A Train & Auto Trips to Remember

Well, people, the kid took a vacation. Normally that would mean a few days in Las Vegas, maybe a week somewhere, which would or may not include home. This time, with time being the operative word, my wife and I took a train to Milwaukee. With the both of us retired from working for someone else, we had time to take our time at travel and the vacation itself.

The train ride was indeed a trip. I choose the second seating level in order to view the scenery and take pictures. The only problem with that choice was that the toilets are on the first level. My wife uses a cane because of knee issues. I have one bad knee with the other one deteriorating each year. And we are on high blood pressure medication. The approximately ten to twelve narrow winding stairwell steps can only accommodate one individual at a time. It was like going down or climbing an obstacle course with each step taken reminding us of the lack of cartilage in our knees. I could not change our seating to the first level because the train was full all the way to Chicago.

The scenic view from California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado was outstanding. As for Nebraska and Iowa, it was almost one corn field after another. I got what I wanted in picturesque views. We were so high above sea level in the California Sierra Mountains that the conductor pointed out an Eagles Nest in a tree. Momma and Papa Eagle was home watching us watching them. I saw the nest but could not see the babies who may have been sleeping or something.

At one point while traveling along the Colorado River, the conductor pointed out that we may see all kinds of moons despite the daytime hour. By that time I had already seen what he meant. One of the ladies’ in a group of rafters standing on the river’s bank waving decided to give us a salute for the road. She turns around, pulled down her bikini bottoms and bent over to expose her buttocks. Some passengers were shocked, others amused, and I just smiled. Frankly, I was sorry I didn’t get that picture, just because.

Once at home, which we had not visited in about five years, we realize things change while others stay the same. My sister-in-law and her husband provided great accommodations and sleeping quarters. Arriving the 30th of June, after a three day, two-night train ride, I picked up the rental car the next day. My wife and brother-in-law drove to Chicago’s Greyhound Bus Station to pick up my daughter, Shawn Lynn, later on, that evening.

The following day (July 2nd) we anxiously waited for my son, who had missed his Minnesota connecting flight from California. Anxiously waiting; because he was due to follow us to Plymouth IN.  After trying to reach him by phone with no luck, we took off on the four hour trip to Plymouth.  We all were invited to my sister’s for a pre-holiday weekend barbecue. My wife, daughter, sister-in-law, her husband and I arrived at my sister, Lois house around eight pm. My son, Richie found us a couple of hours later as he drove from Chicago’s Airport to Milwaukee, then to Plymouth to take part in the get-together. My sister and her husband Kenneth put out a spread and were able to accommodate our entire party overnight. It was a grand family affair as her two daughters (Dia and Ursula) along with their husbands (Steve and the Rev. Turner respectively) joined in the festivities the next day. Once again I took pictures of all including a family portrait of Ursula’s family along with her two kids and grandson. Later that evening, we took off for a return trip to Milwaukee.

The next day (July 4th), my sister-in-Law (Cynthia & husband, Jay Yarn) held another Que Party in our honor at her house. Once again family and friends attended, had a great time. I continued to record the event and attendees with my camera. At that point, I remembered thinking how great it is and was these last two days to see family members assembled, laughing and having a great time. It certainly is a scene I sorely miss although my wife and I love California. It brought to mind something I’ve said many times in my writings. There is no joy like seeing, being with, and joking around with family. You may have also read of me saying at one point in my pre-teens, I thought almost everybody in Milwaukee was related to me in some way or another.

The next day was the beginning of the real vacation. I was up-and-at-em by dawn driving around the streets of Milwaukee taking pictures and remembering yesteryear. It is somewhat surreal to sit on my sister-in-law’s front porch and look out on the playground of Siefert’s Elementary School. A school I attended from the third grade up through graduation after the fifth grade. After that, I was enrolled in St. Benedict de Moore. It was a place where I questioned the entire Catholic faith on the fairness of God himself toward Black People. Although a great school, it is now long gone and replaced by an expressway (Freeway) system. My Jr. College, M.A.T.C (Milwaukee Area Technical College) is still there and thriving.

Over the next week and a half, I visited relatives, friends, and former living neighborhoods.  Many visited us while at Cynthia’s House. As always, I missed seeing a few friends and family because of a lack of time or a scheduling conflict on their part. At one point, I’d planned to visit new relatives in Chicago, some ninety miles from Milwaukee. That never happened either. One never gets to see everybody. All, while trying to remember I was on a working vacation. I was supposed to work on my new book which did happen on the train ride but none after that. I was supposed to work on a lot of personal office work related issues. That didn’t happen at all. Mentally, it was one of the best times I’ve had visiting my hometown in which I have so many great, sorrowful, and overall happy memories.  I also found I really needed the rest and recuperation. We had a relaxing ball, you ’all.

Because of the train’s toilet location, we decided to drive back. I reasoned that my wife and I would take our time, visit sights of interest and take more pictures. Well, once on the road, that didn’t happen either. The natural inclination is to hit the road with a vengeance. And that’s what happened. I’ve made the same route and drove three times in over forty years. The first was in 1978; driving alone when moving to California, second, returning home for an early 2000 Family Reunion with my wife and youngest son, Brandon. And finally, the subject completed trip.

We left Cynthia’s on Sunday the 17th of July, an hour later than planned and took another hour to get out of Milwaukee following all the detours because of Expressway repairs. We ran into a cat and dog rainstorm heading to (via the Beloit, WI highway to go around Chicago) Highway 80. On a long drive like that, approximately 2,168 miles that should take a total of 31 hours. The only thing on your mind is to get home. We passed up numerous sites of interest. Thanks for the AAA Trip Tix Cousin Pettis Davis.

We stopped overnight in Hastings NB, and Elko NV, to sleep in a hotel-motel. The closer we got the more, we longed for our bed and the comforts of home. We finally rolled in the Pittsburg, CA about 3:00 pm July 19th. By that time, my eyes were twisted from seeing items, scenery, and people in cars passing by or being passed by us. My wife and I had a combination of allergy reactions and a common cold, thanks to different locality growth and change in climates. Upon immediate arrival, I could have saved money by turning in the rental car that same day. I no longer had the strength to drive further. Returning the car waited until the next day. It’s always great to go on vacation, but there is no feeling like getting back home…for real.

Peace, make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,


Codis Hampton II

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