Category Archives: Travels with Larry

“Hit the Road Jack” Camping Trip

 

How many of you have been on a vacation that you really looked forward to and yet the outcome was full of unforeseen problems? That is what this blog is about. No matter what comes your way in life, you can learn from the situation and move forward. Here’s our story.

The year was 1987, we had just purchased a used pop-up camper. After packing it with all our belongings, we were finally ready for an exciting maiden voyage out West.  Our plan was first to make our way to see my roommate from college and her family in Denver and then to Kingman, Arizona where Larry’s family resided.  I had started my career as a high school teacher in 1985 and Larry had a good year in construction.  There was finally money for a camper instead of pitching our tent often in wet conditions. Our children, Deb, Julie, and Aaron, worked hard in school and looked forward to this family vacation. What could possibly go wrong?

While singing the top hits on the radio, we were just 30 miles from Denver when we saw a storm ahead. Unlike the Midwest, a storm on the horizon was easy for all of us to see. We had a contest guessing how long it would take for us to enter the storm. “I say it will take 15 minutes,” said Deb. “No, said Julie, “20 minutes”. Aaron just looked ahead in wonderment as we got closer and closer. I was keeping track of the time for the contest.   Ray Charles was singing“Hit the Road Jack” while we counted the minutes. All of a sudden, a gusting wind unfolded sending us directly into the eye of the storm.   “Oh No!” said Larry as he looked out the rearview mirror to see the top of our camper sliced off like a can of Campbell soup and flying onto the road. Fortunately, there was no one behind us. Larry had his head on the steering wheel crying out, “Oh God Why?”

The storm had also blown our personal belongings onto the highway. As we gathered them up, two hippy guys stopped to give us a hand. “Don’t worry, be happy. These things happen all the time,” they chimed.  “We are here to do our good deed for the day.” You can take it to the Camper Repair Shop in town and they will fix it for you.” The rain tapered off and overhead we could see a magnificent double rainbow.  Maybe there was hope. The helpful hippies gave us a hand putting the wind-ripped camper top back on and we made our way to downtown, Denver. Deb reminded us that the song during the storm was, “Hit the Road, Jack.”

Even though our used camper looked good from the outside, we had missed seeing the rotting wood under the metal which was unable to take the impact of the storm. Knowing that there was no way to fix our camper, we dealt with the loss of $675 (a lot of money for us) and took the top to the scrapyard for disposal.

In the Schuerr book of travel, one never turns back but continues ON! Our children were able to experience first hand how to deal with unforeseen problems. It was time for creative thinking. We put our clothes in black garbage bags and we raised the poles and covered them with Visqueen.  We had recently seen the movie Family Vacation as they traveled to Wally World What more could possibly go wrong?

We made our way to my friend’s beautiful neighborhood pulling our decapitated popup camper.  We were greeted warmly by Carol, Skip, and their two boys even though we were the eyesore of the neighborhood. Our closet folded down and I had to raise it in order to get our belongings out. Later, while at the campground we staged pictures of me swatting flies while eating at our table. We were a family that loved to laugh and used humor and ingenuity to deal with our situation.

We were heading to Arizona next where we planned to see the Grand Canyon.  We had heard that the sun would always shine. But instead we had rain on the way to the Grand Canyon and when we arrived, we felt like the Griswalls making It to Wally World, and finding it closed. We got out of our van and peeked over the canyon—but it was engulfed in heavy thick clouds. “Now what,” I said. “This might be the best time to see our former neighbors that moved to Sedona,” said Larry. It should clear up in a day or two. We returned in time to see a beautiful sunset that painted the canyon in shades of pink, purple and gold.

Now fast forward to recent times when my daughter, Julie, and her husband, Geoff, were on their way to Texas. The engine light went on.   With a moment of contemplation, Geoff said, “What would the Schuerrs do?” “Go on, of course, said Julie. “What could possibly go wrong?”

camping in Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Travel to Kettle Moraine WI/Ottawa Lake

Life with Larry-Sun at Last

“The sun is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.”

