Judy’s Tales: You’ve got mail!

My mom Judy loved to travel. If she would have been financially able to, she would have traveled full time. Most of our trips were to the mountains, camping or the beach with my father, friends and family. Trips to Vegas and cruises with her cousins, long road trips with my grandmother and I, and adventures on water down in the Keys. My mother’s first love was her camper. She was constantly planning her next camping trip and even dreamed of towing it cross country once her and my father retired.

Long before her days in the Wildcat (the HUGE 5th wheel camper my mom and dad purchased a few years ago) there were hotels and road trips. Back in the summer of 1996, my mother decided to take one of these road trips alone.


My grandmother begged and pleaded her to skip the trip, but my mother had gotten an opportunity that she couldn’t refuse.

I don’t know the specifics, but a friend of a friend of a friend was working with Kroger markets over in Texas and Colorado, demoing a new brand of sanitation devices in their stores. They were hiring for the month of July and my mom decided to go for it. Before we knew it, she was on a plane flying to Houston.

My mom was fearless. She had a sense of adventure that I, unfortunately, did not inherent. While I was being cautious, her caution was in the wind. She was a free spirit who took chances, and made amazing memories because of it.

During the summer of 1996, the internet was still relatively new. Beepers were our main form of communication and if you wanted to dial home, you used a quarter. But one thing that was extremely popular was a little something called AOL. Remember good ol’ AOL? Dial up? Chat rooms? Man did I have some experiences back then in the Tampa Bay chatroom! Well, my mother was no stranger to connecting through cyberspace and was completely addicted to both AOL and Yahoo chatrooms. She would hang out in the most obscure of chatspaces and if I recall correctly, spent most of her time in a Yahoo chatroom about flying planes! We only had one computer back then and my dad and I would nag her to log off so that we could hear those sweet little words… “You’ve Got Mail”.

My mom actually made some lifelong friends in those chatrooms. We never knew them by their real names, only their handle. “Pepsi”, “PilotLlyod” and others would talk to “Judee_g” for hours upon hours. Some of these new-found friends were local and planned lunches and other social get togethers. And it just so happened that little job my mom got that summer of 96 brought her close to some of these chat friends, giving her an opportunity to meet them as well.

Of course when news of what my mom was planning went public, the cries of “rapists” and “murderers” began to fly, but my mom met them anyway; and returned in one piece.

I actually visited her for a week while she was in Texas. I had just turned 17 and it was my very first time in a plane.  I didn’t get to meet the killers chat friends, but we had a blast driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse all around eastern Texas. We spent our days in Kroger markets, and our evenings exploring.  Selena had just passed away and so we even took a drive down to Corpus Cristi to pay our respects (what can I say, we’re Spanish- anything for Selenas!).


Life just isn’t the same without my mother and her awesome sense of adventure. Although there will never be another Judy, I hope to find ways to enjoy life the same way that she did. There are so many more travel tales of my mom’s, so stay tuned for the next one!

Steph 🙂