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When Tom and I started traveling more by air than land for our vacations, I learned quickly how important it is to be organized and how essential it is to cram as much as you can carry when you board a plane.
We were in an airport somewhere when I spied what I thought was the perfect solution – an Ogio backpack that didn't look as if I were ready for the Appalachian Trail.
A few days after our return home, UPS delivered a surprise package. Inside was a red Ogio backpack ready for our next adventure, courtesy of a husband who does everything he can to make my life easier.
Bright red canvas, it had a padded pocket for a 15-inch laptop, another for an iPad, another for any other gadgets one travels with, and assorted zippered compartments for the miscellaneous assortments of life we feel we can't live without.
It has become a part of me. Not only do I take it on planes, I pack it in cars. I bring it to work. I take it to the beach.
Filled with pens, sticky note pads, a Delta airline blanket, gum, crackers, breakfast bars and an occasional extra pair of shoes, it is a constant companion.
Last week, Tom and I went to Fort Myers to cat-sit for his sister. Now if you know anything about cats, you know they really don't require much sitting, but Jane worries about her baby so we volunteered to watch Daisey – and go to the beach.
The weather was perfect and I was in my element, reading, floating in the Gulf and looking for the wee lightning whelk and Florida cone shells that I collect. They're small, easily overlooked but my eagle eye can spot one among thousands – even on Sanibel.
As we returned to the car our first day out, Tom pointed to a beautiful shell laying at the back of the car. It was fist-sized and perfect. I knocked the sand off and threw it in my backpack.
We went for a frappuccino, then headed back to Jane's for a dip in the pool – maybe an hour lapsed before I started putting away our beach stuff.
Before I could even unzip the first compartment – the one designed for a laptop – the foulest odor assaulted me where I stood at the kitchen island. I took out my Kindle, removed my iPod and the putrifying odor worsened.
When I plucked the shell I had picked up in the parking lot from the bag, I knew I was in trouble.
The scent was magnified and gag-worthy.
"Oh, my word!" I screeched. "There's something still living in that shell." And then I quickly corrected myself. "No, something died and rotted in that shell. The backpack smells so funky."
Everything came out of the bag. The shell was taken to a corner of the pool. I found a can of Febreze and liberally doused the bag, again and again, as I carried it outside, where it stayed for the next two days.
I'd occasionally take a whiff but the smell lingered. Tom suggested throwing the backpack away. I was appalled.
"Why does this happen to me?" I wailed Saturday.
Tom, ever so serious, calmly said, "Well, it's not funky without F-U-N." He came over, sniffed the bag and went, "Shew!" But then he laughed and I knew the odor was dissipating.
It wasn't until we were near Tampa that I realized the shell was still in the corner of the pool.
I wonder if Jane has found it yet?