Sunday, April 14, 2013

For Easter weekend we drove down to Las Vegas to visit Grandpa Franklin.  Grandma was up in Portland with my sister Misha who just had a baby (little Zoe was five weeks early and weighted 10 pounds!), so we went down to see Grandpa and, in part, to help their condo feel a little less empty.  Oh yeah, and to see their cute dogs.  

The little dog is Bugsy and the bigger one is Joe-Joe.  Yes my parents named their dog Joe-Joe.  When they got it from the breeder, it had already been named "Joe," but they figured they couldn't have a dog with the same name as their third son, so they changed Joe-Joe (that clears up the problem ;-) ).

 Our (least) favorite part to of the drive between Las Vegas is the Virgin River Gorge.  It's a little like  riding a firelane on a mountain bike--You approach, drop in, hold on, and hope you don't crash before you make it to the bottom.
Some of us are obviously more concerned about the canyon the others.
Our first day there, we took Grandpa to the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop.  Grandpa wasn't feeling great so he rested in the car while we took a short hike.  The last time we were at Red Rock, it was August and super hot.  March is definitely the time to come.  It was 65 degrees and slightly breezy and there were birds and turtles and water...actual water running down the sometimes creek bed.

Grandpa took us to dinner at Red Robin (Louisville is thumping somebody on the TV in the background...I can't remember who it was, but it doesn't matter, they thumped everyone).
On Saturday morning we took a train ride on the Southern Nevada Historic railroad. It used to be the supply and labor train that brought men out to  Hoover Dam to work.

On the way back from the railroad we stopped at Lake Meed for some impromptu wading.  We kept saying "We should have brough our swims suits," though I couldn't help but notice the thin film of powerboat sweat on the top of the water, and I'm not sure we were really missing much by not going for a full dunk.

This trip was also a primer for a book project I've just started about my two grandfathers.  Part of that project means spending some time with Grandpa Franklin visiting some sites from his childhood.  This is the high school he went to after running away from a troubled home in Rosemead, California.  "I just walked in," he told me, "and signed myself up for classes." He didn't need a parent with him or anything. He worked at a movie theater downtown and rented a room nearby.

A few blocks away is the John S. Park Historic district, which was, in part, designed and built by my great grandpa Franklin (George Franklin).  Its the cutest, most LA Suburb-looking neighborhood in Vegas.  It was odd to be in such a cozy suburban portion of a town known for its mega-casino hotels shaped like Pyramids and cosmopolitan city skylines, and even more odd to think that my Dad used to pal around in that neighborhood while living as a psuedo-emancipated teenager in the 1950s.

Even more strange was to be in a neighborhood built by my great grandfather and on the front steps of the high school where my father went to school, and to feel the notable absence of the man between them--the son of the builder, the father of my father...nowhere in the picture. A generational gap in the shape of Ed Franklin, a man who wasn't good enough for his own father, and who wasn't man enough to be a father to his own children.  But that is something for the book, not the blog. So I'll leave you with this:  My boys love their Grandpa Franklin. They were delighted to spend the weekend with him, to hear his stories and to share his table. I am daily grateful that my boys have gotten to know him so well, and I'm determined that there will be no more gaps.