Barsky Family "Big Trip" 1969

A 2 month vacation for Nina, Howard, Michael, Benjamin and Daniel Barsky (Marea not yet born)... towing an Airstream Trailer, eastward across the United States, north into Canada, then westward all the way to the west coast of Canada, then south down the US western coast back to Los Angeles. June 30, to September 3, 1969. 64 days, 12,220 miles.

Rockies, Wyoming. Altitude 11,000 ft

BACKGROUND to trip, by Howard Barsky

In early 1969, I became unhappy at "Industrial Design Affiliates" in Beverly Hills... and after much soul-searching, I sent in a letter of resignation, stating I would remain until certain projects were complete.. which would be approximately June, 1969.

I had no definite plans for new employment.. and in discussions with Nina, who was not yet working outside of the home, we decided (since the end of my employment at the office would coincide with the start of the kid's summer vacation), to take a
two month tent camping trip... east across the US.. as far as we could go in one month.. then return a different route (still camping) for the remaining month, to be back in time for the fall school session.

The management at Airsteam Trailers (the main client at the office for the whole time I worked there), were surprised at my resignation... and they asked what my plans were.. (I knew they would have liked me to work for them directly in their headquarters in Ohio) ... I told them of our family plan to go camping across the US for the two months of the school vacation..

The manager of operations for Airstream in Los Angeles asked me if I would like to borrow an Airstream for the trip !!. Since our family vehicle (an International Travelall) was already fully equipped for towing, I didn't hesitate, and accepted the offer.

The trip started June 30, 1969 with, of course, many hours and weeks of pre-planning.. Nina and I were in our 30's, and with us were our three sons, Michael, 10.. Benjamin, 8.. and Daniel, 6. Marea was not yet born.
I stopped working approximately June 15.. and picked up a brand new 26ft Airstream travel trailer from the Santa Fe Springs factory about June 23. We had much food, clothing and bedding...(and all the miscellaneous item we guessed we might need for the 2 month trip) to load into the trailer and Travelall.. and by June 29, boys were out of school, house sitting arranged for and everything (we hoped) packed.. The Travelall-Airstream towing checked out.. WE WERE READY !!

What follows is a diary of the trip, usually written at the end of the day by Nina Barsky. It will be accompanied by photos we took, or photos of the areas taken from the internet, and whatever else we accumulated (that is printable). I produced the maps while creating this blog to show the extent of our travels.. ENJOY.
Remember , this trip was made in 1969, when availability of campsites and access to parks was much easier. .. Also, it was illegal for anyone to be in the trailer while moving, so we were all together, all the time !!, while driving.

(ALL NOTES IN ITALICS in the following text are notes added by Howard recently.. not in Nina's daily diary)


Monday, 6/30/69
Left LA at 1:45 pm on a very warm day and proceeded to get hotter as we headed for San Bernardino.. Very Hot!! Luckily we drink loads of water and eat fruit.. kids are constantly hungry… through San Bernardino and in the El Cajon pass our car refuses to pull the load.. sputtering, cries, etc.

Very hot, tempers frayed, kids ask questions and we park on side of the freeway.. unhitch trailer, and head for Highland (town nearby), and to a man who installs a “Vapor-Kool”(special device to keep cars from overheating) in our car… Making the arrangements and the installation takes till 9:45 pm. ..Dinner at a crummy drive-in.. all arrangements for the first night altered.. we pick up trailer where we left it.. air still quite warm.. ... all fall asleep in car, including me.. Howard drives as far as Barstow, where we find the nearest school (college) parking lot and bed down for the night.
6/30, Overnight in Barstow, California.


Tuesday 7/1/69
Up (god knows why) at 5 am.. fast breakfast and on the desert road.. Arrived in Las Vegas at 9:10 am.. Gambling houses and big hotels all over.. city seems larger than I envisioned. We went on through extreme heart to Zion National Park in SW Utah.

Beautiful site and we were able to park by side of little river, in which we all plunged in!!. Benji, Mike and Danny helped some other kids build a dam ! So hot we ate very little dinner. Boys back in river and we decided to leave. We will have to visit Zion in cooler weather..What we saw was beautiful..

Even in the evening, the weather was in the 90’s,
too hot to stay, so we drove up to Beaver, Utah and bedded down on nice side street.
7/1, Overnight in Beaver, Utah


Wednesday, 7/2/69

Left Beaver at 9am and headed north on highway 91 to Cove Fort. This is the only pioneer fort in Utah that is now in a perfect state of preservation. We walked inside the fort and looked in 12 rooms.. 6 on each side with inner court. Boys really loved it and so did we…

click on photo to see who is sitting in front of the window.
On to Salt Lake City and we picnicked at a green, flowery park. Very hot.. we decided to pass up the Mormon Temple as all wanted to see the Great Salt Lake… out of town about 14 miles. Very desolate and kind of sad… We all changed and plunged into the lake..

any salt water in the eyes or throat was deadly and we all learned very quickly.. and we all could float..and first time Howard was really able to.. Place full of “brine flies”, drove us to drink! All of us full of salt crystals, and had cold showers and a cool drink. We drove north of Salt Lake City to Willard Bay State Park where we ate dinner under shaded arbors..all showered, looked at beautiful bay (reservoir) .
yes, that's us out there..
(click on photo)
We put boys into pajamas and drove on through northern Utah to Idaho, and Malad City. We slept next to park.

