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Paradise and parkin’ lots . . .

23 Jan

I spent an eternity living and working in the Washington, DC area (1983-1986).  I worked in downtown DC and lived in Arlington, Virginia with my wife and, at various times for varying periods, with two of my three daughters. The two younger girls were single—the third, married and living in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, visited during those three years, visits that were nice vacations for her. My sojourn to the DC. area lasted three years—it began as a vacation dream and descended into a nightmare (details to follow).

In 1986 my middle daughter and I discussed, prepared for, began and completed a six-day camping tour of the Northeastern states. Our experiences and our emotions on the tour ranged from enthusiastic anticipation to deep disappointment, from apathy to awe and from hilarious to harrowing—those emotions will be discussed in detail in future postings.

We garnered so many memories on that trip that some have inevitably been lost in the mists of time, or were perhaps were deliberately tossed aside, and we have minor differences in our recall of places and events. Owing to the similarity of our shared DNA, we each feel that our recollections are the most accurate—mine, of course, are far more realistic than hers. However, because I rarely win any argument with my daughters, I grudgingly accept their versions of past events. They sometimes present a united opposed front, and in spite of my kingly title I lose—big time!

Shortly after I began blogging in April 2009, I received an e-mail from the daughter that accompanied me on the 1986 excursion—no, change that to ‘. . . the daughter I accompanied on the 1986 excursion.

This is her e-mail, presented exactly as I received it:

Write about us discovering Walden Pond and being so disappointed that it had a public beach, a gazillion kids, a big snack bar, and entrance fees. We found a long line, then discovered a booth with a ranger, then a parking lot…we were shocked. We parked, crossed the street, then climbed up to stand on the stone wall, looked down at the people, then across the pond (I remember when I had to photograph it, I cropped it so there was about 1/2 inch of water, then trees, then 85% sky, just to get the kids out of the photo!)…then you looked over at me and asked, “Is this what you were expecting?”!!!

Then we went to that famous cemetery with “Author’s Ridge” where Louisa May Alcott and others are buried…and, of course, one of your favorites, Thoreau. Remember you were talking about him (his stone was surrounded by his family), then a sunbeam broke through the tree cover and illuminated JUST his stone? I actually have a shot of that!

There’s a song called, “They paved paradise and put up a parkin’ lot”….that would be PERFECT for our Walden Pond experience.

What I remember most is that I learned to read a map and you constantly asked, “Where do you want to go next?” I would read something in a guidebook or see it on the map and if I suggested it, you just replied, “okay, let’s do it…tell me how to get there!” That was SO much fun.

That, and you pay for everything and the trips are always upgraded (from roach hotel) when I go with you! 🙂

Before I begin my actual posting (please be patient), I must address her comment on my upgrading our trips. It’s true. I cannot resist it. It’s in my nature, and sometimes it’s a matter of self-defense.  Several of our trips involved driving in mountainous ares of the Southwest and we once met in Phoenix to begin our adventure. My daughter had already leased a rental vehicle for our travel, a three-cylinder matchbox that would have required us to use reverse gear and drive backward in order to traverse any significant upgrade. I upgraded her leased vehicle to a specially equipped Hummer. Well, not actually a Hummer, but I did upgrade it to a full grown auto with six-cylinders, more passenger space, more cargo space and far more power.

I have been accused of making my postings too lengthy—some viewers say it takes too long to read them. I suppose the whiners—oops, I mean viewers—are anxious to return to some activity they consider more entertaining and educational than my brilliant excursions into writing—activities such as situation comedies and computer games, for example. In deference to those viewers I will utilize this posting as a prelude to coming attractions (a teaser, so to speak). A six-day camping trip by people as incredibly complex as my daughter and I cannot be scrunched (capsuled) into one posting. Our trip could legitimately be considered for a book, a tome to be placed on the shelf along with some of James Michener’s works—books such as Hawaii, Texas, Space, Centennial, etc.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.

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3 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2010 in Books, education, Humor, Travel, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Paradise and parkin’ lots . . .

  1. Carey

    January 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I had a similar disappointing experience when I returned with my family for a jaunt to “Four Corners” in the Southwestern United States. I had fond memories of straddling the 4 states to pose for a picture as a youngster, however it is now just a big Native American flea market! With 2 young daughters, it cost me about $50 to get out of there! Everything is becoming so commercialized! Ditto the “Royal Gorge” which we renamed “Royal Gouge”!

     
  2. thekingoftexas

    January 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment—I love your “Royal Gouge” term, and you’re right—it’s pretty much that way at any scenic site in the USA. I toured Arizona and Utah in 1995 and the Grand Canyon was overrun with Japanese and German tourists. I was wearing a green field hat, an army field jacket, boots, jeans and a beard, and at their insistence I posed for photos with some happy Japanese people with the Grand Canyon in the background—they probably thought I was Grizzly Adams.

     
  3. Cindy

    July 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Hey—I don’t think you ever actually wrote about our Walden Pond experience…and the cots/tent/lightning…and the “we only have one set of lobster claw-breakers and that family is using them” dinner. Not to pressure you, but WRITE IT! 😉

     

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