In the fifties, Crater Lake was overrun with bears. My parents watched a man taking a picture, go rigid when he realized that a bear was using him as a leaning post. A less friendly looking bear tempted Mom to try for a bear-on-the-attack photo. She popped out of the car and waited for the bear to rear up and threaten her. When it did, she lost her nerve and sprinted around the car. She kept trying, and she might have pulled it off if a cranky ranger hadn’t got involved.
In the sixties, tattoos weren’t for “nice” people. The hitchhiker my mom talked Dad into picking up in Death Valley, sported several, which, along with the man’s tough talk and stories, made the family seriously edgy. When we finally got to a place where we could reasonably unload our passenger, Dad gave him money to help him through hard times, or maybe as a “thank you” for not killing us.
In the nineties, houseboating the Mississippi, Mom trekked through a sawgrass marsh in her shorts and came out looking like she’d tangled with a weed whacker.
Mom wasn’t usually that madcap. She probably got carried away by her enthusiasm for travel’s new experiences. I don’t know how Dad felt about it, but I consider that enthusiasm a blessing. On trips, Mom’s up for most everything, and her eagerness makes for great adventures.
Our trip to New York in 2001 was a rough one. Dad had trouble getting around, an elevator abducted my daughter, our double decker bus was rear-ended, we got scammed, a pigeon bombed Mom in Central Park. Yet when I think of that trip, I think of tasting my first authentic gyro after a sunset Staten Island Ferry ride, of Dad telling everyone that his last trip to New York was in 1944 when he’d boarded a troop ship for Germany, of walking the Brooklyn Bridge with Mom, bagpipers marching along our avenue, luring us out to see their spectacle, and how the allegedly hard-boiled New York commuters eased Mom across a crowded metro car to an empty seat. Actually, now that I think about it, the “rough” memories lift my heart too. Another great adventure with Mom.