In the summer of 1959, two very brave parents loaded their four children (ages 6-14) into a station wagon and struck out from Chattanooga, Tennessee, for California and the vacation of a lifetime. Three weeks of camping out in state and national parks, soaking up the countryside, living on Spam and capping it off with a trip to Disneyland - what were they thinkin'?
The itinerary was impressive. Bro and I worked it out as best we could remember:
1. Chattanooga, Tennessee (home)
2. Chickasaw State Park, Tennessee
3. Sallisaw State Park, Oklahoma
4. Amarillo, Texas
5. Glorieta, New Mexico (a fancy church conference center; yeah, we had to go to church)
6. Mesa Verde, Colorado (cliff dwellings - my favorite!)
7. Grand Canyon (South Rim), Arizona
8. Big Bear, California
9. Anaheim, California (yea! Finally, Disneyland!)
10. Zion National Park, Utah
11. Salt Lake City, Utah
12. Moab, Utah (to see friends of Mother and Daddy)
13. Grand Junction, Colorado (we're unsure of the name of the town)
14. Somewhere close to Kansas City, Kansas (just a big old lonely field in back of that motel)
15. Granite City, Illinois (to see the Nash cousins)
16. Nashville, Tennessee (to see the Frazier/Greene cousins)
17. Chattanooga, Tennessee (home)
Makes me tired to think of it, but only in retrospective. As kids, it was a great adventure. No planning on our part, of course; we just fell in line and piled into and out of the car when told. Imagine the months of organizing that went into this trip! I wish I'd asked Mother and Daddy about it.
So. This year marks the 50th (50th!!) anniversary of that wild Frazier vacation to California. Tomorrow I head for California for 2 1/2 weeks, mostly for work. But I start it off with a visit to Lil Sis, who now lives in Yorba Linda, right next to Anaheim.
And on Thursday, she and I and Bro-in-law will pay a Golden Anniversary Commemorative visit to Disneyland. I haven't been there since 1959, though I've been to DisneyWorld in Florida lots of times. I do wonder how Disneyland of 2009 will stack up against the memories of an 8-year-old Tennessee girl. Will the Matterhorn seem as big? Is the bucket ride still there? Will Mr. Toad's Wild Ride still be, er, wild?
Dear Mother and Daddy: Thank you for stuffing us into that blue and white Chevy station wagon and taking us on the most incredible, memorable vacation that was ever known to four children. It was fun and educational and unforgettable. I'll even forgive the camping and the Spam.
Wonder if I can get a pair of gold Mickey ears?