You haven't gone very far when it occurs to you that planning an auto trip with your wife and three grown daughters might not be the best relaxation formula that an 86-year-old man could concoct for family pleasure over Father's Day weekend. But that's exactly what I had done, thinking that my grown "girls" would indulge me a little trip down memory lane.
I guess I should have realized that memory gets a little foggy when you are in your 80s.
Or maybe I should have acknowledged that reliving my youth wasn't going to be that exciting for my daughters.
I knew it would bore my wife. She'd been through it a few too many times in the past.
We had cleared Eugene when I dared to ask, "Are we going to stop at Rice Hill for ice cream?" Foolish question. The kids had all been to Rice Hill many times making their way up and down I-5 in college days and on previous family trips to the desert. It had been so long since the last visit that they had all forgotten that Rice Hill didn't have restroom facilities, so we all piled back in our Ford rental van and galloped down the freeway to the next service center.
At Grants Pass we headed west on the back roads to Jacksonville to tour this now famous old Gold Rush town of the late 1800s. It turned out to be the highlight of our trip.
We had tickets for the Shakespeare theater's production of "Shakespeare in Love." We were staying in Ashland, so we had to mush on to get to our rooms and freshen up and change for the play.
We had only four tickets for the play, so I opted to forego the play and stayed in the room to watch Oregon State win its way to Omaha. The Beavers were so dominant that I actually fell asleep watching the game. We all know now that the Beaver bats fell asleep when they reached Omaha. But I digress.
We moved on to Mount Shasta the next morning so we could have time to really get a look at my old hometown of Dunsmuir. We breakfasted at the Black Bear Diner near our hotel. Our waitress told us that Dunsmuir had just been named the best small town to live in. What we saw didn't seem to bear that lofty assessment out. The most interesting part of our Dunsmuir visit was a drive across the Sacramento River and then following the river I swam in when I was boy.
We got back to the freeway at Castella, where family legend has it that Grandma Gonna Bradley reached under her bed, grabbed a rattlesnake by the tail and, carrying it outside, whirled it against an oak tree. The snake didn't survive and Grandma's Dunsmuir legend was born. It probably was a garter snake. She smoked a corn cob pipe.
We cut short our Dunsmuir/Mount Shasta trip to drive to Burney to see McArthur Falls and then hustled back to Jacksonville for a second look.
The restoration of Jacksonville is first class in every respect. Our disappointment was that the Jacksonville Museum was not open because of lack of funding. An effort is underway to raise funds to buy a new site and build a new museum. My wife's grandfather Franklin Forbes had a successful surface mine that yielded more than $1 million worth of gold. He didn't have much of that left when he died in Salem in 1932. Janice remembers that date because she was born in 1932. We'd like to go back to Jacksonville and check the gold claim records to see what the current status of Grandpa Forbes' claim is today.
This column is a resumption of free lance journalism on my part. I have been suffering writer's cramp for about a year. No bad jokes, please.
There was no indulging, just great family. It was, indeed, a Father's Day gift to remember.