Sunday, January 09, 2005

Mobil Travel Guides

When I was about twelve my parents got a copy of the Mobil Travel Guide for our part of the country. I spent hours sitting in our treehouse pouring over the book planning vacations our family would never take. I wrote lots of 3x5 notecards about travel destinations and accomodations in Minnesota.

Now my parents are in Minnesota. My sister has some experience with Minnesota having taught there for 2-3 years in the Eighties. My main muse grew up in the Land of a Thousand Lakes, and knows the ins and outs of the shopping Dales.

With all this travel advice I still have to fall back on my own experience. I asked Dad today how his no-frills motel compared to the Blue Fox. That was the motel where our auto mechanic sent us in the summer of 1966. Dad said his motel is better, but mainly because it's just him, not a family of five in the same sort of space. I have a postcard from the Blue Fox Motel. "Located five miles north of downtown Colorado Springs on Highway 85-85, near the Air Force Academy. New, completely modern, catering to the family trade."

My memories of the Blue Fox are hazy, but my memories of our extended stay in Colorado Springs are clear. The mere scent of Tang transports me back to the mornings spent playing house among the boulder in the city's Palmer Park above a golf course. That flashback is reinforced by either the smell of waxy Dixie cups or dry Cheerios. I had a hint that our vacation had gone kaput, but I was having a fabulous time spending each morning in this pleasant park. One evening we went over and played. When it started to rain we sat in the car and had cheese and crackers. The rainbow was beautiful. It was a very restful spot.

This is my contemporaneous witness report of our visit to Pikes Peak in 1966:

If the North Pole hadn't been such a flop we wouldn't have gone up Pikes Peak and all our trobles [sic] would never have occured [sic]. After entering the highway we took a long drive up the mountain. When we got up it was so foggy we couldn't see anything. We entered a large building that smelled of donuts and hotdogs. I nearly was sick. We had a hotdog and some pop. I bought a postcard and Dad bought a little tree for Aunt Em. We each got a little button that said "I made it. Pikes Peak." [I still have mine.] Then we went outside to look at the Pikes Peak railroad tracks. Since there was nothing to look at we started down.

After awhile we heard this real awful noise. Dad was afraid it was the brakes. I held on so tight and I was afraid to look. As soon as we got to a station we stopped and a man checked and put in some transmittion [sic] fluid. When we finally got down we went to Cave of the Winds. It was beautiful and our guide was real funny. We had our dinner at the Flying W Ranch. My piano teacher recommended it. We had a wonderful time. First we looked around at a mine and the blacksmith shop. Supper was delicious. I had two helpings. Then the cowboys entertained us with cowboy songs. After that we went back to the trading post to get some little carved donkeys...Then we went back to our motel.

The one fun thing about wrecking the transmittion [sic] was we got to use a bright red rented car. One day we decided to go to Royal Gorge It wasn't to [sic] away. When we got there we looked around and decided to take the inclined R.R. It was fun. While we were at the bottom a train went by. When we went back up we drove across the bridge and had coney dogs and pop (or beer) at the restraunt[sic]

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