Kip Stowell’s Travel Journal (Walton Stowell Sr.)

Written in cursive by Kip during their 1954 road-trip.

Transcribed by Walton Jr. (Kip’s Son)

Monday June 21, 1954

Well it doesn’t seem true, but at last we’ve headed West for California! After biding friends good-by, shutting off water and electricity, cutting hair, and a million other jobs, we got started about five of eleven in the morning. We stopped to say good-by to Gramma and Harry in New Salem. They were waiting for us since five o’clock this morning! In Amherst we stopped by Glenn and Marion to say that we were leaving, but they asked us to dinner. What a dinner!! Steak, rolls, potatoes, cake, doughnuts, ice-cream and ‘all the rest’. It was nice riding on the New Jersey & Merit Parkways. A beautiful day to start. We have now decided to stop and get a place to sleep, also to eat the friend chicken we brought along. We have stopped at the ‘New Hope Cottage Motel’ one mile west of the Delaware River in New Hope, PA.

Tuesday June 22, 1954

The alarm went off at half-past four this morning but we didn’t start rolling until about quarter of six. When we stopped in Norristown, PA. We almost left Mama in the ladies’ room. This sure turned out a fine day. We all enjoyed the view on the PA turn-pike. What a highway. Everyone seemed to think that the PA country-side farm-lands are just as purty as our New England. The long tunnels fascinated all. I was surprised to find Wheeling, WV such a fine city. [interesting note] Many nice homes (and of course its mining shacks) and clean streets. Coming into Ohio (Zanesville to be exact) we ran into a cloud burst. How it rained for awhile. We stopped early at ‘Welcome Inn’ motel in Hebron, Ohio. Very nice lodging so far. Jr.’s bed for tonight is two chairs and a stool.

Wednesday June 23, 1954

I forgot to mention that we were stopped for passing a red light, here in Hebron, Ohio. Mother, Dad, and I drove today! We got started about six this morning (really five). We had breakfast in a modern restaurant a few miles west of Columbus. The fun came when we stopped in Dayton, Ohio to visit friends. First Henry Peabody and family. Henry was at work, but his wife showed us around the cute house. Next we surprised the Martins. Lois and Janet seemed as glad to see us as we were they. It was a grand reunion, our next one shall be at Sunapee. Mrs. Martin guided us over to Phylis (Paine) Martin on Grant Street. Had fun visiting. I like Dayton, as much as I saw. Had a fine dinner in Richmond, Indiana. Kept eyes open in Indianapolis, a fine city. Have now stepped in Vandalia, Ill. at the ‘Elite Motel’, the best so far. New oil wells around here.

Thursday June 24, 1954

We got started in good season today. Went through St. Louis and of course crossed the Mississippi River. As we left St. Louis it began to get warm. We saw many corn and wheat fields. There were many more trees than I had expected. The land is quite flat, but the farm-houses and fields, trees, and wind-mills make the country-side interesting. It seemed that we were in Missouri for a long time. The roads here are excellent. I was glad too get into Oklahoma, because I have always wanted to see what it was like there. It is as beautiful and colorful here in Oklahoma, as the musical says!! Tonight we are staying in the ‘Tulsa Motel’. We have a two room house with bath and garage. Very, very nice. Tulsa is one of the prettiest most beautiful cities I have seen. The buildings are very nice, very modern.

Friday June 25, 1954

After leaving Tulsa, OK (early) we got onto the Tulsa Turnpike that took us to Oklahoma City. Along the way we saw beautiful rolling country-side and small farm-houses with wind-mills, characteristic of Oklahoma. We saw the wheat being harvested and the small cotton plants coming along. Soon we were in the great state of Texas, and got a look at the ‘wide open spaces’. You can look for miles and miles and see nothing but grass and wheat with a few farm-houses stuck in a clump of trees out in the middle. We saw lots of large grain elevators along the road-side. Of course there are lots of cattle grazing. The evenings are quite warm and pleasant, with no mosquitoes!! Riding along in the car on the plains is like a boat in a green and brown ocean. We are staying tonight in the ‘Western Motel’ in Amarillo, Texas. Had fun in the park.

