I believe this is the last of my letters home to my parents from our cross-country trip in 1975, from Boston to Denver (the long way). Some of our experiences from this trip are lost in the rubble, some are reflected in these letters, and some are only vaguely remembered.
One such vaguely remembered incident was in Las Vegas. Now, you know we looked good, so it couldn’t have been our appearance. And you know we had a pretty sweet ride, so it couldn’t have been that. And you know we were flush with cash, so it couldn’t be we looked indigent. But for some reason, after visiting one of the casinos for the free buffet (and yet surprisingly not spending any money gambling), we ended up being escorted out of town by the local constable. To this day, Las Vegas is the only town that has physically escorted me out of city limits.
I guess our official trip ended when we planted ourselves in Denver as ski aficionados. We both got jobs (both in the ski industry), became ski bums (we were already bums), and lived the lives of young single guys in Denver with more money than brains. And we had VERY little money.
You may be wondering what ever happened to that Buick Special, sweet ride that it was. Well, it was on its last legs, and we found a local junkyard that would pay $50 with no questions asked. You just had to get it there. Take it away, Johnnie!
Several months later after being “car-less” in Denver, a mechanic buddy of mine in the Naval Reserves told me he had a car for me if I wanted (his wife was getting angry that he had so many cars). Turns out he had a 1963 Ford Thunderbird convertible that he sold to me for $150. THAT was a sweet ride! It had a 390-cu inch engine with a carburetor the size of a fire pit. Let’s just say it was not carbon-kind.
We would pack our skis, put the top down, turn up the defroster, and head up to the mountains to go skiing. We skied at every major and some minor ski areas, and in fact worked out a deal with the manager at Loveland Ski Area where we would show up in the morning, he would provide us a ski pass to go skiing, we would come in at noon and bus trays at lunchtime for an hour or so, he would feed us (for free), and then we would ski all afternoon. If we spent a buck, it was for a beer at the end of the day. Before we had the T-bird, we hitchhiked up to Loveland from Denver up I-70, and would hitch a ride back from someone in the ski patrol. Life was good.
In the interim since first posting about this trip, my buddy David has supplied me with a few more photographs that will either put a smile on your face, scare you, or cause you to unfriend me. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
With no further ado, below is letter #3, and following the letter, some random photos from the trip.
Howdy Folks –
Well, we finally got the car back (figuratively speaking) and left Hot Springs and headed into Wyoming. We were going to get jobs here on oil rigs, but we were pressed for time to get to Yellowstone, as they formally close on November 1.
We got to Yellowstone with 33 inches of snow, and they wouldn’t allow camping or extended hikes. We only spent 1 day there, and really saw only a portion of the park. We did see a lot of animals, though.
We camped in Idaho at Henry’s Lake which was nice. And cold. For the short time we were in Montana after leaving Idaho, we saw about 5 people. But what beautiful country.
Washington was pretty uneventful and not so really interesting. But when we got to the coast of Oregon we saw lots of fog. Thick as pea soup. We left the coast and the fog to see Crater Lake. You know what we saw? Fog. We couldn’t even see water!
We got disgusted and headed back for the coast and more fog. As a matter of fact, almost our entire journey down the coast was in fog (the weather’s, not ours).
We went through the Redwoods which are really quite a treat to see. We made it to San Francisco, and that was something else. It’s such an alive town, and pretty friendly. There is so much to see here, too. We spent 4 days here and were going from morning til night. We stayed in a youth hostel for $2 per night. Super. We went on the cable cars and everything. This is a place I’d go back to any day.
Our trip to LA was with a guy from England that we buddied in Frisco with. We had a great time and celebrated his birthday with him. I gave him your address in case he made it to Boston. You’d love him.
Anyway, I disliked LA from the first minute we were there. The smog is unbelievable, and everything I could see in the city was trash. I couldn’t wait to leave.
Because of the money situation, we beelined it to Denver, stopping long enough to get a stupid $35 traffic violation. That’s about what Vegas is worth, too. Not $35, but a traffic ticket. Anyway, we left, came through Utah which is beautiful country and then into Colorado, which is beyond words.
Anyway, we’re getting settled and trying (what seems to be impossible) to get on our feet. I’ll be much happier when I get a job – which can’t be much longer. For the time being, we’re living in ecstasy with Dave’s cousin, Kathy. We’ll be here until we both get jobs and get a place. We don’t know where yet, but who knows.
Before I left, I asked Peter Rolo to sell my truck – but I couldn’t find my title. I think it is in the left-hand top drawer of my bureau. If you know anyone who wants it, I’m sure you won’t hesitate to get rid of it, as is. I’ll take anything over $400, but right now I’ll take $1. If you get an offer, take it.
Oh, sometime before December 31st, could you turn in my license plates? I’ll probably get a car here, but that’s about $2 million dollars away.
You can get gas for about 49 cents out here, though. Oh, if you are sending clothes out, could you send out my black work boots? And some dungarees? Moochos appreciate it. Well, say hi to everyone, and hope everyone’s well. See ya.
And some random trip photos…
Life is a journey. See you down the road!