Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Catching Up With a 32-Year Friendship

During the spring time, Virginia is filled with the beautiful flowering Dogwood trees. You can see them everywhere you go during this time of year. They show off their beautiful pink blossoms or a pure white blossom.

Last Sunday, April 19th, Bruce and I drove north from Salem to Charlottesville to meet with our dear friends, Jim and Pat. We have known them and their 3 boys for 32 years. We first met them when both of our oldest children were in the same kindergarten classroom back in Garden Grove, California. Jim, Pat and the boys made the move to Stafford, Virginia back in 1986. Jim held a government job at that time and took a transfer to work at Quantico. Pat had been a teacher prior to the births of their boys and when they moved to Stafford she went back to work as an elementary teacher. Now, both of them are retired....but not idle.

Jim is a very busy guy with volunteer work in his community and Pat enjoys a quilting group that meets in their home each week. Pat and Jim also enjoy spending a lot of quality time with their 4 adorable grandsons. We had intended to drive in the RV up to Stafford for a few days and visit with Pat and Jim there. Unfortunately, we need to get some repairs done on our large slide-out and we'll need to head to Florida instead. So the next best solution was to meet them up in Charlottesville for lunch. At least we would get to visit with them for a couple of hours. We were going to be gone for several hours so we had to bring Annie the Schnauzer along with us.

Charlottesville was a good meeting place as it is about half way between Salem and Stafford. I called Pat on the phone and we arranged to meet at McDonald's off of I-64, exit 120. Then we would decide where to go after that. We had not seen Jim and Pat in 15 years so we were anxious to see them and catch up on family events. We got to McDonald's, in the heart of Charlottesville, a few minutes before they arrived. They arrived....and it was great. We immediately hugged, laughed and it seemed like those 15 years just melted away.

Jim checked with "Mabel" his GPS system for local restaurants. Charlottesville is a college town (University of Virginia) and is very historic and not a town with a large commercial district. "Mabel" had a hard time giving us a location for a restaurant. Eventually, she issued a name of a small cafe and Jim led the way in his car with us following. None of us really had a clue where we were going. "Mabel" did not recognize the fact that she was trying to send us the wrong way on a One Way street. With frustration, Jim pulled their car over and we discussed what to do. I saw a woman coming up the street walking 2 very large dogs so I asked her about the cafe we were looking for. She directed us much better than "Mabel" did and we set off once again in search of it. Eureka! We finally found it 2 blocks away.

We had to wait about an hour for a table in the small cafe, but that afforded us the opportunity to share photos of grandchildren and catch up on what our "kids" were doing. We had a wonderful visit and the best thing about our friendship with Jim and Pat is that when we do get together, it seems like it has been no time at all. It is like we can pick up our conversations right where we left off on the visit before. Since they moved to Stafford in 1986 we have seen them 4 times. Hopefully on our next visit to Virginia we will be able to stay in Stafford and visit with them for a few days.

We said our good-byes a couple of hours later and we each went on our way. Bruce and I decided to drive back to Salem via the Blue Ridge Parkway. We LOVE the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. The drive was beautiful and there was very little traffic since the tourist season has not yet begun. This coming Friday we intend to pack a picnic lunch and drive back up to the Parkway. I'll write about that, and include photos, at a later time.

More of the beautiful flowering Dogwoods from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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