We were traveling from Seattle to Penticton on our way back from Florida and although it probably took us longer it was worth it for the scenery. More than that though, it transported me back to a different time. When I was a kid I used to travel that road with my parents to visit my grandparents. Nothing made me happier than going to visit my grandparents, so this trip down memory lane was very pleasant.
Driving the Hope Princeton, which hasn’t changed a bit, had me transported back to a time when I was lying stretched out in the back of my dad’s Buick Le Sabre. No seat belt or car seat required; this was the seventies. My brother hadn’t been born yet so I had the whole back seat to myself. There was a lot of room in those big old beasts. I would lie down on my back with my head on my pillow cozy under my blanket. We would usually leave really early in the morning and I was encouraged to sleep for some of the way but I was always far too excited to sleep. Instead I loved to watch the mountain tops and trees go by. On one trip John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High was playing on the radio just as we were leaving Hope. The perfect song for driving the Crows Nest Highway which I believe is its proper name.
As we passed through Keremeos a whole new set of memories started to flood in. Memories of driving between Keremeos and Penticton with my grandparents. I used to spend my summers with them. My grandfather’s father lived in Keremeos and so we would visit every couple of weeks. My great grandfather and his wife had fruit trees in their yard and I was allowed to climb them and eat my fill, which I did, which would trigger a stomach ache, which would have me swearing I’d never do that again, which would be forgotten about the very next time I visited.
While we drove along that road suddenly I was seven again and sitting between my grandparents in their yellow pick up they named Buttercup. I noticed that my knees were still a little dirty even though I scrubbed them in the bath before we left. My knees never came entirely clean in the summer. The windows were open but it was hot and the air was filled with the sweet smell of my grandfather’s Old Sail pipe tobacco mixed in with my grandmother’s home-rolled Cameo cigarette smoke. Buttercup had a tartan bean bag ashtray on the floor beside the gear stick and on the dash a Smokey the Bear figurine stared down at me declaring that “Only you can prevent forest fires!” Conflicting messages to be sure.
We were oblivious that (by today’s standards) we were living on the edge, driving without seat belts and inhaling noxious smoke but I couldn’t have been happier. Ignorance really is bliss.
I miss those carefree days, I miss my grandparents but I’m happy to be creating great new memories right now, everyday. Now I’m going outside to work in the yard and get my knees dirty. The way they should be at this time of year.