“If you’d come back just a little later, I’d have stolen your bicycle,” the older man said with a twinkle in his eye. We didn’t know whether to be distressed or laugh with him. Joe’s recumbent bike was still securely locked to the bike rack on top of our old car. Thus started an interesting conversation in the Naples, FL parking lot about flying planes (him) and bicycles (us).
In a Texas town, a restaurant manager at Casa Ole heard that we were on a long road trip and gave us two traveling martini shakers as a gift to commemorate our visit. We don’t drink martinis, but we will remember our visit and his kind gesture. In another Texas town, we met our little cousin – a rambunctious toddler — for the first time.
Early on in the trip, as we set up our tent in the Florida Keys, the camper from the next site came over with half of a key lime pie. For us! Someone had done the same for him once – and he was paying it forward. Hey, it was a tasty pie, too!
We marveled, as we made our way across the country, at all the interesting, and frankly unusual, folks we met on our road trip. In our former life – working in Washington, DC – we were busy. We didn’t take the time to chat with people in passing, and we think that was probably typical for people in our area of the country. Then we retired, and life slowed down. As we drove south, we found ourselves in extended conversations with total strangers. We enjoyed these chance encounters – an unforeseen bonus of traveling.
When we were riding bikes on Sanibel Island, FL, a fellow cyclist approached us for directions. A half hour later, after introductions (he was an emergency room doctor) and an interesting political discussion, we were invited to stop for a visit to his Ft Lauderdale home. Also in Florida, we met campers who had the site next to us. Janie and Bob became friends as we hiked, birdwatched, dined, and sat by the campfire in the evenings.
We enjoyed meeting two AirBnb hosts in central CA. Caroline, in Santa Barbara, filled us in on the new business venture with her mother, The Santa Barbara Company, and sent us off with a very tasty package of spiced pecans that she had made. They were the best we’ve ever had! Anne, our airbnb host in San Luis Obispo, had a great sense of humor. We’d love to make it back for another visit.
While we waited for the evening program to begin at the remote McDonald Observatory, we sat in the snack shop, sharing a table with a delightful couple from Mexico, who had driven up with their children and several other families just for the observatory’s star party show. We thanked our lucky stars to have met them.
To all of these strangers and to those others we haven’t room to mention here, with whom we had chance encounters and became friends, thank you; our trip is richer for having met you.