Well here we are, staring another brand new year right in the face. My oh my how 2011 flew by. Lest we ever forget her.
I just read another blog post from a friend of mine. She wrote about her family trips as a child. Reading her post and poem brought back a ton of memories from my own childhood as our family used to take trips up through the White Mountains every fall. Those were special times with special memories that I will have with me until my time on this big blue marble is up, and I am sure, even into the beyond.
Our family trips usually included our family Chevy station wagon, which a lot of the times had a usual passenger in the fold down seat way out back in the cargo area. This familiar passenger was most times, yours truly. I don’t know what it was about riding in the back seat, but I liked it, and would usually get the whole seat to myself. I really couldn’t understand why no one else craved the seat as I did, I mean it was spacious, comfortable, and had a great view. Who could have it any better?
I could choose from a variety of sitting positions, had three large windows to look out through, and had an acre and a half of the most beautiful leg room that a traveling young lad had hardly ever witnessed.
Those trips up through Kangamangus Highway, and down through the mountains were wonderful. We always stopped a couple of spots to run and jump around on the huge rocks of a river bed. I can honestly say that I think every year we went up through the mountains, the weather was perfect, except on the top of Mount Washington, where it was usually a hundred degrees cooler and the wind was usually blowing at like a thousand miles an hour. I don’t think my mom enjoyed the ride up the face of the mountains, nor the sheer cliffs that awaited any car not paying attention, for there were no guard rails. I remember her underneath the dash, screaming to get her off that stupid mountain. I think she screamed a few other things, but my kid mind went into automatic censor mode. Smile.
A few times we stopped at Wildcat Mountain and rode the gondola to the top of the mountain. Those rides up the face of the mountain were such a blast. We filmed one years trip, and as I watched the film thirty five years later, I found myself wondering who that skinny little geek was that walked out of the building on top of the mountain. It surely couldn’t have been me, although I could remember it as if it was yesterday.
We would usually stop at Clark’s Trading Post, and feed the bears that were perched atop of twenty five foot poles with a platform so that they could stand up there. There was a rope that went from the ground up to the top of the poles where the bears were. On the rope was a can that you could put some nuts and other treats in. The bears would then pull the cans up to them by means of pulleys on each end, like a clothes line. I would marvel at how smart these bears really were. Later on when I was a dad and was driving my son and wife through the same roads, we stopped at the Trading Post, but the bears weren’t on top of the poles any more. They were kept in an enclosed caged area. They must have picketed or joined the thousand bear protest march back a few years in Jellystone.
Our childhood trips usually ended up at Fryeburg Fair in the middle of the afternoon. I loved the Fryeburg Fair. It was just so busy.
WE would usually stop at the tractor and horse pulls first, and then make our way to the place where they rode motorcycles around the inside of a big barrel. I can’t remember what the attraction was called, but it was loud, frightful and wonderfully entertaining. These guys were seriously crazy. Daredevils extraordinaire.
Everything about the fair put a cherry on top of an already perfect day. The rocking cages that you tried to rock back and forth until you went over the top, absolutely defying gravity, or so it seemed.
The hot dogs, and the cold drinks, and the dough froggies, and the chili dogs, and the vinegar on the hot fries, and the cotton candy. I loved it all. We were usually given a few dollars to play some of the games. I usually rifled through my allowance in thirty seconds or so.
There was harness racing, and I could not understand what the big deal was. I mean it seemed that the number twenty five horse won all of the races that he was in. Every time. I told my father and I think he went and bet on the horse again. I can’t remember if he did win though. Some things stick in my mind, and some do not.
One thing that stuck in my mind though was my father riding a Ferris wheel ride with rotating cages on it that you could control and roll over from a control on the inside of each cage. He loved to torment us during the ride and would hold us upside down until we screamed, cried and pleaded for him to bring us back upright again. It was totally wonderful torture. Thanks Dad, I will never forget that.
Wit bellies full of wonderfully greasy food, and minds full of tilt a whirl excitement, we would pile into the station wagon right around dark and head for home. The ride home was usually quiet, but you could feel the electricity passing through us, as we reminisced over a glorious day.
One thing about riding in the back of the station wagon, it had its ups and downs. Although I hardly ever knew where we were going, I always knew where we had been. Watching the mountains wind away from behind us was my job, or so it seemed. I was the watcher of the “rear window’, the keeper of all that had been gone by, and the holder of the ‘back a spell’s’.
There were so many other amazing trips we took as a family. Down east, and through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The red sands of Prince Edward Island and the huge ferry that took us there, the reversing falls of St. Johns, or was it Fredericton? The bays of Campobello Island, and the rides to Old Orchard Beach, and Pine Point. So many wonderful memories, so much to look back on.
That was the life, as seen through the rear window of a Chevy station wagon. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I mean, how could I. I had it all, 3D panoramic viewing, and all the leg room in the world.