The summer of 1974, our family went on a five-week vacation across the United States. It was a grand excursion. We started in California, then went east through Nevada and Utah. That was one of the more enjoyable crossings of the desert that I’ve ever taken because it rained the whole time. We stopped in Clearfield, Utah, to visit my Great-grandmother White and picked cherries off of her famous cherry tree.
Our family then continued across Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, where we stopped at the Pony Express Station. On July 4th we were supposed to have been in Hannibal, Missouri, but we didn’t quite make it. We were on a dirt road going to a camping facility when we got stuck in the mud. So, on my birthday, I spent the morning hauling rocks to put behind the wheels. We finally did get out, and even made it to Hannibal. That night we were stuck was a real experience for me. We had borrowed a mini-motorhome and the three girls were sleeping on the bed over the cab. When we asked why we were stopped, Dad said it was because one of the double rear wheels was hanging over a cliff. I thought a cliff meant a 100-foot vertical drop, so we all kind of panicked. The next morning, however, we discovered that it was only a six-foot ditch, but still enough to hurt us if we had tipped over. Also, that night Mom crawled up next to me to get some sleep, and it was a horrible sensation to wake up and not be able to move. I’ve always been slightly claustrophobic ever since then.
At about that point we started following the “Mormon Trail” backwards. We had a lot of fun in Nauvoo, especially at the blacksmith shop. We also visited Adam-ondi-ahman, Far West, Liberty Jail and Carthage. I would, hopefully, appreciate the experience more now, but it was good one for me then also. While we were in that area, we went through Tom Sawyer’s Cave and explored the boyhood town of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). I always enjoy reading his books, and this helped to make them come alive.We stopped in Kirtland, Ohio, and took a real nice tour of the temple there. Since it was owned by the Reorganized Church, we could do so. We also stopped in Palmyra, New York and visited the Whitmer Farm as well as the Joseph Smith home. Then we walked over to the Sacred Grove but everyone was grouchy, so it wasn’t as neat as it could have been. In New York, near Niagara Falls, we stayed in the cutest little camping park. One morning we went on paddle boats there which was a lot of fun. We also had a great time at the Falls, and even crossed the bridge over into Canada. Because we were living in our motorhome, we could say that walked to Canada from our home.
I think Vermont was my favorite place during the whole trip. We visited the birthplace of Joseph Smith near Sharon, and also Fort Ticonderoga. The whole state was just beautiful. I had a lot of fun imagining what it would be like to live there. We then drove through New England and I really enjoyed that as well. We visited Mom’s relatives in Connecticut where they had a swamp in their back yard. We also stopped in Concord, Massachusetts, to visit the Alcott home and Revolutionary War sites. I just love history so it was really neat to be able to see those places.
We spent a day in Boston and walked all over it. There was some sort of historic sites trail that we took. Dad wasn’t with us then, but we met somewhere and had dinner together. We quickly stopped at the Mayflower and walked through the village at Plymouth Rock. Everyone there was dressed up and living like they would have when they first landed. The authenticity was a neat experience.
Our family continued on to New York City. It sure was fun driving through the downtown area. We took the ferry and climbed to the Statue of Liberty’s head. I was afraid I would get claustrophobia, but I didn’t, so it was fun. Ida’s birthday was celebrated in a park in Washington, D.C. I liked being able to visit all the presidents’ monuments again. We even went to the Smithsonian and looked at planes, rockets, and the presidents’ wives’ inaugural gowns.
We went to church in our old Silver Spring Ward and then visited the Fox and Candland families. My parents really enjoyed that, but I think I liked their homes and yards better. There weren’t any fences! And at that time of year everything was green. We also saw the temple there, but it wasn’t finished being built then.
In Virginia we visited mount Vernon and I loved that. We also drove by Williamsburg and other places before heading west. On the way home our vehicle broke down somewhere around Michigan so we had to fix that. I remember walking along the highway to a Holiday Inn where we spent the night. That was an unusual treat.
We drove through the northwest corner of Yellowstone Park and stopped to play in the creek and have a picnic. Then, in Idaho, we visited the place where Grandfather Beckstrand grew up. We also stopped to visit our second cousins, the Ted Johnson’s, in Boise. Then we arrived home in early August. My two years in Junior High School were the best of my life (at least up to the point that I originally wrote this). I went to Quimby Oak Junior High in the Evergreen School District of San Jose. We had to ride the bus, that that was fun. Mrs. Bolling was our bus driver, and she was a super neat lady. During seventh grade we were on double session with 7th graders going in the morning and the 8th graders going in the after noon. I took Pre-Algebra, P.E., Choir, Band, Language Arts, Science, Geography, Ceramics, and Spanish in seventh grade. Band was held after school every other day so on those days I ate lunch at school. The other days I went home and ate leftovers with Mom. It was so neat to have that time alone with her.
(I don't think I mentioned that I got my first pair of glasses sometime in 6th grade.)
I loved my classes, except sometimes P.E. Mrs. Samdahl and Miss Lawler were my Language Arts teachers. That class gave me the best preparation for high school, and life. Mrs. Samdahl was also the choir teacher, which I accompanied, and also lived just across the street from us. We are still pretty good friends. That spring (1975) we put on the production “Annie Get Your Gun” and I played the part of Jessie, Annie’s little sister. That was a terrific experience, and I totally enjoyed it. (The picture isn't actually of "Annie Get Your Gun" but of the ward roadshow that same year.)