Old Diary, Travel

How Long is TOO Long?

My father-in-law Frank always wanted to return home from a visit tour house no later than 5 days after he left.

When I travelled for business I seemed able to tolerate a roadtrip of 30 days before the longing to be back home with my Sweetie got the best of me and I had to hot-foot it back home.

I love people but sometimes just being with someone for 3 hours is too long — if it’s constant conversation.

We all have our tolerances and we apply them throughout life.  I’m discovering that my tolerances are changing.  I’m not sure why, but I know it’s true.

Yesterday we had a wonderful time reconnecting with Reba and Phyllis, but after we were done I just needed quiet and we never made it to the Toledo Art Museum.  Peg’s been trying to get me in there for years and while I’d love to go, it just seems as if the forces of the universe have conspired to keep me away.  This time it was a lovely get-together that just tired out my ears.

2005 Ambassador "Serendipity"

I miss my ‘house’!

But the real issue is how long we’ve been away from Serendipity.  I’m finding I’m ready to be home again.  And it hasn’t even been two weeks.  And it’s an odd sensation.

When I was younger I didn’t seem to have much attachment to places or things.  But in some ways I seem to be getting more that way than I have been in the past.  We don’t have as many of them:  things that is.  Downsizing did a number on our possessions.  And when we decided to go mobile part of the reason we made that decision is that we (neither of us) sleeps very well in strange beds.  I haven’t had a decent nights sleep without a Tylenol PM since we left Serendipity.  And I think I’m missing my bed.  And the compactness of living in the coach.  And I’m tired of having to eat in restaurants; although we fixed that problem last night as we often do by stopping at the closest grocery and buying our dinner out of the deli case. attache case

As a bit of an aside, we have always traveled with a Picnic Attache Case. We got the idea from my parents who did the same, and it’s just the cheapest attache we could find at the time that contains some plastic cups, plates, silverware, napkins, a corkscrew, and a sharp knife so that no matter where we co we’re always ready for an impromptu picnic.  We do that a lot.  It’s cheaper than eating out at a decent place all the time, and a lot more fun.

But back to today’s thought…..

How long are you comfortable being away from things:  your house, your job (if you’re still working), your family-children-grandchildren?  This is a factor that seems to affect a lot of us full timers in very different ways.  I hear a lot of RV’ers talking about how long it’s been since they saw family — and I can understand how not seeing the kids, and the grandkids can be a determining factor in how long a couple stays on the road as full-timers.

When we left Milwaukee we were also conscious that we had always lived near water — in our case Lake Michigan and in Peg’s case Michigan and Lake Erie (being a former Toledoan).  We weren’t sure how we would do away from the water; and we haven’t really found out because we seem to keep staying at campgrounds that are close to water…. Maybe we should take a hint from that behavior pattern?

We have always been a close family and for three years now we’ve been making up for the lack of physical proximity with regular meet-ups.  But whether that will prove to be unsustainable over the long term — and become an ultimate decider of where we spend our time, or how long we stay on the road has yet to be seen.

This trip, as nice as it has been in many ways, is also showing me that when we downsized something changed about my tolerance for hotels/motels.  Bottom line:  I miss my RV.  Not one thing about it;  I miss everything about the lifestyle; bed, convenience, pace, you name it, I miss it.  We may make future auto trips — leaving the coach behind — but I don’t think they’ll be long ones.  And I wonder whether I’ll be able to talk myself into leaving the coach behind for an annual return to Milwaukee for medical appointments or whether we have sort of limited our options and we’re going to have to take the coach back every year, just because we miss our ‘home’ when we aren’t in it?

Frankly, none of this is anything I gave any consideration to before we went mobile.  I never saw myself as becoming attached to my ‘house’ in this way.  But, it is what it is, and I am who I am and that’s that.  I have to start thinking new thoughts about what RV’ing means to us.

So, Sunday was the longest day of the return.  About 490 miles — all Interstate — pretty scenery but Interstate.

March 15

We have been talking about our way of travel between ourselves and we are owning up to the fact that for us it really IS about the journey and not so much about the destination.  We realized that there have been a lot of times that we have gone to a place some distance away and when we arrived we spent very little time there before leaving again — and that what we were enjoying was the trip.

Since being in Los Fresnos we have spent more time than we ever imagined we would just in getting to know the area — I guess that’s who we are.  We’re nosey.  We’re curious.  My parents used to sit on a park bench for hours just watching the foot traffic in a National Park pass them by — that’s NOT so much who we are.  I guess we’re more likely to drive past than to sit and watch. Hmmmmmm…. I’m not sure what that says about who we are but it is who we are.

