Starting Out

I’m lucky to have my husband, Paul, as my best friend. In our years together we’ve raised three children and watched our golden retriever, Tucker, go from a puppy to a solemn old man dog who occasionally remembers his reckless youth.

Since we are a blended family, we did not have any time to grow up together as a young couple. After marrying, our first few years (okay, I’m lying. Every year) felt like we were jumping off the high dive into a pool without a bottom and we weren’t even sure there were ladders on the side to clamber out.

Our family trips always involved drama. It was usually me; I’ll admit it. But, it was well deserved. We bought a boat. Paul ran it aground and the kids and I had to squash into the bow so he could pop the stern out of the mud. Three kids, small space, Mom’s face right near…you get the point. There was a hike in Arizona where the youngest grabbed onto a boulder only to have it break free. I watched them–the son and the boulder–tumble down the rock face. He survived. He begged to keep the rock. We said no. In Sun Valley, our oldest son poked a stick into the vegetation and then informed his family that rattlesnakes do indeed have reticulated scales. We yanked him so hard he practically flew through the air.  Our poor daughter. Her claim to fame in the family saga was the time I overdosed her on Benadryl during a particularly dusty visit to Minnesota. She fell asleep with her face glued to the counter top with drool.

But there is one more. We took Tucker on a beach trip and by the fifth day you couldn’t tell what kind of dog he was, because the layers of sand and salt were so thick on his body. He saw a car down the beach that looked just like Paul’s. He took off at a full gallop with me chasing him desperately screaming “that’s the wrong car!” When he launched into the stranger’s back seat and shook his coat so it rained sand all over the inside, I’d had it. I wasn’t going on any more trips.

Our Tucker

Then one day the three of them were gone. Military, college, baseball…Tucker looked at us bewildered. What happened?

So Paul and I and Tucker tiptoed around the house for a while. It was weird. We never lost the TV remote. There was actually carpet in the room where I had only seen dirty clothes. The milk went bad but we were always out of wine. I was bored. “Let’s go on a trip,” I said. I saw the look that crossed Paul’s face. “And,”I threatened, “we’re not going to see any of the kids.”

Instead, we went by ourselves.

We went to Kauai and almost died on a hike to the Fantasy Island waterfall. We saved a mother turtle and her eggs outside a beachfront restaurant in Mexico. We ate beignets at midnight in billowing clouds of powdered sugar in New Orleans. We climbed a tree in the organic garden of the fanciest restaurant in Napa Valley. (Oops).

I don’t really mean this, but I mean this. I love my husband more on vacation than I do at home. Women, don’t roll your eyes.  You agree. When we are traveling, Paul isn’t just smart, he is brilliant. He isn’t just cute, he is vavoom! Stateside, I take his gentleness towards me for granted, but when I see him help an elderly woman in Mexico out of a boat, my heart swells with tenderness. What did I do to deserve such a husband?

On our first date we talked about traveling and what destinations were first and forever on our list. Me: Italy. Check. Loved it and will do it again. Paul: Africa. Over a decade has passed. It’s Paul’s turn. We are going to South Africa and the highlight of the trip is a safari in Ngala Game Reserve near Kruger Park. Paul is like a kid at Christmas Eve. He is giddy. He even spent $54.00 on special safari cargo pants with seven pockets. When I booked the trip last January, I showed him  a picture. “This is where we are staying,” I whispered. It is a photo of a thatched lodge back lit with an orange sunset. The lodge faced a watering hole where a family of elephants amble up during cocktail hour. “We can talk to them while we are drinking wine,” I grinned.

So, darn it, I want to write a blog. I don’t want to stand in the grocery store line three months from now, remember  something from the trip, and think, “Why don’t I go home and write about it?” I am going to write while the elephants trumpet and the lions roar.  It probably won’t be like the movie Out of Africa. I know I’m going to have a drama queen moment (or two), but Paul is going on safari, and I get to see him the moment he catches sight of a lion in the wild.

That moment will be priceless!