekko - on the steps of the Wrigley Memorial.  

Alien beauty surrounds me: the beautiful, hardy plants of southern California, built to endure the stresses of the heat, the awkward trees that I can caress but cannot name - some are pines, others palms: both adapted to this climate. Later I sample another unknown country through a glass-bottomed boat, the kelp forests of the Pacific Ocean, the hunting ground for fantastic fish that  I will never see again: striped bass, calico perch, garibaldi fish...  My eyes were on stalks. So were those of some of the critters I saw. "

I tell you it was amazing! To step back into the past and reli-live, so vividly, a few short days when I was merely middle-aged, and my children were still children. I'm thinking of them now, beautiful, open-hearted, successful women and I am so proud of them.

As ever,when I begin to write. I never quite know where I'll end up. But here seems a good place to stop,  losing myself in a past adventure which brings home to me what a beautiful life I have led: the recipient of so much  good, everyday, amazing joy. My happiness seems quiite undeserved, and gratitude overwhelms me.  


Olympic Peninsula Washington State

The Grand Tetons National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Catalina Island

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