Happy Father’s Day to you if you are a dad or to your father. Today makes me think of travels with my father and family throughout the years. I am the youngest of four children with a large age difference between my oldest brother and sister. There are also eight years between my sister (my parents third child) and I.
Early trips to the beach and drives across Texas to pick up my sister at summer camp in New Mexico are among my earliest memories. When I was about seven, we started flying from Texas to California. Our first trip involved a trip to Disneyland and then a drive up the coast to San Francisco. We made a stop in Fresno (actually Clovis) to visit my older brother and his family. Another trip included Aspen, Colorado. I can still see his white knuckles as we drove over Loveland Pass and remember his gratitude while driving back through the Eisenhower tunnel.
Around the time I was 15 or 16, we made a trek across the pond with my older sister. We flew into Frankfurt and had a fit of giggles just in our rental car leaving the airport when we saw the exit signs which were of course in German and read “Ausfahrt”. On that trip, we saw Heidelberg and Strasburg as well as the palace of Versailles before arriving in Paris. I can remember being a pain in the butt kid wanting to go to Le Mans because of the race (and I have never really been into race cars). I also remember he didn’t want to go up with us to the top of the Eiffel Tower due to his fear of heights. The day we flew home we arrived at the Charles De Gualle airport ready to check-in only to find out our airline was flying from Orly. We had to take a car, a Mercedes limo, at a large expense and a high rate of speed to catch our flight home.
Years later, before he died, I was able to use my flight benefits I received while working at Continental Airlines to treat him to a trip back to Germany. This time we flew into Munich and took a train to Innsbruck. We took a taxi from the train station to our hotel and the doors were locked and closed. There was a note and directions to get back to a sister hotel across town. Of course our cab was gone and we had to walk with all of our luggage and tired after a long day and night of flying. When we asked why the hotel had been closed, we were told “Because it is Tuesday!” Well of course!
That trip took us by train onto Salzburg where we visited the birthplace of Mozart and finally to Vienna. Vienna fit into my father’s history because after engaging in combat over the Voseges Mountains, surviving the battle of the Bulge and being part of Patton’s 3rd Army that liberated the Dachau concentration camp, my father and his buddy heard the war was over and ‘borrowed’ a jeep and headed to the southeast. After seeing and experiencing those horrors, certainly some R&R time was in order. They got as far as Vienna where they were met by Russians at the outskirts of the city. When they tried to take his watch, my dad hit the Russian soldier in the head with his rifle butt and headed back to rejoin his division. I felt I owed it to my father to get him into the beautiful city of Vienna.
He left this life and started on his next journey in January of 1995. I think of things that he did not live to see including the birth of my daughter. While our relationship was “interesting” as most son’s relationships with their fathers are, I am grateful for the travels with my father. He never wanted to cruise or go camping for that matter because of his experiences getting over to France and Germany as well as his experiences “camping” during World War II. He infused me with his love of history, language and his sense of humor. I hope you too are able to travel as a family and share in the experiences that leave indelible marks in your memory.
Chuck and Laura Flagg own The Flagg Agency in Canton, GA and our number is 770-355- 9569
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