Saturday June 26, 1954

We got started before sun-rise this morning. By the way – I want to mention how warm and comfortable the evenings and mornings are around here. It was very nice today, except for a light shower. We went through Albuquerque, NM (a very clean and modern city). Seemed to be a wealthy looking city. Many beautiful and fashionable shopping districts. After leaving Albuquerque, we saw many Indians and their tents along the side of the road. They were very colorful. We all liked New Mexico very much. It had steep red cliffs and stony mountain-sides. An interesting event was seeing a ghost town. Mama and I had a ride in the old stage coach. They said they would rather ride to California in our Mercury(?) than in the coach!!! We stayed in Gallup, NM the Indian Capitol, at ‘Sunset Lodge’.

Sunday June 27, 1954

After eating breakfast we headed west again, over the painted desert, Petrified Forest, and to Grand Canyon National Park. So many wonderful sights were seen today that it would take volumes to describe them. We saw a little of the Painted Desert, then went to the amazing and truly different Petrified Forest. It seemed incredible that all that forest had turned to stone, and such beautiful sculptural forms. The museum here was very interesting. They had cut and polished samples of the stones. We saw the agate bridge and Indian carvings on the rocks. We decided to take a look at the meteor crater, the largest in the World. We heard an interesting lecture. Such a big hole in the middle of the plain!! Then on to the indestructible Grand Canyon. Just coming to Grand Indian Canyon made by the little Colorado River. We had to rush ahead to get cabins as we had not made reservations. We were lucky and managed to get something to sleep in. A large cabin but with no bath, and outside Hopi Point, and around ‘El Tovar’ Hotel (run by Santa Fe). We went all the way to the Hermit’s Rest. I found this hut very interesting and would like a camp like it. Of course the views are wonderful. As one personnel said “If a person went into the Grand Canyon without a religion, they would surly come out with one!” this is too true. What a wonder the magnificent canyon is! Nothing I have seen has equaled it. Too bad more people don’t get to see it. We are very fortunate. The sun-set on the Canyon tonight was 7:49 (it wasn’t very brilliant). Enjoyed watching the donkeys coming up and down the canyon trail. Lots of campers here in tents and trailers besides those in hotels and cabins.

Monday June 28, 1954

Sun-rise at the Grand Canyon was 5:13 this morning. I was up to take a few pictures. I took the car on a curvy and dangerous ride to Hopi Point. After seeing views on the South Rim that we missed yesterday. We started toward Bryce Canyon, but decided to go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. What a surprise there, much to our amazement we found the North Rim much cleaner and fully as beautiful. The lodge here was very nice, run by Union Pacific. Added beauty was the ride through Kaibab National Forest. Beautiful wooded areas, streams, and plains. Part of this was called Pleasant Valley. We saw many wild animals, especially deer and one rare squirrel. I drove a little but made everybody nervous. Of course no time is made when Dad doesn’t drive. We all decided that we would come to the North Rim if we were going to stay awhile at the Grand Canyon. Will always remember the high narrow path along the Rim, because it was quite a thrill. After leaving for Bryce, we stopped at Sunset Volcano. We reached Bryce and got cabin, as we had called ahead.

