Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Our First Trip...16 Years Ago Today!

Today is the 16th anniversary of John's and my first date, and guess what? We went on a day-trip that day...previews of coming attractions, to be sure. I was living in the DC area at the time, and he was teaching at JMU. My best friend M ran into him on campus and mentioned I was coming down that weekend. He said "have her call me." She conveyed the message on Friday afternoon, and since I'd had a crush on John for months, I wasted no time calling him. I heard myself suggesting we get together (not at all like me back then!). I said how about Saturday? He said, vaguely, that he had plans, and my heart sank. In the next breath, he suggested Sunday, and all was well in the world.

The place we went is one of those places in this part of the world that you just have to know, or you have to know someone who knows how to get there, cause it's pretty far off the beaten track. I first went there in college with friends to watch a spectacular sunset. The last time we went there was with our friends from The Netherlands...and the hill almost killed our poor old Plymouth van! We haven't taken the girls there yet, but we will.

The place is known as Reddish Knob, and it's one of the highest points in the highlands between the Shenandoah Valley and West Virginia. If you turn right instead of left just before the final ascent to Reddish Knob, you get to this place known as "Flagpole." That was our destination on January 21, 1992. It was cold and clear that day, with crunchy snow in patches on the ground. I remember being able to see my breath, and how rosy John's cheeks were, how blue his eyes.

We talked and talked on the drive there, but once we were out walking in the woods along the edge of Flagpole's clearing, I don't remember saying much, though I definitely remember what I was thinking: ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod...nothing was said of romantic significance because neither of us was exactly sure what it was we were doing. Was this a date, a get-together, a...what?

We drove back that day, stopped at Luigi's on 42 (that storied location is now closed, all you ex-Hburgers, and Luigi's is now downtown in the old Gus's Taverna building) to get a pizza to go, and ate it at M's and my old house (yeah 309 Old South High!!!). Soon it was time for me to drive back to DC, and we said our goodbyes, promising to call.

I figured I'd play it cool and wait to call til Thursday. He called Tuesday. Soon there was a tentative exchange of Valentines' Day cards, and things developed that spring and summer until, by the time the leaves changed and the view from Reddish Knob was at its most spectacular, we were fairly sure this was a forever thing.

We've always loved to travel together. A few days before our wedding, in fact, to decompress from the matrimonial frenzy, we escaped to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia (an easy drive from Harrisonburg, just take 33 W and look for the signs) to walk, climb, see a view, get some fresh air, to talk, to listen, to be silent.

If you're interested in some winter hiking at Flagpole or Reddish Knob, just click on the title of this entry and, thanks to our friends at Shenandoah Bicycle, you'll find yourself linked to a page of driving directions to the Knob and to some other great places in this part of the country. Have a great time!

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