Another day in my happy place was the perfect start for our second week on the road. With a working chair, I was able to wheel all over my grandparents’ place with relative ease, only managing to get myself stuck a handful of times in windswept piles of sand. We spent much of the early afternoon pouring through photo history books of San Bernardino, where Grandma Betty, my dad and myself were all born, and Twentynine Palms, which is where we are now.
In the afternoon, we were joined by my dad’s sister Nancy and her husband, Danny, who met 42 years ago when they were both in my parents wedding. Danny was one of my dad’s best friends growing up as well as one of his first roommates, so I got to hear lot of the juicy details of my old man’s bachelor life and early marriage. The opportunity to dig up a little dirt was too good to resist. We heard stories of my dad dragging water skiers straight out of their tents with his jet boat on the Colorado River and stealing palettes for bonfires in the sand dunes at Glamis. I also got to hear about my mom and Nancy chasing the boys out of the local bar and the time my mom hit my dad upside the head with a frying pan (or did she?).
After the sun finally settled behind the rocky hillsides, I got to introduce Claire to another Salvini desert tradition, searching out satellites in a sky full of stars. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere, which Twentynine Palms most definitely is, the sparkle from whole galaxies that normally go unseen are as bright as lightbulbs. We managed to spot a few satellites carving their path through the sky before the blustery winds chased us away. Before heading back in, Claire and I scooted over to the front of the house where a heart-shaped stone reading “The Salvini’s Love Here” greets anyone who visits. It’s an extra special place for me because a small bit of my late wife’s ashes is tucked safely underneath it and, as the lone Salvini male in my grandpa’s lineage, I look forward to having a replica stone of my own someday soon.
After that, it was back in the house for ice cream and a box full of photos, where we got to see even more of my history, like a World War II memorial plaque with my grandpa’s name on it. Once again, it was a day full of interesting stories and trips down memory lane, what I like to call the good stuff.