Apr 7, 2007


But I'm posting another dose of Let's Remember instead...

Ok, the vice grips - I've promised this story twice now and haven't delivered so here it is. Bear in mind this is probably one of those things that is funnier when you're a participant than a bystander... or my sister.

So, I'm about 13-14, which would make my brother 11-12 and my sister 9 or 10. My dad was working on the plumbing (which, of course, entails vice grips). My brother and I tell my sister, very convincingly that the term "vice grips" means a certain female body part beginning with a V. She's convinced beyond a doubt that this is the case. My father yells out to my mother, "Susan! I need the vice grips!" You can imagine how confused my parents were at my sister's horror. My brother and I found this absolutely screamingly funny. Still do. My sister, as one might expect, didn't find it nearly as funny. Still doesn't. (stifled Mwahahahahahaha going on here!)

Now we've gotten the vice grips (hee hee!) out of the way...

My family traveled on vacation. Now, I don't mean we took grand and glorious vacations - my parents had months where they had to choose between the mortgage and groceries (thank God for the garden) - but we took car trips, camping at nights on our way from point a to point b.

Over Easter vacation, we'd go to my grandparents in South Carolina. Eastertime in Upstate NY is frequently still winter and we'd often leave at 3 or 4 a.m. in a snowstorm - the snow flashing white in the headlights in the pre-dawn dark. It was fascinating to go from dark and gray and gritty south - first the snow would disappear, then the redbud and the forsythia would come out, then the azaleas and rhododendron. By the time we got to West Virginia, it was really obvious which cars had come from "up north" - we all had a heavy layer of salt!

From where we were, it was quickest to take U.S. Route 15 down for quite aways even though, at that time, much of it wasn't divided, limited access highway. I remember there was one place where you could see a covered bridge from the road and we always looked out for that with anticipation.

We kids had our own ritual from crossing from state to state. We'd wait until we could see the "________ welcomes you!" sign and start our state-changing chant... "We're in _________ riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii (and this would continue until the exact moment we passed the sign) iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight NOW!" And, of course, if we were crossing into West Virginia, we'd break into John Denver's Country Roads in 3 part harmony (the song made a regular appearance in our elementary school choral concerts).

Like most, we played the typical car games - mostly License Plate Bingo - and, perhaps unlike most, we ate our way down the Eastern Seaboard. My mother believed (a belief which I firmly hold myself) that to travel was to eat - we'd start off with hardboiled eggs, celery and carrot sticks, and an enormous tin of chocolate chip cookies. (It was a very hard transition when I realized that the love of my life dislikes eating in the car and, for a long time, forbade eating of any nature in his car. Fortunately, that has loosened now that he has leather seats.)

We went to Washington, D.C.; we went to Minneapolis; we went to the Black Hills in South Dakota, Glacier National Park in Montana, Maine, Georgia, Tennessee - going through such exotic places as Niagara Falls, Bar Harbor, Detroit (which, honestly, was very interesting - the trainyards and all). We backpacked in state after state, camped in innumerable state and national parks, went on many nature walks - to this day, I have an abiding appreciation for forest rangers. We've hiked many a section of the Appalachian Trail and seen underground caves, creek walked to falls, and sat on huge quartz outcroppings at Shining Rock in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.

I have just one complaint about all this travel. I have never gotten to SEE RUBY FALLS! As we'd drive south, we'd pass billboard after billboard - very plain green ones with large hand painted letters - exhorting to SEE RUBY FALLS! And we never did. I understand Ruby Falls is near Chattanooga somewhere and, goldarnit, before I die, I am going to SEE RUBY FALLS!!

Still to come... girl scouts, music, the 9th grade banquet, college.

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Blogger JerseyTjej said...

I started working summers in a Y camp and we went to the Appalacian Trail AND (dum da dum!) RUBY FALLS!!!!
I used to canoe and hike when I was free and single... And you are right about the road trips: we always had boiled eggs, fried chicken and the great aunt would never allow cookie eating in the car, but we would stop for icecream and I would inevitably fall asleep before I finished it! Thanks for the memories!

ps...that bag was about $360 when I first saw it...I must have been really drunk last night because I SO do not remember posting that!

7:13 AM  
Blogger mjd said...

Have you been to Rock City, which is in or near Chattanooga as well. Barns used to have advertisements proclaiming, "See Rock City." Maybe Rock City is next to Ruby Falls.

7:54 AM  
Blogger smileymamaT said...

Ah, travel food...we had wheat crackers and cheez whiz from a can, peanuts, trail mix, tiny cans of V-8 and grapefruit juice, mushy halves of PB-n-J's....wow. We traveled VA to ME and back in a brown van with wall-to-wall (and up the wall) brown shag rug, with 4 kids and a dog, laying on the back carpeted bench, and we never wore seatbelts. Ah, the good old days. We survived them!!

11:58 PM  
Blogger Jade said...

I had a love/hate relationship with car trips. I always loved leaning my head on the window and watching the landscape change, reading the maps and figuring how much longer to our next stop... but I disliked sharing the backseat with The Idiot (after a few trips Mom learned to sit the cooler between us so there was no "she's on my half" arguments)

One of my dad's favorite road trip games was "Ooh, look... a _______" (deer, rabbit, gorilla) and as soon as one of us (usually the Idiot) would excitedly say "where?" he'd say "Awww, you missed it."

My last road trip was to Montana last year with my parents and Older Sis for my grandma's funeral. Once we hit Montana Sis and I started a new game called "Roadkill Bingo". Honestly, do they aim for deer in that state?

1:21 AM  
Anonymous harriet said...

I'm loving these memory posts!

10:25 AM  
Blogger LauraJ said...

It's so nice to go down memory lane. Thank you for sharing these with us. I can't wait for the next installment!

6:52 PM  

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