Traveling through history

Ol' Dutch is quite the history buff when it comes to reading material and he has spent considerable amount of time reading about the Old West in varying genres.

Now while most of think I don't even know what “genre” means but Trixie has had some positive influence on this crusty old soul and even THIS old dog has learned a few new tricks.

A lot of my reading of late has been about the Battle of the Little Bighorn where the nefarious George Custer led his men into a cauldron of mad Mohicans. Well, they were mostly Sioux and Cheyenne Indians but I liked the way that sounded.

To arrive where they eventually had their fatal misunderstanding with the native people, Custer and his men had to travel hundreds of miles across trackless prairie carrying all of their provisions with them.

I cannot recall at this time but somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 wagons of “stuff” and each were loaded with about 5,000 pounds of supplies. Sounds like vacation with the ex-wife?

But anyway, back to traveling. Growing up we always carried a Coleman stove when we traveled very far and my dad would get that out and cook us a noon meal along the way at some city park.

Out came the ice chest from the trunk and we would sit and have a family meal just like at home. It was too expensive for us to go out to eat as there were few options other than the sit-down restaurants so he improvised.

Along the way refreshments consisted of cold water out of a jug that my mother was in charge of. Drinking that water from the white lid was a treat and always ice cold.

Stops were far and few between and a Coke bottle served for an emergency pee bottle or the side of the road sufficed if there were a pull off.

Getting gasoline was always the same. While the man pumped our gas we would retrieve the key from the wall inside and go around the side of the building to use the restroom. The walls were covered with graffiti of all sorts and at that age I could not imagine why anyone would want to “Call Brenda for a good time.” Later in life I found out that Kathy or Julie or Debbie or about any girl could actually provide fun entertainment but I never did find Brenda. How times change.

Should we travel far enough that an overnight was necessary, a small mom and pop roadside motel with cabins was in order. Back in the day, they were well kept and about all there was anyway.

Fast forward to present day and things sure have changed. With the advent of fast food joints and a more affluent society it’s far easier to just stop in for a fast burger and fries than to cook something. And we know that no self respecting child would eat a sandwich that was brought from home when a kids meal with a toy is so close at hand.

Getting fuel today now consists of the kids piling out of the car in a fast race into the convenience store to use the restroom and, more importantly, to stock up on a vast array of candy and sodas. No ice water for these kids as mom plunks down another $20 or more for what I like to call, “50 miles of peace ahead.”

The motels have also changed considerably and even the moderately priced ones have amenities we never would have dreamed of. Cable TV, air conditioning, clean sheets and floors are generally the rule now days. There are exercise rooms, free ice, vending machines, swimming pools, hot tubs and free breakfast areas. These are all places and things that parents send their children to do so that they themselves can get some rest.

When I was a child we were expected to be seen and not heard. But from my most recent experiences around kids, they are heard way before they are seen. And for a tip for those of you getting ready for a road trip. Don't eat the ice in the hallway. I saw little Johnny put his dog in there last night.