You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

I’m saying goodbye to this most excellent RV park in Bonita Springs, Florida, but first I got to say hello to an old friend who graciously drove across Florida to visit—YAY!

(And yes, her name is Karen. I get to have two old friends named Karen. It’s never confusing because one of them is “Karen” and the other is “Karen,” and I know which one I’m talking about. Other people simply have to keep up.)

Back in ninth grade, Karen welcomed me into her friend group when I was the new kid at a small school. Little did she know what she was getting herself into. She was the studious one in all AP classes; I was the rule-breaker. But we both were silly and loved each other. We still do!

Back then Karen was known for creating a locker note for me that was taller than I was (it folded all the way down my locker door). We used to spend sleepovers at her house making tie-dye-like pastel covers for our bootleg cassettes, listening to the Doors.

Here in Bonita Springs, Karen came by the campsite twice over her quick weekend trip to the Gulf Coast, but we didn’t get to spend enough time together. You know what it’s like when you see someone every ten years or so: you spend the first part of the visit trying to remember when you saw each other last and what you know about each other’s family and work, and only later do you start telling new stories to each other.

Her husband Jon came along, which I’m glad for so I can get to know him, but it’s always a bit embarrassing for responsible, adult family to hear about old silliness. Only in the last few minutes did Karen and I try to piece together memories of the Grateful Dead shows we saw together, starting when we were just 15, when her mom dropped us off at Richmond Coliseum and came back after the show. You know someone’s an old friend when your shared memories of even Grateful Dead concerts revolve around their awesome mom.

I better see Karen again while we’re in Florida. Seeing someone’s face that’s so familiar, hearing them laugh and recognizing the tone, seeing that they’ve become a successful parent, witnessing how they’re aging (and Karen is not!)—these are some of the reasons I set out traveling.

Goodbye Bonita Springs

We will have been here a little more than three weeks, and at any other place we’ve been so far (other than Washburn, Wisconsin), that would have been way too long. But Tracy’s out kayaking the river right behind the trailer, and I’m drying off from a swim in the heated pool. We bike to the farmer’s market and to hiking trails. Pretty damn nice.

But what I’ve found here especially is the sense of community that I’ve heard of in RVing. This photo of the the golf carts sums it up. The usual morning crew was playing horseshoes when one guy stops to chat with them, then another guy who was tooling around checking things out first thing in the morning stops to chat. Next thing you know it’s a group of guys blocking the road all making chummy small talk. A cartel of golf carts!

Seriously, people here know each other from year after year of spending all winter together with nothing to do but hang out.

Our neighbor Liz has already asked us if we’re coming back next year (nope, as much as we like it here, there are other places we’d like to visit for several more winters), and she’s invited us to dinner on our final night at her outside patio overlooking the river.

I probably could have stayed another week, but we have more of the Everglades to explore, and then the Keys.


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