Curbside camping and reunions
We love urban camping, especially when it comes with the added bonus of connecting with old friends.
So, we parked for two nights in Brentwood, California, in front of Mike and Brenda Ober’s house. Mike and Tom have known each other since grade school in Rantoul, Illinois, and we relish every chance to get together and visit with them.
Mike has recreated Hawaii in his back yard, with hibiscus, plumeria, banana, bougainvillea and ginger plants, all of which are thriving next to the golden hills. He and Brenda recently returned from hiking in France near Mount Blanc and the photos and stories were stunning. We talked about possible future travels together … Patagonia? Or maybe the 50th high school reunion in Rantoul?
We shared updates on our kids and parents, traded book and TV recommendations, and engaged in political discussions ranging from far-right to far-left and everywhere in between. Many of the world’s problems would be solved if Mike and Tom were in charge.
At one point, Mike broke off to play doubles tennis in a team tournament, where his much younger opponent mentioned that Mike had really nice hair that flowed in the breeze when he ran for shots. “Are you pulling my leg?” Mike asked him. The nice man, of Indian origin, just looked puzzled. Then he kicked Mike’s ass on the court, the sting only slightly softened by the compliment. We howled. The story will will be retold.
Best of all are the stories of growing up in small-town middle America, playing tennis with Tom’s father, Leo, a snowball barrage gone awry when they hit a police car and scattered to the four winds, only to be found and admonished by the officer, a DIY indoor put-put golf course tolerated by Mike’s mother, Isabelle, and a rowdy teen party at Tom’s house involving a giant, wooden fork and spoon, wall decorations from Turkey used as jousting swords. (When Leo and Vi were traveling, obviously.)
“Maybe for the reunion, we should rent that house, and recreate one of those parties,” Mike suggested. “I’ll find the fork and spoon.”