The Family Drive

When I was a kid my parents would often load us up in the car and take a Sunday drive. We would explore the area for miles around. Sometimes leaving early in the morning and not getting home until well after dark.

I had a love hate relationship with these drives. My parents obviously thought this was great family bonding time. It worked, I mean we were a captive audience in the car. I on the other hand, especially as I grew older, saw the drives as an encroachment on my time with friends. I tried every way I could to get out of going but never succeeded.

These drives weren’t fun. My brother was car sick most of the time. But the sights we would see! We would often drive up to Mt. St. Helens and Spirit Lake. As the seasons changed, the view out of the window changed although our destination remained the same.

We learned to appreciate the changing beauty of our world.

My favorite drives took place in the summer. We would head up to Mt. St. Helens, berry buckets in the trunk. The windows would be rolled down in what was our version of air conditioning. My hair blowing in the wind one eye glued to the side of the road watching for the next buried cable signs.

The best part of our drives, no matter where we were going, was playing our silly game we called “Caution, Buried Cable.” We would eagerly watch out the window for the next sign post indicating the utility company had buried a cable. Whoever yelled, CAUTION BURIED CABLE! first won. The only rule, the sign had to be visible before you started yelling. This could be challenging. We often took the same drives over and over. Of course we kept score!

My brother never seemed to get any in his bucket, but his face told a different story. Occassionally, we came home with enough for a pie.

The trip usually included a stop at the lodge at Spirit Lake and a visit with Harry Truman. Summer brought us ice cold root beer on the bar. Our fall or winter visits were marked by mugs of steaming hot cocoa. Mr. Truman used to smile and laugh when we were kids. By the time we were teens, he would be best described as “scrooge” like. However, he always put the the root beer or hot cocoa on the bar.

Mom always worried about the pie crust. She always thought it was too thick, not flakey enough, or found another flaw in it. I liked the crust on the bottom and sides of the pie. But the crust on the edge of the pie pan, the decorative stuff, was dry no matter who made the crust. Even my grandmother’s crusts. Everybody raved about how wonderful they were, the edges seemed to me just dry and hard.

I can tell you none of us cared much about the crust when it came to huckleberry pie. We would wander into the kitchen waiting for that wonderful aroma to waft from the oven. We could hardly wait until after dinner. The pie, still warm, sliced and served with vanilla ice cream. In that moment, the four of us around the table, there was nothing better.


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