Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Memory - The Summer Vacation, Getting to Idaho

It's Monday and I'm in a reminiscent mood. So here are a few "lines" about the family:

I was lucky to have both sets of grandparents live in the same small town in Idaho. Fruitland, Idaho, in Payette County. As a kid, our summer vacation consisted of driving 2 days from Southern California up to see Grandparents and other relatives who lived in the area. The cars I remember us making the trek in included: a 1968 blue Volkswagen beetle; a white Chevy station wagon with blue & white checkered curtains that mom made to cover the back windows; a blue Volkswagen bus when the family got larger; and in the end, a 1986 Plymouth Voyager minivan. With the minivan came the first air conditioned vehicle. By then, I was nearly out of High School, so I wasn't always going on those family summer trips.

We would usually set out at the crack of dawn (sometimes before) from our home in Rowland Heights. We would drive a couple hours and have breakfast at this casino restaurant in Adelanto, a tiny junction town in the desert. From there we would charge onwards. I remember stopping for lunch at Bishop, California and going to a restaurant called Hobo Joe's. It's funny how I remember the restaurants...but it was one of the few times we would get to eat out during the year! From Bishop, we headed towards Nevada.

The road seemed to go on forever. Us kids would either nap or have books or games to keep us busy. When there was a town ahead, we all would look up with eager anticipation to see something other than desert. Often the "town" consisted of a dumpy gas station and a few ramshackle buildings! Luckily, the law didn't require seat belts for kids, so we were able to lay down and stretch out.

If we were lucky, we would stop in a town called Hawthorne, Nevada, and stay at a motel for the night. If we were REALLY lucky, that motel would have a swimming pool! Sometimes, dad would push it and try to get to the next town. Sometimes, we would end up driving straight through to Idaho! When we did stop in Hawthorne, we often stayed in a Best Western that was right across the street from the "El Capitan" casino. The motel would give mom and dad a couple rolls of nickels and in the evening they would go play the nickel slots for awhile. Being the oldest, I was "in charge" back in the room. I'm certain I never abused my power. Mom and Dad would come back after having run through the nickel rolls and I remember a time or two them having "Club" cocktails in the room while we kids watched TV.

The next morning, we would have breakfast in the casino restaurant. Then it was on to Idaho! It was always exciting on the second day, because we knew we would get to Grandmas house that day. The car ride could get very long for a kid. I did a lot of napping on those trips. Once it was so hot (we were in the VW bus) that I remember taking a cup of water that I was drinking and throwing it in my own face. We would stop for lunch at Winnemucca, Nevada, usually at the A&W Root Beer fast food joint. Nothing could slow us down too much. That is, if we didn't run into car trouble. I remember a trip or two being grounded for awhile waiting for dad to magically get the car going again. When we hit Jordan Valley, Oregon, we knew we were close. It was hard not to want to drive faster, but the tiny town was known as a speed trap. Or at least, one very persistent sheriff with a radar gun. It had a reputation with us, at least, and kept dad under the speed limit.

Fruitland, Idaho is right next to the border with Ontario, Oregon. I thought it was strange but kind of neat that all the shopping was done in Oregon. When I was older, I learned that there was no sales tax in Oregon. Besides, there wasn't much in the way of commercial stores in Fruitland. To get to Ontario, you would have to drive past "Gay Way" junction, home of the pink "Gay Way" bowling alley. It was painted on the broad side of the building "GAY WAY BOWL." I learned later on that my Grandfather actually named the place after his daughter was born, back in the days when gay meant "happy."

We would stop at Grandma & Grandpa Graham's first and unload. We stayed there overnights because they had a bigger house with beds for everyone. After we had unloaded, we would head over to Grandma & Grandpa Osgood's to say hello. It felt so good to know we were out of the car, which had become dirty and just smelled like the road! Stepping out of the car for the first time and breathing in the smell of the Idaho country air was wonderful. Warm and clean, with a hint of mint in the air. It was great to know that we were at the beginning of a fun time in Idaho.


  1. Great memories,huh!? While we did stay in Lovelock, NV - - at least once, we usually spent the night in Hawthorne, NV. That's the town with the El Capitan casino. Most of the time we tried to stay in the motel with the pool, but a couple of times they were sold out and we had to stay at this icky, rundown place operated by some Pakistani people.

    We often used squirt bottles to cool us off! It was definitely a hot trip most times!!

  2. Mom is always right! It was Hawthorne, and not Lovelock! I do remember the name of that icky place....the Monarch Motel!