Tuesday, February 10, 2015

1968: Utah to Kentucky by Automobile

I love to travel and one of my first experiences of extended travel happened while I was age 11 and in sixth grade at Lowell School in Salt Lake City. I wrote the following about 20 years ago:

"Dad, Grandfather and Grandmother Cannon and I drove back east to pick up [my brother] Mike from his mission. We drove on I-80 through Wyoming and stayed our first night in Ogallala, Nebraska. We continued on through Lincoln (home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a very good football team) to Omaha (I was very impressed with how clean the city looked) and then through Des Moines, Iowa. We traveled through Illinois and up to Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, where Dad visited a client named Leo Rothe. We traveled on Highway 12 southeast from Fort Atkinson through the toll booths in Chicago and then around the edge of Lake Michigan and northeast to South Bend, Indiana where we stayed Friday and Saturday nights. While in South Bend, we drove north to cross the Michigan state line so that I could say I had been there (I was counting the number of states I visited).

            On Saturday, November 9, 1968, Dad and I went to the Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh football game at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Dad bought the tickets in the hotel lobby. I watched tape replays of the Notre Dame games every Sunday morning on television, so I knew the team well: Ara Parseghian was coach, Terry Hanratty was quarterback, Coley O’Brien and Bob Gladieux were halfbacks, Ron Dushney was fullback, All-American Jim Seymour was split-end and other names I knew well were right tackle George Kunz and linebacker Bob Kuechenberg. I was disappointed when we got to the game to find that Terry Hanratty was injured and would not play. Joe Thiesmann, in his first start at Notre Dame was his replacement (Thiesmann went on to have a distinguished career in the NFL). Notre Dame won 49-0. I still have the ticket stubs: we were in Section 6, Row 38, Seats 16 and 17 on the northeast side of the stadium near the goal line. I have the Official Program which cost $.50 and a large green and white “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button. 

            The next day we traveled south on Highway 31 to Indianapolis and then south on I-65. Dad knew that one of my favorite players was Jim Seymour, so Dad stopped for lunch in Seymour, Indiana at the Holiday Inn. I had fried chicken.

            We continued south and ultimately crossed the Ohio River into Louisville, Kentucky. There we stopped at the Mission Home and learned that Mike was at Church. We got directions and walked into Church just as Mike was speaking. He was surprised and got teary as he mentioned each of us by name as we sat down in the congregation. 

            Mike mentioned that one of the elders in the Mission Home would do all kinds of crazy thinks in his sleep at night. The next morning when we picked him up, Mike told us the elder stood up during the night and said, “Elder Cannon, I’ll defend you,” and started punching the wall. The next morning the Elder was rubbing his knuckles and wondering why they hurt so much.

            As we drove through Kentucky, Mike described the large amount of tobacco harvested locally. He had several animal skin caps, a fox and a skunk, which I really liked. We found them for sale, but they were very expensive, about $35 or $40. When we drove by a sign for Paducah, Mike referred to the “Duke of Paducah” (I have no idea why I remember that). I was introduced to “Mountain Dew” for the first time (a vending machine at a gas station) and really liked it (I did not discover until years later that it is highly caffeinated).

             On the drive back to Utah, Mike, Dad and I shared a hotel room (Grandmother and Grandfather got one of their own) and we always had two beds. Dad and Mike would fight over which one of them had to sleep with me because I was such a restless sleeper (I kicked and rolled around and talked a lot). They never arrived at the obvious solution which was to let me sleep alone in one bed and they could sleep together!

            We drove through St. Louis, Missouri where we saw the Gateway Arch near the Mississippi River (the St. Louis Cardinals were my favorite professional baseball team and I liked the St. Louis Cardinals football team which had Larry Wilson as the all-pro safety, a University of Utah graduate). We stayed in a ramshackle pre-built motel on the west side of St. Louis.

            We traveled the I-40 to Kansas City, where we stopped in the suburbs of Independence (and took a guided tour of the RLDS Tabernacle) and Liberty (where we saw the prison Joseph Smith was held captive in for 6 months). From Kansas City we took the I-70 across Kansas. It was flat as far as the eye could see. We got into a terrible rainstorm that terrified me. Dad had the windshield wipers going full bore and still could hardly see the road. The wind was buffeting the car terribly. When we passed large semi trucks, the buffeting and visibility got worse. I was very afraid. We ultimately made it to Denver, Colorado, where we stayed the night in a Day’s Inn. That night, our car was broken into and Dad’s camera, among other things, was stolen. Later that day, Dad turned in front of a speeding on-coming car on the outskirts of Denver and we our car was hit broadside. We dealt with police two different times that morning and I decided I would never go to Denver or stay in a Day’s Inn again." 

We visited 12 states, including my home state on that trip [Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas], and note that my father drove me to Michigan just so I could say I'd been there. Now, 46 years later, I think I've been back to Denver and Colorado eight years in a row and I'm still counting states. The more things change the more things stay the same. 


  1. Wow, it's amazing to see that even then you had a mind for incredible detail. You and Judy have much in common. Great story!

  2. Some things never change: the love of travel and interest in animals, dead or alive. What a treasure!

  3. Chris, I was thinking the same thing. Counting states he has visited? He's still doing it. Able to recount meals twenty years later? He can still do it. The skunk hat? He has one now. Incredible memory for football players and stats? Yup, that's Bob.

  4. Very cool story about Notre Dame. My favorite movie is Rudy.