Tuesday June 29, 1954

There are several things that I have forgotten to mention, that have happened on our trip. One is our Yankee air-conditioning bunch of ice in a pair placed in front of the vent. We used this idea back in Oklahoma City. It doesn’t work, but at least it makes you feel ‘kool’ to look at the block of ice. I am now talking about the times when we were hot. Now up here at Bryce in the mountains, we need heat in our cabin for the first time. Sunday night when we stayed at the Grand Canyon we had no bath, last night at Bryce we had two (double rooms). After breakfast in the cafeteria we started on our tour of Bryce. This canyon is truly different. It’s rock formations were fantastic!! Tall sturdy columns of red stone, often larger at the top, natural bridges, deep canyons, trees growing in the red sand. We argued that Inspiration Point was the most beautiful spot at Bryce. Next we headed for Zion National Park. On the way out of Bryce, I stopped to take pictures of our car going under the Natural Bridge at Red Canyon. This was a true red which stood out against the blue sky. I might mention that the scenery along the roads between these wonderful parks are almost as beautiful as that in the parks. Truly different than any we have ever seen. In reaching Zion, we found ourselves at the bottom of the canyon, looking up; whereas in the other parks we were looking down. Sheer rock cliffs rose from the bottom of the canyon. We rode through a tunnel in which windows were cut. Dad stopped the car and we got out. We found ourselves quite high in the cliffs, which were still much higher above our heads. The colors were different here. The cliffs were rose and reddish-brown at the bottom, changing to grey and white at the top. This was just a mass of solid stone. There was a beautiful lodge and swimming pool at the base of the cliffs, being completely surrounded by high walls of stone, beautiful cactus garden, and trees make up the grounds. There was beautiful scenery coming out of Zion, but soon we were out on the plain again, and going through the hot desert. Early in the evening we came over the barren hills to get our first glimpse of fabulous Las Vegas. This city is sure a great welcome to Nevada. We really hit the jackpot tonight!! A motel with swimming pool and palm trees. The first palm trees I had ever seen. Chan, Jay, and I went swimming for a while. We were lucky to get such a wonderful atmosphere while in this famous and fabulous city. This was the ‘Franklin Motel’ in neon down-town Las Vegas. After dressing up, we had supper at the ‘El Cortez Hotel’. A new modern hotel-restaurant-gambling hall. We got a kick out of the girls serving drinks. Nice figure, black boots, black shorts, and yellow off shoulder blouse, and red belt. A few of the people there in the gambling hall wore evening clothes. We then decided to see the city at night.

We went to the million dollar Golden Nugget Gambling Hall, where we saw the glitter style West; a place of mahogany bars, crystal chandeliers, old-time variety. Of course couldn’t go in most of the halls (no minors). Chan, Jay, and I just went into the El Cortez and streets to Dad and Mom. It was quite a different experience. After looking into many a saloon and casino, we went back to the beautiful Franklin for a good night and rest.

Wednesday June 30, 1954

Dad and Chan brought the car to a garage to have the wheels lined up. After packing and they had come back, we went for a tour of the city. First to the Pioneer Town. A reproduction of the Old West. Across the street was the famous ‘Desert Inn’, where all the movie stars come. We went into the lobby and court. In the court was a large Olympic size pool and green lawns with palm trees. Jane Powell was playing here. Then we saw June Lockhart (Martha Day). Then we left for Las Vegas, and went on South to the Hoover Dam (Boulder Dam). Hoover Dam is the highest dam in the World. Quite an engineering feat. No one could deny that. Hoover Dam backs up beautiful Lake Mead. We rode across the top of the dam and then went almost to beach on Lake Mead. You get the best view of the dam as you come in, from Boulder City, CO. At the dam you look down, down, down onto the power-houses below. Quite a sight. Next we rode across south in the hot desert. We now got a real car-cooler which helps. You put water in the cooler and it cools the car by means of evaporation. There is a string you have to pull to get the pod wet. We were riding the borders of Utah, Arizona, and California today and had to stop at about a dozen inspection stations, which at first Dad thought were a good idea, but after being stopped and inspected for insects and bugs that destroy plants, he was disgusted. Where coming into California for the first time. Chan and I pulled on the car cooler string so fast that we all got soaked. We reached Yuma, Arizona and stayed at the Coronado Motel (beautiful Spanish style).