After a month of rain, the sun is on the horizon—-a big yellow-red ball finally making its appearance and guiding us to our favorite place—Kettle Moraine, WI.  Larry wanted to take his Goldwing and camp in a small tent in the woods. But I know that we will never shed our winter coats (extra pounds) by riding a motorcycle; we opted instead to take the trailer and the tandem bicycle. It was a good choice since we did have a few sprinkles during the night.

At Ottawa Lake Campground, we were greeted to a symphony of birds.  Over the lake, we saw the return of the herons and sand-hill cranes. We have been coming up to Kettle Moraine now for over 39 years. In my mind, I can still hear and see our red-headed 4-year-old shirtless Julie giggling nonstop while spinning around on the merry-go-round. We gave our toe-headed son, Aaron, an Indian name—because he had such short legs compared to his long torso—just like his dad. We called him Little Silver Top–whose crotch runs close to the grown. Deborah, our oldest, was nicknamed– Bear.  It was a derivative of De/Bear/ah. Her long blonde hair would blow in the wind while chasing her brother and sister in a game of hide-and-go-seek.  We also ran up and down playground equipment playing “tag” with our kids.  While hiking, we would stuff our backpacks with undomesticated apples savoring the thought of the delicious applesauce we would later make after cutting out the rotten spots. As a retired couple, we still cling to the memories of our children’s faces and voices. Our grandchildren are now enjoying the beauty and wonder of Kettle. ( See pictures)

Larry and Elliot

 

On one occasion, we could not get a campsite—the park was full. We thought we’d make the best of the day and head home that evening. But it wasn’t long before our kids were splashing around with the local Kettle kids. Julie, the most gregarious one, must have shared the fact that we were soon going home because one of the Kettle parents invited us to set up our tent on their property just a few miles from Ottawa Lake.  A family friend was born and Larry ended up going fishing later that summer with the father.

Larry and Sue with Nata and EB

Now fast forward to May 2013.  We hopped on our red tandem bicycle and cruised up and down the winding roads pass lakes and fusions of blue and yellow flowers bending their faces to the sun. We rode pass Pine Creek Campground and inhaled the awesome smell of freshly cut pines in the tree farm across the street from the camp.

Soon we could smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and baked goods at our destination spot—–The Old Milwaukee Trade Center Coffee House in Delafield, WI. There are three spacious rooms with large windows and outdoor sitting at this coffee house on steroids. We hardily recommend it to all.  It was a wonderful 25-mile round trip ride from our campsite.

Here are Julie, Geoff and Nata

We found ourselves laughing a lot as a result of our first local get away in the sun.  Being in nature is like taking a shower and ridding oneself of the dust of daily living.  It refreshes the soul and brings one closer to God and His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of god; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech,” Psalm 19: 1-2. We love the harmony and tune of nature—it always seems to refresh us. Kettle Moraine is the cure for any ailment. Now next time, we’ll hop on our Gold-wing and I’ll let Larry have his wish and camp in the pines under the stars.

Picking Wild Raspberries

Kettle Moraine is located North of Lake Geneva. Take Rt. 12 up there and be sure to see the La Grange Store on the way up. It’s a restaurant/bike/health food store. They can give you directions to great hiking, biking and camping just s short distance from their store.  If you camp at Ottawa Lake, be sure to go to either Delafield or Oconomowoc. Both towns have great stores, restaurants and coffee houses, and you won’t want to miss the beautiful beach outside of Oconomowoc.

Here’s a low-cost vacation full of surprises.

Just Follow the Sun to Chesterton, Indiana and the National Lake Shore

It’s Mother’s day, May 13th, and it’s raining with temperatures in the 40’s. I checked the weather in Chesterton, Indiana, a place we enjoyed biking and camping in the past. Less than two hours from us, the sun was shining on beautiful Lake Michigan. Since we planned our Mother’s day celebration for next Sunday, I woke up Larry and said, “We are going to get out of Chicagoland and enjoy a day in Chesterton, Indiana with a stop at the National Lake Shore Dunes. Larry was more than eager to go.   The weather got better with every mile.

