It's really amazing what you see on the side of the road if you're paying attention, and we always were. It was a game and when we scored, we always we always knew it meant something because we pretended it did.
"Oops, guess this means we have to go to Paparazzi's tonight."
"That's for your birthday."
"This means we'll sell the car today."
"I see a trip in our future."
And the more serious:
"It's a prayer for Aunt Nancy to get better."
"For the new grandchild to be healthy."
"That Jim will get that job."
It was always something... and as the the boots started piling up, we got inventive as to how they should be displayed. We even took them with us when we moved. And yes, we were the talk of the neighborhood--'those crazy people' I think they said.
Our kids and friends added to our cache with an occasional find. We have boots from many states and several foreign countries. Furthest came back in luggage from Italy. It meant we would eat great pasta for the rest of our lives!
At last count, our garage looked like this:
So when we repainted, all 126 boots (yep, really) had to come down. The total could have been much larger but some boots on the highway were just not safely retrieved. And believe me, it hurt to have to pass up a great boot. However, we did have a few daring trophies. One was in a busy tunnel on I-5 in Seattle... it was a firefighter's boot--a real treasure--that my daughter and I scouted first then grabbed at 3 am with virtually no traffic to worry about. She drove and I grabbed... took about 5 seconds. See if you can find it in the photo at the top of the post.
Sadly, it was time to take them all down. Most had deteriorated so it wasn't emotionally difficult to do, then take to the dump for a proper burial among the trash. The fun memories however, and the spirit of the chase will always be savored. Doesn't mean we won't still pick up a stray for old time's sake, but since we didn't win the lottery, I blame the bad boots... oh, and the fact that we never did actually buy a ticket. So it's our fault after all.
Goodbye boots. I guess I'll just keep on driving and watching for the ones that got away.
Ed Note: We were regular participants in hat high energy exercise class for almost 20 years... a class that had only four instructors in all that time and was filled with very sweaty--and warm, dear friends who knew each other by first name and any number of personal tales we shared. We attended weddings and a few funerals of those early morning maniacs--many of which we wouldn't recognize on the street with their clothes on--and shared joys and sorrow. It was one of the fullest, longest relationships that had the benefit of better health. We blame every one of them for those boots and great memories. (Special hellos to Del R. and Jim T.)