Thursday July 1, 1954

What a beautiful morning. Such big beautiful palm trees and tropical plants growing outside our door! We are now packing up and heading south of the border to Mexicalli. The manager of the motel said to stay away from the Mexicalli because they were having a ‘wet-back drive’ (drive to get the cheap labor Mexicans out of Utah). This angered many Mexicans against Utah. After coming so far south to get there, we decided to go to Calexico a border town (US) and ask if there was any corruption. At the chamber of commerce we found that it was perfectly O.K. for us to go into Mexico. We were surprised to find that Calexico in the US, and Mexicalli, Mexico were actually the same town, divided only by a high (barbed at the top) fence, and a gateway which from the US side read “Mexico”; and from the Mexican side read “United States”. The buildings were different in Mexico (South American Modern) and the streets were rough. The streets were nice and it was cleaner than we had expected. Our very short visit in Mexico was a very favorable one. Mother bought some leather hand-bags, Chan a hand carved horse, and I a gold and sterling silver belt buckle. Dad did the buying, and saved us millions. He actually brought down the prices. You see they mark up their goods for tourists. It was about 108 degrees F here. By the way, you don’t need a pass if you come and go the same day. Oh, yes Mom got a dress. After having a light lunch in Calexico, we headed for San Diego where we had supper. We followed the road past thousands of new homes and many palms next to the Pacific Ocean. Today we had our first glimpse of the Pacific. Along the way we passed many beaches, beach-houses, and flowers. Such beautiful flowers, and so many of them! The next thing that fascinated us was the tide-land oil fields. There were thousands of oil pumps working along both sides of the road. They looked like black monsters lifting and raising their heads. The wells were extremely close together. Finally we came to smoggy Long Beach where we stayed at the Nob Hill motel on Signal Hill.

Friday July 2, 1954

We sure have a lot ahead of us to do today!! Most of our friends out West seem to live around here, near Los Angeles. First we went to Bellflower to find Evie and Irving Spratt, Dot Walton’s sister and brother-in-law. After asking several gas stations we finally found them. When we got there Evie wasn’t there but Irv went to get her. What a wonderful breakfast, some wonderful doughnuts which Irv made! At first we thought that it would be a rainy day, but they told us that the Sun didn’t shine until about 10 o’clock after the smog had lifted. True enough, the Sun came out later. “J” had wanted to see Mrs. Baxter, so after having a nice chat with Evie and Irv at the coffee shop, we went to Lynnwood to find Mrs. Baxter. We caught her home in Tinie(?), as she was leaving for Bible School. She was sure excited to see someone from back East. The Baxter’s have a California style house with beautiful roses and other flowers around it. She invited us to stay longer but we couldn’t. Next to Pasadena is where Louise Tourney is living. On the way out we went into the heart of L.A., to the Civic Center. We saw the beautiful buildings. L.A. was sure larger than we had ever dreamed!! Also a difficult place in which to maneuver! Then on to the freeway into Pasadena. We found Louise and her sister at home. They were also glad to see us, and invited us in for lunch. After a very nice visit, and after Louise’s sister had given Dad some directions, we started out for a grand tour of Pasadena, glamorous Hollywood, fabulous Beverly Hills, and on to the Santa Barbara Mission. Wriggley’s home and the Rose Bowl were out-standing in Pasadena. Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Ciro’s and Brown Derby (not very impressive) were of interest in Hollywood. Of course Beverly Hills was great as far as I was concerned. The most beautiful group of homes I have ever seen, and probably ever will see!! The old Santa Barbara Mission was very interesting from the tour led by one of the brothers. The court-yard was giant with palm and fig trees, statues, Indian graves, old California family tombs, a man from Billerica Massachusetts, and fountains. Our business is taken care of in these parts. Mother had phoned Mr. Baxter’s son (also Martha’s son), making sure and we left out no one. Our trip over the mountains from Santa Barbara to Bakersfield and it will never be forgotten!! After coming over this curry and clark road so late at night, we were told the next say that it was the most dangerous road in California!! We didn’t arrive at the the Topper Motel until about two o’clock in the morning. “J”’s humor keeps us in a good mood, during the trip. He jokes such as this – “Daddy is so messy. He leaves his clothes scattered all over the bedroom, but Mommy she puts her’s in a neat pile on the floor.” – “Mommy washes like no one else in the family!”

