Carol and I had absolutely no money. I don’t mean just a little. I mean nothing. We were invited to a Halloween costume party my wife wanted to attend. We had recently moved into our first real apartment, and getting to know some people was a top priority. Unfortunately, buying a costume was not in the cards. Of course, that did not stop me. I picked up a plastic tiara my niece left at my sister’s house, gave it to Carol, and I told her she was as beautiful as a princess. She was in. Lucky for me, Mobil Oil had been running a TV commercial featuring Mr. Dirt as a sludgy character that could ruin your automobile’s engine. I hit the garden on the side of the building, scooped up a couple of handfuls of potting soil, rubbed it on my tee shirt, and to the party we went.
I remember visiting Bath, England on a particularly rainy day. We thoroughly enjoyed spending precious time with a grumpy, complaining couple, who liked neither the Roman ruins nor the teeming weather, which is part of the charm of the UK. After we listened to everything wrong with the creation of the Earth, the lady we accompanied stated that we should have gone to the theatre, instead of wasting time getting soaked. In any event, the sun always shines, so Carol suggested we head to the theatre. Of course, our happy friends scolded us for not being aware that the Royal Shakespearean Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon was booked months in advance. We went anyway. They were sold out, but as I was speaking with the woman at the ticket counter, there were four cancellations. Unfortunately, the tickets were prohibitively expensive for the best seats in the house. I thanked her anyway, and she said, “You seem like nice folks and the performance begins in little more than an hour. I’ll sell them to you at the basic price.” Twelfth Night was fantastic!
As they were growing, our children loved to camp and fish and hike. Carol and I took them camping and fishing and hiking every chance we got. Some of the canoe trips were terrific too. Occasionally, all our kids remained in the canoe and I did not have to jump in after them.
I miss my wilderness trips a lot. On one of my most memorable, I took my oldest daughter with me. We flew into Spokane, Washington and drove to the foothills of the Cascades. We hiked for one month, through the mountains, 257 miles into British Columbia. Living off the land meant fishing, or eating the little dried food we could carry among the rest of our gear. We encountered more animal species than I had ever seen at a zoo. One morning was particularly memorable. I awoke at dawn to find my daughter sitting on a log about fifty yards from our tent. She had been feeding two mule deer apples by hand. They had obviously never seen a human before. That is an impressionable scene I will never forget.
Tonight, my wife and I will hit the town, so to speak. We’ll park in the Ancient City and meander through the streets, stopping at small galleries, walking along the harbor, and crossing the Bridge of Lions. Who knows, we might even drop by a local pub and bump into a few friends. We both really love St. Augustine. I am starting to miss it already.
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