7/2, Overnight in Malad City, Idaho



Thursday, 7/3/69
Up and out on road by 7:10 am, headed up Idaho to town of Pocatello… lovely old homes, green grass, gardens and beautiful farm country.

Craters of the Moon State Park..
(Lava formations)

Stopped below Idaho Falls at a lava formation.. cave and good climbing for the boys.
Lava is still not broken down… young, 1000 years!! On through Idaho Falls and the beautiful
Snake River does her “thing” there and continues to present all it’s beauty and variety throughout the area.. even into the Tetons.

Grand Tetons such an awe-inspiring sight! Much snow on it’s peaks.

Coulter Bay campground in foreground

Jackson Hole such a “big tourist city” since I was last here (at 17). Very crowded, so we just rushed into the Teton campgrounds and were lucky to one of the very few remaining sites at Colter Bay.. right in the heart of the forest.

Wind whistles through the trees and is such a soothing sound. Cottonwood and pine trees abound.. thinner and shorter than our redwoods, but much more dense.. hence each campsite is a little more remote. It got cool in the evening and we went to campfire. It started at 9:30 pm, but still light out. By then we were all so tired we only stayed 15 minutes.. went to a coffee shop for hot chocolate. Architecture in village just beautiful.. redwoods and other woods left in natural state and much natural planting around each building.
7/3 Overnight in Colter Bay campground.



Friday, 7/4/69
Ate breakfast outside.. and so lovely.. paid 35 cents in the village for a much needed shower.. just let the water run and run… we took off in the afternoon for Yellowstone Park and spent the whole day and part of the early evening touring this huge and tremendous park. Full of variety.. geysers, mudpots, lava rock, large plateaus, few bears, trees and many people.

Back to Coulter Bay and and a campfire at night.. and a little girl “Laura” from another site brought over marshmallows to roast.. So relaxing here and peaceful.
7/4 Colter Bay Campground.


Saturday, 7/5/69
Howard griddled pancakes over our outdoor fire pit and all agreed.. they were delicious. Leisurely morning.. Packed picnic lunch and drove 43 miles into Jackson Hole.. Very large now.. many nice shops in which Indian men sell their wares. So lovely things, but too expensive for us! Had delicious ice cream ground with nuts, candy, etc, and then let boys take ride on a horse-drawn stage-coach. Howard bought fireworks in Jackson.. we went to a park and the four of them lit all that junk !! I rested and watched the mountains all around me.

Map of wonderful
Grand Teton Park.
(click on map)

Back early for dinner under “our trees” and the boys played log tag with a lot of kids in the next site.

They reluctantly came in to go to bed early. Howard and I had coffee around the campfire.. lightning & thunder and a few drops of rain.. The clouds passed on and revealed a sea of stars.. lovely way to end the night.

7/5 Colter Bay Campground.

THIS IS WHERE WE'VE GONE SO FAR !! (click on map )



Sunday, 7/6/69

Up bright and early...packed up and left these marvelous Grand Tetons. 8:15 a.m. – clear, bright, summer mountain day. Drove East through Wyoming, stopping in Cody to see the Buffalo Bill Museum.

We didn’t go in because of admission, but all art and artifacts of the West. Howard bought me a beautiful pair of silver and turquoise earrings.

We Left and proceeded on Alternate 14 Highway for a harrowing mountain four-hour drive up to 10,000 feet. Started up steep and hairpin curves...came to road construction...unable to pull trailer up steep incline...gravel road and luckily one of the construction men rigged his pickup to our car and pulled up through...winding road. I was scared most of the time, as higher up saw snow on the ground, high meadows. Went through clouds, through rain, sun, etc.

Finally made it through and came out into Sheridan.

Parked on a side street to make dinner and happened to be across the street from a beautiful Sheridan Inn. It’s being restored. Built in 1889 and almost demolished until a New York couple bought it.

The restoration is beautiful. Wicker furniture on a huge front veranda. Met the manager and he took us into the lobby. We flipped! He said Buffalo Bill used to stay there and audition his acts for the Wild West shows in front of the Inn. I have a brochure on its history.

Got into a terrific summer thunder and lightning shower. So hard we had to park and wait it out a while. When it let up, drove on to Buffalo, Wyoming. There they had a free city park where campers able to stay, and we exhaustedly camped for the night! , free camping allowed.

7/6/69: Buffalo, Wyoming, City Park


Monday, 7/7/69

We left Buffalo, Wyoming early am.. clear day and road empty. We stopped at Wyodak, Wyoming open pit coal mine..
first time we've seen one.. a vein right under farm land! (The Wyodak Mine sits on top of one of the largest coal reserves in the United States -- the Powder River Basin).