We had brunch at the beautiful Volstead Restaurant in downtown, Chesterton. Since the place was for reservation only, we had to sit at the bar which meant we got waited on faster. I ordered a delicious Sprout Breakfast Bowl and Larry ordered Blueberry Cream pancakes. We both had a mimosa to drink—a wonderful brunch.

We spent some time at the park across the street, and then headed to the National Lake Shore where we often took our bike club. After walking along the shore, we checked  out the houses from the 1933 World’s Fair where they found a permanent home  on the National Lake Shore.  There are a plethora of unique homes along the shore and in front of one was a stone structure I have included in my picture gallery.  I hope you will consider visiting this summer. It is well worth the trip.

It was a wonderful Mother’s day. May 13th, 2018

Travel to Central Italy Economically

My best friend growing up was Adelina Gina Maria Sangineto.  I clearly remember seeing her parents grasping her little hand as she stumbled behind them to register for elementary school. She had sparkling brown eyes, long black hair and an effervescent personality. She soon became my best friend. In high school, we studied geometry together at her house while listening to the background operatic music of Enrico Caruso. Her mother would share a small dish of magnificent food like mostaccioli, ravioli or lasagna—all so different from my bland American diet.  Adelina would brag about her many trips to Italy where flirting included proposals and being pinched numerous times. I knew that someday I would visit this enchanting country of beauty, history, and culture.

That dream became reality a few years ago when Larry and I traveled Space A—retired, military from Baltimore Airport to Aviano, Italy with our Military Living booklets, our Italian phrase book and Rick Steve’s list of recommendations in hand.

We squeezed into a Fait—-a tight squeeze for my husband’s 6’2” frame. The car did not have a GPS system which forced us to study the maps more intensely and to meet more Italians who could help us with directions. The local roads use the rotary system and we ended up embracing them; when we were indecisive, we just went around a couple times before being ejected to the correct town. Our destination was Tuscany, where Camp Darby Army Base is located. For information concerning lodging see Darby Military Community Center Bldg 202/Tel: +39 050-54-7580/ DSN Tel: (314) 633-7580.   There are several reasonable options for housing, a room, a suite or a summer cabin  Our lodging was at the center of our daily excursions in central Italy. I’m sure there will also be wonderful Air B& B’s as well.

We decided beforehand that when we got lost we’d make it an adventure rather than a time for a feud. We looked at it as an opportunity to interact with the locals and to see unexpected cities. Helpful Italians are everywhere. For instance, a father and daughter were washing their store windows when we approached them for directions. “Porfavore, Dove esta Sienna?” I said. The daughter knew English but did not know the directions. The father knew the directions but did not speak English. They became an exciting duo as the father explained with much gusto in Italian and the daughter erect like a soldier translated. The father was so animated that words were not necessary. We often heard easy, straight ahead—but nothing in Italy was straight ahead.

The locals referred to this area as FIPILI which stood for Florence, Pisa, and Livarno. Our first adventure was to Pisa which is like visiting the United Nations. It is one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. The circular stairway was so narrow; Larry’s shoulders touched each side.

Next, we visited Lucas—the birthplace of Puccini, the great composer, whose family member was to perform that evening. Lucas is one of the two cities in Italy with walls totally intake to protect them from neighboring ferocious Florence.

On our way to Sienna in Tuscany, we took the back roads enjoying the country view of olive gardens and abandoned villas. We stopped in Volterra where we drove up a mountainside reaching a town, known for their alabaster wares, that took us back to medieval times.  Our destination for lunch was a restaurant in a cellar resembling a catacomb named (La Vaverna della terra di mezzo/ Via Gramsci 64, 56048 Volterra (Pi)/ 0588-87394) www.dapina.it. We had soup, wine, and delicious bread. Another evening we had tasty ravioli while we sat outside under the star-filled skies.You cannot go wrong even if you are forced to eat at McDonald’s where the spinach bun melted in my mouth and the tiramisu was as smooth as silk.

Next, we visited Cirque terra—-the Italian Rivera with five colorful towns cut into the mountainside.  Soon we had our own hiking group—We were drawn like a magnet to anyone speaking English. We met a couple from New Zealand and another from Florida. While having lunch together we served as our own tour guides by sharing our knowledge of the area with one another.

