Honeymoon Revisited

Today is my wedding anniversary. On July 15, 1972, my husband Warner and I said our vows in the church I attended as a child in West Virginia. Yes, 49 years ago.

Best man handing Warner the wedding ring

On July 24, we set out on our honeymoon, a four-week journey cross country. As an elementary reading specialist in Montgomery County, Maryland schools, I had the

Susan & Warner heading out

summer off. Working construction and deciding what to do with a history degree, my new husband also had the time free. We’d purchased a bare-bones, (standard shift & no back seat) white Volkswagen van we named Lurch, after the character in the TV show The Addams Family. Warner used his new carpentry skills and outfitted it for camping, but because he grew up sailing, the interior results resembled a boat cabin. I sewed the covers for the mattress and curtains. My aunt gave us a Coleman cooler, lantern, and camp stove as wedding gifts. We still have the cooler. We were on a budget, so we saw the West by visiting national and state parks rather than cities.

From Tacoma Park, Maryland, on July 24, armed with a Rand McNally Road Atlas and excitement, we headed west. We opted to take the southern route west and the northern back. I documented much of the expedition with my small Kodak film camera. Film meant we didn’t see our photos until after we returned home.

Today I’m sharing a few highlights. That first day, we made it to the Buckeye Lake KOA in Ohio in late afternoon under cloudy skies. In 1972, a campsite without electricity cost about $2 a night, plus quarters to deposit in a slot for a hot shower. A couple parked near our site were wrestling with a huge tent as we parked beside our picnic table and got out our stove.

Warner in Lurch

Raindrops soon plunked on the metal. We stuffed the stove and the meal ingredients (no idea now what) inside and went to help the couple, who we learned had bought their tent that very day. The downpour lasted all night, and instead of cooking our first camping meal on the Coleman stove, we ate cold chili out of cans.

Newlyweds in the cooler temps of the Rockies

Things went uphill from there. Literally, once we left Kansas.

After a couple of stops to visit friends, we arrived in Colorado. (July 30) I grew up in the Appalachians, so the Rockies were a whole different scene. We toured Estes Park Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park. Poor Lurch struggled up and over the Continental Divide, but didn’t overheat because of the air-cooled engine (in the rear, remember). We did stop several times to give it a rest.


Driving the Continental Divide, our VW van

From Colorado, we headed south through Utah. An acquaintance had given me a used portable “air conditioner.” The contraption sat on the floor. You filled its box with ice and plugged the cord into the cigarette lighter. And voilà, cool air. Except this device wasn’t equipped to handle the Utah desert heat. A mere half hour later, the ice melted and flooded the floor. At the next gas station, we dumped the beast.

In Arizona, we camped in the national park campground on the South Rim (Aug. 2) and hiked, but not down into the Grand Canyon.

Susan at campsite

On across the Mojave Desert to California and San Francisco, where we did stay at a hotel in the city to do some touring of the waterfront and Chinatown.

Moving north along the coast, we climbed dunes at a beach in Oregon and drove the loop in Olympic National Park. After Washington, we headed east to Montana’s Glacier National Park (Aug.17), where we saw more than one glacier and the first moose for both

Cow moose with young

of us. Glacier was our favorite of all the parks, with Yellowstone a close second. In Cody, Wyoming, we attended a rodeo. I wonder what the locals in their Western shirts and hats thought of this longhaired couple. Then through the Badlands and downhill the rest of the way. After a couple of days in West Virginia visiting my parents, we returned to our small apartment in Maryland with 15,600 miles on the VW van (Aug. 27). Lurch had needed a couple of repairs along the way, but never broke down.

Warner and I didn’t live together until we married, so this trip might’ve challenged our relationship. Maybe it did occasionally, but not enough that either of us remembers that part. Forty-nine years later, we’re still each other’s best friend, lover, and partner.

Thank you for letting me share my reminiscences.

About susanvaughan

Susan Vaughan loves writing romantic suspense because it throws the hero and heroine together under extraordinary circumstances and pits them against a clever villain. Her books have won the Golden Leaf, More Than Magic, and Write Touch Readers’ Award and been a finalist for the Booksellers’ Best and Daphne du Maurier awards. A former teacher, she’s a West Virginia native, but she and her husband have lived in the Mid-Coast area of Maine for many years. Her latest release is GENUINE FAKE, a stand-alone book in the Devlin Security Force series. Find her at www.susanvaughan.com or on Facebook as Susan H. Vaughan or on Twitter @SHVaughan.
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23 Responses to Honeymoon Revisited

  1. Quite a journey! After surviving that as a couple, 49 years of marriage must have been a breeze. 😉 Thanks for sharing. Whatever happened to Lurch?

    • Anonymous says:

      First of all congratulations on your anniversary! Thanks for sharing the trip! Loved hearing about it!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you asked about Lurch. Lurch came to Maine with us in 1977. We camped a few more times in various scenic spots here. I don’t remember what year we sold it, but it wasn’t very good in snow and ice, so we needed 4W drive.

    • susanvaughan says:

      I am corrected, by my Car Guy. Lurch finally rusted out. That was when we had to get rid of it. About 1988 or so, I think.

  2. chickadee04287 says:

    Congratulations on 49 years! I remember those days, a different era but the excitement of being newly married and in love is timeless and precious.

  3. kaitlynkathy says:

    What a journey and such good memories. We had college friends who revamped a school bus into a camper and did much the same thing after their 1972 wedding, although they started in Maine and went to Canada first, then headed south. They stopped along the way to get jobs to earn enough to keep going. I don’t think they got too far west. They got homesick for Maine and came back.

  4. John Clark says:

    Nice bit of sharing. Beth and I got married in 1977 right after Labor Day. We took the ferry from BBar Harbor and after a delay for a plugged carburator (fortunately she had a cousin we stayed with) after arriving in Halifax, we spent the rest of the week circling Nova Scotia.

  5. Brenda Buchanan says:

    What a lovely post and a nice way to start the day, Susan. Happy Anniversary to you and Warner!

  6. Our anniversary today, too. Thanks for sharing your adventure. In 1978, we bought a house, went on a trip from San Francisco to Vancouver and took the train across Canada. Then We got married but I stayed in Maine working in the AG’s office and he moved into our house.


  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s our anniversary today, too. Though we are only at 43 years.


  8. This is wonderful! We celebrated 50 this year in January and had wanted to renew our vows on Las Vegas with an Elvis impersonator. Well, we’re in Vegas now but six months too late. We’ll have fun anyhow.

  9. williamdandrews says:

    Happy anniversary! Loved the description of your honeymoon trip. How are you celebrating today? Our 50th was in May of 2020 and we expected to have a large party of friends and family–then the plague hit. So we’re doing a delayed party this September–for 51+ Hope you’re finding a fun way to celebrate today!

  10. My stars and garters, Susan! This is an amazing post. How great you still have the pics, and they’re in such good shape. I admire y’all so much. I’d never have made that trip back then. Not sure I would now unless maybe ???? in one of the big travel vans. Congratulations and may you have another 49 years. 🙂

  11. Marilyn Lugner says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and photos – it looks like a marvelous trip! My husband and I did a two month cross country camping trip in a Honda Accord hatchback in the 90’s; we have such fond memories of that trip.

  12. itslorrie says:

    Belated Happy Anniversary! I really enjoyed hearing about your travels and seeing your pictures. We share this anniversary date with you and Kate. 31 years for us. Congratulations to you all.

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