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Have you ever had a vacation which was nearly perfect and you were able to find a souvenir that is like finding an extra cherry on top of the sundae?

It’s usually an item you picked up on your travels and brought home. It’s something which brings back all of the happiness and fun that was had on that trip back to the forefront of your mind.

On my once-in-a-lifetime trip with my mom and hubby, Jim, last November to Australia and New Zealand I found something I fell in love with. A hat.

Now, I’ve always loved hats, even as a small girl. I used to have a vintage hat collection and each one had its own unique story.

Our first full day in Sydney, Jim and I were on a mission. I wanted to buy a hat.

Walking down the winding, narrow streets in The Rocks section of the city, we turned a corner and found a small, quaint hat shop.

It had all sorts of hats. Straw traveling hats you can crumple up and it won’t lose its shape, awesome Indiana Jones-inspired suede hats and a huge selection of ladies hats, including the fancy hats and fascinator hats you see at royal weddings.

Jim found his hat right away, a classic fedora which suited him perfectly.

After a look, and some help from my new friend the hat lady, I found mine: An off-white Panama made out of natural materials with a black band.

I loved it!

We both left the store with our new accessories and couldn’t have been any happier. They blocked the sun out of our faces, kept our heads cool and our hats suited each of us.

For more than two weeks we had our hats with us at each adventure.

A run to the grocery store? Hat. A walk on the beach? Hat. A hike in the rain forest? Yep, you guessed it, I had my hat.

And, then . . . came the ferry ride.

It was the last leg of our trip. We booked a ferry ride to get from the south island of New Zealand to the north island where we would make our way to Auckland to catch our plane home.

The ferry was beautiful and the day was fantastic. After sitting inside reconnecting to the wifi, I decided to go back outside to the deck. The view was amazing and we kept passing all of these islands dotting the Cook Straight, the narrow pass through between the two islands.

The morning was windy. I’m used to wind but this was something which took me by surprise. It also took my hat right out of my hand.

Faster than you can imagine, the hat landed on the water 150 feet below the ferry and floated behind us, never to be seen again.

To say I was bummed would be an understatement.

My mom found a beautiful dark grey wool hat for me and it was worn for the rest of the trip. For months after we got home, I still missed my hat. The pang of jealousy would hit me when I saw Jim grab his on his way out the door.

I still wore my hat, but it’s wool, and after a while, it’s just too warm to wear.

I missed that hat and the memories that went with it. Of course, I value the photos and memories of our adventures but that hat was another partner in crime, just like my hubby.

It was on my head when I fed the dolphins on Moreton Island, when I had a dozen colorful Lorikeets sitting on me as I fed them, and when I got to pet the kangaroos at the animal sanctuary.

That hat gave me shade as we walked around the Sydney Opera House and into the botanical gardens. I wore that hat in Omaru, NZ when we enjoyed the Victorian festival and in Dunedin where we spent time with the albatross.

I wore that hat when I first got behind the steering wheel of our rental car on the right side and while I learned to adjust driving on the left side of the road. It kept the bugs away when we hiked in the rainforest and walked the beaches looking for shells.

After a while I needed to fill that hole. Lucky for me we have the interwebs. A place to find anything your heart desires.

It found the little hat shop around the corner and wouldn’t you know it, my hat, or at least my hat 2.0, was there. With just one click it could be mine.

And now it is.

Jim said when I opened the box I looked like a little kid who got exactly what they wanted from Santa.

And it was.

I have my hat, a tangible item that when touched, brings back some of the happiest days of my life.

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