In 1962, when I was seven years old, my parents, along with their lifelong friends Warren and Sue McCarthy and their son Bill and daughter Cathy, planned an 8,000 mile trip touring all the states West of the Mississippi River. Dad and I spent most of the winter months building a camper on our flat-bed International Harvester pick up truck. I remember handing him every 2X4 for framing, and struggling with the plywood siding as Dad waited patiently for me to wrestle each sheet for him to grab it and nail it into place. We used old kitchen cabinets, Formica for countertops, a bench seat along the side, which became my bed, and a double bed over the cab. Sometimes that bed served as my lookout as we traveled.
The day came on Thursday, June 13, 1963 when we headed West. We visited family and friends along the way. Sometimes we stayed in a roadside motel to get a more comfortable night’s sleep and a shower, maybe a swim if the place had a pool. The trip was full of adventure. Every state had its own identity and there were no superhighways. It was an incredible education of historic places, tourist traps and a survey of America, its people and their rugged individualism that was still struggling to tame this vast nation. It was a story of wildlife, natural wonders, and amazing people who worked hard and knew how to enjoy the fruits of their labor. In some respects, this was America at its best.
We had a lot of fun. We walked across smudge pots, balancing on overlapping 2X6s and saw Old Faithfull in Yellowstone; had a shirtless snowball fight in Glacier Park on the first of July; attended the July 4th Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming, where a couple of cowboys really took a liking to the red-headed, freckled lass Cathy; fed and sat on the wild donkeys in South Dakota; and so much more. Since then, through my parents as a youth and myself as an adult, I’ve been able to visit all the states except Alaska. Travel is in my blood. America is a wonderful country that in today’s time is not measured so much by our accomplishments as a nation, but in political terms of what we are not. Self-examination is good, but not when it degrades incredible accomplishments for the benefit of all mankind as an evil.
I believe that the people in America and the country itself is still great. It is all those who have their own agendas who run it down at the expense of this country. Between the coasts there are wonderful, hard-working, God-fearing people who know how to love God, family and country. When I was a youngster, I had a dream. I wanted to ride a horse from the East coast to the Pacific Ocean. That dream has stuck with me throughout my life. Now at 67, that dream may be farther away from reality than it was a child. Last fall, Chris and I were able to purchase a travel van and our intent is to retrace that 1963 trip as well as others. I may not ever realize my dream on horseback, but as Chris said, “The Lord has seen it fit to give you 160 horses under the hood to make that dream possible.”
I’m able to work from the van and we are planning most trips around our Sunday meetings. The idea is to travel across this great country and write about what is positive about America. Would love to visit church communities, old friends, historic places in hope of finding the America that we don’t hear about in the news or from political leaders. From time to time we plan on sharing our stories in “The American Chronicles” in Daily Jots on some Fridays. We intend to focus on what is exhorted in Philippians 4:8, “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report…” We hope for you to join us in this long way home through the Daily Jot. And maybe I’ll still plan for that horse ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific.