Life is an adventure, and I’m always up for one!
I just returned home, safe and sound, after a road trip through ten states, covering over 3,500 miles…all by myself! It was a memorable adventure, and will be the topic of future blogs, I’m sure! But, for now, just a recap…
I learned early on to embrace adventure! I moved a lot as a kid. No. I wasn’t an Army brat. My dad was an Iowa farm boy pursuing a dream of working with cattle, rather than tilling soil. He had a supportive wife – my mom – who embraced his dream, creating a family adventure with each move up that proverbial ladder. I’ll be forever grateful for the impact of their adventurous spirit on my life!
One such family adventure involved a move from Northeastern Oklahoma where my dad was ranch manager, to a dairy operation just outside Madison, Wisconsin. The lifestyle was totally different. Instead of being surrounded by purebred Herefords – bulls, cows, and calves – grazing peacefully in wide open pastures, we found ourselves at the headquarters of a huge dairy farm with pens of Holstein dairy cattle, a pristine milking parlor, a pasteurization plant, a store with fresh milk, ice cream, etc….and our home, nestled in the midst of it all!
Tourists and school children would watch through a glass wall as cows entered a stall where udders were delicately cleaned then attached to a sterilized apparatus for a few minutes, before the next bovine would step in, ready to be relieved of her tasty accumulation! A steady stream of fresh milk flowed through a maze of clear pipes, making for fascinating entertainment for the audience at the milking parlor! It was quite impressive, though a bit of a culture shock for this 12-year old rancher’s daughter!
Another adventure started as the summer ended and I was introduced to a school with locker-lined hallways, hundreds of classrooms, a different teacher for every subject, and a multitude of new faces. I’d come from a three-room school with maybe 65 students in grades 1-8! Overwhelming was an understatement, but I am thankful for our short stay in Wisconsin…because of Brenda…the impetus for my recent trip to Florida!
Brenda was one of a very few familiar faces in those hallways when I started 8th grade. Our families attended the same church, and had become friends after our move that summer. But, another move – just eighteen months later, caused our friendship to be one of writing letters rather than hanging out together! You see, we’ve only seen each other twice – in 1971 and 2000 – in the last four plus decades.
We’ve each gotten married, moved a few times, had babies, raised families, had our share of good times and bad, worked hard, become grandmas, buried our parents, and even lost touch with each other a time or two, yet our friendship remains! And, we still write letters! Fifty years later!
But it was our hope to be able to get together sometime! On a whim, she invited me a few months ago. Her husband Chip would be out of town, and she had to work, but wondered if I could come! I had vacation to use, and my husband was working out of town so with his encouragement, plans were made! Another great adventure!
I booked a direct flight from Kansas City to Orlando and rented a car – a first for me! (I’m not a frequent flyer, at all!) I’d spend a few days with Brenda, then visit my uncle nearby, too.
But, a week before I was to leave, my husband lost a precious uncle and aunt within hours of one another after 71 years of marriage. Their funeral was in Arkansas the day of my flight! After unsuccessfully attempting to change my flight, an understanding Southwest Airlines supervisor cancelled it and refunded my money!
I’d just drive! Just me and my lime green Camaro with 105,000 miles! Let the adventure begin! So, with a GPS on my phone, as well as a supply of carrots, celery, apples, and bottled water (if you’re a regular reader, you’ll remember my journey to wellness), I left shortly after the funeral, and arrived at Brenda’s lovely home the following day. Intense driving! Crazy congestion! Memphis! Birmingham! Atlanta!
Brenda and I spent hours talking non-stop, reminiscing, laughing, crying, and enjoying our time together! I met her girls! And some of her grands! I saw where they’d all lived, and where they live now. Chip returned home while I was there, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing he and his friends – The Band Ukiah – at Dexter’s in Winter Park! I was so glad they had a gig while I was in town. GREAT acoustic music and three-part harmonies! And, I got to spend time with my uncle! Unforgettable! I got to meet a few new friends. too! A distant cousin I’d never met, Mai – loved meeting her! And Jerry’s long-time friends, Roy and Dorothy! What a great time we had together. I walked along the beach for an hour or so with Brenda, thoroughly enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean while feeling the sand and saltwater on my bare feet. Wow! I was in awe of the trees, and the flowers, and fauna of the tropical state. We shopped some quaint stores nearby, and enjoyed some great food. And, I even lost another four pounds–down 81 pounds since January 13th! Not bad considering I didn’t pack my digital scales!
Headed for home Thursday morning along the Gulf Coast. Slidell, Louisiana overnight, after a few side trips to Niceville and Ft. Walton Beach where I’d visited 50 years ago. Had to say goodbye to the beaches. On to Enid, Oklahoma that night, then home yesterday. Ten states in ten days – 3,518 miles! MULTITUDES of MEMORIES! And, more blog posts to come – stay tuned! My mind was racing with random memories as I drove home to Kansas! I’ll revisit this road trip!
But for now….ahhhhh! Home sweet home!