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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

My 40th High School Reunion

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 5/27/2024
Occurred: 7/16/2009
Page Views: 1186
Topics: #St.JosephAcademy #St.Augustine #Florida #Travel #Cross-Country
All about the East Coast trip I made with Michael and Zachary on the occasion of my 40th high school reunion from St. Joseph Academy, St. Augustine, Florida.

I almost had to drive across the country and back.

St. Joseph Academy, 1969

My 40th class reunion was scheduled—somewhat abruptly—for July 17th and 18th. I wanted to go. I wanted Michael to go, because he's my husband and the other kids from high school would have their spouses there. And of course my ex-wife and current friend, Mary, should go because she was in my high school graduating class and it would be her reunion, too.

But that meant three plane tickets, which would be kind of expensive—and I would have to pay for them. So I looked into alternatives, which included simply driving all the way from Mesa, Arizona to St. Augustine, Florida. I added up the miles, figured how much gasoline it would cost—nearly $1000—and added in food and motels.

Now, I never plan a trip that I don't try to milk it for as much as I can get. It occurred to me that, if we were going to drive anyway, it wouldn't really add that many miles to come back by way of Virginia (where we could visit our two oldest daughters, who live near Reston). And I really miss Colorado, and we could come back by way of there, which would allow us to visit one of Michael's nieces, who lives in Denver.

But, best of all—we could bring our grandson, Zachary, at virtually no additional expense. He could visit his aunts, and his great-aunts (my sisters) in St. Augustine. So that's how I planned it out.

Mary was, at first, excited. But then she began to develop second thoughts about making such a long road trip. She worried that her back would hurt her, especially since we would have to make the run East somewhat aggressively so I wouldn't miss that much work. So, at the last minute, she backed out.

Now, if I had been facing just two air tickets, Michael and I could have flown cheaply enough that I would never have considered driving. But now Zachary was excited, and his aunts were excited, and his great-aunts. And frankly, so was I. So I rearranged the itinerary to not stop in New Orleans, where Mary was born, and instead visit the Alamo, which would be more interesting to Zach.

Meanwhile, Zach's mother, my third daughter, Jenny, was also uncomfortable with the idea of a long car ride…because she doesn't like long car rides. So she worked really hard at finding bargain air tickets and car rental that wouldn't cost more than the road trip, even including time to visit Virginia (by driving there and back from Florida). She succeeded, and I agreed to make the trip that way, because, frankly, I wasn't looking forward to that long a drive, either. The fact is, I've driven cross-country twice as a professional trucker and three times as a civilian. As they say, "Been there, done that" and the thrill is long gone for me. This way, we'd be able to spend more time visiting family and sightseeing. So the tickets were bought. And we were on our way.

2009: My 40th High School Reunion, Day 1

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 7/16/2009
Page Views: 1809
Topics: #Places #St.Augustine #Florida #Zachary
The first day of the East Coast trip I made with Michael and Zachary.

Our first flight left early this afternoon, on US Air from Phoenix to Charlotte, North Carolina. Michael, Zach and I each crammed all our stuff into carry-ons, because our cheap tickets would require us to pay $20 for the first checked baggage for each passenger, and $25 for each additional bag. So I managed to fit into my soft travel bag, not only enough clothes for a week, but my camera, GPS, a 12v DC to 110v AC inverter, a laptop computer, a Pocket PC, and all my medicines. (Now that I am nearing 60, I find my medicines could just about require a suitcase of their own.)

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Alligator Farm

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/17/2009 6:00:00 PM
Page Views: 1769
Topics: #Places #St.Augustine #Florida #Zachary #AlligatorFarm
The second day of the East Coast trip I made with Michael and Zachary.

For those of you who may be from other parts of the country, please note that it is considered good manners in Florida to greet visitors while shirtless. At least, if you are a man. Especially in the summer it is entirely too humid and hot to wear even a square inch of unnecessary cloth. Occasionally a man might don a shirt to go to church or a fancy restaurant. But he might not, and no one will give him a second look. Women are more modest, but two-piece bathing suits are seen pretty much everywhere. They are certainly not limited to the beach!

