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A Stickler for Reality

Fri, Jul 13th, 2001
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By Wayne PikeMonday, July 16, 2001

Having been home from our trip to Colorado for a couple weeks, I have had time to reflect on some of the events and observations that we made. Traveling to another state can hardly be considered exotic, but it seems like some of the things we saw could have been from another world.

An interesting part of traveling by car is watching other cars and their passengers. Most people are like us, just sitting there waiting to get somewhere else. As it was hot during our trip, most windows were up and folks were sitting in air-conditioned comfort. We noticed several cars, evidently without the convenience of air conditioning, whose passengers lounged with one or more of their feet sticking out the window. However, for the first time in my life, I observed a car on Interstate 80 in Nebraska that had a drivers foot sticking out the left-hand window. It didnt look all that comforatable to me. I dont think I could have sat like that for two miles before a crash-inducing cramp set in.

Other cars offered us a look at the peculiar personal effects that folks find necessary to transport with them. Vacationers displayed a fascinating array of plastic pool toys pressed up against the back windows of their minivans. Most of these were flattened replicas of rubber dinosaurs, alligators, turtles and sea-dragons. Occasionally, we noticed that the travelers must have broken camp in a hurry and didnt even bother to deflate their captive chlorine-seeking creatures.

Most interesting were the people who were obviously moving their households from one place to another. We wondered what kinds of things people must have left behind if their loads of rummage sale leftovers were their treasured belongings. Not that we should be too critical of them. When we got to the top of Loveland Pass in Colorado, we found that we had meticulously packed a single chopstick among our picnic things. We have often joked about packing everything but the kitchen sink, but even the kitchen sink would have been more useful than a single chopstick.

As we traveled, my wife and I sometimes pointed out what we thought of as possible tourist traps along the way. Our two sons were a bit confused as to the overall concept of tourist trap . Finally, we came across the perfect example. It was Buckskin Joes. Buckskin Joes had a big, garish sign outside its rough-hewn wooden fence that advertised rental horses, pony rides and buckskin stables. I found it hard to believe that in the real Wild West any business would have been successful offering pony rides. Buckskin Joe also offered trolley coach rides which, although seriously deviating from the Wild West theme, probably indicated that he got a good deal on a used train set and decided, Why not? He probably would have offered airplane rides if he found a good used war surplus bi-plane. Buckskin Joes main attraction was Gunfights and Hangings Daily. We wondered if they asked for volunteers from the paying customers. We determined that Buckskin Joe was probably not a stickler for reality, so after cruising through the parking lot, we kept all our money and left Buckskin Joe to his own devices.

Perhaps of all the intriguing sights, man-made or naturally occurring, that we saw along our way is a sign that we happened upon quite by accident. We were trying to follow a map and got on some roads that were getting narrower and more private the farther we went. There were many Private Drive signs. Finally, we drove past a neatly lettered sign that said, Keep out. Trespassers will be violated. We laughed, but made sure to avoid that road just in case the people that made this sign were unlike Buckskin Joe and really were sticklers for reality. That would have been too much excitement for one trip.

By Wayne Pike

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