I visited the National Parks of the United States of America (not all of them of course) on a coach trip holiday with my parents and brother Richard in 1995.
Mum and Dad liked to travel and generously invited us to accompany them on a Travelsphere coach trip holiday to the mid-west mountain states of the USA on a journey that would start more or less at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and finish at the Grand Canyon in Colorado. That is the sort of invitation that his hard to turn down so we explained things to our families, packed our cowboy gear and our denims, changed some sterling for dollars and set off in search of the old Wild West.
It was a long way to go of course and as you might imagine the first day was mostly taken up with travel. We flew from Gatwick Airport in Surrey and at the airport check-in desk we had our first embarrassing moment. An airline official moved down the queue asking the obligatory questions including ‘did you pack the bag yourself?’ ‘Has anybody given you anything to carry through?’ The answers to which of course are YES and NO! Mum however decided to own up on Richard’s behalf to a thoughtful gift of a bottle of gin from his children, which led to a ‘are you taking the piss’ sort of look from the airline official and the pair of us hoping that the floor would quietly open up and swallow us to spare our state of extreme embarrassment!
The flight from England was to Minneapolis in Minnesota, which is a State about half way across the North American continent with a border to the north with Canada and to the east with Lake Superior. Minneapolis has a Scandanavian heritage and according to the most recent United States census there are more than four and a half million Norwegian Americans and most live in the Upper Midwest and currently comprise the tenth largest American ancestry group. In Minnesota 868,361 Minnesotans claim Norwegian ancestry, 16.5% of the population of the State. No wonder then that in professional football the team from Minneapolis is officially named the Minnesota Vikings a name that is partly meant to reflect Minnesota’s importance as a center of Scandinavian American culture.
Minneapolis sounded like an interesting sort of place sitting adjacent to the Mississippi river surrounded by lakes and water but unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of it at all, except for the airport, because we were only landing here and waiting for a transfer further west to Rapid City in South Dakota. The US immigration officials greeted us in their normal friendly and charming way, with a surly manner and an intimidating list of dumb questions and once we had endured the indignity of a typical US welcome we roamed the airport shops and had a first beer on American soil. Finally we made the connection and took the short flight in a clapped out aeroplane that rattled all the way to our final destination for this leg of the journey and the starting point for our National Parks adventure.
It was late and it was dark and we were tired so we were glad when the coach dropped us off at the Quality Inn motel on North Lacrosse Street just out of the city centre.
It was too late for the bar or the whirlpool tub so we checked in and explored our adjoining rooms that were spacious, warm and comfortable. Almost immediately the welcoming ambience was destroyed when Richard let out an almighty fart that judging by the obnoxious odour had been brewing in his intestines for some considerable time and which went right off the stink meter. Even if I hadn’t been exhausted I would certainly have been rendered immediately unconscious by this unholy blast and I collapsed into bed and complained vociferously before falling into a deep sleep.
Some time during the night Dad woke up and being completely disorientated in the blacked out room came stumbling into ours in search of the bathroom. He managed to get himself thoroughly tangled up in the curtains and whilst fighting for a way through successfully managed to wake us all up some time before the scheduled breakfast.
The postcard images were all originally purchased in 1995 on the Coach Trip.