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Class Reunion Event #1

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/17/2009 11:30:00 PM
Page Views: 1226
Topics: #St.JosephAcademy #St.Augustine #Florida #ClassReunion
Our 40th high school reunion's first event: A social at Panama Hattie's.

And then it was time to do the thing we'd come 3000 miles for: to attend my 40th high school class reunion, or at least the first of two events.

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Alexander Springs

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/18/2009 2:00:00 PM
Page Views: 1752
Topics: #Places #AlexanderSprings #Florida #Zachary
Michael, Zach and I visit Florida's Alexander Springs and take lots of pictures.

Yesterday when we were visiting my sister, Mary Joan, I mentioned that today we planned to visit Alexander Springs and would she like to come with us? "Oh, we don't go to springs," she replied. "They have amoebas in them that get into your head through your nose and eat your brain."

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Burial Plots

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/18/2009 6:00:00 PM
Page Views: 1496
Topics: #Metaphysics #Spirituality #St.Augustine #Florida #ClassReunion #St.JosephAcademy
We visit the family graves and those of some friends.

When San Lorenzo was opened in 1892, many families moved their deceased from the Mission to the new cemetery…because they didn't want their families to be separated in death! You would think that Catholics, of all people, would be aware that there is no separation in death and that it completely doesn't matter where the bodies are buried.

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A Class With Class

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/18/2009 11:30:00 PM
Page Views: 1149
Topics: #St.Augustine #Florida #ClassReunion #St.JosephAcademy
Michael and I attend my 40th class reunion.

Leaving our grandson Zachary with his aunt and uncle, Michael and I went directly from the cemetery to the final event of my 40th high school class reunion, to be held at Zhanra's Arts and Eats, a bar sort-of-place on Anastasia Island just across the bridge from downtown. We'd been told there would be "heavy hors devours" which was pretty much exactly what I should not be eating. And they were to be served in a "cigar bar" which is apparently still legal in Florida. I assume the Orgy Room was already booked.

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Driving to Virginia

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/19/2009
Page Views: 1188
Topics: #Places #Florida #Georgia #SouthCarolina #NorthCarolina #Virginia #Zachary
That's me, my husband Michael, and our 10-year-old grandson trapped in a car for twelve hours.

I've made this trip so many times before that the only fun in it was pointing things out to Zachary, like the gradual change in roadside environment as we left subtropical Florida behind for the swamps of Georgia and South Carolina.

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Visiting the Smithsonian

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/20/2009
Page Views: 1826
Topics: #Zachary #Cailey #SmithsonianInstitute #Washington #DistrictofColumbia
A visit to the Smithsonian with our daughters and grandkids. What could possibly go wrong?

Today is the day Michael and I took my two daughters and two grandchildren to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. The daughters and one grandchild live in Northern Virginia, so we took the Metro into town. What could possibly go wrong?

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Shenandoah National Park and Dark Hollow Falls

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/21/2009
Page Views: 1804
Topics: #ShenandoahNationalPark #Virginia #DarkHollowFalls #Photography #Zachary
Michael, Zachary and I go hiking in Shenandoah National Park.

Whoever thought that waking up in a motel room with five people who all needed to shower and dress and have breakfast would allow for an early departure must have been clownishly naive. Oh, wait…that was me.

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Greenville and Fireworks

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/22/2009
Page Views: 1225
Topics: #Greenville #SouthCarolina #St.Augustine #Florida #Fireworks #Travel #Zachary
Michael, Zach and I spend the night in Greenville and then set off fireworks in Florida.

We arrived about 1 this morning at the home of my friends, Chris and Kim Renzi, and their daughter, Miranda, in Greenville, South Carolina. Chris and Kim had graciously offered to put us up for the night when they learned we would be passing through the area.

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The Return Home

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 7/23/2009
Page Views: 1096
Topics: #USAir #Florida #Arizona #Zachary
Michael, Zach and I return home from our East Coast vacation.

To be honest, it's all kind of blurry now and I don't have much to say about it. But today we flew from Florida to Arizona and, because of the time zone differences, we arrived early enough for me to get to work for half a day!

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