Our final destination was Florence—a place where fairy tales were created. We saw a cathedral constructed with three distinct colors of marble. But the highlight of the day was seeing the breath-taking statue of David, Michelangelo’s crowning achievement. His majestic height, rippling muscles, and strong expression brought many to tears. On a lighter side, Larry was drawn in by commercialism. He could see no reason why he shouldn’t purchase the pair of swimming trucks or apron featuring a graphic picture of David from the belly button to the knees.

It was sad to say goodbye to Italy. We certainly hope to do another week in the future to Venice, Rome, and Naples. We found October to be a great time to travel to Italy—-tourist season is winding down and the weather is still pleasant.

Be sure to include a trip to Italy on your bucket list, and do it economically by perhaps driving and forming your own tour group. You will meet wonderful people, eat delicious Italian cuisine and see unforgettable sights. Learning some Italian phrases,  and bringing a Garmin and Rick Steve’s travel books will be very helpful.

By the way, despite five proposals, my friend Adelina Gina Maria never married but instead devoted her life to her parents and her teaching career.

Arrividerci/Chow,

Sue and Larry Schuerr

The Solar Eclipse Has New Meaning/See Why!

What is it about weather events that brings us to a screeching halt and makes us aware of our finite being on planet Earth?  Along with thousands, we made our pilgrimage to Marion, IL to see a 2:26 minute total eclipse while the phenomenon crossed the United States bringing glimpses of the moon covering the sun to millions. Tom Skillings, the WGN TV weatherman in Carbondale, was so overwrought with emotions—- he was moved to tears that rendered him speechless.  Surprised by his reaction he said, “This has never happened to me before.”

Larry, my husband, said this is a lifetime event; we must go.  Due to traffic, it was an eight hour trip both ways.  We gathered together at the town square where we met people from as far as England to as close as our neighboring town, Lake in the Hills. Later, we met Dan, a Physics Teacher Assistant at the University of Chicago who had a wealth of cosmic knowledge.   We all shared where we came from and why we traveled to this little town.  Glenn, from Northern England, had the best photo set up having witnessed a complete solar eclipse in the 1960’s; the rest of us, using our solar glasses, were in a state of amazement as the moon ate up the sun causing the crickets to chirp and the street lights to turn on at 1:30 PM. We cheered, clapped, and some of us sobbed as we witnessed for the first time the diamond ring corona.  We thought of ancient people who would sacrifice to a sun god to keep it burning. Someone suggested we sacrifice my 6’2″ Larry.  Yes, as strangers we became instant friends, by teasing one other. But he said, “No, I’m too big. How about my slightly under 5’O” wife.”

On our way home, I thought of another time when night ate up the day. “At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice. ” Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46)?  At that moment, He carried all our sins on the cross and breathed his last while the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The darkness I experienced in the early afternoon reminded me of the darkness Jesus experienced on the cross as he paid the price for you and me with his own blood. I look at the brightness of the moon and feel the warmth of the sun and wonder why he loves me so much. Like the apostle James, I ponder. “For what is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

But one day, because of his love, he will come for us; it will be like no other day. “The dead in Christ shall rise to meet him in the air. And then those that remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17).  Now there’s an experience and a reunion I don’t want to miss.

An Unexpected Passenger/Travels with Larry

We were on our way to Livingston, Montana. We were about 45 minutes from the famous Wall Drugs when we saw a young man walking along Rt 90 with a small backpack. We looked at each other and said, “It’s 95 degrees and that young man must be roasting.” We backed up and waited for him to catch up to us. “Do you need a ride?” said Larry. “Yes, ” he said. I’m on my way to Rapid City. We looked at one another. That would be at least two hours by car. Robert sat next to Larry in the front seat enjoying the beverage and fruit I handed him. We found out Robert is a Sioux Indian from Rosebud. He was hanging dry wall in Rosebud but the job ended. He hoped to find work near his aunts in Rapid City.

