August 3, 1966
Have you ever ridden on a motorcycle? For a long trip? Your legs can go to sleep and your hair blows around if you don’t put it in a ponytail. Sometimes a bug hits your arm. I love it.
I never, never thought Dad would let me take a long ride with Wes, but last Monday Dad was supposed to take me to Natural Bridge. That’s a park here in Kentucky with a big rock bridge that you have to walk up a path to get to. Then you can step right out on that bridge. Dad promised me he’d take me before school started up again. Just him and me, a father daughter trip. But, as usual, something came up. Something nearly always comes up when you’re a preacher AND a newspaper editor. This time it was the preacher part that messed up our picnic plans. Jack Meadows had a heart attack and had to be rushed to the hospital. His family is worried sick and what good does it do to have a preacher who doesn’t come pray over you? That’s what preachers have to do. A father daughter trip that can be put off to another day doesn’t trump a long time church member who needs praying over.
I tried not to pout, but I guess maybe I did a little. Even had a tear slip out. I brushed it away fast, but Dad saw me. First he said maybe Leigh could take me, but she’s not been feeling so hot lately. Plus, she couldn’t take off work at the courthouse. Something she had to do. Maybe next week, she said. But next week it would rain. I just know it would. Besides, Leigh wouldn’t want to go without Dad, and somebody else at church would probably get sick or break a leg or something. The people at church are always needing Dad to do some praying for them.
Anyway, Dad asked Wes if he would take me. On his motorcycle. Fun to the tenth degree! Dad kept telling Wes things about how to be careful until Wes twisted his mouth all sideways the way he does when he’s trying not to say something that might start an argument. Dad must have noticed too because he stopped giving Wes orders and told us to have fun. But he still looked a little worried.
I wasn’t worried. I’ve ridden with Wes a lot on his motorcycle. Never on a trip that took an hour, but other than getting those stiff legs, it’s no different. I just hang on and Wes does all the driving. The best thing is that he keeps most of the bugs from hitting me because they hit him first. He laughed when I asked him if he ever got a bug in his mouth and said sure he had. That some bugs were considered a delicacy up on Jupiter where he’s always telling me he’s from. Of course, they catch them in their teeth when they are zooming around up there in convertible spaceships. He claims his was bright green. Not the bug, but the space ship.
Before we got to the park, we stopped at a little place where you walked up to a window and got ice cream and soft drinks. Wes said morning was always the best time to eat ice cream. We could worry about the sandwiches I packed for our lunch later, unless we decided to get more ice cream instead. Finally we were ready to hike up to the bridge. The brochure we got said it was less than a mile, but part of that was up. I think Wes needed that spaceship when it got steep. He’s sort of old for hiking. But when I asked if he needed to rest, he said I wasn’t to worry. That Jupiterians always panted a little when they had to walk very far on another planet.
Anyway, the trail did level out and then we had to squeeze through Fat Man’s Misery. Since neither Wes nor I are fat, we didn’t have any problem. It was weird up on top. Wow, we were high up. My legs felt a little jittery. Like they weren’t sure that what my head was telling them to do was exactly safe. I stayed in the middle of the bridge, but Wes walked right to the edge and looked over. My stomach got jittery then too just watching him. But he was fine. Not at all worried about being up so high without any rails or anything to keep a person from tumbling right off that bridge. He said once you rode around in spaceships, heights didn’t bother you anymore. My legs got better as we walked on across and I stood a little bit closer to the edge and wanted to shout or something. But other people were up there on the bridge too and I didn’t want people to think I was crazy or something. Wes said I shouldn’t worry about that and to just shout it out if I felt like it. He said most of us earth people are pretty crazy anyway and it’s better just to admit that and have a little fun.
After we climbed down, we did eat those sandwiches and went to the gift shop. I started to buy a cup and saucer with Natural Bridge on it. It had a wooden stand that propped the saucer up behind the cup and was so cute. But then I thought it might get broken on the ride back to Hollyhill. So I got a little felt banner on a stick instead. It has a picture of Natural Bridge on it and I can pin it up on my bedroom wall.
And oh yeah, we did stop and get more ice cream on the way home. Wes is the best granddaddy buddy in the world!
Have you ever been to the Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky? Did you walk up or did you ride the sky lift? Wes says if he ever goes back, he’s going to go the easy way on that lift. I hope I get to go with him.