Hannah and I go way back with our dear friend Nancy Turley – it all began pre-Molly, Robyn, and Will in the 1970s while we planted, watered, and grew our marriage in Tempe, Arizona. Being from the Northeast, Hannah and I had never met real-life Latter Day Saints; Nancy and her husband Wayne gave us safe passage into their hearts. By the way, they taught us our family’s favorite card game, “Mormon Bridge” – a game we’ve spread from sea to shining sea.
During the summer of 1992 trip to the Rocky Mountain states, we five Rothermels towed our home-made trailer behind our four-cylinder Subaru Wagon. Later we learned this pipsqueak Subaru was never meant to tow anything. Time and again, we struggled up the northern Rockies at five miles per hour! Once, we had to go north into Montana because we turned back since the Little Engine That Couldn’t was unable to climb to the 9000′ pass through the Bighorn Mountains coming out of Sheridan, Wyoming on our way to Yellowstone National Park.
While spending three days with our Turleys at their home in the Valley of the Sun, Wayne found a mechanic who fixed our radiator, which we learned was running at 25% capacity; hence the major reason why we couldn’t get up those towering mountains. As we prepared to head for home in Maine, Wayne and Nancy offered to hitch our boxy 3’ x 4’ x 6’ trailer to their Chevy Suburban and haul it from their home in Mesa at 1100’ to Show Low at 8000’ as we followed behind. Road weary, we thanked our lucky stars high above the Mogollon Rim that the Universe brought our families together.
We learned so much from their parenting – to value experiences over things, making family time a priority, and the importance of traveling to all parts of the USA to broaden our perspective and increase our gratitude and empathy. Twice we drove from Maine and they from Arizona to pitch tents at the KOA (Kampground of America) in Panguitch, Utah to explore Bryce Canyon with their family of eight and ours of five. By the way, despite the spelling, KOA has nothing to do with the Klan.
And now 40 years later, we come together with Nancy and her equally delightful 24 year old daughter Maryn at our home on the coast of Maine. Wayne died two years previous, which made our first time together a celebration of his influence on us all, our longtime friendships, and the time we did have with Wayne and Nancy.
To continue our celebration with Nancy and Maryn, we drive 45 minutes into New Hampshire to breakfast out at the Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington. Fully fueled, twenty minutes later we pull into the trailhead of Mount Major along the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Pairing off in conversation up the rocky 1.5 mile trail to the top for the next hour, we four catch up on each other’s lives (Maryn’s upcoming choice of law schools, Nancy’s desire to go on a mission to New Zealand, Hannah’s welcoming her sister Leni to Maine, and my upcoming spring trip with Hannah to visit Nancy in Utah).
Once atop this 2800’ mountain of granite in New Hampshire, we had the opportunity to honor our forty year friendship with the Family Turley.