The Suitcase Lady


November 16, 2010, 8:53 pm

Perhaps I love California because we had such a hard time getting there the first time.

Our children were young, and we were on a mission to show them as much of their country as possible before they flew like arrows from our care.

Every summer a trip was planned, the Ford station wagon was loaded and our daughter took her dramamine. Before long, we had crossed an impressive number of states off the list. Was it time, we wondered, to plan a trip to the wondrous Golden State, home of oranges and dreams?

My husband and I plotted a strategy. We would go only as far as New Mexico the following year. If the kids could travel that distance and still be enchanted by the “Land of Enchantment”, we would head for California and the Pacific coast the following year.

The New Mexico trip was a success, and the next summer we booked two weeks of motels of the Howard Johnson’s ilk. Disaster struck two days before the California departure date; our son got mumps. We were quarantined and had to cancel and rebook the entire itinerary.

A week later we were ready to roll when I felt a horrible sensation in my throat. I had a full blown case of mumps.

Fortunately, we are not quitters… we simply cancelled all the rooms and rebooked them for a third time. When we finally hit the highway a week later, we all felt like a flock of birds that had been let out of their cage.

I’m sure that the skies of California were bluer, the coast more magnificent, the foliage more exotic, the flowers more dazzling and the mountains more majestic because of our confinement.

I’ve been back to California scores of times since that first trip. Our son and his family have chosen to make their home in San Diego on the Pacific rim. And that old California magic still continues to work for all of us plus a whole new generation.

Pictures from one of my favorite childhood books, “Mickey Sees The U.S.A.” by Caroline D. Emerson, copyright 1944.

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