1989. It was the summer of BATMAN, INDIANA JONES, and (if you are really nerdy) Weird Al's movie, UHF. It was the summer that Guns N' Roses, Milli Vanilli, Prince, and the B52's were played over and over again on my favorite radio station...GO106 FM out of Cumberland, Maryland. I had just finished my Sophomore year of high school, my mullet was in full growth, and I had a dresser drawer dedicated to my spandex shorts. The summer of '89 was also the year that my mom and dad drove my younger brother and I halfway across the country on a trip that I completely under-appreciated at the time...but now I would call nothing short of epic.
|This cool kid is a 15 year old me...standing on the Grassy Knoll in Dallas, Texas -- June 17, 1989|
Mom and Dad were pretty brave...packing my brother and I into the back seat of our Ford LTD station wagon and driving hundreds and hundreds of miles in the summer heat. The plan was to drive from Bedford to Denver, Colorado to spend a few days with my Uncle Jim and Aunt Jane. Then drive south to Arlington, Texas to spend time with my Uncle Dan and his family. Not that any of this mattered to me at the time. I was a pretty self-absorbed teenager who was more interested in Guns N' Roses "Lies" album which was playing in my ears through my Sony Walkman.
I don't remember how many days it took us to get to Denver...two...maybe three...but I have three distinct memories about the first leg of our trip. One...Mom loved Shoney's Restaurant. We ate there a lot! Two...Kansas was freaking flat. Three...the ride to the top of the Arch in St. Louis was scarier than hell. I've only been back to St. Louis once...in 2015...for about half an hour but I would love to go back again. I seem to remember a museum about the Lewis and Clark Expedition underneath of the Arch...something that a nerdy adult me would really appreciate and love to see again. Then there was the trip to the top of the Arch. I don't know if the ride up to the top has gotten any better in the past thirty years...but I remember sitting, with my family, in an "pod" that slowly ground it's way to the top. It was like being on the worst fair ride, ever. Once there, the view was awesome. I remember seeing old Busch Stadium on one side and the Mississippi River on the other. Yeah...the view was great...the ride to and from not so much.
|My mother, Kathy Raymond, at the St. Louis Arch. At the base of the Arch you can see me (yellow top) and my brother, Jake. -- June 11, 1989|
|The view of the Mississippi River from the top of the St. Louis Arch. -- June 11, 1989|
|Kansas. It was flat. -- June 12, 1989|
I don't remember anything about the city of Denver except that it sat in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. I, unfortunately don't remember much about my Uncle Jim and Aunt Jane's house except that they had a cute dog named Muffin (which, to this day, is the only dog that I ever really liked). I do, however, remember the excursions that my Uncle Jim took our family on. I know that we visited the Denver Zoo because I remember being amazed when I saw my first live bison which happened to be my high school's mascot. I remember visiting a place called Winter Park and riding an ultra cool alpine sled down the mountain. I would do something similar with Robin in 2013 while we were honeymooning in Montreal. I remember passing the Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado on our way to a town named Central City. I remember going to Clear Creek Canyon and stopping at the Continental Divide. We also toured the Air Force Academy and visited the Garden of the Gods. And...as much as 45 year old me would love, love, love to see all of this again...15 year old me was more excited when my Aunt Jane gave Jake and I some money and drove us to Mile High Comics in Denver to buy some back issue comic books.
|My brother, Jake, and I with Uncle Jim -- June 13, 1989|
|Denver Zoo -- June 13, 1989|
|(Bedford) Bison at the Denver Zoo. -- June 13, 1989|
|Jacob and David Raymond at Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado -- June 14, 1989|
|If you look closely, you can see the arrow pointing to me riding the alpine slide at Winter Park, Colorado -- June 14, 1989|
|The Rockie Mountains. -- June 14, 1989|
|Air Force Academy Chapel at Colorado Springs. -- June 15, 1989|
|My brother, Jake, at the Continental Divide. -- June 14, 1989|
|My mom and Uncle Jim at Red Rock Park. -- June 14, 1989|
|Jacob and David Raymond (I'm slightly mortified that I am the one on the right with the spandex) at the Balancing Rock in the Garden of the Gods -- June 15, 1989|
After three days with Uncle Jim and Aunt Jane, Dad had the Ford packed and we headed back out on the road...now heading south towards Texas. I really wish I remembered more about this leg of the trip, but I don't. At one point, in New Mexico, mom pointed out Capulin Volcano National Monument. I don't recall much about the volcano...but I do recall that the directions we had to my Uncle Dan's house were somehow screwed up and my mom had to somehow figure out the correct route. No easy feat in the days prior to GPS and cellphones.
|Driving past Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico -- June 15, 1989|
Uncle Dan had a trampoline in his back yard. That really impressed my brother and I. Somewhere, there is a VHS tape that my Uncle Dan shot of my brother and I having a height contest. Jake and I enjoyed hanging out with our younger cousins Jared and Jayme. During our stay, Uncle Dan took us into Dallas to Dealey Plaza to see the spot where John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I stood on the Grassy Knoll and climbed to the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository. I wish I could remember more about it...but all that sticks with me is that I was there. We also spent a day Six Flags (which gets it's name from the six flags that have flown over Texas: The French, Spanish, Mexican, Texan, American, and Confederate flags. Yeah...I'm a nerd) and a water park called Wet-N-Wild.
|Uncle Dan Raymond. -- June 17, 1989|
|Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Spot of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. -- June 17, 1989|
|Me, standing on the left...along with my brother, Jake, my dad, and Suzanne and Jayme Raymond. Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. -- June 17, 1989|
|The Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository. -- June 17, 1989|
|The Texas School Book Depository. -- June 17, 1989|
|Dave (Dad), Jared, Dan, and David Raymond. Six Flags Over Texas. -- June 17, 1989|
|My mom, Kathy Raymond, at Six Flags Over Texas. -- June 17, 1989|
|Me carrying my cousin, Jared, while waiting in line at Six Flags Over Texas. -- June 17, 1989|
|Wet-N-Wild in Arlington, Texas. -- June 18, 1989|
We left Texas behind as we began to make our way home to Pennsylvania. This is the part of the trip that I honestly don't remember anything about. Because I have pictures, I know that we drove through Jackson, Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee. I also have a pic, taken from the car window, of the Great Smokey Mountains.
|Caney Fork River, Tennessee -- June 20, 1989|
I'm serious when I say that I really didn't appreciate what I was seeing and experiencing on that trip thirty years ago. But the fact of the matter is that the trip across the country with my family really stuck with me. There are parts that are still so vivid...seeing the Rocky Mountain and hanging out with my cousins. There are parts of the trip that, even today, I reference when talking to my history students. I mean...what an epic journey my mother and father took me on. We saw the Continental Divide...I took a one man sled down a mountain slope...I saw a volcano...toured the Air Force Academy...saw the place where President Kennedy was tragically killed...ventured to the top of the Arch...rode roller coasters...and yes, ate a lot of french toast sticks at Shoneys. I've been on many epic journeys over the years but this one, in the summer of 1989, has stood the test of time. Thanks Mom and Dad.
Life is a journey...not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- July 14, 2019
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