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Senior Correspondent

While in the midst of our two-month road trip – Oregon to Florida and back – I received an insightful question from my friend Tom. He asked how this current trip is different from our earlier seven month, ten-day trip back in 2006. I pondered his question for just a few minutes and then stepped up to the keyboard and started typing.

For those of you who’ve read my memoir, “A Lifetime of Small Adventures,” you’ll recall that our 2006 road trip was a prelude to our moving to South America to do volunteer work. In fact, Wendy and I had just sold our home, put everything we owned in storage, and applied to join the Peace Corps. In this way, we launched our retirement.

OK, so here’s how I answered Tom’s question…

First I told Tom that, in a very fundamental way, the two trips are the same…

A loosely defined route to accomplish a combination of visiting family and friends plus exploring, discovering and just plain poking around.

But in other ways, the two trips are different…

  • Back in 2006, our son Larry was collecting and scanning all of our mail. He’d send it on to us electronically so we could read it on the laptop screen. We were confident that we missed nothing. This time around, our friend Dan is collecting our mail and putting it into a box. Yes, he’s watchful for the arrival of something “alarming” — like a certified letter from the IRS. And should such a bombshell arrive, he’d certainly give us a call. But otherwise, we’re totally out of touch with our mail. Yeah, we pay bills on line and we’ve signed up for e-mail alerts on our bills to pay, and we’ve made pre-payments of vast sums to the utility companies. But still, something of importance might “fall through the crack.” I worry about this a bit.
  • Back in 2006, we were homeless. We had no utilities, no mortgage, and no weekly magazine subscriptions. Life, for us, was far simpler. Far less to worry about.
  • Back in 2006, we had nothing to long for “back home.” Today, I’m eager to set up the furniture on the back patio, steep up a strong cup of English Breakfast tea and enjoy reading the newspaper while overlooking Squaw Creek Canyon.
  • Back in 2006, we had no “local friends” to return to. We had sold our home in Orange County, California and we knew we’d not return to live there. Today, we miss our friends from Sisters, Oregon. So though we’re certainly enjoying our trip, we’re looking forward to “hangin out” with our Sisters friends.
  • Back in 2006, we spent many more months away from our sons. This bothered me a bunch. This time around, just two months.
  • Back in 2006, our trip was a prelude to our move to South America, so we were: Looking forward to our move to Peru and there doing volunteer work. Struggling to satisfy the requirements of the Peace Corp’s medical department.
  • Back in 2006, we traveled in my old Toyota Landcruiser. As we left early in the year, we camped very little at first. Instead, we stayed with family and friends and in hotels, lodges, B&Bs and motels. As spring arrived, and then summer, we camped (in a small, backpack tent) more and more. This time, we have the luxury of a travel trailer. Yes, it’s small and a couple really has to be in love to live in such tight quarters, but it’s comfy in a thunderstorm and it offers some (though not absolute) protection from grizzly bears (Please see my post of two years ago about the grizzly bear attack just outside of Yellowstone National Park). For folks like Wendy and Bill who have previously spent all of their camping nights in a tent, the little Casita is “the cat’s meow.” Also, traveling by RV offers us the opportunity to learn a bunch about finding RV parks and every other aspect of RVing. Easier in some ways, tougher in others.  Neither better nor worse, it’s different.

Perhaps I can offer one observation which is a kind of the “big picture” overview of how this trip differs from our 2006 trip… it’s this… Back in 2006, we were “writing a new chapter in our lives.” Today, we’re simply taking a trip after which we’ll return to the current chapter in our lives. 

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