My favorite all-time travel companion is Sally Aldridge, my spouse of 40 plus years. Today is her birthday. She is now as old as I am! (Hint: We both draw Social Security.)
After our wedding on December 22, 1972, we set out to only God knew where (in more ways than one). We had no room reservations, so we headed up the Interstate, and stayed in a Holiday Inn in Spartanburg. From there, we changed directions and headed North, to Williamsburg, Virginia, where we spent two nights, including Christmas Eve. I had a Gulf Oil credit card, which in those days allowed you to stay at Holiday Inns, so we lodged in another Holiday Inn. (For our 35th wedding anniversary, we took our entire family back to Williamsburg to the same motel, which is now a Ramada Inn. I don’t know if Jenna and Julie appreciated the trip, but I loved it!) In Williamsburg, we took the historic tours, and I remember dinner at a very nice restaurant called Cascades.
I tore the end of a small limb off a cedar tree and propped it up in a Coke bottle. That was our first Christmas tree. While we were eating supper on Christmas Eve, the Holiday Inn people let themselves into our room and left some hard candy and a nice vinyl record of “Holiday Favorites.” That old album was our preferred Christmas music for decades. We knew that a lot of lonely people were in motels on Christmas Eve, and because of this simple act of kindness, we became a fan of Holiday Inn for a long, long time.
On Sunday morning, we went to church at First Baptist in Williamsburg, sitting in the tiny balcony. From there, we drove to see relatives and friends in New York State and in Massachusetts. At some point, I remember going in the wrong direction on a one-way street. We visited antique shops, saw snow, ate well, then turned around in Athol, Massachusetts, and came home.
We had rented an apartment in Columbia, South Carolina, with a fireplace, which is about as cool as a young 25 year old newly married couple can get. Sally was a middle-school teacher and I worked with Young Life. When we returned to Columbia we were snowed into our apartment with the worst blizzard (January, 1973) that anybody our age ever remembers in Columbia, “stuck” there as newlyweds. Darn. Then all the Young Life teenagers discovered they could come to our apartment and hang out with us, so they did until we kicked them out.
Forty years later, some of those Young Life “kids” still show up occasionally. Sally and I love it when they do.
That was our first trip together. Since then, we have been to England, France, Italy, Greece and other intriguing places, including North Carolina and Georgia. Our next trip is to Peru.
Happy Birthday, Sally, my favorite travel companion!