I’ve been pretty lucky during the years I’ve been married to Julie; before Julie, not so much.

Since being married to her I’ve won a number of radio call-ins or submission contests.

Julie and I have entered and taken part in well over a hundred poker runs, parades, club parties, and so on but never really won any major prizes. I guess I used all my biker luck when I caught her.

Once, I was the last winner of a call in contest, and ended up winning the “grand prize”, a night for 2 at a newly remodeled Waikiki Hotel. It included dinner so we had a really nice night away from home.

Once I was the “50th caller in the nation” winner and got a trip to Vegas.

I also entered a local station’s “poetry” contest for St Valentine’s Day and it won. The prize was a weekend for two on the island of Maui. In fact, the DJ told me that it had been a unanimous selection. She framed a copy of the poem. It still sits in the living room hutch.

So Julie and I made plans for the weekend getaway to Maui. The prize included airline tickets, room, and a special dinner on Saturday night.

We flew over Friday afternoon, got a rental car and drove to the hotel.

It was one of the “finer” Maui Hotels, which put it in a class we would not have been able to afford.

It didn’t take us long to settle in and since it was Friday night, I called an old friend in Lahaina for a couple of drinks.

From the hotel to Lahaina was a 30 to 40 minute drive. We met Carl and he took us to a local bar/restaurant whose name I’ve forgotten.

At the actual bar sat two guys, mid 30’s, well built, well dressed, and by 10:00 pm they were well oiled. No, they were hammered and they were buying rounds of “Gold Schlager” schnapps. They were loud, but having a good time.

Then an alarm started ringing in the back of the building and I suddenly realized both these guys were pulling guns out of identical ankle holsters.

Carl leaned over to tell me “Don’t worry. I know ‘em. They’re cops”.

Now, all I can think of is; “Here it is, my 1st night of my romantic weekend, and I’m gonna get shot by accident by a drunken cop.”

Weak smile.

We decided to leave shortly thereafter and so we dropped Carl at his place and pulled back on the main road.

A little way outside Lahaina there was a road block. I figured a DUI check point but Julie was driving so I was cool. I thought.

We get to the flares, and the police officer says we have to turn around. We explain where we were staying, and well, this was the only road in and out of Lahaina.

The officer sort of shakes his head and then tells us a brush fire has blocked 5 to 6 miles of the road with flames and smoke.

Nobody is leaving Lahaina for a while.

We turn around and go back to Carl’s, but from the street we can hear his snoring. From the street!

So, we have a $250.00 a night hotel room, and we’re sleeping in a $39.00 a day rent-a-car. How romantic!

Finally about 3:00 am I hear cars going down the road so we give it a try. What the Police were doing was taking 10 or 15 cars in a convoy each direction with an officer on each end. That way nobody gets lost in the smoke. It worked.

It was still dark when we finally reached the room. There had been no place open to get any food on the way back so it was a very welcome surprise when we found a fruit and chocolate basket in the room.

But it was looking out the window that the biggest surprise. Looking toward the inner area of the island, we could see the fire, several miles long, reaching across the mountain and crawling upward.

Julie claps her hand and said something about how beautiful it was if you didn’t know the damage it was causing.

I made a comment on how hard it had been to arrange the whole thing.

She said, “Zorro only made a flaming Z, you did the whole mountain for me”.

I asked her, “Hey you know how hard it is to write Jim loves Julie in fire? It takes a lot of room.” The laughter must have been heard in the next room.

The Saturday passed without incident, and the dinner was fabulous.

Our flight back was scheduled for late Sunday afternoon, but we had to turn the rental car back several hours sooner so we figured we’d try to get on an earlier flight.

We waited our turn, got to the airline desk, explained everything about leaving early and the counter lady said no problem.

She then asked me for the “return tickets” the radio station had given us.

She looked at them and told me these were to Maui, she needed the return tickets.

I told her these were all I had been given.

The counter clerk responded that it appeared the station had not given us return tickets.

And my loving, but incredibly smart ass wife pops up with, “Well, they did say it was a trip for two ‘to’ Maui. They didn’t say anything about coming back.”

I bought return tickets accompanied to large amounts of laughter from both sides of the ticket counter.

Several days later I had some unpleasant words with the radio station prize people. I wasn’t laughing

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