I stood on the corner, adjusting my tripod to get a level shot of the “Choo-Choo” sign gleaming over Terminal Station in Chattanooga. It was Thanksgiving week of 2012, and I was talking to my father, who was in an assisted living facility in Kansas City. I told him where I was and he began to sing to me. (This video has two sets of people singing; Dorothy Dandridge and the Nicholas Brothers come in at 4:55.)

In 1943, when my father was sixteen and had just finished high school, he and a friend went west to Yosemite, hitchhiking and riding the rails. One time, they sat in a train car loaded with sheets of steel about 1 inch thick and 20 feet long. He said the metal was so hot that they had to use their sleeping bags as padding. Once in Yosemite, they tried to climb Half-Dome without any ropes. They didn’t get far.

Now my father has moved to a memory care facility in the Kansas City area, and I’m in Denver saving money for a trip to Asia. When I last saw him, at Christmas, he wasn’t lucid, though my sister says he has improved since then.

Chattanooga Choo Choo 2 Tenn Nov 2012

In the midst of trip planning, I worry about what will happen in my family this year. When Todd and I come back from the first six months of our trip, in March 2016, will we be able to visit my father at the memory care facility?

If I could, I would get in my time machine, go back to 2011, and do the Asia trip then. Our 12 Cities, 1 Year trip around the United States would work a lot better this year than a trip abroad.


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