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.
The main attraction was maintaining social distancing. It backed up to a boat storage yard
While the coronavirus lockdown has been – for me anyway – a walk in the park without the walk, I could see Carol’s edges fraying like an overused couch. Six months without a planned trip for two people whose relationship has been defined by travel, Carol was itching to get on the road again.Big Bear Lake is a year-round mountain resort about two and a half hours from home. We found a stand alone cabin with a full kitchen, meaning we could easily maintain quarantine. It offered all the stay-at-home-and-do-nothing comforts I’d become accustomed to, with the added features of packing a suitcase and driving somewhere other than a curbside pickup, which Carol had come to long for
“You might think that in loading an ice chest one would automatically include ice. But that would not be the case if the “one” in question is me, and Carol had not included the bag of ice she had meticulously collected and stored in the freezer prior to the trip among the array of items she had arranged for me to pack in the cooler.”
I’d forgotten how easy it had become to pack for a trip with Carol. When we first began to travel, we’d each pack separately. And then Carol would repack my things to prevent the wrinkles I had initially built in with my effort, and include the essentials like underwear and a toothbrush that I had overlooked. My job now is to merely place all my neatly folded and staged essential items of apparel and sundries she had laid out for me into the suitcase. This has resulted in cutting Carol’s past packing and repacking obligation in half, while assuring I show up at our destination with the necessary charger cables, dental floss and socks.
For this trip, Carol took command of more or less replicating our kitchen at home into one for the road. I held the relatively menial tasks of loading the storage containers of dry goods, paper products, tablecloths and go cups into the car and packing the ice chest with all the refrigerated items Carol had staged for me. You might think that in loading an ice chest one would automatically include ice. But that would not be the case if the “one” in question is me, and Carol had not included the bag of ice she had meticulously collected and stored in the freezer prior to the trip among the array of items she had arranged for me to pack in the cooler, on the reasonable presumption that the last item to be included would be the ice that had remained in the freezer to keep from melting.
“I smell meat,” Carol said about halfway through the trek to Big Bear.
“Great,” I answered. “No covid symptoms.”
“You did put the ice in the cooler, right?”
“Ice? I didn’t see ice on the counter with the other stuff,” I replied, weakly trying to shift responsibility.
When it was time to pack for home, I offered to empty the cabin fridge into the ice chest.
“No, I’ll do that,” came Carol’s immediate and emphatic response. Then, no doubt, concerned my feelings might be hurt, she quickly added, “but you can [help mommy] and put the water bottles in the front seats…and remember to use the bathroom before we leave! “
As it happened, Carol did forget to pack the corkscrew. Fortunately, I keep an emergency one in my toiletry kit, and we were spared the terrible fate of W.C. Fields, who once, “whilst traveling through the wilds of Afghanistan, fell upon great misfortune and lost our corkscrew. Compelled to live off food and water for days.”