Forever young at heart
“I feel ancient in my body, but young in my heart,” Marilyn writes in an email. She refers to a recent trip she, Georgia, Orllyene and I took to refreshingly, cool Virginia Lakes. There we attempt a hike to Blue Lake (9,000 feet). Georgia makes it. Marilyn, Orllyene and I have to console ourselves with a view of seductively, gorgeous Upper Virginia Lake. As warm as the day is, the surrounding peaks are still pocked with snow.
We began our trip at 9:15 a.m. and got home at 7:30 p.m. Not bad, for folks whose kids are well into their 50s.
Coming down from Virginia Lakes to Bridgeport, Georgia has an idea. “Who wants an ice cream cone at the Jolly Kone?” she asks Marilyn and I instantly reply “yes.” Orllyene opts for potato chips (she’s lactose intolerant). Not to be outdone, Marilyn and I slip next door to the renowned Bridgeport Bakery. Each of us surprises Georgia with a sweet roll to take home. After demolishing our ice cream cones, we press on to the Hunewill Guest Ranch.
The dirt road leading to the resort is blockbuster beautiful. A scattered herd of horses grazes placidly in the pasture. Skittish foals stay close to their ever watchful mothers. The usually busy ranch is eerily deserted. Jan and her friend Dorothy, spot us and wave us over. We join them at an old fashioned picnic table beneath some aspen trees. A platter of home baked cookies, and a pitcher of ice tea await us. In seconds, everyone is talking a mile a minute. Kids, grand kids, summertime ranch news, nothing is left out. They’ve been friends for elephant years. They’ve raised their kids, traveled the world, but now life is dealing them some big changes. Marilyn’s husband Tom, passed away a few years back, and she was recently told by her doctor to slow down or suffer the consequences. Georgia’s husband of 61 years, Richard, is wrestling with a severe physical condition, and requires round the clock care. Jan’s husband, Stan, still hob-knobs jovially around the ranch with guests, but his thoughts are often erratic. Knowing the background circumstances of my three friends, I’m surprised at their optimism. Jan’s is like an artesian spring. In an hour or so, she will welcome 39 new ranch guests for the week. She’s totally unfazed by the prospect. Marilyn explains in detail, a trip she will take to Phoenix in a week’s time. Her grandson, Nick, is getting married. “I think I’ll ask for a wheelchair at the airport,” she says thoughtfully. Georgia’s rapid fire intellect sparks the conversation with news. “I asked my granddaughter Emily where she would like to go when she graduates from college. She said Scotland, and that’s where we’re going, by golly,” she says. The three women are continuously optimistic, cheerful, and they thrive on being active. Their conversation never lags. They don’t even know adversity exists! I realize their enthusiasm is rubbing off on me, and I’m having a very good time.
Georgia asks if I would like to drive her car. It’s a new Lexus. Purring noticeably, I murmur “yes.”
The sun lines up its trajectory towards the spiky, Sierra. A stillness settles on the sea of meadow grass that surrounds us. I become aware of a golden bond of friendship that we all share. A wedding band is gold. So is our bond of friendship. Thirty-five minutes later we pull into the parking lot of the Topaz Lodge. The darkened casino seems superficial. We slip into a booth with a view of the lake. The waitress arrives, and we each order the special. Since we’ve been using Georgia’s car all day, Marilyn and I decide to pick up the tab for Georgia’s dinner; a whopping $5.95. Feigning indignation, Georgia insists on leaving the tip. What a wonderful day it has been for four of Smith Valley’s all-time big spenders!
Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley, Nevada.