This week, with our girls traveling to the Grand Canyon on their sister road trip, it brought back fond memories of my first road trip with my husband, RM.
RM and I married in January 1984 in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Kansas history. It didn’t break out of single digits all day. For that matter, it didn’t get above freezing the days leading up to the wedding. How cold was it? It was so cold, the dogs were wearing cats.
We left two days later for our honeymoon with plans to move to Burbank, California, for his new job at Lockheed. We innocently skated out over icy roads in a used, brown Saab, topper filled with wedding gifts, car heater on full blast, following the moving van west not knowing what to expect but excited about the change, if for anything, just a variance in the severe winter forecast. RM and I were looking for a new beginning and an adventure.
Our first stop on our journey was in Liberal, Kansas, about as far out west as you can get before leaving the Sunflower State. We dined at K-Bobs, on overcooked steak, and retired to a hotel that Yelp reviewers would describe as budget aka as cheap as well as adequate for a night’s stay or code for get going before you notice the bedbugs. I purchased a blue teddy for my trousseau but quickly abandoned it for a sweatshirt and pants to keep the bone-chilling cold and buggy critters at bay that night. RM did his best to warm me up through his parka.
The next day we drove to Taos, New Mexico, for a day of alpine skiing and a delicious dinner. I dined on a terrine mold of tri-veggies and goblets of wine, followed by a romantic evening warmed by a traditional kiva in an upscale hotel courtesy of an advance on moving expenses . Life was improving. We drove on to the Grand Canyon and spent the night in a cabin located so close to the rim that we could walk just a few yards west to soak in the majestic views. In January, the canyon was filled with pillowy clouds that simulated a river of fog. RM and I were in awe. We dined on duck l’orange that night, a sweet and savory poultry dish new to our uneducated palates. As you can tell by my memories, that my appreciation of gourmet food started early in my adult life.
Next on adventure road we crossed into Las Vegas. We stopped at Hoover Dam for a tour and I vividly remember the warmth of the air on my arms and back of my neck when we stepped out of the car in the parking lot. I quickly slipped into a top and shorts before the tour and felt like I could breathe again for the first time since we had decided to get married four months earlier. All of the stress of graduating from college, wedding plans, the extreme cold, and the unrealistic expectations we placed on ourselves starting our journey into adulthood and our new life together in California, were lifted with the warm of the Nevada sun.
RM and I were broke financially by the time we arrived in Las Vegas (truthfully we were broke before we started but we felt rich) so gambling was not in our cards that night plus back in the early 80’s Vegas was trashy and dirty. We mistakenly ate at a cheap Vegas “all you can eat” buffet and suffered gastrically until we began to recover slightly just outside Burbank — our new home away from home and a place to start our wedded life together. The temperature differential between Kansas and California, over those few travel days, was at least 70 degrees and we were enamored with our new home, the City of Angels, due to the warmth, the sun, the ocean, and the scent of the fruit trees, loaded with lemons and oranges, as well as the hedges of jade and bougainvillea that thrived in the temperate climate. Life was getting sweeter by the hour. It was later we discovered the smog and the traffic.
Ever since our move out of the midwest over thirty years ago, RM and I have lived in moderate climates. First southern California, then Georgia and now permanently in Texas. While we often complain of the heat, we are never going back to live in colder climates because we are resident snow birds now livin’ la vida loca in the Lone Star State. RM and I took a risk when we left our hometown, our families, to head west. But we knew that for us, back when we were so young, that life began when we got to the end of our comfort zone. We were raised to fly away. Would we do it all again? Most definitely.