The waves sloshed onto the shore, as the sun warmed us. Having walked a couple of miles from camp down the beach, we stopped for a rest on a downed log, luxuriating in the absolute solitude. Not another soul disturbed our peace, other than a few pesky sea gulls, but even they seemed more subdued than normal. Aspen took a break from exploring to come in for pets, as Porter leaned back against me, raising his head to the sun, eyes mere slits, the picture of complete contentment. On this uncharacteristically warm, non-windy day, at the Oregon coast in FEBRUARY, life was good.
The last few weeks have been a strain. In between the normal commute and work nonsense, Jim had been feeling run-down with an on-again, off-again cold, while the major setback of the roof replacement had drained us. Exhausted yet restless, we needed to get on the road and back into nature. In spite of limited time, the ocean was calling us and we needed to answer.
Nature offers instant revival, and even the planning element of a camping trip instantly lifts our spirits. The black dogs, ever ready for an adventure, spend their time racing back and forth from house to camper, eagerly anticipating time away with the family. Aspen needs to verify her kibble is along for the ride, while Porter simply hangs close to ensure he won’t be left behind.
I have been keeping a secret from Jim for some months now, something I simply don’t do. Our lives are an open book, and in spite of the discomfort I was feeling, I somehow managed to not spill the secret myself, at the same time swearing everyone in the know to silence. We have taken many trips with my company, Grand European Travel, and while escorted travel is not often our number one choice, there are certain benefits of having someone else handle the arrangements. Jim just loves having someone carry his bag, while I, the primary planner, am happy to hand the reins over and let it be someone else’s problem! With his 50th birthday fast approaching, I began plotting a surprise getaway last November. With the assistance of my former boss and my co-workers at our sister company, Trafalgar Tours, we were able to get us confirmed on a trip to the Copper Canyon in Mexico, one of the areas of the country that was, as of yet, unexplored by us.
Initially,my intent had been to “surprise” him with a long weekend in Phoenix, the starting point for the tour, and not announce we were actually going to Mexico until our arrival in said city. I had his vacation time approved with his boss, the black dogs were reserved at doggie camp, i.e Critter Nanny, I was secretly squirreling away money from each trip to the market, hiding it in an African basket in plain site in our bedroom. I had convinced him to just go ahead and get our passports renewed, even though we didn’t need them for awhile. I had arranged transport to and from the airport. I was all set. Except for the one nagging question on how on earth to ensure he had enough clothes with him for a 10 day trip including temperatures as diverse as the beaches of San Carlos AND the 8000 ft elevation on the rim of the canyon. For fiesta dinners on the beach, and swim trunks. My boss suggested I ship a box of clothes to the hotel in Phoenix. An excellent idea, except how to explain that no, ALL of those clothes must be misplaced somewhere. I considered packing many items for him in my bag but, of course, do need to bring clothes for myself. Finally, I decided Valentine’s Day weekend at camp I was finally going to break the news.
I had it all planned, including printing off a photo of the view from the balconies of our hotel in the Canyon, and pasting our faces over the chairs in the photo. I compiled a little set of documents with our airline itinerary, the tour documents, etc. It was all ready for presentation at just the right moment when he least expected it.
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans…. on the Thursday night prior to the big weekend, an errant remark from me regarding his birthday gift (or rather lack of, citing the cost of the new roof) ended up causing hurt feelings. I simply could not take the guilt of making him feel as though his birthday wasn’t important to me and so ran out to the camper to grab my surprise packet.
Coming back into the house I asked him to mute the television because we had to talk. Still upset, he did so, looking confused. All I can say is his the confusion mounted with each item in the packet. It was SUCH a surprise and SO out of left field, that he truly couldn’t believe exactly what he was seeing. “We’re really going to Mexico?” was the most often offered statement, soon followed by “so everyone at the dinner party last week knew!?” I verified yes, he had the days off, yes, we were really going, yes, we could do the world’s highest and longest zip line while there.
Since the announcement of the surprise trip, I have been sleeping like a baby. No longer hiding the big news, we are now spending our days counting down until we head back to Mexico, our most visited country in the world. The place that lights up our soul. The place we keep going back to over and over again. The place we plan to someday call home. Mexico, watch out, the Delameter’s are coming back!