In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dave: Digital vacations and the Sherpak 15

My friend Bruce Favish warned me about taking all kinds of electronic gear on a vacation like ours. When he traveled to Yosemite with his girlfriend and her kids, he said, "We're passing all this incredible natural splendor and they barely looked up from their screens."

I agreed that was something of a worry, but so far it's the adults who have spent the vacation glued to their screens. Our plan for yesterday was to pack up the van at Judy's house and hit the road earlier. Instead, we got lost in IT issues and working to fine tune this blog. I was fighting with Google maps, trying to make our map look right. Pamela was experimenting with the intricacies of posting a polished looking slide show.

Pretty soon a couple hours had passed and we finally had to decide the map was good enough and the slide show would have to wait.

Fortunately, it was easy to pack the van. We had bought a rooftop carrier, the Sherpak 15. I was a little worried about how difficult that thing might be to use. Instead, it was a breeze.

That reminded me of the rooftop carrier my father made. This wasn't for our 1967 trip. We used this one on earlier camping trips. My family had very little money, and my father was loathe to spend any of it. But we needed room to carry camping gear.

At the time, there was a new subdivision going in down the street. Most of us were resentful of it because it changed the feel of the neighborhood. The developers had one of those big signs out front saying something like, "Coming soon, new 3 bedroom ranches."

One evening my father took my brother and me down there and pulled down the sign, which was really a sheet of 4x8 plywood. The three of us hauled it home. There he cut it in half, added some sidewalls, et voila, you have a rooftop rack. Probably leaked like a sieve, but the price was right. Plus he was striking a blow against the empire.

In comparison, the Sherpak 15 was just a declaration of our membership in the middle class. We struck no blows by loading it up with sleepbags and folding chairs.

1 comment:

  1. I love that Google Maps puts Fallbrook out in the Pacific Ocean somewhere. My sympathies on your digital map battles.