Tag Archives: Travel


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.

Rail Travel at the Turn of the Century

October 2007

This has been a busy week at our house.  Sarah had to have the root of a tooth removed Monday.  Somebody, ahem, put her on the bed when she was 10 months old and of course she fell off and knocked a tooth out.  She only had it for 3 weeks.  Anyway, the Dentist said 2 1/2 years later that the root had to go.  Then the doggone tooth fairy didn’t remember to visit the first night the root was put out.  Whoops. 

Wednesday the husband had nose surgery, hopefully to cure his snoring problem as well as let him shut his mouth without actually dying of asphyxiation.  We shall see.  He has been hanging around the house a lot, it is kinda weird having him around so much, but then he can’t help because he feels so lousy. 

Then of course, I made it to the chiropractor twice.  My lower back hurts and it is all I can do to waddle around chasing Tommy.  Fortunately he prefers to climb, so I don’t have to bend over much.  I have to leave the kiddos in the waiting room while I go back.  So far they have not caused any problems.  Today a lady was waiting on her husband and she read a book to my kids.  Nothing like a small town I say.  I have been having all kinds of shooting pains up and down the back of my thighs.  I am counting the days until this kid gets out of me.  Thirty eight give or take a couple.

Rail travel at the turn of the century

I have taken two train trips in the last year, both starting from central Nebraska and ending in Denver. Amtrak has a ways to go before they make any headway in transportation in the US, and that is too bad.

Good things

1. You don’t have to drive or stay awake

2. The clientele is less spooky than bus travelers, in my limited experience

3. It probably isn’t more expensive for one person than driving with gas at $3.00/gal

4. Lots of leg room

5. Lounge and Dining car to relax in and meet people

6. There is kind of a romance about rail travel

7. You get to see the Denver Stock Yards (and other stuff you might not happen across)

8. The employees are exceptionally nice

9. Old train stations are cool

10. Less pollution than all those people driving, and probably flying as well

11. No waiting in line for security checks

12. You keep your luggage on the same car as you, so it won’t end up lost

Bad things

1. They are so doggone late

2. Only one train goes through a day, so the time may be horrid ie. 2:05 am departure

3. The bathrooms (although they are no worse that those on planes)

4. It is not easy to sleep next to someone you don’t know

I wish people would take advantage of this kind of travel so

1. More trains would run

2. The rail companies which own the tracks would prioritize getting Amtrak though

3. Amtrak could update some of its equipment (I think some of their engines are old)

4. More routes could be added