Fifty years ago, in June of 1971, my family took a vacation from Missouri in a station wagon with a sign in the window that said “California or bust.”
I intend to document that trip #50YearsAgo as Facebook posts. I’m reproducing them as blog posts as I go along — that’s a better way for me to look back at them in the future.
My main source is a travel diary that my mother kept. Dale and I both remember keeping similar travel diaries, but neither of us can find ours. I’ll also rely on what memories I can pull from either my memory or Dale’s about this trip.
- Bob Weese, aka Dad, age 33
- Sara (Hoover) Weese, aka Mother, age 34
- Joy Weese, just turned 9 in May and finished 3rd grade
- Dale Weese, age 7, about to turn 8 in August and finished 2nd grade
Dale helped me piece together that this would have been the 11th year that Dad worked for Hercules and, thus, the first year that he got three weeks of vacation instead of two. That and the fact that Dale and I were old enough to carry some memories of this trip, probably explains why this was our first big family vacation that wasn’t about visiting relatives.
Our family trip to California began on Thursday, June 3, 1971 in Louisiana, Missouri, at 5:15am. That was normal for our family road trips. Apparently, it wasn’t normal for other families, because I’ve yet to find a travel partner as an adult who believes, like me, that the proper time to depart is an hour or two before breakfast.
On our long driving days, we practiced multiplication tables, sang camp songs, and played Twenty Questions.
When our parents got tired of being part of our entertainment, Dale and I entertained ourselves by studying the Disneyland map to plot our path through the park and decide which rides we wanted to go on, carefully allocating the tickets – especially the precious ‘E’ tickets that were required for the best rides.
We drove across Missouri and Kansas, ending our day 13 hours later in Burlington, just across the Colorado border. According to my Mother, we drove 708.5 miles that day. Google Maps says that trip is now 655 miles and would take less than 10 hours.