Today, 15 July 2020, is my 25th wedding anniversary.
A quarter of a century ago this morning my bride and I overslept because of a faulty alarm clock setting and almost missed the first of two flights that would take us to Seattle to get married at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park near Port Angeles. By then (1995) she and I had tightly bonded over two years while traveling over the world. Twenty-seven years after meeting, travel remains the hallmark of our friendship.
Being obsessive-compulsive about arriving early to airports, I was nearly apoplectic by the time we got to the gate at RDU Airport on our wedding day. We lucked out with a short queue at security (it was a pre-9/11 Saturday). Naturally, I’d booked us in First Class on Delta all the way. The airline had been alerted that we were en route to marriage, so gave us a special welcome aboard. The Delta flight attendants on the Atlanta-Seattle leg even slipped us a bottle of champagne to celebrate, a generosity not uncommon in 1995.
After a glorious alfresco ceremony in the national park—a deer tried to nibble my wife’s wildflower bouquet as we said our vows—we took the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, B.C. for a honeymoon at the exquisite Empress Hotel and strolled the gorgeous Butchart Gardens. Then the rushed return flights to RDU, where I repacked and shot off on other flights to my consulting client at the time.
I didn’t get another break from consulting until December, 1995, at which time we winged down to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay, making some rich memories in the process. Who can forget drinking mate de coca in the plazas of La Paz to combat altitude sickness? Or the interminable takeoff roll, due to thin air at the airport, which is among the highest on earth at 13,200 feet?
We had met two years earlier in 1993 and quickly discovered our mutual love of travel. A few weeks after our first date she and I flew First Class on United Airlines frequent flyer awards to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, San Francisco, and New Zealand. I was between consulting gigs and had the time. Lord knows I had the frequent flyer miles then, too, as I was routinely flying for business several times weekly. She burned a couple of years of vacation time.
We had a grand time everywhere, making lifetime memories in those few weeks. I still yearn to return to the South Island of N.Z., though my battered knees certainly couldn’t propel me up part of the Milford Track the way they did then. Good traveling companions are rare as hen’s teeth, and we found we were highly compatible, which led to marriage, which led to two wonderful kids.
Since then we have enjoyed each other’s company around the country and the world. We never tire of the American West, especially our wondrous national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas, such as Olympia, Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Shelly, Monument Valley, Saguaro, Chaco Culture, Zion, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Absaroka-Beartooth, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier.
My wife and I love snorkeling, a hobby which has taken us to many tropical islands, such as The Maldives, St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands), Mo’orea (Tahiti), Rarotonga (Cook Islands), Boracay (Philippines), Koh Chang and Koh Lipe (Thailand), and Ha Long Bay (Vietnam). Along the way we have enjoyed the oceanside grandeur of port cities like Cape Town, Rio, Hong Kong, Vancouver, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, New Orleans, Venice, Istanbul, L.A., Aukland, and New York.
We have camped among lions, hyenas, and elephants in the open wilderness of Botswana, roamed both sides of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia, and many times savored the wildlife and natural splendor of the Kruger National Park in South Africa. We have explored China’s Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces together, and toured Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), England, France, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia hand in hand. She and I have been entranced by the exotic nightlife in George Town, Penang Island, technically part of Malaysia, but which feels like long-ago India.
And more, and on and on. She and I never became jaded about traveling, instead have savored every glorious moment together. We have not yet been everywhere. We still aim to go to Morocco together, and one day to the Kingdom of Bhutan. I’d like to take her to see Namibia with me, something I did only once before in 1991 before we met.
Truth be told, she’s fun anywhere (except when she hasn’t eaten), but her passion, like mine, is to travel. She’s my best friend as well. It’s been a sweet three-decade ride. I am the luckiest man in the world that she chose me to share the world’s wonder with, and I can’t wait for the next twenty-five years together!