Monday July 3, 1954

After breakfast we headed for Sequoia National Park. Quite some trees! Especially the General Grant and Sherman trees. Beautiful red-brown with light and dark green moss growing on the short thick limbs! The limbs don’t start growing until quite high up on the tree. Next we went to King’s Canyon, which we had never heard of before, at least never remembered it. Boy! Now we’ll never forget it. Here we found a deep, beautiful canyon; with a mountain stream running along the floor; but the steepest, most dangerous (no rails) most curvy road we ever had been on, or care to go on again. It seemed that we would never get to the bottom. Quite a few fishermen were fishing the stream at the bottom. Many camps and campers were down there. How house trailers could be brought over those roads, beats me!!? After the long journey back up to the top, we headed for Sacramento, where we stayed at the ‘Sacramento’ motel.

Tuesday July 4, 1954

Today is the Fourth of July! We got up early and started for Grass Valley and Nevada City to see Aunt Hattie. She was there at the door to greet us. This was a grand reunion for Gramma and Aunt Hattie. They hadn’t seen each other for about forty years! Aunt Hattie sure is a grand, spry old lady. Lively all the time. Mom went to church with Aunt Hattie. We had expected to find Aunt Hattie queen of ‘Doings at the Diggings’ but she had come in second. Aunt Hattie didn’t mind; she was over 85 and girl that won the contest was about 21. Then we got ready to leave for the parade at Two o’clock. I might mention here, that Nevada City is nicer than we had expected. Buildings remind us of the forty-niner miner days. The National Hotel with its balconies is quite picturesque. Now back to the parade. Many beautiful and clever floats added to this colorful and big parade for such a small tower. It reminds me of parades back home, only this one had many more cowboys and cowgirls, and a genuine Indian Chief. After watching the parade in front of the civic club rooms (across from the old brick fire house). By the way there was a fire during the parade, and all the fire engines and firemen left the line of march. Also a woman fell out of an old donkey cart. We went over to the National Hotel and got a look a the town from the long balcony. That evening we went to the band concert and variety show. Gram, Chan, “J”, Dad and I slept at Aunt Hattie’s. Chan & I on the floor, and Dad, Mom, and “J” at the Rusko(?) Hotel.

Wednesday July 5, 1954

This day was set aside for rest more or less. After a late breakfast we left for the cemetery where Uncle Richard and Uncle Will were buried. It was a modern cemetery with head plaques level with the green grass. Very neat. Also a nice spot. On the way back we stopped to see Mrs. ____ our cousin Douglas’ wife. Mother and “J” found her another one of the spry old ladies. We also met Roberta, Douglas’ wife. We liked them all very much. Later we all, Mom, Dad, Great Aunt Hattie, Roberta, Chan, J, and I went to the ‘Deer Creek Inn’ for supper. Aunt Hattie made sure we got a private dining room.


[Journal Ends abruptly, without explanation; but as far as I know they made it all the way back home eventually and safely. Funny transcribing note: I had thought it was written by Helen Stowell (Kip’s Mom), because of how elegant and and antique the writing was; but somehow failed to recognize my own father’s hand-writing! Kip took video footage of the trip, which can now be found on Youtube. It was only after transcribing the entire journal, that I realized the reason Kip seemed to be left out of it, was because he had written it.]

Notes at Back of Journal:

Peter R. Bennett, R. F. D. #1, Mt. Kisco, NY, The Irving School, Box #, North Tarrytown, NY, Jerry Davis, Oregon Caves, Oregon.