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Just returned home from a sixteen day road trip with my wife. Felt weird heading out as a couple as this type of trip for the past three decades usually meant all or at least some of our children would be tagging along.

But, they all have their own lives now in various stages of development. One has finished school, one is a junior at USF and one…. Who knows?

Back to our most excellent adventure.

Started off with a last minute decision to spend a few days at a resort on the beach in St Pete, FL. We were scheduled to leave on our road trip in just a few days when my wife decided we should use the beach as a warm-up for the trip. Some of the kids, and granddaughter, did join us for this local getaway which was a special time for all. The weather was beautiful, hot and sunny, local seafood was mega yummy and the company couldn’t have been more fun.

Returned home to wash clothes, repack bags and headed out early the next morning for my Dad’s vacation house in the NC mountains. This was really no more than a rest-stop as we had reservations at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville for the following day. My sister and her husband joined us for a great time at GPI! The guys golfed while the girls were pampered at the spa. Later that evening we had a wonderful dinner at the sunset terrace restaurant, outdoor dining, overlooking the mountains. Upscale dining for sure, but well worth whatever the bill came to. We later made a stop downstairs at Elaine’s dueling piano bar, which is a riot to say the least. Too many more experiences and descriptions about our stay in Asheville than this post would allow.

After a couple days in the NC mountains it was time to once again pack up and head north to Pennsylvania, Philipsburg to be precise. This is the town in which my lovely wife was birthed and she has a great deal of family still in the area. Twas time for a visit. My father-in-law’s home would be base camp, thanks dad, and from there many an adventure was had over the next five days. From 4th of July cookouts, to great dinners and swimming at sis and bro-n-laws house, to long walks, visiting fallen family members at local cemeteries, on and on and on. Sum it up? Great, wonderful, awesome time! Love these people, wish we were geographically closer.

DC/Northern Virginia Bound.

Now it was time to head to the place that was the original purpose for heading north. My wife and I have some dear friends that we have known, raised our kids with, played with, laughed and cried with, looked cross-eyed at occasionally with, going on thirty years now. The female partner of this wonderful couple has suffered the greatest injustice that I have witnessed in all of my life. She was diagnosed with lung cancer a couple years back, lost a lung as a result, and has ever since been under the chemical assault of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Most when they read this will wonder how this qualifies as an injustice, she probably had it coming. Must have been or still is a chain smoking fool that ran out of luck. Well, the truth is she has never smoked, doesn’t drink, and has been a faithful church going lady all the days that we have known her. Is she a saint? Are any of us? But wow, this really isn’t fair. She on the other hand, to my knowledge, has never vocalized “why me” and has the greatest outlook and attitude to this day. She’s amazing!

So this is why we originally planned this trip. To spend quality time with quality friends. I plan on all of us spending eternity together, but there’s nothing like life-long friends hanging out doing everyday normal things.

We had a great time with our friends. Hit local restaurants, girls went shopping (given), watched too many movies at home and at the theaters, took a day trip into DC to visit the American History Museum (had to see Julia Child’s kitchen), men’s breakfast, young married class, and many other activities.

Most special memory for me? Hugging my friend, who has been fighting so hard for the past couple of years, kissing her on the cheek while whispering “I love you” in her ear. This was why I wanted to go on this trip from the very beginning. All the other stuff was important and fun, but spending time with our friends, talking with them, listening… Really listening to them, breaking bread, shooting the breeze, was why we came. Blessings to you our dear, dear friends.

Time to head back to Florida.

As much fun as this trip had proven to be, we also had our family, children, granddaughter back home waiting for mom and dad or Mimi and papa as it may be to return. And what a thrill it was to get home where our daughter and granddaughter were waiting eagerly for us to arrive.

Final thought(s): Show and Tell…. love. Love your family, your friends, not just in word alone but by doing, showing, caring, getting involved, staying engaged. Never know when you’ll need someone to help you along the way.

Vacate. Family vacations can be hard to pull off. Many times they will seem financially out of reach, an inconvenient time career wise to leave, and so on. Make sure you get away as often as possible with your family and friends as these are where the great memories are created. This is where the family glue is mixed up and applied. Already planning in my mind the next vacation.