Growing up, the family station wagon was my personal ticket to worlds un-yet explored. Many evenings after a hard days work, Dad would go out into the garage to "tinker" on the wagon. The long hot summer nights as Dad's prepared the car for our annual summer camping trips are the most memorable. He gave me the most important job...holding the flashlight, still, while he worked on the engine! I felt soooooo important! Except when my attention wandered and the flashlight wavered. Dad, always quick on the take, would snap me back with "Jode, hold it steady, I'm almost done." My reward, an ice cream sundae with Hershey’s syrup, prepared and shared with Dad.
Each summer my mom, dad and their four girls pilled into the “Wagon” for a two-week family camping vacation. Over the years, we visited every National Park and historical site west of the Mississippi, and what seemed like every road marker of any consequence along the way.
On vacation, dad was still dad. He drove as if completing a military "mission". AAA maps plotted exact routes and stops, including pit stops. No matter how good the argument my sisters and I made, we always drove from point A to point B without making any unscheduled stops in between. And while we came to refer to road trips with Dad as the "green blur", our family camping trips represented adventure, freedom, family unity, and lots of great kid fun. My sisters and I still laugh about Dad’s version of the “Chinese Fire Drill”. As we reached the ranger station located at the entrance to each park, Dad would shout, “GO”. Two adults and four girls would jump out and run circles around the car. Needless to say the unsuspecting rangers were always left speechless. Our giggles continued as we unpacked and set up camp.
I still camp every summer and have carried on the family tradition with my children and grandkids. We tent and trailer camped when they were young and have gravitated to the comfort of a deluxe RV in our middle age. And while my older sisters now prefer B&Bs or cabins to camping, they recall our family vacations with my same glee.
By Jody DeVere - Ask Patty
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Our 1965 Chevy Family Wagon