Sometimes the best stop on a vacation trip is the last one--home. Five days and a couple thousand road miles left Miss Brenda and the Colonel relaxed, but ready for the familiarity of our own bed and kitchen. The trip was a milestone for us in several different ways, besides the obvious marking of 30 years of matrimonial monogamy.
For one thing, it was the first time the uptight, control-freak Colonel had ever taken a trip without every stop choreographed, all lodging reserved, and every leg mapped and timed to the quarter hour. For the first time in our life, we hit the road with the ability to stop when and where and for as long as we (read: SHE) wanted. It was the most frightening five days of my life.
I had only one stop truly planned and we scrapped that for a direction change halfway through the trip. I had wanted to be at the little country church at which we had wed at the exact hour of our ceremony, 1400, on the 31st. When Miss Brenda got wind of the direction--back toward Memphis--my loose itinerary would take us, she exercised her veto and we swung east at Tupelo (after a photo-shoot at the Tupelo Buffalo Park) and took the Natchez Trace up to Tishimingo State Park in the highest corner of Mississippi.
It was appropriate, I guess, given our vagabond nature for the first 30 years of our life together, that we were at a highway rest area when the magic hour arrived. At a picnic table alongside a road we had traveled countless times (231 in L.A.), I took Miss Brenda's hand and upgraded the simple and small diamond solitaire with which we had engaged to be married three decades ago. She had expressed that she wanted to keep the original diminutive stone for her own sentimental reasons and the upgrade was a wrap of two companion diamonds, the three stones representing her three decades of loyalty to me.
I got the better gift: A Berretta Extrema in Advantage camouflage. She read my mind!