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    Posted May 11, 2014 by
    Tallahassee, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Visited all 50 states?

    You Won't Go Hungry

    We have had many wonderful experiences traveling in the U.S. My wife is from Colorado, I was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Florida. We met and married in Florida. Her family traveled quite a lot but, my family not so much since my Father was a 100% disabled veteran having lost both his legs. She claims she married me because I liked to travel. When I got drafted I joined the Navy on the 120 delay program and used that time to drive a 10,000 trip from graduation night around the Gulf Coast down to Mazatlán, Mex. Up thru AZ and all the famous national parks in the way up thru Yosemite, Yellowstone and so on. Then I went active in the Navy during the Vietnam war and was stationed in Hawaii, had training in the Great Lakes with an “A” School in Denver. My wife had pretty much covered the western and southern states with her family.
    Our grandest memories came after we had our son Jonathan. We both worked for State Government and attended conferences all over. When one of us had a conference, the other brought our son and did museums, zoos, steamboats, trains and parks. We bought a small yacht which we got married on in John Penneycamp Coral Reef State Park. Three years later we conceived our son on it in Marathon. He always went along after that. One memorable trip we pulled in the marina in our favorite anchorage in New Found Harbor to get ice, fuel, and other supplies. Jon was 5 years old. He found a group of high school girls playing soccer on the other side of the building and they let him join in. We discovered he was gone and when we found him, let him continue to play, it was a great break from being cooped up on the boat for him. The girls must have thought he was the berries and saw him off at the dock. Over a week later we took our camping gear and loaded on the seaplane to Fort Jefferson for a four day stay. The plane was full so we could only take enough supplies for one night, the rest would follow the next day on a subsequent flight. After the plane taxied up on the sand and Jon jumped off the pylon there was excitement on the beach when all the girls from the soccer game spotted him and ran up to say hi! He has friends on distant islands. They were there for the weekend on a fishing boat in the harbor. The next day we learned the plane wasn’t coming with our food and drinks and the Rangers told us they needed two passengers before they made the trip. The Rangers offered to let us eat with them that night if it didn’t show up but it was not something they often did. The island isn’t big and news got around of our dilemma. Late in the afternoon the girls from the marina/fishing boat came over with an ice chest and gave us fresh fish they just caught that day and drinks and ice because they didn’t want Jon to go hungry. That was the nicest thing for them to do. Some years later we arranged a backpacking trip off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We got engaged at the swinging bridge at Phantom Ranch about 11 years before. Jon was going to celebrate his 8th birthday at Phantom Ranch. He was a competitive swimmer since he was 5 years old and in great shape. The ranch hands offered that he was the youngest kid to pack in and out on his own power that they knew of. They even gave him an extra candle on his birthday cake that “he couldn’t blow out.” Days later after we hiked out we were sitting on the balcony of the only Lodge with the saloon behind us. Jon wandered off to the circular room next to us to see the bronze donkey named Brighty. I often read “Brighty of Bright Angle Trail” story to him when he was younger. The story came to him as he hiked the trail and actually saw where it happened, and stood on the waterfall where the donkey did in the movie. He met a brother and sister his own age playing inside and joined them. We got drinks and enjoyed a quiet and colorful sunset waiting for our dinner call. When it came we found Jon playing cards with the two children and their parents and he introduced us to them. We went to dinner didn’t think much more about it. It wasn’t until the next morning when we showed up for breakfast and found the place packed, it’s the only place to eat. The wait was about two hours and we spent a few minutes deciding to just leave and drive the 50 miles to the next town to eat there. As we turned we heard, “Jonathan, Jonathan”. We all turned around and there was this family from the day before. “We could only remember Jonathan’s name”, they said, so they put his name with theirs when they made reservations. Just then we were all called in. The timing couldn’t have been better. Jon didn’t go hungry again. We stayed there for hours sharing stories. What a wonderful family.
    We camped in Thoreau, NM once next to a fenced valley. In the morning Native Americans would ride their ponies in, release them in the valley and ride to work in a pickup truck. In the evening they would return, call in their ponies and ride back into the mountain where they lived. While we were there fresh from a trip to Mexico, Jon rode his little bicycle with his cowboy boots and new Mexican spurs over to watch them saddle up. One of them came over and asked if he could ride a horse. We said sure thinking they would put him in the saddle and walk it around a little like in a carnival. No, they put him on a small paint and slapped it on the haunches and down in the valley he rode. About a half hour later he came back smiling from ear to ear. He has been to all the Southwest, South, and States east of the Mississippi. Jon is working now so he doesn’t travel with us like before. After my wife and I retired she wanted to go to Hawaii. Been there! But we went to more islands and with a cousin living on Kaui she bought a time share there. A year later we had a conference in Seattle. We took stock of all the places we’ve been and set our route to get all the States that one or both of us had not been to yet. She needed Michigan so we headed North, then visited an old shipmate in Minnesota. He took us to the headwaters of the Mississippi, then North and South Dakota. Then off to Montana, Idaho and Washington stopping a National Parks and other sights. After the conference we took a cruise to Alaska, her last state to visit then drove south to visit an Aunt in California and visit cousins in Oregon, my last state to visit. There, complete. Every state had memorable adventures. There are so many good one. But the best adventures were when Jon was with us. He is gearing up with ultra-light equipment, and training to back pack the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2016. Any takers? People seem to make sure he doesn’t go hungry. I think he has in mind to go back to Nova Scotia for Digby scallops. I am just thrilled we instilled in his blood the travel adventure he will enjoy the rest of his life.

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