It was the dark of night on a road turned dark at sunset, each motel, restaurant, store, and gas station we passed was also dark, making Christmas Eve 1978 look not so good. My sons were with their father for the holiday; Bill’s daughters were with their mother.
Without children in the house why bother with Christmas so we decided to drive west from New Jersey so I could see the snow covered Rocky Mountains for the first time. All day on the road, passing cars piled high with brightly-wrapped presents, brought us here, west of the Mississippi River, where we were beginning to have second thoughts.
Down to less than a quarter tank of gas we spotted the brilliant light of a 7/11 convenience store like an oasis, or maybe a shining star approaching Columbia, Missouri. With hot coffee in hand, we read a sign leaning against the gas pumps at the station alongside that said, “honor-bound, pay your money in the box” we just knew a motel with a vacancy would come up next.