Travel Bug

My parents infected me with the travel bug.  Even on limited income, they found ways to get away.  In the beginning, our ventures involved stowing a picnic in the trunk of our car.  As they earned more, we graduated to tent and sleeping bags, then a small trailer, then a bigger trailer pulled by a station wagon.  They only had two weeks’ vacation a year.  If they wanted to take us to Yellowstone National Park, Glacier, and the great Northwest, we had to drive fast and far to cover the territory. 

Rick’s family had a cabin at Pinecrest.  He spent summers hiking, swimming, and hanging out with family and friends.  Of course, he also traveled.  At nine, he lived in Jordan, where the British school he attended took Friday and Sunday off.  His parents decided it would be more educational for him to travel with them on long week-ends.  Hence, he saw many of the major cities in Europe and the Middle East.  He explored the Coliseum, walked portions of Hadrian’s Wall, played golf on a rocky course in Tehran and walked the family dachshund in Damascus when it was the Paris of the Middle East and safe to be out wandering after dark.  He caught the travel bug, too.

We used to sit in study hall in high school and talk about traveling, never imagining we’d be traveling the world together.  I dreamed of being a writer (and living in a cheap San Francisco walk-up living on sourdough French bread and wine because that’s what struggling artists do, isn’t it?) and he dreamed of being a career Marine. 

Rick went off to the University of San Francisco, partied, quit and joined the Marines. I finished college, became a stewardess for a “non-scheduled” charter airline, and quit after four months.  During that four months, I spent time in the Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, helped deliver a baby between Taipei and Tokyo, and got engaged (to Rick).  I suffered motion sickness when we hit major turbulence, but worse, I missed Rick and never knew when I’d be home.  One trip “scheduled” for seven days ended up being twenty-seven.  Try packing for that lifestyle!  Of course, these were the days before unions.  Stewardesses only had to have nine hours of rest time at home before being called for another trip.  That’s enough time to wash and iron uniforms and sleep for a couple of hours.  Pay was $325 a month and per diem which didn’t cover the cost of food. A stewardess was also not supposed to be engaged let alone married.  (The best part of the job was flying soldiers home from Vietnam, serving them milk until we ran out and watching them sleep peacefully.  Some kissed the tarmac when we arrived at Travis AFB.)

After Rick and I married, I worked full-time as a PBX operator (later got a promotion to secretary), and he worked part time and went back to college, Chabot JC, then UC Berkeley.   We still dreamed of traveling, but we barely had two dimes to rub together. Hence, we drove down to Oakland Airport (across the Bay from San Francisco)and hung out in the coffee shop.  It was fun sipping jo and sharing an order of French fries while we watched people laden with tote bags and carry-on suitcases rushing to their planes.  This was before security measures and we could go right to any gate we wanted and watch people board.  We’d stand at the windows like a couple of kids in front of a candy store and sigh as the planes took off.  Someday…

To be continued…

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