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On the hood of the family car…

By Karen Bagnard
Posted: 09/08/2020

The last lap of our trip on our summer vacation with Dad was rough asphalt and then gravel.  The old 1955 Pontiac Star Chief station wagon must have known the route by heart, just like I did.  A landscape of rolling hills dotted with junipers, yuccas and jagged boulders stretched out as far as the eye could see.

It was dusty and hot.  There was no air conditioning in the car, which was packed with the provisions we would need for a week:  A heavy metal ice chest held ice and cold foods; boxes held canned goods and dry goods; there were cots, sleeping bags and lanterns; our duffle bags had a few changes of clothes and our Girl Scout and Boy Scout mess kits, as well as canteens.

We three kids loved this week with Dad.  We counted the days leading up to it.  We talked about all that we would be doing.  We hiked, did rifle practice, hunted rabbits, my sister and I cooked the meals and felt very competent.  We read, played games and napped in the mid-day heat.

The best part of the trip was that last lap.  When the old station wagon finally rolled up to the fenced property with the big ranch type gate, Dad would stop the car, get out and unlock the padlock.  The road stretching ahead was a bumpy dirt road.

“Okay, Kids, hop on!”  Dad would yell.

This was the moment we had been anticipating.  We piled out of the car and clamored on top of the hood.  It was hot and dusty but we didn’t care.  Dad slowly rolled the car down the bumpy road kicking up a wake of dust.  

What joy!  We waved like Rose Queens on a parade float.

Slowly, slowly the car rolled to a stop and, not until Dad said so, we hopped off the car.  Wow!  What a ride!  What FUN!

Then the final command from Dad came:  “Remember, Buddies, don’t ever tell Mommy that I let you do this!”  We swore we wouldn’t!  And we never did… until much later, years later when it was too late for her to get mad about it and scold Dad.


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