Ohio Honeymoon

Honeymoon OhioOn our honeymoon in 1988 we visited good friend Larry Wingert. He’d been a Rotary exchange student to Harrismith in South Africa back in 1969-1970.

We flew out of Lawton Oklahoma to Dallas/Fort Worth, on to Little Rock Arkansas, to Cincinatti and on to our destination: Akron, Ohio. on Friday 8 April. Larry’s friend Dave “Zee” picked us up at the airport, took us to his condominium and fed us. Later, Larry fetched us in his Subaru and took us to his beautiful old home on North Portage Path.

I love the canoeing connection with his home: North Portage Path is an 8000 year old path along which native Americans portaged their canoes from the Cuyahoga river out of lake Erie, across a mere eight miles to the Tuscarawas River from where it flows into the Muskingum river, then into the Ohio and on to the Mississippi. Thus they could paddle from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Of Mexico with only an eight mile portage, something any Dusi paddler would do without a second thought! The amazing thing: You can still paddle from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico today, unbroken except for one short section – and along that you could pop in to Larry’s place for tea! America’s waterways are astonishing.

Larry indulged us lavishly. On our arrival in the States some weeks before, we received a letter saying “Please accept these portraits of old American Presidents and USE this plastic card!” Various big denomination dollar bills and a credit card for gas (or petrol)! How’s that!?

He then indulged Aitch’s joy in shopping, especially deli shopping at the best places, followed by a big cook-up at home and music with the two of them on the piano, shoving me aside and asking me to please stop singing! (Note: Gotta find the pics of them at the piano).

Then he took us to parks and nature resorts for me to indulge in my birding passion. When he wasn’t able to join us he handed over the keys to his Subaru. Above and beyond . .

One morning we visited Cuyahoga River State Park quarry area. Afterwards we went shopping at another rather special deli – its obvious Larry is GOOD at this! For supper Larry cooked us some great steaks on his portable barbeque outside his kitchen door. We ate like kings.

A visit to Kendall Lake; Later to Cleveland’s Old Arcade Centre and a look at Lake Erie. Supper at a French restaurant on Larry; He had already spoiled us generously, now this.

Suitably fortified, we moved back home to liquers and piano and song! To bed 2am, rise 5.30am; off to Boston 13 April 1988. Cape Cod is next . .

Oklahoman Honeymoon

As I settled in the seat of the Delta Air plane en route to Texas and the Gulf I read in the newspaper that the one thing I did NOT want to be doing was flying over Easter.

When is Easter? I asked the stewardess. “Tomorrow” she chirped brightly.

Change of plan Aitch, I announced: We’re going to Oklahoma instead of the Gulf. I explained and showed her the newspaper (airport congestion, overbooked flights – us on a cheap Delta pass). Aitch had been dreading going to Apache: “They’ll all know you and I won’t know anyone and I’ll feel left out and . . ”

But now she had to face her fears. As soon as we landed at Dallas-Fort Worth we booked the next flight to Lawton OK, heading back north instead of carrying on south. There was just enough time if we scurried. Aitch decided she’d skip the loo and go once we were airborne. Mistake.

It was a little narrow plane like this, two seats a side, a narrow aisle, no airhostess, no loo. Ooh!

delta-small-plane

We landed in Lawton after dark and she made it. We set off further north for Apache in a rental car. Apache: My hometown for a year as a Rotary exchange student in 1973. Arriving on the Patterson’s farm outside town we saw a huge (or ‘yuge’) SA flag waving from the flagpole! Jim had borrowed an oversize flag to welcome us!

Jim & Katie Patterson, the loveliest couple in the whole of the USA were just the same as ever!

Apache Patterson Lunch (1) Apache Patterson Ranch_cr

They welcomed us with open arms in to their beautiful and comfortable ranch house and it was as though we hadn’t been apart for fifteen years (during which time I had received exactly two letters from them. “Well, Peter” said Jim with his crooked grin and twinkling eyes, “We didn’t want to flood you with correspondence”).

