Sunday, January 15, 2017

(1) Introduction

My first visit to Donner Lake
June 1956

I have always wanted to drive across country. That simple desire is the origin of this cross country trip. Perhaps part of this desire grew out of a sense of envy. I envied my brothers who went camping with my dad shortly after I was born. They had the opportunity to see and to remember seeing many sights throughout the far west. My wife, with her family, spent an entire summer "touring the states". Even our three children, Charlie, Lorelei and Will have each driven across country.

When I was young my parents purchased a cabin at Donner Lake, California. I think that my brothers envy the summers my sister and I spent at the lake. Don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful time those summers at Donner. Summers that I would not trade for anything. But when I look at photo albums and see my brothers camping with Dad, or realize that they can remember later camping trips that are merely a dim and foggy recollection to me, I'm jealous.

Looking back I can see that I've spent much of my adult life trying to make up for the travel and camping trips that I perceive I missed. It is my very good fortune to have a wife that shares my wanderlust and my love of "car camping". When Linda and I married in 1977 we purchased a 10-year-old tent trailer for the princely sum of $175.00. We used it extensively on vacations and on long weekends. We camped with it until the early 1990s when our family outgrew it. We then bought another used tent trailer. Vacations were often spent showing the kids the national parks and traveling throughout the Western United States. Over the years I think that we were able to see and to share with our children all of the National Parks west of the Dakotas and north of Texas. But I still haven't traveled across country and I intend to do it. This series of journal entries is about the trip that Linda and I will make across America in the summer of 2017.

Another thing I can see in retrospect is that we envy the experiences of others which we may have missed. I think it's healthier to look at experiences as trade-offs. If I had experienced travel and camping as a child I would've had to forgo other experiences. I have to say that I've enjoyed my life immensely. I'm not sure what I would trade for my brothers' experience. I guess it's better to simply do it now. I will now make sure that I do it right.

I realize that not everything I write down will be of interest to every reader. I've provided historical background to give context.  That may bore those not interested in transportation history, while at the same time infuriating those who find my descriptions nothing more than gross oversimplifications. Sections of this journal dealing with the preparation of the car and trailer may prove tedious to non mechanics and those not interested in automotive or camp trailer restoration, but should we make it across country the preparations are as important as the drive. If you are bored with a section, for gosh sakes skip it!

As I write this I realize that I'm making a prediction concerning the future. The future does not always go as planned. Perhaps we will not camp as much as we hope to this summer. Perhaps the road will be too much for our 59 year old car. We may spend a few nights in motels if Midwestern rains and storms make it impractical to set up camp. I guess we will take the road as we find it and trust to providence.

A Ford on the Lincoln
Summer 2009

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