This trip is the perfect example.  We didn’t so much want to DO things in Toledo – we wanted to see  what had changed, and of course to reconnect with Phyllis with whom we had spent a lot of time over the 20+ last years of Frank’s life.  So too with the Natchez Trace.  It’s a just-plain-beautiful-part-of-the-country.  We are looking forward to a SLOW and laid back 2 day drive through the valleys and over the hills of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi,  followed by some back roads through Louisiana before we return to Texas.  We’ll stop and get out of the car — but we won’t do any 5 mile hikes.  My leg doesn’t lend itself to miles of walking anymore.  So we’ll check out the scenic overviews, and do a little walking — but nothing serious.  And we will enjoy the heck out of each minute.  Each Moment.  Each Instant.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Living Not Vacationing

Slow travelI was reading another blog the other day and their comments.  I came across the expression “We are slow travelers.”  I like that.

At the beginning of our journey in Journey I commented several times about not having an objective of seeing and doing all the things that might be present in any given location; but that our purpose was to visit new places and experience what it’s like to LIVE there, not to VISIT.


That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing here.  There are a lot of tourist attractions we could be visiting; I suppose we will visit more of them as time goes on, but our purpose was to / is to experience as many of these places that we visit as people who live there do.

It’s easy for us in some ways.  We aren’t attracted to places where large numbers of people gather.  When we were younger we did the State Fairs, and the Summerfest’s, and the tourist attractions. We travelled widely in the U.S. and there aren’t a lot of major attractions we haven’t seen — but having seen them we don’t need to see them again (except perhaps for the parks and forests and refuges which may stay the same on the macro scale but are constantly changing on the micro scale).

I like having projects on my plate.  Not necessarily a job – though we seem to have one temporarily.    If I don’t have a project I make them.  That’s who I am.  I don’t sit in front of the TV — it may be on in the background but I am always DOING something else: writing, bookkeeping, working on images, puttering around the RV with improvement ideas (or dreams), RV maintenance.  There is always noise in the background — but that is white noise to help me focus on whatever I’m doing.

On a weekend I might get up a 5, but it’s rare that we’ll have breakfast before 9 or even 10, and left to our own rhythms we might not be on the move until nearly noon.  For now we seem to be in a semi-forcred  schedule where we are out of Journey by 8:30 and back by 1 or 2 or 3 p.m. depending on what’s going on that day.  So, we’re kind of out of our natural sync.  I’m not sure we have completely adjusted to Pacific time either.  I find myself waking at the same time I used to get up — and then falling asleep again for two more hours — but my internal clock is still ‘stuck’ on Central Time.    In that regard I’m not sure I’m ‘traveling’ at all!  But I have always had a hard time with time changes.

Our trip from the Midwest to the Coast took us 6 weeks.  I think we have only stayed one night at a park three times since we left Milwaukee in May of ’13.  Even that 6 week trip  was a faster trip than I would have preferred. But John was holding a volunteer position for us and we didn’t want to dawdle more than necessary; but much of the route was first-time-in-an-RV and we didn’t want to hurry.

I’m sure when we leave Oregon (whenever it might be) we’ll go back to that slow pace.  Or slower still.

I love seeing how different our 13 mile route to Reedsport is every single day.  Almost every day we have fog — but not in the same place each day, and not as heavy or light.  I am LOVING ever single iteration of  fog.  When it rains the rain is different than in the Midwest.  No thunder. No lightning.  No heavy downpours yet.  Sort of different versions of drizzle.  I am loving every single iteration of rain.  The sun comes as a surprise every day.  We are supposed to be overcast and rainy, but every day that we see the sun is a blessing.  And it doesn’t happen the same way two days in a row.  We have a forecast for rain, and the day begins with rain, but all of a sudden there is Old Sol!  All of a sudden the clouds part — literally — and there it is pouring light and heat into a place that is ‘supposed to be’ gloomy this time of year — and I love every single interation of sun breaking through the clouds.

This is what I wanted in retirement.  Not exploring in the sense of going out to FIND something.  Exploring in the sense of staying open to the world around us; breathing it all in, seeing it all,  and sometimes spitting into the wind just to see what happens.

I had no idea what retirement would be like.  I’ve said before that we never thought much about retirement when we were working. We didn’t think we’d retire this early; and we didn’t have ‘plans’ — we were to busy with living our work-a-day lives.  That’s sort of who we are — staying in the moment as much as we can — with loose plans for the future.

I can never express how glad I am that one summer’s day I took my wife along with me to look at a van that we were talking about buying for photo trips — big enough for a mattress and cameras and suitcases — and on a whim we stopped at a dealer down the street from that lot and looked at a Roadtrek 210, and then at a Roadtrek Sprinter Van conversion, and next thing you know we’d committed to sell the house, to buy Journey and to hit the road.

None of it was pre-planned, no more than some of our journeys have been preplanned.  But even out-of-control retirement has been better than we ever expected.  So Far…

After good days with the boss I’m in a good mood.  There will be bad days with the boss and I’ll be frustrated.  But none of that takes away from the fact that we are blessed to enjoy this time in a place we’ve wanted to visit and to be some benefit to others.  Whatever life has in store this has been a pretty good way to start off on a new path…

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

“Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.”
– Nikos Kazantzakis