We drove east through Wyoming
our Wyoming traverse.. (click on Map)

and crossed into South Dakota and the lovely town of Spearfish. We found city park.. did a little food shopping.. small selection and produce inferior, and high prices !!

Lunch in park, kids played in stream.. then onto the Black Hills country.. Lovely, small towns full of "frontier" history. Stopped in Hill City for boys to play on an 1880 steam engine.

Then onto the "Crazy Horse Monument being carved in the Black Hills (5 miles north of Custer
on US highway 16) by Korczak Ziolkowsky, a sculptor and engineer.

Model and actual mountain in distance. (1996) Korczak and daughter

It’s a memorial for the North American Indian and when completed the mountain carving will be 641 feet wide by 563 feet high. We got to tour the sculptor’s studio/home and see the mountain where he and his
sons are working. We were so impressed by this single unbelievable feat. Eventually there will be an Indian University on the land for Indians and museum beside the huge monument (see picture/brochure). Still awestruck, we entered Custer State Park. Paid $3.00 fee (a shock to pay since most nights we’ve camped free of charge). Showers 25 cents and they were freezing! We backed up right next to Collidge Stream. Boys played in it for two hours. I made fine spaghetti, salad, garlic bread dinner. Boys back in stream. Many kids around so good time had by all. We’re all very relaxed. Getting used to different weather conditions than California and enjoying our trip immensely! Howard and I spent the quiet evening planning our next adventurous tour!

the face in 1996 and approx how it was when we were there in 1969

7/7/69, Custer State Park, South Dakota



Tuesday, 7/8/69

Went to museum in Custer State Park early. .. antiquated and smelled.. building old.. logs and stone beautiful. Drove on way out through park. Stopped to see herd of buffalo cross the road...really a thrill. Beautiful strong animals and glad over 1,000 preserved in the park.Drove to Rapid washing, food, shopping done and went to the Sioux Indian Museum. An exceptional job, graphically and content. Even saw examples of work and ceremonial dress, types of instruments, wrap on, work tools, quilt work, bead work and sign writing. This was such a highlight of our trip and such quality. Should be in every city that relates a very different Indian than American has been taught. Howard bought a Sioux beaded belt and some good picture cards. We found out that the Indian necklace Aunt Lola gave me was made by Winnebago Indians! We then drove to Badlands a little Grand Canyon.

Sediment deposited by waters in Black Hill years ago built up her and eventually rain proceeded to tear away at this looser soil so that this area was formed. Quite beautiful, but too
warm. Drove on and stopped at roadside rest to make dinner. Relaxed, then on the road again.

Evening very warm and muggy – Ugh! Able to drive all the way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and to first big park – Sherman Park – next to Great Plains Zoo.

Found level spot and collapsed into bed, 12:00 midnight.

Moving right along!! (click on map)
7/8/69, Sherman Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

DAY 10

Wednesday, 7/9/69

Boys played in this lovely park in a.m. while Howard went to station for car grease and oil change.

Left Sioux Falls...down Interstate 29 to Sioux City, Iowa. Picked up two boys hitchhiking and stayed with us for lunch at a rest station (big trees, good rest rooms) until we got on Interstate 80-E. They were going West go Denver, so we parted. We continued straight on 80 through Iowa. Farms beautiful although signs of flooded areas on both sides of freeway. Asked an official of a roadside rest area and he said they just had two weeks of very heavy rains...many farms flooded...damaged and much loss of crops. Some cities like Waterloo and Cedar Rapids partly or already under water. Visited the German settlement of Amana.

All closed but the seven different villages. Very lovely, green, flowers and gardens, many shops, farms and big freezer plant of Amana. They run 25,000 acres.

Nina writing
this Journal

Found nice rest area near the Colonies and bathed and slept!

7/9/ Rest Area near Amana Colonies, Iowa

DAY 11

Thursday, 7/10/69

Left Iowa and crossed the infamous Mississippi River!

Warm, cloudy weather introduced us to Illinois. We lunched at Starved Rock State Park. Howard and the boys fished in the Illinois River.
Then we drove over to see Dick and Rita Donelson in Woodridge, Illinois. Howard and he in Army fifteen years ago, and so was quite a reunion. We talked, ate dinner and then,

went over to Bill & Shirley Epsteins home (Tishler relatives).
All glad to see each other and slept first night in trailer in front of their house.

7/10 Skokie, Illinois (in front of Epstein home)

DAY 12

Friday, 7/11/69

Howard and I left early (with boys) and went into downtown Chicago to the Art Institute.

It was an experience to behold. A very exciting museum...many artists who we love and exciting rooms: African, Chinese, Inca, Impressionist, Modern. Even the junior art museum there was a touch and experiment joy for all of us.

Drove to Randolph Square to see Picasso’s gift to Chicago. Smaller and less impressive than we expected.

Thunder showers off and on. Went next to Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Went through the only actual-size model of a coal mine. Road in coal miner’s train. Really an experience. Very enlightening.

Then through actual captured German WW2 sub.

So much information and displays...couldn’t see all. Relaxed evening with Bill and Shirley and to bed early.

7/11/69, In front of Epstein's apt., Skokie, Illinois