Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It must be the weather ...

Like Maggie, my 'TSTL' moment came when I was a child. I think I was about 8 or 10 when this happened, during my 'barefoot summer' days.

It was on the first trip our family took in an air-conditioned car (yes, I remember days pre-airco). Our family took a trip together every summer (and my parents took a separate vacation from us every fall). My father would pull out a map of the US, put a compass down and draw a circle and say, "We can go anywhere inside the circle."

The kids would all write to the places we were interested in and soon pamphlets and brochures from Chambers of Commerce started arriving. We'd plan the trip, making sure that each night included a hotel with (1) a pool (for the kids) and (2) a restaurant with a bar (for the grown-ups).

So we took a trip to Colorado one July, Pikes Peak being the goal. The five of us piled into the Dadmobile (an Impala) and took off, stopping at just about every roadside attraction along the way. This was in the pre-Interstate days or the 'just brand new' Interstate days, so we often had a lot of diversions to keep us occupied.

We got to the Badlands of South Dakota and decided to stop at an overlook. Dad parked the car in the newly tarred parking lot and the kids piled out and started to run toward the edge of the overlook.

Did I mention we had air-conditioning and this was July? Did I mention I always -- ALWAYS -- went barefoot?

I'd run about 10 yards when I realized I was burning my feet. We'd been so long in the car we'd forgotten it was hot. It was probably 100 degrees outside and on the parking lot -- you could have fried an egg. I stopped, screamed, and started running back to the car.

A teenage kid nearby saw what was happening and he scooped me up. Otherwise I would have been crippled. He brought me back to the car, and we (the whole family) examined the damage. Blisters underneath tar. I stuck my feet in the cooler while the family oohed and ahhed over the Badlands. Then we proceeded to Wall (home of Wall Drug) and a doctor who cleaned my feet of tar, bandaged my feet, gave me some salve and sent me on my way.

I still remember sitting on the veranda of the biggest hotel I'd ever seen (in Colorado Springs, I think), with my feet in bandages and staring out at the Rockies. Within a couple of days I was fully mobile again but it took a long time before I was able to go barefoot -- I had to grow a new layer of skin to replace the one that sloughed off.

Yep, it was memorable, just like the time I had to jump off a trestle to avoid being hit by a train and landed in quickmud and lost my boots. I had to go barefoot that time, too, but luckily it was April so I didn't get frostbite.

But that's a story for another time ...

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