Did you miss a previous chapter? Check them out here! Grand Canyon Getaway.
Jake watched the dust float in the bright sunshine streaming through the car window. As much as he loved road trips he would be grateful when they found a place to stop and use the potty. He was getting bored of staring out the window at this brown, dusty landscape and maybe when they stopped it would be a gas station where he could get candy. He really liked any type of candy, but right now a Snickers sounded pretty good.
“Mama, when are we going to stop?” Julia’s question came so quickly on his own thought it was like she was reading his mind! Julia was his oldest sister. She was 13 and she was a good sister most of the time (except when she was bossy). Julia sat in the right middle seat of their Suburban, right in front of him, and she had been able to see the dust in the sunshine as well.
“Yeah! Will we stop soon?” asked Jasmine. Jasmine was his second oldest sister – she was 11. Jasmine loved candy just as much as Jake did and could be counted on to lobby for a gas station instead of a rest stop with mama so they’d have a chance to get a sweet.
Mama glanced into the rear view mirror at the kids in the back of the car.
“Oh, you’re all awake, are you?” she said. “And now you’re ready for a break? We will stop in a little bit, ok?”
“We’re all awake except Jayleen,” Julia said. “She’s still sleeping.”
Jayleen had been asleep, but she woke up when she heard her name. “Julia!” she whined. “Why did you wake me up?!” Jayleen always had a hard time waking up and today was no different. But Jake knew that as soon as Jayleen was fully awake she’d go right back to being his partner in mischief. They were always getting into scrapes together!
Julia and Jayleen squabbled back and forth about the rude awakening for a few minutes until Mama told them both to hush. Mama could only take a few minutes of grumbling, ever, before she’d say, “Alright, now, hush. I mean it – HUSH.” And all four of the kids knew that tone of voice meant business!
Mama was the reason they were all in the car driving across the dusty Arizona desert. Mama was a writer, and had gotten a job for the next year with Adventure travel magazine to travel around the country with her family and write about different places people could go and see. Her job was to promote locations, unearth unusual facts, and generally write about it so that other people who were traveling with families would add the destination to their itinerary. Because the writing was supposed to appeal to people with children, Mama brought all four of the kids along with her. So far it had been kind of fun – and they were all getting really good at deciding which rest stops were best (the one in Texas built into the side of the hill with an enormous star was their favorite so far) and also putting up with Mama when she started telling them all sorts of random facts about the places they were visiting.
This week’s travel destination was the Grand Canyon. Already Jake knew that the Grand Canyon was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, cut a mile deep into the ground, and had the Colorado River running through it. It was in the state of Arizona, which until now, he’d thought was just a place with lots of sand and cactus. But just a little bit ago they’d driven through snow-topped mountains and a ponderosa pine forest! Mama told him that there were five different climate zones in the United States and that Arizona had all five within its borders. Now, however, they were back to the land that looked thirsty, little hills and scrubby green trees all around.
“It looks like there’s a place just up the road that’s designed to be like the Flintstone’s village,” Mama said from the front seat. “We’ll stop there and see what they have to offer.”
“Who are the Flintstone’s?” Jake asked. Since Jake was the littlest, he was the one who asked the most questions. Jake was six, and the only boy in the family (besides Daddy). Jake was a tad bit smaller than most of the other boys his age, but what he lacked in stature he made up for in energy and curiosity.
Mama started talking about the Flintstones, and how the Flintstones were a family from a cartoon about prehistoric people and their pet dinosaurs that used to be shown on television on Saturday morning. Jake listened for a little while, then shifted in his seat when Mama started talking about how she only had one channel on television when she was growing up. When he shifted, he felt the hard, rectangular object in his pocket rub against his seat belt so he stopped listening to Mama talk about televisions that didn’t have remote controls and cars that didn’t have floorboards so that the people could run them around their town, powered by footsteps.
Carefully, Jake maneuvered his hand into his pocket and began to pull out his most treasured possession. It took a little bit of tugging to get the fabric of his pocket to let it go, but eventually, there it was, filling his hand: The Fastest Car in the West.
The model race car in his hand was the most beautiful thing Jake knew. It was red, a bright, shiny apple red. The car’s trim was white and the black tires looked sharp. The Fastest Car in the West was a model of an old classic American car and Jake knew his Daddy had told him what the year, make and model of the car was, but he’d forgotten it because it really didn’t matter. All Jake needed to know is that it was red, it was beautiful, and it was FAST. The Fastest Car in the West.
It was his favorite.
Jake carried lots of things in his pockets. Pockets were very useful to him – they held all sorts of treasures he could collect as he went about his business. Buttons – he loved buttons! – rocks with unusual shapes, screws, bottle caps, pieces of wire, Jake didn’t really discriminate. If it was interesting and caught his eye, into his pockets it went!
But out of all of the treasures that passed in and out of his pockets there was one constant – the little red die-cast toy car he knew was the fastest car anywhere. That’s why he’d named it the Fastest Car in the West!
Jake felt the Suburban start to slow and heard the click of the turn signal as Mama drove into a driveway.
“Oh, darn!” Mama said. “It looks like they’ve shut down the Flintstone Village!” She was right – even though Jake couldn’t read nearly as well as his older sisters, even he could see that there was a large sign across the front of the building that said, “CLOSED.”
“Well, let’s check out this restaurant and see what we can find instead,” Mama said as she drove across the parking lot.