Today we had my friend Marilynn over for lunch. She’s in from Vienna, Virginia and my wife, son and I had a good time chatting with her and making a good nutritious lunch. It’s interesting to be nearing 50 and have a friend like her in her late 40’s. We went to high school together and she used to go out with a good friend. She was a couple years behind us in school and now she’s an attorney who graduated from UCBerkeley and Georgetown Law.
She is a friend who really has made an effort to stay in touch over the years and I’m grateful. She’s a great person. She’s married with two kids and part of her family is still here in this area. Right now my family lives just one town over from her sister, who lives in the same house they grew up in. It’s nice to see that Marilynn is still the intelligent, high integrity, professional and caring person she’s always been.
I was impressed with her early on. I never looked at her in a romantic way because she was going out with my friend at the time and we stayed in the friend zone all these years. She had a pilot’s license by the time she was 19 or something. Not long after graduating from college, before she got her law degree, she was thinking about running an airport. A real, metropolitan airport. I had not seen myself having plans like those. It was inspiring just to know that she considered herself qualified to do that job.
She didn’t end up going into that field, but as I watched her over the years I became convinced that she could do just about anything she set her mind to. She still can and it will be good to see her again in August when she comes back.
My wife and I (and maybe our son) need to figure out a way to visit her and her family in Virginia (not too far from Washington, DC) next year or soon thereafter.
This year we’re going to North Carolina again as we did last year. We’ll be flying into Charlotte and then driving about 180 miles to Bryson City. It’s not even close to what I would call a city, but that’s part of its name.
We had a good time last year and while my brother is staying at our house I expect we’ll have some more fun river rafting and seeing some deep country life. Hopefully we’ll be getting there right before it warms up too much. Last year we got there before the heat so we’ll see.
It’s nice to be able to travel once in a while and I wish I had done more of it when I was younger. If you’re young and you’re reading this, take it to heart. Get out there and travel now. Especially before you have kids. Yes, you want to share it with your kids when you have them, but it’s not always as easy to do when you have kids. Sometimes that is a financial challenge and sometimes it’s scheduling and sometimes it’s both or something else.
Our family was going to go on a cruise some year’s back and it would have been our first one. Then my wife’s mom got sick and we had to cancel. Technically we chose to cancel, but most people probably would have done the same. You never know what might come up, so make your plans and keep to them while you’re young.
Last year we saw the capitol for the first time and I believe that’s something that every American should see. Unless you’re a crazy person. Otherwise, go and take a night tour bus. And if you have time, take another tour that let’s you see some of the other monuments. I was in awe at the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. I tried to take some pictures and some came out. I should try and find those. Wait. They’re on the old computer. Maybe I can get someone to fix it so I can get at the hard drive.
We all had fun last year and we were refreshed after going on vacation even though we were tired when we got home. We weren’t exhausted – just the good kind of tired.
There was a lot of beauty on the drive from DC down to North Carolina last year. We’re going a different way this year, but I’ll never forget all that green. It was like Middle Earth for hundreds of miles. I told my buddy – the one who used to go out with my friend Marilynn – that I could have driven 2000 miles that way no problem. Beautiful green trees almost everywhere along the highway and really close in during some parts of the drive. We drove through the Great Smokey Mountains for a while as we passed through Tennessee before we turned left down to Bryson City, NC.
Later we came back to Tennessee for a day at Dollywood and we missed a turnoff somewhere on the road back and drove through Gatlinburg, Tennessee. That was an interesting kind of touristy town. You have to see it to believe it. It’s very country-fied is what I’ll say. That’s true for the town where Dollywood is located, too. It’s a place you’ve probably never heard of if you’re not from there or if you’re not a Dolly Parton fan – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. That’s a nice little town.
River rafting was fun and I think it was the first time that I went so we stuck to the beginner-type water. This year I think we’ll step up to intermediate if we go rafting.
We also stayed at a resort where you are really, really deep in the country/forest. I’m not remembering the name right now but what I told people is that you go to the middle of nowhere and you drive 45 minutes and then you’re really in the middle of nowhere.
Being from California I had wondered about the South and I’ve been told that where we were wasn’t the Deep South. Regardless of exactly where we were in the South I didn’t run into any obvious prejudice. I have also been told, however, that my little family is pretty white and so we were unlikely to notice anything like that. I don’t know how much has changed in some places.
I heard of a town that I won’t mention the name of because it’s not impossible that we might find ourselves going through there at some point in our travels. What I heard about that town and prejudice is so anachronistic in our modern age. That’s a polite way of putting it and I’ll leave it at that, but I’m not done writing yet.
Learning more about people is one of the great reasons to travel. If you’ve never been anywhere else, you don’t know what you’re missing. It wasn’t too many years ago that I would have said that I hadn’t been east of Wisconsin. Then we went to Florida and the Bahamas in about a year.
There are lots of places to visit in and around this great land of ours and there are other great lands to visit.
Have you visited friends lately? Are there some you’ve been meaning to see that you somehow haven’t gotten around to?
Find a way to budget it in for next year or the year after if that’s what it takes. Heck, if it takes you five years to save enough it’s worth it.
Maybe you’d like to find your way to California.
Being from here I can tell you it is a great place to visit and a great place to live.
Tell them Charlie sent you.
Do it soon!