A Family Vacation

It was now 1928; and our family had never all been away together. In fact, Dad had not been away from the ranch since he came there from St. Albans with a carload of Vermont Jerseys in 1910. My Mother’s family worked for the railroad and always had vacations. Dad finally agreed to make arrangements to be away from the Ranch and it was decided to go to Colorado. Mrs. Coe, of the family that ran the general store, contacted her father, Mr. Shoemaker, who lived in Denver and he agreed to arrange a trip from Denver up onto the mountains and rented a cabin for us. We packed suitcases (no trunks, of course, in our old Dodge sedan) and stuffed them into racks on one side of the car. Inside we had a small case of eggs and a box filled with a double boiler, frying pan, and box of oatmeal. Our little sister, age 4, sat between the parents in the front seat and the other four of us sat in the back seat with our feet on top of the boxes on the floor.

The first day we got only as far as the Colorado border, a distance of 200 miles. It rained, making the gravel highway slippery. The roads always had ditches on each side for drainage, for often rains were heavy. We called that kind cloud bursts. On this day, every so often there would be a car in the ditch and we would have to stop to help them get back on the road. We stopped at the first group of cabins (the name for motels then) that we came to. Mother went in first and quickly pulled back the bedding to make sure there were no bedbugs! In the morning we had our oatmeal and fried eggs before we resumed our journey. The route was through the eastern flat land of Colorado and we noticed large fields of lettuce. Dad was curious and stopped to investigate – and ended up buying a small crate, which had to be crowded in with the other paraphernalia on the floor of the back seat!

It was late afternoon when we drove into Denver. At one point we came to a long line of cars in our lane. Dad just pulled over and drove up to the head of the line and went through. Mr. Shoemaker put us up for the night in sort of a loft in the building where he lived. We probably had another oatmeal and eggs breakfast before we started for the mountains; Mr. Shoemaker squeezed in with us in the back seat. We got back on the highway we had come in on, and Mr. Shoemak-er pointed out that there was a red traffic light ahead, and we were supposed to stop! This was the first time we had ever seen such a thing and, of course, we realized what had accounted for the long line of stopped cars when we came into Denver!

We soon got on to Long Mountain and were amazed at the narrow, winding road. Sometimes when meeting an approaching car, one would have to back up to a wider space. It was pretty scary. We arrived at the cabin safely, overwhelmed with the scenery, the like of which we had never seen before. The next day we explored the surrounding area, making snowballs when we found patches of snow. As we anticipated leaving for Denver, Mother announced that she would not go down in the car. “How will you get home?” Dad asked. Mother, coming from a railroad-oriented family said “There must be a train!” Needless to say she joined us for the trip down which we made safely. At one point when Dad remarked about the view, Mother told him “We’ll look at the scenery, you watch the road”.

After leaving Mr. Shoemaker off in Denver, we made a side trip but were advised not to try Pike’s Peak in our old Dodge. We found a park with charcoal cookers. Dad bought some ham and eggs which Mother fried in the skillet and of course we had lettuce too. The trip home across Colorado flats was extremely hot, and the patches on the inner tubes kept melting off, resulting in flats. After many repair stops, we finally got to Garden City, KS and bought replacements. We also decided to keep on driving through the night for the rest of the way home. Mother and I took turns sitting next to Dad to make sure he didn’t doze. It was daybreak before we arrived home. John and Catharine were sleeping soundly, so the rest of us rushed into the house and our beds. They had their own stories to tell about when they woke up, such as eating berries off the back porch vine.

We were so impressed with our “vacation” that very soon thereafter, I went to Dad’s typewriter and wrote a long account with carbon copies for the family back east.

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