Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Joy of Marriage

Since this is a travel blog, how does the wedding fit in? Very simple: Harry and I met on the 2008 Holland America Grand World Voyage. We played on the same trivia team for the last half of the cruise. At the end of the cruise we parted as friends, since I was in another relationship. That relationship ended a few days after I returned from the cruise. Shortly after that Harry & I got into email correspondence, and I sent him a several music CDs that I thought he would enjoy. In return, he promised to stop in Richmond to take me to dinner, on his way to the Outer Banks. Our correspondence got to be quite heavy and lots of fun. At one point he invited me, as a friend, to visit him at the beach, since none of the usual family members would be there. Our dinner together was great fun, and the following morning he came back and took me to breakfast. I accepted the invitation to beach visit and drove down there expecting to have a nice time with a wonderful friend whose company I thoroughly enjoy. Once I got to the beach we started an intense conversation that continued for the entire two and a half weeks I was there. Within four days we were engaged, and exactly two weeks later we were married.

Harry had already planned a trip around the country to visit relatives and also tablemates from the cruise. He asked me to go with him, and I agreed, partly because we would be going to parts of the country I'd never seen before, but mostly because we did not want to have to spend time apart. We were not sure when it would work to get married, since the trip was already planned and on a tight schedule. Then his Aunt Alfrieda suggested we get married in New Jersey, and we chose to do that because the requirements were simple. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place because Harry's younger son & his wife were going to be visiting New York City at that time, so they could stand up for us at the wedding. We were married by Jimmy Tedesco, the mayor of Paramus, NJ, who did a wonderful ceremony for us. After the ceremony, the friends and relatives present threw rice krispies and cheerios at us, and we headed over to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch. The lunch was in lieu of a reception. We spent the evening at a Yankees game in the soon-to-be-demolished Yankee Stadium, watching the Orioles beat the Yankees badly. Despite the Yankee's loss, we enjoyed the evening greatly. Not a conventional thing to do on your wedding day, but then not much about our courtship and marriage was conventional. We were glad to accomplish the marriage when we did because we knew it would be easier to travel as a married couple.

Depite the tightness of Harry's original schedule, we found time to fit in extra stops on the trip. The first one was to visit my friends, Kent & Kathy Froman in Kansas City, MO, whom I had met on the Prinsendam in October 2007. From there we went across South Dakota, visiting the Badlands, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. We happened to be traveling through the state during the annual motorcycle convention in Sturgis, SD, so we had the company of many motorcycles on the road. Sometimes, watching line of them enter the highway, they looked like a line of ants. Our next state was Wyoming, where we stopped at Devil's Tower before heading on to Cody, to visit our friend Daphne Grimes, who is an Episcopal priest and fellow trivia team member. She had agreed to bless our marriage, which turned out to be another lovely experience. The setting was her home out in the countryside near Cody, and the scenery was beautiful.

When we left Cody, we took Daphne with us, as Harry had originally promised her a ride to Seattle. She took us on a tour of Yellowstone National Park, where we got stuck at one point early on by a buffalo traffic jam. They were congregating on, and crossing, the road. We also experienced what one friend referred to as a 'grumpy' Old Faithful - she was significantly late, but still spectacular. From Yellowstone we went up through Montana and Idaho into Washington. We traveled through Mt. Rainier National Park, which was awesomely beautiful. It surprised me to find that spring season happens in August there. There were flowers blooming everywhere. We stayed a couple of days with our friends Bryan and Pat Turner from the cruise, just outside Tacoma, WA, a fun visit. We enjoyed their cat George, also, who weighs 23 pounds.

From Washington we headed down the coast through California. We took the Redwood Highway down to Eureka, which was a beautiful drive. We stopped in Monterey to visit my friend, Taleah Cress. We then went through Los Angeles, where we visited briefly with my mother and sisters, before heading to Orange County to visit with Darryll and Carol Wright, also Harry's tablemates on the cruise. We spent a couple of days with them, which were quite enjoyable.

When we left California, we were headed at long last for El Paso, where Harry is from. The drive was beautiful, because the desert had a lot of rain, so from Tucson through El Paso, everything was green. We visited the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, which is well worth seeing. We were greeted with a gorgeous sunset as we drove through the Franklin mountains to the east side of El Paso. We spent a few days there, and then headed for San Antonio to visit Harry's sons and their families. We enjoyed their company, and also visited the Alamo and took a River Walk cruise. Then it was on to Richmond. We encountered a problem finding a room in Texarkana, due to the influx of hurricane Gustave evacuees, but were able to find lodging in Little Rock. We stopped in Abingdon, VA to visit more of Harry's relatives, Burt and Joyce Bassham, for a couple of days. We arrived in Richmond on September 4, which made a complete circle around the country for me.

So you see, the wedding story is a travel story. I never got around to writing about the world cruise. Given time, I will post photos from our trip around the country.

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