Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 251 Road Trip Reflections

Anticipation, actualization and reflection are the three key steps in developing a cult of  happiness according to the Epicureans. We have just finished our extended road trip to the Southwest and it is hard for me to think about reflection. The anticipation and actualization were so very enjoyable it is hard to think that reflection even need be considered. But...

This is Retirement Talk.

It is not easy to get me out of town. One of the reasons we choose this place to retire was that we would have little reason to travel. Bellingham is a medium sized city located on Puget Sound. We have salt water at our door step and snow capped mountains visible from our windows. We have two major cities within an easy drive. A university in the heart of the town and bike trails meandering throughout the town. One of my goals in retirement was not to travel.

But, travel we do. Not often, but perhaps two or three times each year I am convinced to pack a bag and head down the road. I try to limit the plane travel to one trip per year. I am not a fan of the flying process. It just seems like a big mass of people being herded into slaughtering pens and then confined in very marginal quarters for hours. Nothing pleasant here.

Road trips have become our preferred method of travel. We drive an eleven year old Lexus SUV. It is super comfortable. We go slow. We take our bikes. This road trip was a joy each and every day. We were on the road 37 days. Our trip included three home exchanges; Salt Lake City and then St. George in southern Utah and lastly in Tucson, Arizona. Each of the home exchanges was great. It is so nice to not be located in the tourist zones. It is relaxing to unpack and stay unpacked for 5 or 6 days in one place. We get out the bikes and explore the areas. We find good coffee shops and take our time wandering around points of interest. Like the library in Salt Lake City, Snow Canyon and the site of the Mountain Meadow Massacre out of St. George and the University of Arizona or Sabino Canyon in Tucson. Time to walk slowly, bike randomly or sit and watch makes all the difference in travel pleasure.

We choose to travel in the fall on this trip. It was a difficult decision because it is beautiful where we live in the fall. But we now know that it was the right decision. It seems the whole country is beautiful in the fall. It was great to go to the Southwest in late September and early October. The quaking aspen leaves were aglow. The sage leaves in the desert were turning yellow and gold. The red dirt of the southwest contrasted with the fall colors to make it a picture takers paradise. We visited 7 national parks all worth visiting.  Bryce was my favorite

Of course in the fall schools have started and children are rare. Lines are not long and many times we found ourselves the only visitors to special scenes. Don't get me wrong, I like kids but I like a having a bit of silence sometimes. We were able to find this almost every where we went.

As we drove we listened to three audio books: Kabloona: Among the Inuit by Gontran de Poncins, The Trial by Kafka, and The Portrait of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wild. They were all enjoyable. We did start The Manchurain Candidate but it just seemed so out step with our mood that we abandoned it.  Late in the trip we started listening to music as we wheeled down the fine small roads that are lightly traveled. We tried to stay off the Interstates whenever we could.

The last few days of the trip we seemed to travel slower and slower. Seems like when I am home I never want to go anywhere. And when I am traveling I never want to stop. We were not anxious to get home. We stopped and bike into farm country over around Yakima, Washington. I'm sure most people would have just driven on home that afternoon and evening but we were willing to let the clock tick. Even the last day saw us lingering at orchards on the east side of the Cascades, stopping for a short nap in Stevens Pass and pausing for one last picture along Chuckanut Drive just five miles from our home.

A road trip - what a pleasure. I'm not sure what it cost us. Using home exchange and staying with our daughter in Sutter Creek, California meant that we had to pay for 13 nights lodging. We did't keep close tabs of dollars spent but I don't think it was a lot. We all have to eat weather we are at home or on the road. We did have to buy gas. And that isn't cheap but we are getting a trip out of the deal. We drove just over 5000 miles.. 

The best thing about a road trip: it is something different. Different roads, different views, different people. We break out of our mold. We don't get up at the same time; we don't eat lunch at the same time; we don't drink coffee at the same shop each day. We find that the world will not stop if we change our habits. We didn't listen to news casts or read newspapers. We were trying to enjoy life.

When we come home we are free to reassess. Do we want to continue with our daily routines? Are we doing what we really want with our lives? Are we living where we want to live?

A road trip offers us a chance to reexamine our lives - always a good thing to do.

This is Retirement Talk.



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