Hello everyone. The calendar says spring, but the weather says otherwise here in Silver Spring, MD. It’s in the 30’s outside. Brrrrrr!!
I just got back from a week-long trip in Florida. The weather was awesome. I even got some color. I don’t know what shade of brown my skin is supposed to be, but this long Maryland winter has lightened me up quite a bit. So thanks Florida, for some great and much-needed sun rays and vitamin D.
In Florida I visited with plenty of family and even went camping for 2 days. If you don’t like hiking, fishing, canoeing, walking, the sun, eating outdoors, and sleeping in a tent, camping is not for you. My wife thought she wouldn’t enjoy it, but I begged and begged, and she gave it a try. And guess what? She did enjoy it. My sister and my 3-year-old niece went too. They had a blast. We went with a large group of friends and family.
You see the kid in the picture above with the slingshot aimed at the camera, in the orange t-shirt? He was my buddy on the camping trip. Everywhere I went he went. I believe that there is nothing in the Florida outdoors that he fears, not even gators. He respects them, but does not fear them.
One morning my little buddy and I went walking to find a clearing in the campgrounds, but away from the campers, where we could practice our slingshot aim. As we were walking along a path, collecting small rocks for slingshot ammo, off to my right I heard a voice that sounded familiar. Then I looked in the direction of the voice, and I saw a walk that looked familiar too. I couldn’t believe who I was looking at amongst a group of campers. I said “Rodriguez” and he turned around. He stared at me and then I said “it’s me Vargas, from Bridge company”. The man’s voice and gait I had recognized was a fellow Marine I had not seen since 1993, Corporal Rodriguez. We served in Somalia together in 1992-1993. What the fudge!!! He looked at me and I think he said “What the fudge” too, but instead of fudge he said another word.
I want you to think of the impossibility of me crossing paths with my fellow Marine 21 years later. Other than this past weekend, I have never been camping, that alone makes our chance encounter quite improbable. I am from Los Angeles originally, but live in Maryland now, and my friend Rodriguez is from south Florida. The campgrounds that we both happen to be in with our families, on the same weekend, this past weekend, is a bit remote. It actually felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. It is called “Fish Eating Creek Outpost” and it is in Palmdale, Florida. We could have easily both gone camping on the same weekend, but at different campgrounds. Also, my friend admitted to me that if it had been the other way around, and he would have heard or seen me instead of me seeing him, he might not have recognized me. How the hell I heard his voice and recognized him I have no idea. Well, I do have one idea. He was wearing his Marine Corps issued camouflaged trousers and a green t shirt. I think that pulled my eyeballs in his direction. Regardless, seeing my fellow Marine 21 years later was a bit surreal, but it felt good. That is us below, this past weekend, Rodriguez and Vargas, as we knew each other in the Corp.
My friend is married now. I met his wife and children at the campgrounds, and they met my wife. I think we were all shocked at our chance encounter. We shared stories and so much of what has happened in both of our lives since we last spoke. Plenty can happen in 21 years.
Thanks Rodriguez, for allowing me to blog about our unplanned reunion. And let it not be another 21 years before we see each other again. I will be like 63 by then. Damn! The few, the proud, and the unpredictable shit that might happen during our service and after, The Marines.