Sherrill and I visited more than 60 countries and most of the United States during our 52 years of marriage. This is number 19 of a series about our lives and travels. If you scroll down, you'll come to earlier posts in this series. To start at the beginning of our marriage look at the Archives list in the sidebar and start with May, 2017. Older posts are a previous series about much later travels.
"Okay, why not New Orleans, this year?" Sherrill and I agreed.
With work and school schedules, it had become a challenge for the three of us to travel together for any length of time. Sometimes, though, we managed a short trip during the Thanksgiving holiday. This time, we liked the idea of the city on the Gulf, known for its music and food. However, once we were there we discovered that some of the famous restaurants had switched to a traditional Thanksgiving menu on the holiday. We didn't go all that way for turkey, no matter how brilliantly prepared, but we were there for several days and figured that we'd eat well, anyway.
Waves of ragtime and jazz spilled around us from lounges and clubs funky and fancy as we hiked under wrought iron balconies and past French doors and open windows along the narrow streets of the French Quarter. Sometimes, we stopped to listen or even went into a place. Because of her experience playing clarinet and saxophone in bands, Sherrill was savvy about music, which was something I could never claim. One evening, we braved the crowds in the Preservation Hall for some traditional New Orleans jazz. The place wasn't fancy, but it didn't need to be.
We loved exploring the city whether by foot or clanking old streetcar, discovering both its beauty and its quirks and oddities, from the historic cemeteries to the homes of the Garden District to less visited neighborhoods of equally old, much smaller, shotgun houses. It all seemed surprisingly fragile to us, but in fact we hadn't begun to realize how vulnerable New Orleans was. A few years later, Simone and her future husband, Paul, were there when the city was hit by the edge of Hurricane Andrew.
"The only people out on Jackson Square," she told us later, "were the hookers and us."
Fortunately, that time the damage was relatively light. Years later, Hurricane Katrina swept in and the destruction was worse than anyone had expected—a reminder that even if a place feels as if it has existed forever and always will, there are no assurances. San Francisco gives that feeling, too, which is scary because all of us in the Bay Area know what lurks underground for us.
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"Our plane had to turn back because of an engine fire," Simone told Sherrill and me when she arrived home again a year later, after a teacher-guided student tour of Europe, "so that night we stayed in a hotel back in San Francisco."
"I'm glad we didn't know about that engine fire," Sherrill confessed to me when we were alone.
Each time our daughter got on a plane without us, we worried, but of course tried not to show it. What could we have done if there was a problem, anyway? She grew up traveling, we reminded each other, was a good sport, and resourceful when confronted with the unexpected.
A new plane the next morning carried the students safely to England, although they missed a day in London. After all that, the ferry across the channel, Simone said, was batted around by the waves like a ping pong ball.
"I was one of the few people who didn't get sick!"
The teacher—a friend of Sherrill's—was great, she said, but the other teenagers on the trip turned out to be affluent suburban snobs.
"The girls were horrible, but I did become pretty good friends with two of the boys."
She celebrated her sixteenth birthday with her best friend on a trip to Switzerland. "There was a big carnival in Geneva that day with rides and sausages and people throwing confetti. For dinner, we ate three ice cream sundaes at three different outdoor cafes!" Her friend's father was working in Basil that year, so using the city as a base, they explored the country with Swiss Rail passes that included rides on postal buses. Sherrill and I were a bit nervous about these two teenage girls traveling around the country on their own, but we trusted her, they were experienced, and Switzerland was considered a safe place.
"We went way up to a tiny village and suddenly the mountain opened and military planes came out. It wasn't as out of the way as we thought. Nothing in Switzerland really is. On the way down, we passed nuns picking grapes. Another day, we went into Italy and had a great day on Lake Como, including a boat trip to the amazing gardens at the Villa Carlotta."
Like her mother, Simone became a serious gardener, creating her own beautiful garden and publishing articles and a book about gardening.
Sometimes, as the years went on, we all traveled together and sometimes we traveled independently. When I couldn't leave work, even for a week or two, Sherrill and Simone went without me to visit Sherrill's mother in Honolulu. When Simone wanted to fly to Nairobi, where her friend's mother was working for a while, we reluctantly decided that it wasn't such a good idea.
To be continued....
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