A Ray of Sunshine

We’ve been friends since the moment we connected on a beach somewhere between Galilee and Jerusalem the summer of 2021. His name is Ray. Smart. Tall. Dark. Handsome. Single again.

When I told him about my dream to ride in 50 states, he encouraged me to go where my heart led me. “Follow your dreams,” he said. Being from Connecticut, he was familiar with Galilee and Jerusalem, Rhode Island. He gave me directions to a lighthouse and suggestions on where to camp in my motorhome.

Since I started writing FINDING JOY, my memoir about riding my bike in every state, which includes the people I meet, the places I visit, and the challenges I overcome as I travel in my RV, he has supported me 100%. He supports me by reading my blogs and the articles I have written for Calhoun Magazine and posting comments on my Facebook page. He will be in book II where I will write about my adventures on the east coast.

Ray texted, called, and emailed regularly for 2 ½ years. This past fall he invited me to come visit him in the sunshine state, where he often winters.

When January rolled around, Ray and I talked more seriously about making such a visit happen. He measured his driveway. I sent him all manner of measurements of my motor home. When it was clear the driveway wasn’t going to work, we talked about a nearby $6.00 a night parking spot, and then state parks within 30 miles. No dice on the parking lot and no vacancies at the state parks. We kept at it—discussing options every few days until finally I secured a site for an entire month in his same complex.

After a week of driving, visiting friends, Tim, Debbie, Amy and Glenn, on the gulf side of the state, and a night in the Everglades, I arrived in Long Key on March 1st. Ray met me at the gate to the complex and escorted me to my site via a golf cart as though he were the owner of a KOA. Within the hour, Ray drove his daughter and me to dinner at an outdoor bar and grill with live music. He picked up the check.

On Saturday, Ray gave me the royal tour of the resort, complete with a visit to the gym, the pool, and the library. Because I could not get a Wi-Fi connection at my site or the library, Ray invited me to his place so I could send a few emails. While distracted by emails, I heard Ray talking to his television. “ESPN. ESPN 2. Women’s basketball.” When I looked up, he and his daughter were watching a women’s U Conn basketball game. I discovered he keeps up with college and pro ball, especially the women. And by “keeps up with” I mean he goes to games, and he knows the players, their stats, rankings, schedules . . . everything.

Sunday, he took us to Key Colony Beach Days (a festival with live music, food and 60 vendors). We watched more women’s basketball Sunday night before discussing our plans for the week/month. He said he wants me to have time to write and ride my bike. Monday I would ride and join him and his daughter at the pool before the men’s basketball games start on TV. Tuesday: poker plus an RV repair appointment and shopping. Wednesday: a Corn Hole tournament. Thursday: The No Name Pub plus deer and alligator hunting. Friday: Sombrero Beach. Saturday: another festival, Sunday . . .

Then before another daughter comes to celebrate his birthday on March 27th with a boat tour and train ride in Key West, we have to fit in golf, fishing, a nautical flea market, a seafood festival, an alligator hunt, a sea turtle hospital and a dolphin research center, a visit to No Name Key, the Butterfly Building in Key West, a movie, the Hemingway House, a boat ride to Dry Tortugas National Park, a play at the Marathon Community Theater, and as many days at the beach and pool as we can fit in. On top of this, I am supposed to write and ride my bike six days a week? This man is going to wear me out! Next year, he plans to go skydiving for his birthday . . . his 95th.

I think I’m going to be busy that day.