In 1979 I worked for a company in Baltimore that performed quality testing on various construction materials: concrete (not cement!), soil, paint, steel, etc…. It was a turning point in my life; not because of the job itself, but because of my boss. George & I immediately “clicked” and became close friends. He was my best man at my first wedding, as well as at my final wedding. During that early time frame he was a keyboard player in several bands. Although I tried to get him to come camping with me for years, he had a wife and two kids. Between work, music and family, he had no time for an additional hobby.

Then, in 1982, I moved to Florida in order to finish college. Leaving Baltimore, I had to shed a bunch of crap stuff so I gave him several rucksacks … essentially big sacks with a couple of wooden strips sewn into them for stiffness and a couple of shoulder straps. Crude, huge and uncomfortable. And off to Florida I went, with no idea of what I had started.

That winter, while huddled around a heat stove in the cold garage that served as the testing lab, George and another friend/co-worker Arne, decided to put the gear to the test. They packed everything they could think of into the packs, threw some more stuff in just in case they had forgotten something, and went backpacking in the Shenandoah National Park. And were hooked. George went on to become extremely involved in the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club where he devoted countless volunteer hours over the years. And a traditional camping trip to a backwoods cabin on the second weekend of January was started. For about 28 years now, we have gone off to the woods for a bit of hiking in the cold, more than a bit of adult beverages and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Early on, George’s son, Jesse, became part of the crew (I can still picture his first taste of alcohol in the Virginia backwoods). Each year we caught up as kids were born and grew, as divorces took place and marriages were celebrated. Each year a group photo was taken. Most of these show four guys heavily bundled mugging for the camera. One of the first was taken during a summertime trip on the porch of the cabin that gives our group our name: Corbin Cabin.

The Corbin Club, taken a long time ago.

Last week, we met on the beach of North Carolina for a week to attend the wedding of Arne’s daughter. We shared a house just a few minutes walk from the ocean and the unique thing about this trip was that we each had our ladies with us. Although Patti had met all of my buddies before, this was the first time she had spent an extended amount of time with them. On the way back to Florida, after watching George, Arne, Jesse and myself interact for a while, she stated that she now has a better appreciation of why the four of us are so close. The only way I can explain it is that they are members of my family. The family that I have chosen. I look forward to seeing them whenever and wherever it may happen.

Like 6 months from now on the second weekend in January.

January, 2011

Oak Island, NC. June, 2011

The Corbin Family, June, 2011