By Junior Johnson
In the summer of 1988 my son Kevin and I took a cross-country vacation. We called it the “JUGS Trip” (Just Us Guys). He’d completed his school year with a 4.0 GPA and I thought this was a better way to reward his achievement than putting a “Terrific Kid” sticker on my car.
The ultimate destination was to be at my Aunt’s home in Huntington Beach, Cali. Aunt Gayle had a son who was two months older than Kevin but they’d never met. We loaded my little red Renault Alliance convertible and hit the road.
Our first stop was in Edmond, Okla. We experienced one of the first adventures: a tornado was spotted. We immediately headed to a storm shelter where we spent several anxious hours before an alarm sounded that all was clear. Kevin was impressed with the experience in the cave. In Louisiana we had hurricanes to deal with but this was totally different.
The following day we toured the flight line at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. The Officers had Kevin spellbound with their stories.
The next leg of our journey was the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. We were in awe. The desert gave way to the forest. Our next stop was the Grand Canyon.
We took a mule ride down the canyon, a three-hour journey down a trail less than two feet wide, with almost 2,000 feet below us. The Colorado River looked liked a little blue ribbon below us.
Next stop…Las Vegas.
Kevin was excited about a 3-Ring Circus that performed INSIDE a hotel there. The hotel was appropriately named Circus Circus. It was the most entertaining show we’d ever seen.
Arriving at our relatives home after the last leg of our journey, my Aunt and I prepared a picnic lunch and headed to Huntington Beach. The boys had a great time boogie-boarding and flirting with the girls. Kevin was very popular because they loved his accent.
We eventually said our goodbyes and began our journey back to Louisiana.
We stopped in El Paso, Texas and crossed into Juarez, Mexico. Border cities have a lot of poverty and Kevin saw this for the first time in his young life.
There were numerous children approaching our car wanting to sell their wares. They were dressed in rags, with as much dirt on them as on the street. Kevin was almost speechless at the sight of these little kids.
I woke at some point during the night to the sound of sobbing. Kevin couldn’t sleep thinking about those poor children.
To some, the expression, “God Works In Mysterious Ways” may seem redundant, but not for me. Eight years after this amazing trip we lost our precious Kevin in a car accident.
I thank God constantly for giving us the opportunity to make this trip. There are many memories I cherish from the years Kevin was with me, but in my heart this trip was a reward for me to cherish through my life, however long that may be.
One day we will ALL JOIN OUR LOVED ONES AGAIN.