|Pastel Art of James Southworth|
By Jean Southworth
"You’re taking your Honda Accord?" concerned friends asked of our extended summer road trip. Our confidence shaken…visions of fratricide in the back seat. No! After all, we were on a mission: a revisiting of childhood vacations, a retracing of our grandparents’ lives. This was our heritage tour. Plus, our kids didn’t know any better.
First was McCall, Idaho, and the log cabin built by my grandparents, Rudd and Margaret Gregerson. Here, Grandpa would tell us hair raising stories of Yellowstone, where grizzly bears attacked campers in sleeping bags. Grandma’d be in the kitchen, assembling roast beef, Idaho spuds and gravy. Today, our children adore this place.
We traced Rudd and Margaret’s path to Boise and their home of four decades. I learned to walk on these sidewalks, cracked by tree roots. Rudd and Margaret met at Yellowstone, Rudd driving a tour car and Margaret cleaning rooms at the Old Faithful. Roaming the geisers, I told our kids how Margaret defied her father, left her teaching job and eloped with Rudd. They never really had a honeymoon, but went hunting soon after. Grandma said she went hunting for her honeymoon.
Weaned from electronics, our kids caught the spirit of our heritage tour. Instead of rushing off from dinner, we’d linger and tell tales, often snickering so hard that people at adjacent tables stared. I didn’t care.
Jim’s grandparents, Bruce and Lucille Southworth, met in high school in Whitefish, Montana. Bruce later moved to Portland for dental school and Lucille taught school. Since teachers couldn’t be married, they secretly wed and kept it hidden for months. Zach discovered a museum in Whitefish containing names and photos of his ancestors. Annie said, "It was like, what are you doing with these pictures? They belong in our family photo album!"
Glacier National Park’s "Going to the Sun" Highway- is there any place more lovely? Grandpa Bruce probably made this incredible journey when he moved to Whitefish from his birthplace of Pincher Creek, Alberta, our next stop.
Calgary and Banff had absolutely no heritage value, but we visited them anyway, just in case. The driving days grew long, notably when Taylor used his arms as kleenex. Taylor had been a neutral force in the back seat between warring nations, like Switzerland. Jim called him the demilitarized zone. But now Taylor cried, "They won’t cuddle with me! They’re moving far away. I’m lonely!"
Onto B.C. Jim’s family used to vacation in Harrison Hot Springs, some of his brighter childhood days. Finally, Victoria, a city of romance, where Bruce and Lucille were married and Jim and I got engaged. All this legacy, and our uncommunicative teenage boy was transformed. Zach requested we turn up the volume on our "Tuesdays With Morrie" audio book and advocated a stop at Butchart Gardens.
Nearing Salem, our kids still laughed together at Burger King. I’d been worried for nothing. Somehow, our cramped quarters had brought us closer, literally and figuratively. Our pilgrimage to the past had given us a brand new family heritage.