Kathy’s e-mail said, “Going camping for a week in Yosemite with the usual suspects.”
I promptly got myself invited and decimated my airline mileage account to get a last minute ticket.
The “usual suspects” vary in number according to where and when the action is, but the basic core is four sisters, two identical twins, and one twin’s husband. It used to include the other twin’s hubby, too, but he now chooses to stay home and work in his wood shop.
I’ve been to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji with this group on one trip, and cruised the inland waterways from Moscow to St. Petersburg on another. I went polar bear viewing in Manitoba with three of them, and this November will be in Antarctica with Kathy, the suspect I’ve known the longest.
|The whole bunch of us in Queenstown, NZ.|
|Kathy, Donna, Julia, and me in Churchill, Manitoba.|
|In the Kuranda Rain Forest near Cairns, Australia.|
|Kristy celebrating her 50th birthday by bungy jumping off the 141 foot high Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, NZ, the place where that idiocy began.|
|I'm on the far left in blue jacket. Other Usual Suspects are in back row: Julia, Kathy, Katy, and then Norman right front. 1973. We'd just finished the 36 mile Chilkoot Trail from Skagway, AK, to Lake Bennett, Yukon Terr.|
|Kathy holding my lead dog while we prepare for a trip over the Resurrection Trail in 1973.|
|Kathy and Missy during life boat drill, Moscow, Russia.|
|Kathy rubbing the nose of a bronze dog for luck, in a Moscow subway station.|
I met Kathy and Katy when they threw responsibility to the winds in their misspent youths, quit their jobs, and arrived in the tiny ski village of Girdwood where they became chambermaids (okay, housekeepers) at the Alyeska Resort Nugget Inn. I worked for the resort, also, and we three got to know each other when I had time to assist them in the laundry room.
Kathy went back to civilization after a year. Kathy went to work for Werner, the chef for whom I had previously worked.
On a trip to California and Kathy’s home, I met her sisters Julia, Sally, and Kristy. I also met Katy’s new hubby Norman, and Katy’s twin Missy.
Now that Missy’s husband has opted out of the group’s travel-mania, Norman has acquired the title of Token Male.
On a few occasions, the group has come to Alaska. Once or twice I was able to wander off with them.
Now, all are retired but for Kristy and Sally. The traveling hasn’t slowed down a bit.
Hot air ballooning in the Australian Outback, getting drenched on the Shotover jet boat ride in Queenstown, NZ, snorkeling in Fiji, riding the canals of St. Petersburg at sunset, watching polar bears sparring—the adventures are many.
It’s life well-lived, traveling with great friends.