A week or so ago I received a note from Neal Shade. How about meeting up while he was home visiting for Christmas. We set today, at noon, at the Taco Bell restaurant in Miamisburg for the event. What I didn't know is that Neal wouldn't be in Miamisburg ... he'd be in northern Kentucky. So it was a bit of a dive for him.
But worth it for both of us, I'm sure.
I first met Neal as a high school kid, probably in the mid-1970's. He was working with the Miamisburg High School radio station - WRSF - and I came in contact with them through my joint interest in weather and electronics. We fairly quickly developed a friendship. Neal soon became an amateur radio operator, partly through my help giving him the Novice test. In the years ahead we'd often go swimming. One year (early 1990's, I think), he, his brother Loren, and I drove to Maine and hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail. We climbed Mt. Katahdin while there and put some serious miles beneath our hiking boots.
Now that Neal's an adult - he works for Dell out of Nashville - we don't get to see one another face-to-face. It's been many years in fact. Probably the last meeting was twenty years ago when we went to Maine. So today was a real treat, having an hour for casual conversation and a time to catch up.
I arrived there before noon but Neal was delayed by Cincinnati traffic (and I thought he was coming just a few blocks). I'm a good bit grayer but newly shorn with my seasonal haircut. I know ... I look a bit sleepy-eyed, too, but the Baha Blast was strictly soda.
Neal's brother, Loren, and I had some fun times together, too, particularly after Neal left for college. We picked up with the swimming, visited Rich Millhouse at Bowling Green State University and spent a week together vacationing in Bear Lake, Michigan. Between the two of them, the fun times equate to a ton of good memories.
When I'm at Taco Bell, I always opt for a seven layer burrito (vegetarian), a bottomless cup of Baha Blast (a Mountain Dew product which seems to only be available at Taco Bell) and enough hot sauce to cause heart pain and indigestion.
A great day of renewing an "old" friendship. They are the best.