Illness on the road – and a Shenandoah-related reunion

We’ve been remarkably healthy so far in this Year on the Edges of America. Mosquito bites, occasional allergy-caused itchy eyes and a mild case of shingles are all we’ve suffered.

Until now.

Earlier this month, Georges came down with a mega-cold. He was healthy as a horse when I left for a quick in-and-out business trip to Dallas, which doubled as an opportunity to spend time with my Mom and our Beloved House-sitter (and see a dentist). But he was wheezing and sneezing with near-hurricane force by the time I returned to him and the Casita in Oakland three days later.

This is a man who never gets sick. He also never complains. And here he was knocked low by a sore throat, stuffy head, runny nose and achy muscles. (I was the one trapped for six hours on planes swimming in germs; go figure.)

Fortunately, we had plenty of over-the-counter medications. Remember that first-aid box we so meticulously packed in February?

It’s a good thing. Despite our best efforts not to share germs for a few days – tough to do in a 17-foot trailer – I came down with precisely the same cold four days later.

What a miserable pair. I felt like I was swallowing over a razor blade in my throat; G’s head felt as heavy as a bowling ball. We tore through tissues like hyenas in heat, our coughs reverberated as deep and cavernous as the Grand Canyon.

I’m sure we single-handedly kept in business the companies that make Kleenex, Zyrtec, Mucinex, Ricola cough drops and Vick’s Vaporrub.

There’s not much you can do on the road to get well quicker. One day, we ditched plans to visit the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas in favor of a two-hour nap in the Casita at a viewpoint pullover just south of Año Nuevo State Park.

I’m sure the park is lovely. I didn’t see much of it. G slept for an hour and then walked along the beach and spotted some gray-and-white harbor seals. I slept the two hours solid.

Our biggest concern became not infecting the friends we’d planned to visit. I called ahead and offered to divert for a day or two.

Don’t bother, our host said. Please press ahead. Neither of us is particularly germaphobic.

Press ahead we did. We parked in their driveway and enjoyed a delicious dinner together at their kitchen table. Then I retreated to the Casita and promptly went back to bed.

And slept until noon the next day. (Meanwhile, G and our hosts had gone for a short hike along the Carmel River.) Finally, after a shower and more medication, I began to feel like I was back among the living.

Our hosts were warm and gracious, our visit with them particularly sentimental.

Attentive readers of this blog will remember a lengthy post from May about our visit to the cabin my parents built in the 1950s nestled into the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The owner of the cabin, to whom my Dad sold it a half-century ago (over my schoolgirl objections), kindly allowed us to visit the cabin of my memories. His grandson, Peter, who happened to be visiting his grandparents at the time, en route to a Peace Corps posting in South America, even played the violin for us – a snippet of which I included in this blog post.

It was Peter’s father, Ed, who I used to play in the kiddie pool with at the cabin. It was Peter’s father who emailed me earlier this month with an invitation to visit him and his wife in their home in Carmel Valley not far from the California coast as we puttered down the western perimeter of the U.S. in October.

It was a thoughtful invitation. Neither Ed nor I have many memories of each other but we both have fond memories of The Cabin my parents built.

I have only three photos of Ed from that time. (Actually, they are my Mom’s photos.) He’s the one in each of them holding the boat; I’m the one out of the water. The other child in each photo is Anne, Ed’s sister, who lives in Atlanta with her husband and children.

We haven’t seen each other since 1962.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Ed and his wife, Pam. They have a delightfully peaceful home on the hills of Carmel Valley, just a dozen-plus miles inland from the ocean. They’ve both led fascinating lives. Ed is an electrical engineer who loves his work unraveling the ocean’s mysteries; Pam traveled around the world, alone – twice! – in the 1970s.

We enjoyed the view, the camaraderie and – of course – good food. Ed makes a mean salmon dinner, wonderful fruit smoothies for breakfast and fabulous home-made hummus. One evening, G made his signature coq au vin. We sipped champagne. Everything was delicious.

I’m not sure we gave the Monterey-Carmel area its due on this trip, feeling as poorly as we did for much of it. But no matter. We’ve both been to the area before, and we can always return.

Best of all was catching up with Ed, a childhood playmate whose ties to The Cabin give him and his family a special forever-place in my heart.

And we finally had reason to open that giant first aid kit we’ve been toting for some 20,000 miles around the country.

12 thoughts on “Illness on the road – and a Shenandoah-related reunion

  1. Hi K&G,

    Hope you’re both feeling better now and are enjoying some SoCal sun. We’re into our Fall/Winter Gray Period which sometimes pushes us into a Blue Period.

    To counteract the Blue, Carolyn and I planning a 3 week or so Tucson visit in early January. Lynn may join us. Hope you all are still in Tucson then.

    Happy Basking, Carolyn and Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Bob. We are feeling much better, practically back to normal! We are in Joshua Tree National Park right now. Loving it. Your Arizona idea sounds wonderful! We expect to be in Arizona from mid November through much of January. Mom will fly from Dallas to be with us from December 18 to January 3. Any chance for an overlap?


  2. You two have been through states where you can buy “medicinals” not yet legal in Texas. Did you try any of these products for your colds? Or for any other reason?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope. G has gone seven decades without experiencing such medicinals and he has no interest in breaking that record. 🤪


  3. Lovely to catch up on your trip, Keven. These last few posts have been wonderful. Too bad you missed the Steinbeck Center. The director is an old friend of the Stanford journalism fellowships program and we spent a day there on our trip to Monterrey. Lovely reflections.

    Seems like you’re further along geographically than you are chronologically. You’re just a drive south along the water to LA and then the border then a hard left to head back east to Texas. I guess you’ll have to stay over a few extra weeks in Hollywood and Las Vegas. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michael. Yes, we have just entered Southern California where we have friends to visit and presidential libraries to experience. Then we plan to spend the holidays in Arizona where we have friends and family we haven’t been able to share the holidays with for decades as I’ve always worked holidays. We will begin our return to Dallas after the first of the year. When does YOUR new adventure begin?


  4. Alison Nicholson October 28, 2018 — 8:39 am

    Sorry to hear you guys were sick! Nice to be pulling your own bed so you can sleep anywhere; including lookouts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed. Thanks, Alison. Last night we stayed right next to the beach at Morro Strand State Park beach and campground. Miss you!


  5. Keven, you were such a cute baby!!


    1. Ha! Thanks. But aren’t all babies cute?


  6. Lynda sebastianelli October 24, 2018 — 11:30 am

    Always interesting tales as you venture forth. Glad the nasty cold moved on! Hugs 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lynda. Best to you and Armand!


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