When I was a child we had long trips from our farm here in Vernon County to Washington, D.C., each year as we returned at the end of the school year before going back in September. Our large family all went in one car, with the luggage covered with a tarp, fastened on the passenger side of the car with a little folding gate.
I often sat in someone's lap in the back seat with my mother and siblings. Two other siblings sat on folding stools between the two seats and the rest of the family was in the front seat with my father, or one of my older brothers who drove us. The trips took three and a half days when this procedure first started.
Last week, no longer a child, I was again a passenger in the rear seat, on the crack between the two last seats of a van. I shared that seat with my daughter and great-granddaughter. Four other adults were seated in the comfortable bucket seats in the front and second row of seats. Some of our luggage was on top of the van, and the rest was stashed behind the rear seat, between the seats, and under the seats (and our feet) as seven of our family drove to Durango, Colo., for a family reunion.
I chose my place in the van because I could stretch out my legs on top of the stuff piled between the two middle seats and ride relaxed with my shoes off and legs elevated. It worked well until another part of my body began to complain. I would have thought that my built-in padding would compensate for the lake of padding on the crack between the seats, but after an hour or so I discovered that wasn't the case.
Thankfully the heavily loaded van got thirsty for more gas quite often so I could shift my position and get a fresh start on my seating arrangement. However, because of the numerous boxes, sacks and suitcases in every area, the process of getting in and out of the van was complicated.
First, I had to find my shoes and get enough mobility to put them on. I waited until I got outside to tie them to speed up the process. Next Lester had to get out of his seat by the passenger door and remember to push it up to allow us to escape from the back. Finally, someone usually gave me a hand to get my stiffened legs moving to crouch appropriately to get to the door. Often I would stop to admire the view of the gas pumps before risking a step.
Getting back in was easier because I had started my circulation again and could actually bend a little.
The wonderful drive through Kansas and Eastern Colorado was made lively by numerous sightings of oil wells, wind farms, prairie dogs, antelopes and feed lots.
A visit to Lester's cousin on his farm near Las Animos highlighted the first day.
When we began to see the mountains that made us all stay awake and be happy. I was especially happy that I wasn't driving and could really look around and not clench the steering wheel.
Our time with 35 members of our family was climaxed by visiting my nephew's family on a mountaintop near Durango where he and his wife have retired. Then we got back in the van for a 14-hour trip home in one day.
Bronze Pond has never looked so good to us, even after the mountaintops! I remembered my Mother's joy as she returned each year.
The long trip was always worth the joy of coming home.