Road Trip: I Dream of Jeannie Park

Barbara, my college roommate from Western Carolina University, and I took our first road trip nearly 40 years ago. In our freshman year, we took trips to Atlanta to shop and New Orleans for Mardi Gras. And of course, we had to come to Florida for Spring Break…Barbara’s first trip to the Sunshine State.


This week our newest adventure took us to I Dream of Jeannie Park in Cocoa Beach. Well, actually, Lori Wilson Park located on I Dream of Jeanine Lane. Now that Barbara’s a Florida resident, it was her turn to introduce me to one of her favorite beaches. Lori Wilson Park, a Brevard County treasure, is a slice of paradise tucked in between the hotels to the north and south of the park. No buildings towering over beachgoers, just sand dunes, sea oats, and soft sugar-like sand.

Lori Wilson Park provides free parking, clean restrooms, two pavilions, a dog park, a playground, and a boardwalk that weaves through the hammock bordering the beach. Lifeguards are even stationed on the beach to watch over swimmers and surfers.

Fortunately, the daily thunderstorms stayed away permitting us to swim, enjoy the water and hang out on the beach for about three hours. Of course, we found a way to add some laughs to the trip as we battled a disagreeable sun umbrella, but I’m proud to say the two of us with the help of a pocket knife came out victorious.



We concluded our Cocoa Beach road trip at Mambos, a beach side restaurant that borders the park, dining on Mahi Mahi sitting on the outside deck in the salt air.

Before leaving, Barbara was taking note of the surf board rentals and surfing lessons offered at Mambos since surfing’s on her bucket list.

I’ll pass on surfing, but I’m game for another road trip.


Ornaments That Tell a Story

Decorating the Christmas tree I realized that it tells the story of my adult life. The ornaments hanging from the branches each bring back a memory of the 34 years John and I have been married.

The only ornament from my childhood is an angel purchased during our family’s first trip to Disney World in 1973. This angel started the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments inspired by memories of the year.

IMG_1729In 1979, the first Christmas as a newly married couple, we decorated our tree with homemade ornaments on a tree we cut down in the Ocala National Forest because we couldn’t afford expensive decorations. (We were probably just too cheap to spend money on a tree, lights, and dozens of ornaments, but in any case we strung popcorn and made ornaments creating a special memory.)

Handmade macrame' owl ornament - 1979
Handmade macrame’ owl ornament – 1979

The Jackson County Courthouse reminds us of our years in Cullowhee at Western Carolina University where John and I met as well as the summers spent in North Carolina camping, hiking, and tubing.

Jackson County Courthouse – Sylva, NC

Of course there are shells, beach chairs, and a sea turtle on the tree. It’s hard to think of a year without at least a few days at the beach.

A shell from Sanibel
A shell from Sanibel

Not only turtles, but whales, alligators, moose and bats adorn the tree since so many summers seem to revolve around animal adventures.

2012- the summer of bats in Carlsbad and Austin
2012- the summer of bats in Carlsbad and Austin
Whale watching in Washington
Whale watching in Washington

The sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church brings back wonderful memories of over twenty years of Christmas eve services as well as Easter services, LOGOS, confirmation, Wednesday night dinners, and Camp Montgomery.

1st Presbyterian Church Ocala
1st Presbyterian Church Ocala

I’d venture to say we’re the only family with a key chain, a rock, and an alien on their Christmas tree; but what better way to remember Las Vegas than the famous Vegas sign or a trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion than a rock (purchased, not pilfered from the park) and what’s New Mexico without an alien?

My favorites: bear bells from a trip to Yellowstone.

Bells meant to be worn by hikers to scare bears away
Bells meant to be worn by hikers to scare bears away

And from Muir Woods National Monument, an ornament that represents the Redwoods we traveled across a continent to see and the final trip we took as a family of five. Funny, this one ornament cost more than we spent on the tree and all the decorations that first Christmas!

Christmas trip in California
Christmas trip in California





How I Met Your Mother (Father)

The final year of the series How I Met Your Mother aired last Monday. There aren’t many television programs I regularly watch, but this is one I look forward to watching every week. After following Ted’s story of meeting his wife for years, I was anxious to meet the mother.

Since the show is based on Ted’s telling his children how he met their mother, I thought I’d relay the story of how I met your father. It’s not a nine year story like this program, and while I’m sure you’ve heard parts of it, I thought it should be recorded for posterity.

John and I were both students in Dr. Theta Purdue’s American History class at Western Carolina University during the winter quarter in 1977. Dr. Purdue started each Monday morning class with a five question quiz that had a significant impact on the students’ final grade.

One Wednesday in February, Dr. Purdue returned the quiz from the previous Monday to the protests of John and another student, Audrey, who sat next to him. They tried to convince the good professor that they should get credit for their response to question #3. She looked at their papers and said if they could spell the answer…Thoreau…correctly before the tardy bell rang she’d give them credit.

For the next several minutes the two of them shouted out combinations of letters in attempt to earn the extra points on the quiz. T-h-r-o, T-h-a-r-o-w, T-h-a-r-o. Dr. Purdue just smiled and shook her head no as she greeted other students entering the room.

Finally, I decided to show some mercy. I leaned forward and whispered to John, T-h-o-r-e-a-u. His response, “Say that again so I can write it down.”

T-h-o-r-e-a-u. In unison, he and Audrey correctly spelled the answer and true to her word, Dr. Purdue added points to their score.

During class John started speaking to the girl who could spell. I’m not sure how things would have worked out if I misspelled Thoreau or if he had been able to spell Henry David’s last name on his own. But in any case, we were brought together by a 19th century transcendentalist, poet, author, philosopher, and naturalist. Not exactly

Of course, this is my version of how I met your father; if you want to get the other side of the story, feel free; but remember, it may be a long, drawn out story with twists and turns along the way much like the one Ted’s been sharing with this children for the last nine seasons.