Saturday, April 4, 2015

Friends from Home: Jeanette

And the Friends from Home series continues.  Meet Jeanette.  She could be considered a recurrent character in our travelers' story.  But first, our beginnings.  Jeanette probably doesn't know this, but she was one of my high school idols.  She was in color guard and dyed her hair with kool aid, she listened to cool music and she knew my name (me, an under classman, two years her junior).  One of my first high school parties was attended at her house.  As one of those awkward kids, I felt special being on her radar.  Again, as with the other friends from Pittsburgh, we reconnected via Facebook.
Jeanette and I on a band bus circa 1995

Jeanette is one of those strong women.  She recently wasn't afraid to turn her life upside down to find her own bliss.  She divorced her high school sweetheart and completed a massage therapy program.  Following her dreams is mandatory.  As a massage therapy instructor her passion is contagious.  Her willingness to take risks has even found her true love.  I am continually motivated by her metamorphosis.
Radiant Jeanette

Our first meet up was a result of Jeanette and her then husband Fred (also a friend from high school) camping at a nearby lake for the weekend.  They decided to swing by on their way back to Phoenix.  At the time we were stationed in Roosevelt, AZ with the Forest Service still living in our pop up in a campground called Schoolhouse.  I felt butterflies about receiving guests from our prior life while living this bohemian one.  Brian was out on garbage duty, so I would be entertaining alone.  I showed them how we lived and then we gathered around a picnic table in the shade of the pavilion while Truman played near by in the dirt.  We talked more about the present than the past.  What had brought them to Arizona and sharing stories of the adventure that is parenthood.  We made tentative plans to meet up again if the opportunity presented itself.  It was hugs all around before they headed back to the Valley.
Jeanette and Truman at the AZ Renn Faire 2014

We never did have the opportunity to meet up again following our first visit, but it was Jeanette to the rescue when we needed a ride to the airport to catch our flight to Hawaii a few months later.  She was their on time, while we were fashionably late.  She stuffed our bags and us into her compact car and delivered us to the airport as well as any shuttle service around with what we thought were minutes to spare (due to our own tardiness).  In the end, none of that mattered as our flight was delayed close to 5 hours in the end.  We didn't know at the time, but Jeanette would be the highlight of that trying travel day.  
Truman and I at the entrance to the Renn Faire

At the end of October 2013 we arrived back in Arizona for another extended stay.  This time in the White Mountains outside Show Low.  We were excited at the prospect of being able to attend the Arizona Renn Faire.  The previous year we had missed it by mere days.  Turns out Jeanette is also a Renn Faire Fan.  We decided to coordinate our attendance so we could spend time together.  She even graciously offered her home for accommodations while in the Valley.
AZ Renn Faire Entrance

The weekend in early March finally arrived and I drove in the night before so we could get their early the day of the event.  Jeanette recommended a local pizza place that hit the spot.  The pizza was to die for...the first real pizza I had eaten since leaving Pittsburgh over a year before.  There was an awesome play area for Truman and Jeanette's daughter Emma helped occupy my little man so I could eat an entire slice uninterrupted.  Bellies full we headed back to the house to head to bed.  We had a big day ahead.  The perfect host, Jeanette gave up her bedroom to Truman and I.  It was like sleeping on a cloud.
Truman taking a break in the play area at the 2014 AZ Renn Fest

We all got up early and got ready to go.  We had to purchase tickets from a local grocery store to get the best admission price.  I also needed diapers for Truman and everyone needed a Starbucks treat!  Then we were sit in traffic.  The AZ Renn Faire is a big deal.  People come from far and wide and the backs up for miles.
The golden ticket

Brian and I have been to several Renn Festivals over the years.  It was sort of our thing.  Our original wedding plans included getting married at the Pittsburgh Renn Faire.  That said...I thought I knew my stuff.  I was wrong.  The Arizona version blows every other Faire out of the water.  We shopped, we ate, we rode rides, we ate again, we petted animals, we ate yet again (of course we washed our hands first).  So many vendors, so much good food, numerous performances and educational exhibits.  They even had a petting zoo.  We stayed til the very end watching the final joust in the arena.  I wish I could remember the name of the band we listened to while waiting for the exiting crowds to thin a bit.  Jeanette?  A little help here to fill in the blanks...
Jeanette showing Truman around the petting zoo, AZ Renn Fest 2014

The sun was setting when we finally reached the exit.  A wave of contentment and exhaustion came over me simultaneously.  My original plan had been to make the drive back that evening, but I realized for the safety of Truman and myself, I would need to stay another night.  Grateful we hadn't overstayed our welcome, I enjoyed a nice hot shower and another night in that uber comfy bed.
Sunset leaving the AZ Renn Fest 2014

A leisurely morning of coffee aided or hindered my packing to leave...I still can't decide which it was.  My host definitely didn't make me feel rushed.  The weekend was so refreshing and we promised to do it again...although we never did make that happen.  Jeanette, we can't thank you enough for all the roles you've played in our journey.  Our door will always remain open and we'll leave the light on for're welcome!

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