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Episode 107 Road Trip USA - Planning

“Take a road trip around America.” That is one of the dreams of many retirees. They want to see America and what better way than rambling about the place taking all the time you want. “Ah, what a life,” I heard someone say. Well, that has never been my answer. But it is today. We are planning a road trip; a road trip around the edge of  most of the country. This is the first in a series of podcasts that focus on this trip: the idea, the planning, the preparation, the actualization. As the Epicureans used to say there are three stages to be followed in developing the cult of happiness: anticipating, actualizing, and then reflecting.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

Deciding to see America from the road is an easy choice to make when one enters retirement. It’s a big country and to drive around it takes a lot of time; time that most folks don’t have until they retire. It also requires a little money that is many times in short supply when one is establishing a career, buying a house and raising kids. Retirement usually finds all of those no longer relevant in our personal lives. We are ‘free’ to move on. If we are still healthy and so inclined a road trip across the country becomes pretty appealing.

Other exotic places still remain around the world that might draw many of us in our retirement years. Most of them demand a very long boat ride or flying. Unpleasant experiences have left air travel as one of my least favorite thing to do. I dislike the airports which are crowded, ill kept, filled with people talking on cell phones that make waiting rooms impossible places to read or concentrate. Planes are often late arriving and departing, or are even cancelled; airplane seats are 17 inches wide and are expected to accommodate my shoulders which a quick check reveal are 22 inches across. Put three of those together and the space is 15 inches shy. How can one be comfortable? Then there is the leg room. I am six feet three and the leg room is not even close to being tolerable.  There is also the hassle of finding a place for your carry-on bag. Many passengers bring way too much stuff and securing overhead space is competitive. There is little to no food service. Flying just isn’t what it used to be.

My mind goes back to the early seventies when we would take Western Airlines out of Alaska. They were called the “Champagne flights”.- you were served as much champagne as you wanted.  You would have a choice of entrées of beef, chicken, or veggie. And when you flew to the West Coast one could add an extra leg to Hawaii for ten dollars. Yes, that’s right. Ten dollars and a triangle flight would be yours. Flying was a pleasure. Seats were wider and leg room was plentiful. That was when the airlines were regulated. It seems that they responded to deregulation about as well as Wall Street – the customer suffered.

At any rate – I don’t like to fly anymore. Whenever a trip is suggested I try to think of a way to get out of the flight part. Thus, my interest in a road trip started to grow. We decided to visit our daughter in Sutter Creek, California at Christmas which is about 900 miles south of here. It seemed  that if we went that far we could just as well go a bit farther. We had a home exchange offered to us in Scottsdale, Arizona just a couple of days farther south. A road trip seemed to be presenting itself.

Then there are these friends in Ruidoso, New Mexico, Panama City and Sarasota Florida, and relatives scattered in between. Perhaps a couple of other home exchanges could be arranged in San Antonio, New Orleans, Charleston or Savanna and somewhere around Washington DC. Now we had a real trip starting to take form. We have a rough outline of our route – at least part of it. Some major points of interest are fixed, but we want to allow for change of heart as well as direction.

We had the start date established by Christmas in Sutter Creek. The return date was flexible. We are retired. We shouldn’t loose sight of that. Why retire and not take full advantage of all the perks? We could choose the length of time to travel. What a lucky position in which to be. We should take full advantage. Thus the trip still remains open ended as to length of time away from home.

The trip will also serve the purpose of satisfying my wife’s wish for a long road trip. She has suggested this many times over the past few years but it seemed to have always gotten eliminated by some other plan; perhaps a different type of trip, visitors coming our way, or perhaps a project that would require our attention elsewhere.

So that’s the plan. We will be able to see family, friends and parts of the country we have never visited. We will be able to listen to street music in New Orleans, prowl the Everglades, and walk along the mall in Washington DC. I’m sure many retired folks have something similar in mind. I will try to include an update of our adventures as we move along with the planning, actualization and reflection.

This is Retirement Talk.