The clan moved back to the States in 1992, with the Rotchfords going to Kingsville, TX and the Kerricks going to Ft. Leavenworth, KS. Fred was a Professor at Military Science at Texas A&M. Steve taught at the Command General Staff College in the Leadership Department. They were busy with their teaching, the two oldest girls attended college, the younger girls were in high school and junior high and Lupe and I continued our support of the family units. With the girls getting older and the military commitments, it became harder to get together as our clan of eight, so we became a foursome. From my timeline and photos, there are no records of visits until 1994. My memory doesn’t even help with this. I do know that 1994 was our one and only visit to Kingsville. Fred and Lupe might have visited Kansas, they were always so much better at coming our way! At any rate, we went down just before I started working at the high school. They had planned a trip to South Padre Island, San Antonio and just down time in Kingsville. It was good just being back together. Our relationship had always been one of lots of chatter, either one on one or all four talking at the same time. This is not to say we talked every moment we were together. We had our quiet moments but it never was the awkward silence.
While in San Antonio, we took a hop on hop off trolley tour of the city going to the Alamo, River Walk and other sights of the city. We hopped off at a shopping district and wondered through the shops. Steve rounded a corner and saw the suit of armor and I knew from the look on his face it was going home with us. The problem was how to get it to the van, then would it fit in the van? If it fit then would the four of us fit? If not was Steve willing to give up his “prize”. The guys discussed it and decided they would figure it out as we went. So off down the street we went with said knight in tow. Arriving at the trolley stop, he fit perfect, after bending his top feathers, on the back deck of the trolley. A knight on the back of a trolley drew lots of attention, some stares, some pointing and some even laughing, as we traveled back to the van. He made the trip back to Kansas and has stood at our front door since ’94.
Steve went off to Korea for a year and Maria became the first of our girls to get married. As the wedding was being planned, the Rotchfords stopped in twice on the way to Minnesota. One of the trips, we gathered around the dining room table to chose the wine for the reception. After trying several, the selection was made. I was to buy the wine, at the Class Six store here and transport it to the reception.
I was in the middle of enrollment for the new school year so the girls and I got a late start to MN. We arrived at the hotel after 10 p.m. to be told there was no room in the inn. The clerk called a near by place where we could settle in after our eight hour drive. The next morning, Fred was so upset because I had not called his room to fix the problem. He had reserved our room. I had not thought it to be a big deal, after all I was a military wife.
We entered the church for the rehearsal. Carmen was at the altar getting ready to practice her song, Hail Mary: Gentle Woman, for the ceremony. I was talking with someone, don’t even remember who, when she started to sing. Immediately tears started falling and I had to sit down. I had known this kid, now a young women, for fourteen years. I had heard her singing in the van on so many road trips but never had I heard this beautiful voice. It was so overwhelming! During the ceremony, a Catholic mass, The Prayer of the Faithful were read with Steve’s name, serving in South Korea. Once again the tears started flowing.
In ’97 we were off to Aruba, a tiny Dutch Caribbean island, 19 miles long, off the coast of Venezuela. It was a trip celebrating Fred and Lupe’s 25th anniversary. Fred upgraded our air tickets to first class so we were drinking sparkling wine while the other passengers were boarding. We checked into the Marriott Resort located on a white sandy beach with a very gentle surf. In between the hotel and the beach was a beautiful pool, where games were played during the day. We enjoyed the casino and the dining on the property.
On one of the days, we rented a car and visited the Natural Bridge and Oranjestad, the island’s capitol. Nearby was Eagle Beach with talcum powder sands, calm waters the color of an aquamarine and deep blue. So peaceful watching the water ebb and flow. We saw the landmark Cacus hedges and the famous Divi Divi Tree, Aruba’s natural compass. It is called this because they are always pointing in a southwestern direction due to the trade winds. We also did an Atlantis Submarine tour and shopping downtown.
The guys did snorkeling while Lupe and I enjoyed the beach area.
I always wanted to go up into New England during autumn to see the leaves, so I was assigned the task of planning this trip. It was so much fun doing the research, trying to fit everything into the time we had. We flew up and rented a car, a Lincoln Town Car with a GPS we named Penenolpe. We have laughed many times, on other trips, how we would still be in New England if it wasn’t for Penenolpe. Many of the roads/streets did not have signs in the small towns, it would have been a guessing game without her. Our leaf peeping included winding roads in the White and Green mountain ranges in the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We all agree that the best part of the trip was the Bed and Breakfast we stayed. We made it our home base for three days. During the days we were visiting leaf covered mountains, quaint villages and some covered bridges. At night we returned to the B&B, with wine purchased on our travels, and settled into the comforty living room. There was a warm fire in the large fireplace and cheese on a side board behind one of the couches. We ate the cheese, drank our wine, watched the fire and revisited our days travels. This B&B was so much better than the hotels. Fun memories!!
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