ApachePattersonRanch (11)

Katie took Aitch on a night drive in the pickup looking for owls. Both girls were suitably lubricated plus they took extra stocks of their tipple. They had the windows down and were hooting weird owl calls and hosing themselves. When they returned they were laughing uncontrollably, leaning against each other for support. They had seen a possum snuffling around and Aitch was fascinated – she always LOVED the little night creatures. Katie followed it offroad into the fields, keeping it in the headlights. When it stopped she manouevred so it could best be seen and whispered to Aitch “Shall I kill it?” She was surprised at Aitch’s distraught look of horror. She twigged: “No, no, not the possum! I meant the engine!” They collapsed laughing when they both “saw it” and were still laughing helplessly when they got back home where Jim and I were watching ‘the ballgame’ – Basketball I think; OU I think.

…………..

Jay Wood & Robbie Swanda come for a barbecue; Robbie wears my Optometry rugby jersey (that I gave him in 1984, then regretted doing so! My only one!)
Jay Wood & Robbie Swanda come for a barbecue Robbie wears my Optometry rugby jersey, number 8

Jim unwraps the winter covers - Early for Aitch
Jim unwraps the winter covers early for Aitch

Jim even unwrapped the Caddy convertible from its winter covering weeks earlier than usual and presented her with the keys.

Almost, but still not quite . .

All I got was this old tractor that I had driven for Jim back in ’73.

Here's what I get to drive (memories of 1973)
Here’s what I get to drive (memories of 1973)

OK, in fairness, he also gave me the keys to the Chevy Suburban. Which was so much fun I missed the Rotary meeting! Now THAT was embarrassing! Unforgivable! Everyone was forgiving / understanding (‘well, you ARE on honeymoon, after all’) but that REALLY was a major gaffe! *blush!!!* We were out in the countryside and I just clean forgot. We did see a lot of birds that day.

Well, our five day trip to Apache stretched to a week. Wherever we went all I got was an elbow in the ribs as the local inhabitants shoved me aside and crowded around Aitch. Every now and then one would mutter over his shoulder at me: “Now you look after this gal, boy! Y’hear?” Aitch’s dread of going to “my” hometown had turned into a reluctance to leave “her” hometown!

After ten days I sat Aitch down and said “Now listen girl, we still have things to do, places to go and people to meet. We can’t stay in Apache forever!” She was having a ball, revelling in the attention and she and Katie were getting on like a house on fire. I suspect on all their jaunts when they would breeze off in the Lincoln saying “Ya’ll stay home and watch the ballgame, y’hear?” that Katie was teaching her how to manage me and telling her how she managed Jim. Aitch obviously soaked up the lessons! It was Katie who had asked me as a seventeen year old back in 1973: “Peter, who do you think chooses the marriage partner?” Following my confident (wrong) answer she put me straight, telling me how, when Jim arrived for his first day of work at the bank she had turned to her friend and announced “I’m going to marry that man!”

So it was very reluctantly that Aitch agreed that I could book for the next leg of our extended honeymoon. On to Ohio to see Larry.

San Juan Honeyprune

We spent a week in Washington on our ’88 honeymoon. Way up in the San Juan islands, across the Puget Sound by ferry, on Orcas Island.

Anacortes_Orcas Ferry

Our little cabin above Doe Bay was cosy, but we’d seen a sign saying “suits optional” and were curious. It was an outdoor hot tub. We figured the sign meant bathing suits, not formal suits (we had a South African giggle at the wording), so removing all our kit we slid into the steaming tub overlooking the picturesque bay.

To Aitch’s consternation we were joined by four more people, she being kinda shy. We had a lovely chat about Washington, Canada, Africa, America – and after a long soak they hopped out up the steep ladder, causing the polite among us to avert their gaze from the under-chassis glimpse this afforded one.
Aitch wanted out, but only after the last of the ‘locals’ had left did she make the climb, looking decidedly prune-skin.
That memory gave us fond chuckles for 23 years!

Lonely Planet review of Doe Bay (decades later):

There are resorts, and then there’s Doe Bay, 18 miles east of Eastsound on the island’s easternmost shore – as lovely a spot as any on Orcas. By far the least expensive resort in the San Juans (Ooh! Caught out! Yes, ours WAS a budget honeymoon!), Doe Bay has the atmosphere of an artists’ commune cum hippie retreat cum New Age center. Accommodations include campsites, a small hostel with dormitory and private rooms, and various cabins and yurts, most with views of the water. There’s also a natural-foods store, a café, yoga classes, an organic garden and special discounts for guests who arrive by bike. The sauna and clothing-optional hot tub are set apart on one side of a creek.
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