Over the years in Utah, we (in dwindling numbers as kids grew up and departed) camped in all the prominent tourist destinations and plenty of obscure ones from the Four Corners to the Canadian border, omitting California except for a foray to the Pacific coast before we turned north, bound for Washington State. I don't know why we ignored California, but I suspect it was because it was too expensive for us.

Fortunately, there are plenty of places for camping beyond the borders of the Golden State. Gen's Ford station wagon held up not only under the mistreatment by her first husband, but also over thousands of miles of trekking the west.

In 1965, Doug and Gen traded the Ford in. Since we were as big as any Mormon family--and practiced good Mormon habits like bulk buying and hoarding food, making everything ourselves, from bread to milk (reconstituted from powder) to mayonnaise--we rightfully should have acquired a Momomobile--a Chevy Suburban.

1965 Dodge vanHowever, Doug's antagonism toward the Mormon Church ran deep. He bought a brand-new, barebones Dodge van with two passenger seats up front, an engine, between them, and two bench seats in the back. Like this one, except ours was green ----------->

Sue said it was like driving a brick wall.

Doug reversed the van's middle seat so it faced the bench in the back, then built a formica-topped table and installed it between the benches.

He rigged the table and benches so they would come out easily, making space for Gen and him to sleep on the van floor. Doug set up an awning on one side that sheltered the backseat bench when it was outside for cleaner seating space than the obligatory campground picnic tables provided. He put in a little sink in a cabinet just behind the driver's seat that housed a five-gallon water supply and an ice chest. Gen sewed curtains for the van windows and denim covers for the sheets of foam they used as a mattress. The kids continued to sleep in the tent, but it was a new one, lighter and easier to set up. On cold mornings, Doug would warm it up for us by hanging a kerosene heater from the center pole before we got out of bed. We visited every national and state park or monument that Gen considered essential: Dead Horse Point, Grand Canyon, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Crater Lake, Glacier, Yellowstone, Dinosaur, Petrified Forest, Canyonlands, Glen Canyon, Arches, Grand Teton, Badlands, Bryce Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, Cedar Breaks, Craters of the Moon, Olympic, Mt. Rushmore, Zion.