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Entry date: 1-25-2022 - Remembering my birthday on the birthday of a friend - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Today is another birthday of my very close friend, Rick. We went on quite an adventure in October and I should probably document that before it gets too far from my brain. Let’s see what I can remember…

Rick and I met in fourth grade when we both went to Madison Simis school in north central Phoenix. That year our district switched a lot of things around, so a bunch of us had to move over to Simis for a year and, for me, it was a chance to meet a lot of new people, including Rick. The next year we moved to Madison Meadows, which was then a 5th – 8th grade school, but I don’t remember Rick and I having a lot or maybe any classes together. Who knows?

We did know each other a bit, though, having some of the same friends and I always admired Rick’s ability to move amongst the tribes and get along with everybody. I didn’t have the confidence to do that back then nor the understanding that you didn’t have to stick closely with the people you knew best. I wasn’t nearly as social as he seemed to be.

We crossed paths a few times during high school, if I remember correctly, and it has always seemed like Rick would pop into my life here and there over the years. I knew he had moved to Asia and was excited when we reconnected after he and his wife came back to Phoenix several years ago. With both of us doing a lot of work with children, we’ve had a lot to talk about and this year, he was hired to work on the same team as me at our current school. It’s been great to have an old friend to bounce ideas off of and commiserate with when things are tough.

So, I asked Rick if he would consider driving back from Maine with me in October on our fall break. I was going out to pick up Rhondi’s car and our dog and drive them back to Phoenix before Rhondi and her dad came back for the winter. My wife has become a snowbird now that Doug’s been healthy enough to go back and forth in the summertime. I don’t blame her for wanting to be in Maine. I want to be there, too.

Rick said yes and I arranged for everything for our trip. The day finally got there and I’m sure we were both ready because the first few months of the school year had been taxing, to say the least. I’m also guessing Rick was tired of me talking about it. After three months of being away from Rhondi, I was very excited to see her and very excited to get a little time in Maine.

I had booked us on a red eye that went to New York City first then up to Portland. Rick got to my house, and we got an uber to the airport after having a few beers and putting our buzz hat on for the ride. I can usually sleep on planes pretty well if I’ve had a cocktail or two, so it seemed like a good plan.

We ended up getting to the airport way early and figured, no biggie…we’ll just hit the bar. Well, that was a no go. We were flying Delta and in terminal three, nothing was open at all. So, we just sat there with our buzz wearing off. Finally, we got on the plane and the seats were so uncomfortable that I barely slept at all between Phoenix and New York. My seasoned traveler friend slept great, though. We got to New York about 6am EST and wandered around for a while before getting some breakfast ($18 for two eggs and some bacon).

Our next stop was a bar where we met a very interesting guy from the Bronx. He was heading down to Texas to open a pizza place with his brother and just full of life and energy and cash. He bought us a few rounds and even trusted me to watch his luggage while he and Rick grabbed a smoke outside. I had quite the buzz going by the time we got on the plane to Portland after no sleep and several large IPAs.

I should have kept a log of all the beers I tried on this trip. I think Rick and I figured out it was over 30. I want to say I was drinking Goose Island in NYC, but who knows? We took our short flight to Portland, and I called Rhondi to let her know we landed and see where she was at. It felt so good to be back in Maine. It was cold, for sure, compared to Phoenix, but it was a really nice day in Portland.

Rhondi directed me to where she was parked and when we got there, I couldn’t find the car. I called her again and she was laughing. Our big surprise was that Cousin Will was picking us up and taking us on a bit of a beer tour. It was awesome.

We went into downtown Portland, which I love, and found a brewery that Will likes a lot. I’m realizing I am terrible with names right now, but it was cool and, on the water, and had delicious beer. Then we went to a second spot that had a killer food truck and not so killer beer. It was fun, though, and one of Will’s friends joined us there, too.

From there we went to our last stop which was called Barreled Souls. Great barley wine there and also, they had a shuffleboard table. We played some shuffleboard and had an awesome time. Will stocked up on the barley wine and we got on the road to Rangeley. I slept a good portion of the way up the mountain, but I did wake up to see two moose on the road and that woke me up enough to enjoy the rest of the ride talking to Will.

When we got to Rangeley it was dark, but it was so great to see my wife. I will spare you the details of our reunion. This is not that kind of blog.

Anyhow, we had Saturday, Sunday, Monday (which was my birthday), and Tuesday in Maine and I was excited to say the least.

To be continued…

See you tomorrow.

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