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I have done a lot of traveling in the name of love, to places as far away as Okinawa, Japan. But never did I imagine the foreign territory where my heart most recently took me … Bassarama in Richmond, Va.

It’s the perfect example of a carefully laid plan gone bad. Ron was supposed to drop me off at a nearby mall and pick me up later, when they had finished looking at the bass boats.

That would have given me plenty of time to shop, kid-free. When we stopped to fill up the gas tank, I slipped inside the gas station and hit the ATM so I would be ready to shop the moment I got there.

I never did get there, or visit any stores, because Ron couldn’t find the mall. He had scribbled directions down, but conveniently forgot to write north or south when it came to certain roads.

Miraculously, the directions he had written on the same piece of paper led us to Bassarama within minutes of not finding the mall. We all piled out of the Suburban in 18-degree weather to wait in line for tickets.

Ron and the boys, all wearing bass fishing hats, fit right in with the crowd of fishing enthusiasts/nuts. I spotted only two other women in line, and they both looked excited to be at Bassarama instead of Macy’s.

It was hard to keep the wisecracks from spilling forth from my mouth … so I didn’t.

“This is the kind of thing I would have done when we were dating, before you gave me the ring,” I whispered to Ron.

He appeared relieved that I had found something to joke about.

The minute we walked in the door, the friendly smell of French fries and onion rings drifted through the warm air. We decided to give in to the boys’ pleas for lunch.

By that point, I was getting antsy to see what Bassarama was really all about, so while Ron and the boys ate lunch, I took a peek inside.

The room was lined with boat after boat; a few pickup trucks were tucked in the back. Lining the walls were vendors selling bait, bait and more bait. A few offered smelly stuff to spray on the bait so fish will find it harder to resist.

Had I died and gone to bass fishing hell, or was it just a bad dream?

Surrounding me were fishermen, staring wide-eyed at the shiny new boats and picking up bags of plastic lizards to inspect them more closely.

Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie finished eating and proceeded to do exactly what I’m guessing all those grown men wanted to do themselves. They climbed aboard every boat in sight.

Ron wasted no time in pointing out his favorite to us. “This is my next boat,” he declared, standing next to a sparkly boat that looked like a newer, bigger version of the one sitting in our garage.

Then I realized the real reason my husband had driven us to Richmond for Bassarama was so he could visit with his future bass boat. It had been two weeks since he had seen it at the bass fishing show in Baltimore.

Maybe they missed each other.

Over the next few hours, Ron looked at boats and bait while I made sure our sons didn’t destroy anything. Some of the boats declared themselves to be “virtually indestructible” and “sledgehammer-tested,” but I wasn’t so sure.

When we headed back to the Suburban, Ron asked me, “Aren’t you glad you decided to spend the day with us instead of going to the mall?”

That isn’t exactly the way I remember it, but I will remember Bassarama for a long time, just like all the other places I’ve followed that Marine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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