Pat and the kids and I were on one of our vacation trips back to Kansas. Russ and Doug were almost six and Terri was almost three. We were on our favorite route which took us through the Salt River Canyon in eastern Arizona and on to Show Low and Springerville. Traveling on Highway 60 was an easy way through the mountains and after crossing into New Mexico takes us to Pie Town, Socorro, and Vaughn.
This particular night, it was getting pretty late and the kids were fussy and hadn’t dropped off to sleep yet. We always started our trips in the evening so the kids would fall asleep and we could have a peaceful ride without listening to “Are we there, yet” and the other normal kid stuff. Doug was complaining that he had to go to the bathroom. We were never sure whether he really had to go or just wanted to check the place out. We called him the “Bathroom Inspector” and I guess every family has one. Actually, they are just curious kids who want to get out of the car and see something new.
Russ was behaving well and only said that he was hungry. Terri, who was normally quiet and easy-going, however, was crying and whining because she didn’t want to sleep in the car. She wanted to sleep in her own bed. She had a “thing” about her bed. You could change the sheets and make up the bed but after that don’t sit on it and don’t touch it. When it was bed time she headed for bed without complaint and after being tucked in, went right to sleep.
As we got into Pie Town, we spotted a diner on the north side of the road and pulled in. We thought we should have some pie in Pie Town. That and some coffee for Pat and I and some milk for the kids should fix us all up for the night. We made our way to the counter and seated ourselves on the stools. There was a cowboy sitting at the end of the counter and he noticed that Terri was fussing about something. He asked her what was wrong and she told him she didn’t want to sleep in the car. He told her that she would probably feel better if she could hear some music. He looked over at us and we nodded and he picked Terri up and took her over and sat her down on top of the juke box. He fished a nickel out of his pocket and put it in the slot. Then, he picked up Terri again and held her so she could see the buttons and explained to her how to push the button and select a song. Terri was intrigued by all of this and had quieted down. She pushed a button and in a few seconds, we could hear Bobby Bare singing “Detroit City”. Things are going great and we are all enjoying the music until Bobby gets to the chorus. Then, he sings out, loud and clear, “I wanna go home, I wanna go home!” Terri starts crying and yelling, “I wanna go home, too!” We were right back where we started. The cowboy had been thinking he had done something good but Terri’s song selection had wiped that out and now he was left with a red face. Pat and I had enjoyed the peace and quiet but that was over. We finally finished our pie and bathroom trips and got everyone back in the car and took off down the road.
The kids settled down and went to sleep and Pat and I relaxed and looked forward to an uneventful drive through New Mexico. Some hours later, we were a few miles from Vaughn and saw the most amazing sight. We were in an area of rolling hills and those hills were covered with jack rabbits! Everywhere we looked there were jackrabbits and their eyes were reflecting the headlights of the car. Mostly, they were setting in pairs so it must have been some kind of a mating thing. There were hundreds or maybe thousands of them. There wasn’t any traffic at that time of night so I slowed down and Pat tried to wake the kids. I don’t know if any of them got fully awake or if they remember seeing the jack rabbits. It was something that Pat and I will never forget.
December 3, 2014