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.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dave: Patches

My father was (is?) notoriously cheap.

As kids, when we went out with him and he parked at a meter, he'd tell us to stay in the car, hand us a nickel, and say, "If a cop comes, put the nickel in the meter."

On our 1967 trip, we determined that the Wicinas coat of arms was a "clenched fist holding penny."

Back then you could buy decals from every national park. People stuck them in their car windows or on the backs of their trailers. My brother and I quickly realized we could amass an impressive collection of decals, considering our route ahead. So we asked my father to buy us a decal of one park. They were cheap. Less than a buck, as I recall.

He refused.

We pleaded.

He adamantly refused.

We steamed and steamed over this.

I guess I'm still annoyed by it because a few years back I decided, "Damn it, I'm going to collect my own decals.

Except they don't sell them any more. Instead I decided to collect embroidered patches all the parks seem to sell. Pamela says eventually she'll sew them all together into some sort of fabric art.

So there.

A little aside: I introduced Lark and Linden to the sappy 60's song, "Patches," so now, whenever the subject of national park patches comes up, we all break into a rendition of:

Patches, I'm depending on you son
To pull the family through.
My son, it's all left up to you.

We're almost as bad as the Von Trapp family.

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