Panning for Gold, 1977
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Colorado 1977

As we’re in the midst of our own family adventure traveling around the world , I can’t help but think of an family adventure I went on nearly four decades ago …

Family Trip to Colorado

In 1977 my dad piled a mess of gear into the family Buick Apollo and drove from Wisconsin to Colorado. We went through Minnesota, South Dakota, and a little corner of Nebraska, camping along the way.

When it was all over, my dad put together a photo album for my brother and I full of pictures from the trip that he’d taken (on film!). Over the years, the sticky stuff that kept the photos in place had stopped being sticky and the plastic protective sheets have worn out, torn, and stopped holding the photos in place.

So I scanned the images in with the Doxie Flip (which I heartily recommend) and added them to a set Flickr.

Recollections

Spotted Ass Ranch

A donkey ranch in South Dakota. When we stopped, there were some donkeys fornicating. My dad took some photos, but somehow they didn’t end up in my scrapbook.

I vaguely remember a dream I had about this place a few nights later when we camped in Colorado. It was weird, and I think I can attribute it to sleeping at a higher altitude for the first time in my life. The only real detail that I can recall is me rolling out of the pipes below a sink. And there was a girl, of course.

Disappointed Park Ranger

Our first night out we stayed in a Minnesota State Park. After we pitched camp and got dinner started, the park ranger came up to us to tell us all the great, kid-friendly activities that the park had going on that week.

My dad thanked her, and told her we were only going to be there for one night.

“Oh, you’re no fun,” she said.

“We’re heading out in the morning to go to Colorado,” my dad replied.

“Okay, you’re fun! You’re fun,” she said.

And that was that.

Water Purification

We’d done a good amount of camping prior to this, but this was the first time I remember using Potable Aqua to purify water. It tasted terrible.

Video Games

I wandered off to play video games at a KOA in South Dakota. The problem was, I didn’t tell anyone. To my dad’s credit, he didn’t yell at me, but he explained the perils of wandering off when we were so far from home. I felt terrible about it. I did get grounded to the campsite picnic table for awhile, though.

Panning for Gold

My brother and I spent a lot of time panning for gold in Colorado streams. We didn’t get any, but we sure had a lot of fun.

Hill

As we left the Continental Divide, there was the black-on-yellow Hill Warning road sign, which was pretty funny. My dad summed it up best:

“Hill? No shit there’s a hill.”

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