Our month long expedition across the United States seemed at times to be an extended tutorial on American History. This subject was Dad’s academic focus in graduate school and as a professor. And he loved the subject and clearly hoped to instill the same passion in his kids. The plan was to see America and absorb some history along the way.
From my perspective , we were dragooned into a mobile classroom. I did not want to read about more dead people, I wanted to whisper to wild horses and wrangle stampeding cattle. That was my destiny. But we would careen off the highway at the first sign of a historic marker. Not all these wayside attractions seemed hospitable. No one else was stopping. Why was that? After seeing white crosses along side the road, what the hell were we thinking when we stopped. We should be booking it. Saving ourselves. Clearly bad things can happen in the wilderness. At least I recognized that after having heard about the Donner Party. (History about cannibalism can be savored.) Keep moving seemed the best advice. No one listened.
And who was to say the facts on the historical markers were the truth? Was the editor of the marker competent to synthesize all the facts and give a balanced perspective on the exploration and exploitation of the West. I think we were getting the Wonder Bread version. Very white but not very substantial.
I would have agreed to stop to watch buffalo roam, and antelope play…but nothing came over the horizon. Burma Shave signs were the only entertainment over miles of vast plains and through waves of grain.