Friday, July 1, 2011

Friends We Meet Along the Way

 Allen  with our new friends from Hawaii, Rhoda and Allan.


There's a woman outside my motorhome, saying, well rather singing, "Hello?"

I think it's funny that people avoid knocking on a motorhome door. Most holler out "Hello?" Or "Anyone there?" Or, like my dear friend Carolyn, "Are you up?"

But they do not knock. 

Like today. "Hello?" she repeats.

And I'm shocked to see who's there.

It's Rhoda and Allan, a couple from Hawaii we met a few days ago in Nenana, AK, around a campfire. They, like us, are now staying in Alaska's Denali National Park and from all of its 6 million acres, they chose to camp across from us.

Small world.

Yes, small, but spending time with Rhoda and Allan broadens our world in many ways.

They are so unlike us. My husband Allen and I were born to middle-class American parents in or near major cities. We had Mayberry kinds of growing-up lives.

Rhoda was born on a poor hillside farm in the Philippines, where she was raised by her grandparents on rice and fish. Allan was born in Hawaii to Japanese parents, who became American citizens before Pearl Harbor was bombed. And, Allan says, they were too poor for the government to bother interning. So they were left alone on their poor hillside farm where Allan and his siblings were born and raised, he says, "to be Americans."

He eventually bought his own education, through a government loan program, and became a nuclear engineer. ("I boiled water for a living," he jokes. His job involved testing nuclear reactors.)

Rhoda worked in Hospice care prior to her marriage to Allan six years ago.

And this is where our lives come together.

Like us, Rhoda and Allen retired and now enjoy an extended journey, traveling for months in a motorhome. Exploring Alaska.

From divergent pasts, we converge.

And now Rhoda and Allan are outside our motorhome door, inviting us to another campfire. This one at their campsite. And they'll provide the food, intending to broaden our palates as well as our lives: Hawaiian hotdogs (very VERY spicy and pink and made with pork, chicken and tofu) and savory bison steaks.

I'll bring a salad and dessert. And I'll be sure to holler "hello" when I get there.

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