I have two stories that I think are Moth-worthy. This is the first.

When I was eleven my parents decided to take us to Mexico for Christmas. If you are picturing snorkeling, you are mistaken. My mom’s parents lived in Tampico, which is on the eastern coast and is considered the Beaumont, Texas of Mexico, with an economy based on oil refineries and tire plants rather than tourism.

We packed our suitcases with clothes for three different seasons since we were driving. I know we had a car of some sort, probably a little station wagon, but for some reason Dad wanted to take the pickup. Toyota had come out with a small pickup which would seat two people somewhat uncomfortably, and he was excited to take his on a road trop.

Dad’s idea was that he would get a fan to blow the heat from the front of the pickup through the back window into the bed where John and I would be riding. Believe it or not, kids riding in the back of a pickup on the highway was legal at that time. He borrowed a topper from someone, filled up an air mattress and threw in a couple of sleeping bags. We were off.

The day we left on our 1600 mile journey, the high was around 30. My brother and I complained of being cold and Dad told us to be quiet. He hadn’t thought his heating plan out very thoroughly, but John and I found the flaws pretty fast.

  1. Dad is a big guy, and it doesn’t take much heat for him to be warm. When he was warm, he shut the heat off in the cab so he wouldn’t be uncomfortable.
  2. The topper was not insulated.
  3. Air doesn’t hold heat, so our air mattress and the uninsulated topper meant our conditions were the same as riding in the bed of a pickup in December, except we were out of the wind.

It was so cold my brother and I couldn’t even muster the energy to fight. We huddled in our sleeping bags breaking snotscicles off our noses until we hit the middle of Texas.

I recently spoke to all of my family members about this trip. John said, “I just remember the endless cold.” Mom said, “Oh, it’s not like you were the first people to ride from Nebraska to Mexico in the back of a pickup.” That may be, but we might have been the last. When I asked Dad, he got misty eyed and said, “I was worried about the quality of the diesel I would find in Mexico.” Nobody knew why we had taken the pickup instead of a car.

We always got books for Christmas. That year I read mine on the way home. They were about a girl named Laura whose father often traveled with the whole family, in a covered wagon.

Since then, I have traveled a lot, my parents both still like to travel, and my brother has probably filled two passports, so I guess what didn’t kill us made us adventurous.

We still have that darn pickup.

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