Reflections III

I

n my last post, I wrote that I did not do many things with my father. And we didn’t, at least not on a regular basis. However, one thing we did do virtually every summer was go on summer vacation. It was the Onigiri family road trip, and we inevitably went to places that were of interest to him: Visiting his senryu friends, distant relatives, national parks and California missions.

My earliest recollection of a vacation was to Yosemite National Park. We went with a group of church friends, I think about 8 of us, and stayed in one of those cabin/bungallows. I don’t remember the ride there–I probably fell asleep–but I remember riding in a friend’s car and arriving there late at night. The tall trees were eerily silent in the darkness, and it freaked me out–I was, after all, from the suburbs of LA where the tallest trees were palm trees. But anyway, I remember very little of the trip except for what I can glean from photographs. My memory is more reliable after 1961 when the family went on trips with our own car.

We went to a number of places in state. My earliest memory of a trip in our car was to San Diego. We went to Sea World and to the San Diego Zoo. We also went to the mission at San Juan Capisrano. I know we went to these places because I have seen photos of them. But I remember little of these places. Years later when I revisited the Zoo, I didn’t remember a single detail. But I did remember two things from the trip. We stayed in a motel with a swimming pool and I ate my first Jack in the Box hamburger. I remember the pool, because I didn’t bring my swim trunks with me and could only watch the others kids swimming. I remember Jack in the Box, because I decided then that it was far superior to Macdonald’s. Of course, I realize that isn’t saying much…

In any event, most of the other trips were up north to see my father’s friends in Palo Alto or Reedley, CA. On these trips, we would also make stops at Yosemite or Sequoia, as well as the many Catholic missions established by Junipero Serra up and down California. For me between the age of 7 and 12, one mission pretty much looked like the rest of them: San Fernando, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ines, San Rafael. One particularly mission, San Luis Rey, was considered the king of all missions, but surprisingly was in the middle of nowhere, in some hot, desolate, dried up place. It was dusty and didn’t have the green lawn it apparently has now. (photo) At least that’s how I remember it. My father was probably tuckered out from all the driving, and I remember him looking to sit down in the shade somewhere, anywhere, every chance he got.

When we went to Sequoia National Park, it was the same. Most of the sites require you to walk from place to place and my father, who was frail to begin with, often looked older than he already was, which was already over 50. He’d find a log or rock to park himself whenever there was something interesting enough to distract my mother and us kids. As I go through my fathers poems, I was tickled to find a rather self-effacing poem that reflected some of these memories. Composed in 1966, the poem conveys a real sense of my father back then, I think.

どの石も椅子に見えてる山登り

dono ishi mo
isu ni mieteru
yama nobori

Each and every rock
begins to look like a chair–
hiking in the mountains

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Reflections III

I

n my last post, I wrote that I did not do many things with my father. And we didn’t, at least not on a regular basis. However, one thing we did do virtually every summer was go on summer vacation. It was the Onigiri family road trip, and we inevitably went to places that were of interest to him: Visiting his senryu friends, distant relatives, national parks and California missions.

My earliest recollection of a vacation was to Yosemite National Park. We went with a group of church friends, I think about 8 of us, and stayed in one of those cabin/bungallows. I don’t remember the ride there–I probably fell asleep–but I remember riding in a friend’s car and arriving there late at night. The tall trees were eerily silent in the darkness, and it freaked me out–I was, after all, from the suburbs of LA where the tallest trees were palm trees. But anyway, I remember very little of the trip except for what I can glean from photographs. My memory is more reliable after 1961 when the family went on trips with our own car.

We went to a number of places in state. My earliest memory of a trip in our car was to San Diego. We went to Sea World and to the San Diego Zoo. We also went to the mission at San Juan Capisrano. I know we went to these places because I have seen photos of them. But I remember little of these places. Years later when I revisited the Zoo, I didn’t remember a single detail. But I did remember two things from the trip. We stayed in a motel with a swimming pool and I ate my first Jack in the Box hamburger. I remember the pool, because I didn’t bring my swim trunks with me and could only watch the others kids swimming. I remember Jack in the Box, because I decided then that it was far superior to Macdonald’s. Of course, I realize that isn’t saying much…

In any event, most of the other trips were up north to see my father’s friends in Palo Alto or Reedley, CA. On these trips, we would also make stops at Yosemite or Sequoia, as well as the many Catholic missions established by Junipero Serra up and down California. For me between the age of 7 and 12, one mission pretty much looked like the rest of them: San Fernando, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ines, San Rafael. One particularly mission, San Luis Rey, was considered the king of all missions, but surprisingly was in the middle of nowhere, in some hot, desolate, dried up place. It was dusty and didn’t have the green lawn it apparently has now. (photo) At least that’s how I remember it. My father was probably tuckered out from all the driving, and I remember him looking to sit down in the shade somewhere, anywhere, every chance he got.

When we went to Sequoia National Park, it was the same. Most of the sites require you to walk from place to place and my father, who was frail to begin with, often looked older than he already was, which was already over 50. He’d find a log or rock to park himself whenever there was something interesting enough to distract my mother and us kids. As I go through my fathers poems, I was tickled to find a rather self-effacing poem that reflected some of these memories. Composed in 1966, the poem conveys a real sense of my father back then, I think.

どの石も椅子に見えてる山登り

dono ishi mo
isu ni mieteru
yama nobori

Each and every rock
begins to look like a chair–
hiking in the mountains