We asked him if he had ever been to Wall Drugs. He said, “No”. He had never been West of Rosebud. That surprised me since he must have been around 28 years old. “Would you like to go and get ice water and a 5 cent cup of coffee?” “Yes,” said Robert. His eyes were the size of half dollars as he took in the sights at Walls. If you have been there you know it has a circus quality, many mannequins, an assortment of historical pictures, shops and restaurants. He took it all in like a first grader on a field trip to Mars. He especially enjoyed the pictures and articles of Cowboys and Indians displayed throughout the buildings. We found out Robert loves art and is artistic himself. He gave Larry a bracelet with an Indian design on it. He said it was made from porcupine quills from the porcupines his cousin hunts. We did not rush the experience but let him know he might be able to find a job at Walls in his future.

We made our way, which was a bit out of our way,  to Rapid City. He said that his aunt worked at the hospital. We said,”Does your aunt know you are coming?” “No,” he said.  I asked him if there was anything we could pray about. He said, “A job and a chance to work on his art.” So I added Robert, the Sioux Indian,” to my prayer list.

You just never know what adventure one may have while traveling with Larry.

A Cup of Cold Water from a Stranger

 

Willow On Wheels, a bicycle and camping group, was going strong at the church during the 90’s.  We would meet on a Thursday night and ride our bikes anywhere from 10 to 30 miles through Barrington Hills. We made some great friends during the years WOW was active. As a result, we planned a biking tour to Kentucky. My husband and I and our teenage son, Aaron, lagged a bit behind the group after crossing a hazardous metal bridge from Illinois to Kentucky towards our next night’s destination.  Then it happened. Aaron got a flat tire. There were no cell phones then to notify our team that we were stuck in a small town in Kentucky.  A man rolled down his window and asked if we needed help.  “We need to find a bike store,” I said. “My house is up the road,” he pointed. “Just go in and use my phone.” I was surprised at his friendly gesture. “Help yourself to some water, too,” he said. We made a stop at the local bicycle store only to find out that they did not carry the unique bike tube. They advised us to set up our tent in the city park while we tried to figure out our next move.  Up the hill we could hear a party going on. It wasn’t long before they noticed us camped below. “Come on up for a hamburger,” they said.   We filled our plates and found out what it was like to live in a small coal mining town where getting a marriage license came before getting a driver’s license.

A young couple asked us if we would prefer sleeping in their living room rather than in our tent. “Thank you— that’s very kind of you,” I said,” but we’ll be fine here.” “But wouldn’t you like to take a shower?” they replied. “Showers,” said Aaron as the sweat rolled off his brow.  “Mom! You better say yes.”

This kind family opened their home to us. It was indeed a culture shock. As I closed my eyes and settled into my sleeping bag, I looked around the walls where stuffed turkey vultures and an assortment of other prized animals decorated the walls. I had never seen walls like that in the Midwest. The next day after serving us breakfast, they loaded our bikes in the back of their truck and took us to Paducah, Kentucky where we got the tube for my tire and soon joined the rest of our team. We will always remember the kindness of the Kentucky folks who shared the little that they had with us out of the kindness of their hearts.

These strangers have inspired me to reach out to those in need and to remember the words of Jesus.

“Truly I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.” Mark 9:4

 

 

 

 

 

Never Never in the Everglades Feb. 2017

We decided to escape our Chicago winter by flying to Miami FL to visit friends and see sites,  but how ironic that winter in Chicago turned into spring with temperatures close to 70. Nevertheless,  here we were in the land of sun, flowers and yes alligators. We took a gorgeous hike through Fairchild Botanical Gardens where streams gleamed and pink, red and purple flowers adorned the paths. But now Larry was ready for something meatier or should I say downright scary—-a hike in the FL Everglades. As we walked along the boardwalk, we were greeting by large, healthy alligators enjoying a sun bathe in the river below. I had never in my life been that close to them.

