As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
Carol and I have spent our first (and only we hope) Thanksgiving together without surrounding ourselves with family, either mine or hers. Instead we celebrated alone, in a small cabin located in a quiet, secluded hollow in the shadow of Yosemite National Park.
While the lack of family might have taken away some of the depth of our thanks, local events served to remind us both how lucky we are and how thankful we should be.
We drove to Yosemite via Highway 99 through California’s Central Valley on Sunday of Thanksgiving week. On Monday, a train derailment south of Fresno shut down both directions of that highway for most of the day. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we learned a husband had been medevaced from Bass Lake after rescuing his wife who’d fallen in, and a day after we’d visited the lake ourselves.
On the trail to the Mariposa Sequoia Grove, we pointedly did NOT respond to any friendly greetings by hikers passing us unmasked
Otherwise, how quiet and secluded was our week? Well, here is the sum total of our masked, verbal exchanges with humans other than us for that entire time:
1. “Yes, it’s been cleaned,” answered our cabin manager to my phone question concerning checking in early on our arrival day.
2. “It should all be stacked at the far end of the store,” a Raley’s store employee told me in response to my question of whether they sold firewood.
3. “Yes,” I said politely to the park ranger, who checked us into Yosemite and asked if we needed a map.
4. “At the very back of the store, on the bottom shelf,” replied a CVS employee to Carol’s question about an eyeglass repair kit.
5. “It’s two miles straight ahead,” the woman who ran the roadside souvenir stand explained in response to my request for directions to the Corlieu Falls trailhead.
6. “Latte with nonfat milk, please,” Carol said to the barista who took her order from the coffee kiosks drive-thru window on our way home the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
We did not dine out or order for curbside pickup throughout our stay, so there was no verbal contact with any restaurant staff. On the trail to the Mariposa Sequoia Grove, we pointedly did NOT respond to any friendly greetings by hikers passing us unmasked. And when we stopped for gas, both coming and going, the restrooms were clearly marked, so we didn’t have to inquire where they were located.
On the drive home, Carol and I recounted those sparse interactions we’d experienced through the week, remarking how it amounted to us spending that week virtually isolated from the rest of humanity and entirely between ourselves.
“And we’re still together!” Carol exclaimed with a mix of both glee and a touch of mild surprise.
And just to put an emphatic period on all we had to be thankful for on this most unique of Thanksgivings, Carol read a newsblast shortly after we arrived safely home that a nine-car crash, followed by a three-car crash snarled traffic on that same stretch of Highway 99 we had passed not two hours ahead of those accidents.
We’re both hoping to be reunited with family at home next Thanksgiving, regardless of how much conversation I’ll be expected to engage in.