We had two good reasons to come to Palm Beach: to visit our former neighbor, Janet, and to meet up with Kate’s cousin, Scott. Janet suggested staying in the John Prince Park Campground, which is a wonderful park right in South Palm Springs, and we lucked out with an extra-large site right on the lake. It was a great spot for us.
Originally, we had agreed to meet Cousin Scott and his family at the South Florida Fair, but when Kate and I drove to it, we couldn’t even push our way into the line to drive into the fair, which stretched a half mile down the road. This was more like the World’s Fair than our own little Lane County Fair in Eugene, and when we saw the crowds and heard the cacophony, even from a distance, we realized we’d made a big mistake. “Kate, you don’t even like fairs,” I said as she gazed over the traffic in dismay at the amusement rides. This was probably not the best place to reconnect with someone she hadn’t seen in 43 years, and meet his family. We’d have to shout at each other just to be heard. So with great guilt, she texted her cousin and suggested hamburgers at our place the next night.
Instead, we called Janet, who we’d planned to meet up with the next day, and suggested getting together this first night. Janet seems to have endless energy, and even though she’d just flown home from a 30-day biking trip in Vietnam the night before, she was more than happy to come pick us up and show us a bit of her new town. She took us to dinner at the Old Key Lime House, which is a fun, multi-level open-air restaurant on the harbor, and then she drove us through downtown Palm Beach where all the palm trees were lit up with white Christmas lights.
The next morning, Janet picked us up again, this time driving us south to Delray Beach, which is where the younger set hangs out. Both Delray and Palm Beach are extremely affluent towns, and we drove by huge waterfront mansions, including Oprah Winfrey’s, with a limo outside that could have been hers. It was Saturday, and there was a Garlic Festival going on in Delray, so it was a hopping place. We enjoyed just walking around town and getting a feel for the place. Mostly, we just were happy to spend time with Janet, who we truly miss as a neighbor and friend.
That night, Kate cousin Scott came to the campground with his wife, Kathy, son, Dale, and grandkids, Daizy and Xander. Kate grew up on the west coast and wasn’t close with her extended family back east. She was 15 the last time she’d seen Scott, but they connected over Facebook, and he’s been keeping an eye on our travels. When we saw we were in Florida, he was excited to get together.
Scott and his family were warm and welcoming, and the kids so sweet and well-mannered. I cooked burgers on a table-top BBQ we bought from a neighboring campsite that day for $20. They brought pasta salad, and we ate and chatted into the night. This was so special for Kate, who since her parents died, has really only had her brother, Marc, as family. I could tell how happy she was talking with Scott and Kathy, catching up on other distant family members and reclaiming a larger family that she hadn’t felt a part of for a long time.
Once again, we find this trip is almost more about the connections we’re making with people than the places we’re seeing or the things we’re doing. And this was a two-fer connection stop!