Everglades in FL Feb. 2017

 

 

Larry soon returned with our hiking information, and a large burly man handed each of us a long thick stick. I wondered why we would need one for the boardwalk hike. But he pointed across the street where our hike was to begin. Just like Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, I followed not Naomi but my man remembering the line—-“Wherever you go; I will go.” But wait— it’s not a boardwalk but the beginning of a narrow path on very soggy mud.  “Yeaks,”  I thought. How am going to keep my tennis shoes clean here? “Where are you taking me?” I shouted as the path got progressively muddier and the stick stuck deeper.  Yellow flowers lifted their ominous heads mocking me. “Come on,” said Larry who was quite a bit ahead of me.  “Quit your whining.” Now I have followed Larry through caves, up mountains and down steep ski hills. But soon the mud turned into a stream and my imagination went viral while slouching through yet deeper, muddier water.  Now those big, huge alligators were napping across the street. What could possibly keep their cousins from habituating here?—-and, how about their relatives the snakes and lizards.  A childhood song came to mind. I’ve been eaten by a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor! Oh no, it’s up to my toe; oh geez, it’s up to my knee; oh heck. I wasn’t going to let it get up to my neck. I yelled out. “Larry, I can’t do this. I’m going back.”  I headed toward the sound of the traffic but I  with my sense of direction I was afraid I’d get lost.  I called for Larry again—  now pleading. After sometime, he appeared wet up to his thighs. “If I had followed you, I’d be swimming in the muck with baby reptiles and who knows what else,” I said.  I happily returned my thick muddy stick to the ranger who was impressed that as first timers in the Glades we had even considered this arduous, insane hike. We gave ourselves and our shoes a hosing off and made our way back to civilized Miami. Now Ruth may have followed her Naomi. But I’ll think twice about following Larry and of course–Never, Never in the Everglades

Larry Will Give You a Hand

We were enjoying our late afternoon hike in Frozen Head State Park outside of Oakridge TN, when I came across a solo ranger with a chain saw working on a large logjam. “Hi,” I said. Joe enjoyed the interruption. “Do you have any volunteers to help?” I asked. “No,” he replied. Then I did what I always do best. “Larry will give you a hand; Frozenhere he comes now.” I’m always volunteering my husband of 47 years. He just set the date for what he calls his Darth Vader knee replacement earlier that day. “This logjam is causing water to spill onto the graveled path,” said Joe.  Larry, a former contractor and teacher, looked at the situation and came up with a workable solution. The two entered the stream thigh deep and removed large branches and trees. As their cheerleader, I gladly stood on the sideline taking pictures I would add to my lifewithlarry.org blog.  The ranger, a bit fearful of cutting the large root of the tree, gave it the go. “Boom!” It finally came to rest on the bottom of the stream where it would be much easier to dismantle. Joe beamed from ear to ear, and Larry was thrilled to use his knowledge and muscle as a 69 year old man to help in a random act of kindness.  “It was the best part of the vacation,” he said as he asked the ranger to please hand him his silver cane.

 

An Unusual Fishing Venture

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The crystal clear water of Devil’s Lake is surrounded by high bluffs that are magnets to hikers and rock climbers alike.   It’s an unusual hidden jewel in the Midwest.   We were very fortunate to get a camp site on such a picture perfect weekend.   Luckily we got our tent up in time to watch the birds fly over the breathtaking pink and purple sunset. We looked forward to Lola and Thom’s arrival so that the hiking, biking and most importantly laughing around the campfire could begin.

Then I heard a sound that changed everything, “Bang”.

Larry, my husband, shut the door of our 2000 Windstar Ford Van and I heard him gasp in shock.

“Oh rats,” he said, “I thought I was unlocking it, not locking it. I left the keys in the car.”

Sure enough, there they were laid out between the seats to rest like a silver trout between two pond cup holders.   Our spare key tucked under the right wheel had long since disappeared.

I thought of less technical days when opening a locked vehicle was so much easier. I once taught ESL classes at a synagogue when a student from India came to class frantic because he had locked his keys in his car. I promptly marched into the synagogue kitchen and retrieved a handy black spatula and proceeded to squeeze it through the rubber between the windows. “Voila,” the car opened.

Another time Larry locked the keys in our Ford station wagon, and a group of foster teenagers Larry invited camping with us opened it with a coat hanger.

