It was 1978 and I was working for a glass company in Orange County. I was doing all the measuring and layout for the crew of about 20 employees. I worked in the field most of the time, but filled in for the boss in the office if he was away for a day or two.
We were talking about vacations we'd each like to take. He said he’d like to buy a motorhome and take his family across Canada and the United States for six weeks if only he could. He couldn’t leave the business.
I said I’d like to take my family across our nation, all the way to the east coast for six weeks, but I had no motorhome, and I wouldn’t be able to afford to be off work for six weeks without pay.
A few days went by and we talked again, in his office after the crew had all gone home. He asked me how I would feel about going halves on a new motorhome with the agreement we sell it at the end of one year. He trusted my business skills and offered to pay me for the six weeks I would be gone if he could take the first six weeks and I would run his business while he was gone. I agreed to his offer and we began to shop for a motorhome.
We bought a brand new 1978 PaceArrow 28-foot motorhome and began to split the payments.
He was anxious to get started on his six-week vacation but he was unsure of traveling in a motorhome. So he offered to pay me full wages if I’d take the motorhome for a few days for a shake down cruise and show him how to handle everything when I got back. Naturally, I jumped on that offer. Lucky for him.
On the first day, headed north on Highway 99, with Mickie, our youngest son Greg, and our nephew Chris, the bolts holding the exhaust to the big Dodge engine fell off, along with the exhaust header pipes.
I bought new bolts and washers at the next town and after some time for cooling and then repair, we were back on the road. When we returned I went over the workings of everything with the boss and he was ready for his six weeks of travel and it all went well for him and his family. They had a wonderful time and I had taken good care of his business while he was gone. Now it was our turn.
It was me, Mickie, and three of our sons, Mark, Jeff, and Greg. Our oldest son, Dan, was playing in a baseball tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and we planned to take one lap of America and get back to New Mexico in time to see one of his games.
Before we left we made a list of all the tourist sights of America that we could think of and intended to see as many as possible. We wanted to see as much of this nation as we could and we wanted our boys to take the trip of a lifetime.
And what a wonderful, memorable trip it was. We saw the bright lights of Las Vegas first and then just kept heading north. Up to Mount Rushmore and the Bad Lands, then headed east across the top of the U.S.
We stopped in Chicago so we could go to the top of the Sears Tower. Our sons wanted to go to the pro football and baseball halls of fame so we went to Canton, Ohio, and Cooperstown, New York.
I can’t remember the order we went in but I do remember a lot of the stops we made. We saw Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, and the Smithsonian.
And we spent a day at a lake in Massachusetts. Our boys met some Boston girls that sure thought our sons had peculiar west coast accents.
I remember trying to go through the Lincoln Tunnel, only to have a N.Y. cop disgustedly making me turn around and go the other way for trying to take explosives into the tunnel. We had propane for our stove. Who knew?
We headed south to see Elvis’ Graceland and then turned west and after a long journey, we made it to Albuquerque in time to see our son Dan play a game of the tournament.
And then it was time to head for home. We’d gone a total of 9,000 miles equaling one great lap of America. I just did the math and was surprised to realize that it all happened 40 years ago. Amazing!
We’d taken good care of the motorhome for those two vacations and it had about 20,000 miles on it and was still in its first year. It still looked great and we had no problem selling it.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for all of us and we’ll never forget it. Thankfully, we took a lot of photos and Mickie kept a journal and a log of our expenses. It’s all a lot of fun to look at after all these years.
Were we ever really that young?
Dan Tomich, who spent his career in the construction industry, lives in North Auburn with his wife, Mickie. Their sons are grown and are all in the same trade. Dan can be reached at email@example.com.