Welcome to the great Thanksgiving Blog Swap! Basically, today you will find me at David’s place, and David is here with me today. We’re both talking about Thanksgiving. I encourage you to hop over to David’s and learn about a very meaningful ancestor in my family tree, and here, David’s providing your humorous travel guide to celebrating the holidays in a chill new way! Enjoy!
A Most Memorable Thanksgiving
When I was growing up, my family joined with two other families in owning a cabin in Ute Park, New Mexico, which is 54 mi southwest of Raton and 43 mi northeast of Taos and about 600 miles from our home in Fort Worth:
We enjoyed spending a week or so there every summer so much that Dad decided one year to go there for what ended up being probably my most memorable Thanksgiving. Before we get into details of the trip, however, I need to tell you a bit about Ute Park and our cabin.
Ute Park sits at an elevation of a bit over 7400 feet above sea level. This makes for wonderful summer temperatures with no airconditioning required. In fact, since the cabin was built as a summer getaway place, we intentionally left a space of several inches open between the walls and the roof, and, of course, there were no interior ceilings in a rustic cabin like that.
Okay, now to Thanksgiving. We were excited as we loaded our 1955 Pontiac Station Wagon for the trip up there. Even with four bickering kids in the car—well, three since I was always perfectly behaved—it was a reasonably enjoyable trip since the wagon allowed us to spread out a bit.
Although I don’t specifically remember, I suspect it was dark when we arrived, since it was nearing winter solstice, and the speed limit was 60 without a single mile of interstate highway. It was a long trip even with summer hours.
What I do specifically remember is that the low temperature the first morning we were there was six degrees Fahrenheit, followed by lows of four and five the other two mornings we were there. Anybody think about that year-round airconditioning built between the walls and roof when we planned this trip? I don’t think so.
Of course, a summer cabin doesn’t have any kind of heating built into it. The only source of heat we had was the range and oven. You should have seen us huddling around that! Or trying to ignore morning and staying under the covers in bed.
The daytime temperatures didn’t really bother us all that much. I guess after such extreme morning lows, even us Texans could handle the rest of the day. We had about as good a time as any family which included one daughter who could never get along with anyone.
The highlight of the trip was Dad’s decision to cut down our own Christmas tree and haul it back home. Why pay $25 or $30 (I think that was about what they cost back then) when you could cut your own for free? After all, we had acres and acres of pine trees around the place.
My dad was a brilliant man. High school valedictorian, pretty much all A’s in college, high standing in medical school. Except when he had a brain freeze, which he did at this time.
Once we picked out a tree and cut it down and hauled it back to the cabin, he tied the base of it to the back of the car and the top to the front bumper. Visualize that, although he didn’t. Pine tree limbs grow reaching upward, which means that once we had it tied in that position they were reaching forward.
Anyone see a problem with aerodynamics here? The whole time we were driving down the road, the wind was trying to spread the limbs open—and lift the tree off the car, which it did several times. I don’t know how many times we had to stop and retie it to the car, but we continued to tie it with the limbs facing forward.
The trip home didn’t really take a month. It just seemed like it. Funny, we never heard another suggestion from my dad that we go to Ute Park in the winter—or that we haul a Christmas tree 600 miles across the country to save a few dollars.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.