“We learned this trick in our juvie days,” they laughed.

But with computerization, the days of opening cars with a spatula or coat hanger are over.

Seeing myself as an adequate problem solver, I walked around the van a couple of times and observed one glimmer of hope. The back vent window was opened about two inches. I also noticed a group of male campers toasting their feet around a cozy campfire after a fruitless day of fishing.

Having given up hope, Larry was already planning on borrowing Lola and Thom’s car when they arrived to drive to our home almost three hours away to retrieve our second set of keys. I grimaced at the thought of a six hour unnecessary trip.   What a way to ruin a beautiful weekend!

Boldly walking up to the fishermen, I said, “Do any of you have ideas about how to retrieve our captured keys from a locked van. The back side vent window is open about two inches.”

“Well, we have a fishing pole and lure,” the camper thoughtfully replied. “But the fishing pole is not long enough to reach from the back of the van to the front where your keys are located. Scratching his head, he said, “We could attach it to something, but what?”

“We could duct tape the lure to my fiberglass tent pole,” Larry piped in with renewed hope.

The ideas continued to swirl around from one camper to the next as our plan unfolded. We tied a treble hook to a twelve inch long piece of fishing line which we duct taped to the end of Larry’s tent pole. Then we turned the pole to wind the line around the tent pole. Where would mankind be without duct tape?  “Move over Rover!” Duct tape is now modern man’s best friend.   Larry and the fishermen got more excited by the minute as they continued to pool their ideas together.

“What have we here,” I contemplated. “It’s a near impossible venture, at least a challenge and men with nothing better to do? It’s male bonding at its best. MacGyver would be proud of them.”

Larry, our self-appointed fisherman, assigned us our positions as we prepared to go for the keys. Fishing for car keys—- How absurd was that! My job was to stand by the side of the van with a flashlight while Larry blindly and painstakingly fished his way through the back vent window to the front of the vehicle. He manipulated the fishing rod up and down with help from the campers.

Being the only one who could see clearly, I gave the directions about how to move the pole, “Slightly to the right, Honey.”   “Now move it to the left, and down a bit.”

We were all very tense and focused as we engaged in our most unusual fishing venture. As the typical fishermen’s wife, I really didn’t have much hope for its success.   I’ve heard enough fishing stories in the past. But I watched in wonderment as these men maneuvered the pole until it finally hovered over the steel fish—our keys.

“How far above the keys am I,” Larry asked. “How much line should I unravel?”

I watched the baiting lure make its first downcast attempt about an inch shy of the capture.

“Try again, Lar— this time more to the right,” I nervously stated.

He lowered the hook and unwound the line. After a couple more tries, I watched in disbelief as the magical silver fish flickering in the moonlight was being drawn up into thin air.   My heart raced and my stomach did summersaults as they worked the pole backwards.

The fishermen were delighted at the capture, but they didn’t see what I saw—— the entanglements which included—tossed clothing, camping supplies, and the velour seats that could so easily ensnare our coveted prize. Touch anything and we’re cooked.   I continued directing the blind fishermen to move the pole in such a manner as to avoid entrapment. With a sense of empowerment, I was the Siren commanding my ship of male servants who were painstakingly following my directions. I relished in the fleeting moment.   In sheer delight, I saw the keys within inches of the vent window. We were all breathless with excitement. Handing the flash light to one of the fishermen, I wedged my tiny fist through the vent window capturing our trophy prize.

We jumped up and down in disbelief— and our shouts of triumph could be heard throughout the campground. Where was America’s Funniest Home Videos when we needed them? Did we really fish for keys?? Larry, redeeming himself, proved it be an excellent fisherman, but not without his team and sheer luck.

Lola and Thom pulled up and wondered what was causing all the commotion. They were not surprised to hear that Larry had locked the keys in the van. He is known for creating problems that take fleets of fishermen to solve.   We all huddled around the inviting campfire keeping Larry far away from the keys. Yes, it was going to be a weekend to remember.

Stay tuned in for the following chapter on solving another impossible van situation.