Yesterday you read about my mom’s trip to Costa Rica. Today my dad Hal begins his story of his trip through Central America on the Pan American Highway, 1963. Below are his words:
Nick, My Bird Dog Pup
On my trip down to the Mexican border and through Mexico to Costa Rica, my companion riding in the passenger seat was my bird dog pup, Nick. I was going to the Spanish Language Institute in San Jose, Costa Rica, in preparation for missionary work. Since Frieda was nearly eight months pregnant with our first child, she flew to Nicaragua to stay with her parents while I drove down. I was driving our new 1963 Chevrolet Carryall (now called a Suburban, so I’ll call it that from now on) and pulling a trailer I had made, filled with our household goods. I had planned to travel with another missionary family, but as I will explain later, that plan didn’t work out. Though I had traveled many places in the United States and Europe when I was in the Air Force, a road trip through Spanish-speaking countries before I learned Spanish was certainly an exciting experience. I was grateful to have Nick’s company.
About two or three months before my departure from the United States, I was visiting a rancher in Georgia. I had known him since my Columbia Bible College days, when I had occasionally been invited to preach in his church and stayed with him and his family. They had been surprised to meet a preacher who was knowledgeable about horses, and we became good friends. The rancher and his wife always welcomed me as if I were one of the family. He had good horses and cattle and also some of the best bird dogs in the United States.
I was thrilled to be there at the ranch that morning. My friend had some bird dog pups about three months old that caught my attention. They were trailing guineas which were running all over the barn yard and into the forest. I noticed one pup that was the biggest of all and very smart. He evidently had perfect scent and could tell where the birds were from a distance. I couldn’t keep from watching the pups and following them at a distance. The rancher said, “Those are good puppies, aren’t they?” I answered, “They are amazing!”
He said the puppies’ parents were field trial winners. I had an idea what that meant but didn’t appreciate the full import until years later. He said to me, “I’ll just give you one to take to Central America so you will have something to hunt with. I asked, “Which one?” He told me to take my pick, so I picked Nick. He smiled and said, “You recognize a good dog.”