It was the first Friday in May -- a day I had been looking forward to for weeks. My brother and I loaded Dad's '69 Ford Galaxy with a few belongings and filled it with gas just as the sky was lighting up, then waved goodbye as we pulled out of the drive, for a weekend of fun.
We were on our way to a camp in Montana, and we had 100 miles to drive before 7 AM, where we would meet up with a group of our friends to complete the journey.
The first part of the trip was uneventful. Pulling into the yard of the family who organized this extravaganza, I saw several people were gathered near the gold and white suburban we would be taking the rest of the way. Sliding to a stop and turning the car off, I stepped out of the car in a cloud of dust, my flag dress wrapping around me in the wind. Someone from the group yelled, "Hi-Dee-ho," and began running our way waving his hand over his head. At first I thought I knew who he was, but then I realized that guy didn't wear a white cowboy hat and would never run to meet someone -- he was far too reserved. As the guy got closer, I realized he was taller than our other friends.
I was gathering my duffel bag from the trunk when he reached my side, "Hi! I'm Kevin," he thrust out his hand, "And I am going to be the guys dorm leader this weekend." Little did I know that I was staring into the eyes of my future husband as I introduced myself.
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Enough people showed up that morning that we ended up taking two suburbans. For the first half of the trip we were split up guys and girls -- there being an even number. The second half, we were split smoking and non-smoking. Kevin ended up sitting by me and we talked the whole way... I'd never had three hours go so fast.
We reached the camp a few hours before it was time to sign in, so the gal in charge contacted some friends who lived in the area. They were finishing up their branding, and invited us to join them. A few of us jumped at the chance, and were soon in the midst of the activity.
Caleb asked me to help him get his chaps on, then when I headed for the pen, sneered at me, "You can't brand in a dress!"
"Watch me," I challenged, taping Beth on the arm, jumping the fence and grabbing a calf by the front leg. She grabbed the back leg and in moments we had the calf stretched out on the ground.
The guys quickly split into teams, and the competition was on. An hour later, we were shaking the dust from our boots and heading back to camp. Beth and I had won, holding down more calves than any other team, and we had managed to do so without getting manure on our clothing. Take that boys! Kevin laughed at me as he scraped a cow-pie off his rear and said he couldn't wait to get his pictures developed*...
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That was 18 years ago. Little did he know that that crazy girl was going to be his wife. Little did he realize that the weird dress she wore would become one of his favorites...
* My scrap books are currently in boxes, or I would share a photo he took that day... The one above is from the last Fourth of July.