I knew Kate fairly well, mainly from her many visits to us when we lived in California. I have many fond memories of her. She was at our wedding, which my own parents couldn't afford the travel to attend. We went on several trips with her: to the La Sal Mountains in Utah, to Idaho, to Yellowstone, to Hawai'i, and up the California coast. Those trips were huge adventures for her, as she had only rarely strayed more than a few dozen miles from her home in Liberty, Indiana. Kate was a most excellent traveling companion: full of wonder at all the new things to see, always in good humor, and willing to put up with all the privations of traveling on a tight (sometimes nonexistent!) budget. Debbie and I are lucky to have a brain full of these wonderful memories to remember her with. Here are just a few:
- Four-wheeling in the La Sal Mountains near dusk, and coming upon a “tornado” of swallows. We'd never seen this behavior before, nor have we since: something over 100 swallows flying in a tight vortex over a knoll, continuing even as we approached quite closely. I remember Kate's face as she watched this, full of wonder.
- Visiting a “hummingbird lady” in Idaho, after getting directions from the owner of the B&B we were staying at. This lady had perhaps 50 or 60 feeders, all crowded with hummers. We sat under a covered porch and watched them with the hummingbird lady: a little old lady with a sunny disposition who was happy to share her flying jewels with anyone who happened by. This was before we fed hummingbirds ourselves, and was the first time Debbie and I had ever seen anything like it. Kate was transfixed, her eyes following those little hummers for the entire time we were there. Uncharacteristically she was quiet, almost reverent.
- Pretending we'd put a gecko on her back in the cabin we were staying in, in Kalopa State Park on the big island of Hawai'i. The hooting and screeching, and subsequent laughter, still brings a quick smile for me. On this same trip, her luggage went to Pago Pago (literally!) instead of Kona. She wore clothes borrowed from us until her luggage was found. When it finally got to Kona, a taxi driver brought it to us, about 90 minutes from the airport.
- Four-wheeling down to Kealakekua Bay, and back up. It rained while we were down on the bay, so I had to get the vehicle back up slippery wet lava to get back to the top. This involved several occasions when I'd run at a steep slope as fast as I dared and let momentum carry us up. Kate's screeching and hollering when I did this was hysterically funny; we were crying we were laughing so hard.
- Four-wheeling through the Parker Ranch (then still operating), and coming upon a cattle drive, complete with cowboys (paniolo) on horseback. The cowboys stopped to talk with us, and Kate watched the entire affair with delight.
- Standing with her at the Monterey Aquarium, in front of the jellyfish tank. Those jellyfish gave her the heebie-jeebies, but she seemed unable to move away from them, fascinated by their movement.