Retirement Talk for Boomers, Seniors and Retirees

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Episode 109 Road Trip – Part 2 - The Vehicle

We stopped every fifty miles and poured another quart of oil into my car. Twenty-four cans of oil and twelve hundred miles later we were in Colorado Springs; that’s the way the trip went driving west from Iowa in the summer of 1962. It was a road trip and the car was a l954 Ford. It was robin-egg blue and had been chopped, lowered and leaded in. It looked great. When I bought it from a friend he had me get on the ground and look underneath while the engine was running. “See that oil?” he asked. “The engine runs great, but there is that major oil leak." He went on, “It will get you to Colorado as long as you stop every fifty miles and add a quart.” The car cost me fifty dollars and the oil three dollars and sixty cents. Imagine, 24 quarts of oil at 15 cents a quart?

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

The road trip that this podcast wants to examine will not be taken in a car like that, nor will the costs incurred be anywhere similar. When my wife and I decided on this road trip during our retirement years we cast about for ideas as to what kind of a vehicle suited us the best.

Considerations included a vehicle that could be maintained almost anywhere in the country in case of a break down or mechanical problems. We presently own a Saab four door sedan and love it, but we have found that it can be difficult to service if problems occur in the middle of the country. On one of our last trips we had a towing bill of over three hundred dollars when we had to be towed from Cody, Wyoming to Billings, Montana.

We wanted a rig that was relatively safe. We wanted airbags and all of that other fancy stuff. And as well as safety we wanted a bit of comfort. When one decides to take a road trip that could last a few months comfort becomes important.

And then there were our bicycles. We just couldn’t live without them. We didn’t want to ignore exercise while on the road. Plus, biking is an excellent way to get around an area and see it a bit better than being confined inside a vehicle. Whatever we decided on had to be able to accommodate two bikes.

We wanted a rig that would be able to accommodate a lot of other stuff – my guitar, computer, paints, and perhaps camping stuff. We would also need to pack clothing for all four seasons. Space would be needed.

We looked at RVs for a short time. I should say that I looked. Brenda was not interested even in looking. She has never been interested in traveling in one of those. One major reason we have both shied away from an RV is because one has it when the trip is over. What to do with it? She refuses to even think of parking it in the driveway. Of course there is the initial expense of purchase and then taxes, insurance, gas consumption, etc.


Another major reason we have kept away from an RV experience is the camp ground atmosphere or experience. When we travel to Montana, we like to talk to people who live in Montana. We like to stop in local restaurants, coffee shops and hotels. When we go to Louisiana we want to talk to people who live in Louisiana. I have heard lots of tales of campground life and meeting the different people there who come from all over. I can understand why that might be enjoyable but that just isn’t why we travel. We really prefer to meet people who live in the areas we are passing through even if it is just for casual conversation.  Besides these things, every time we look into an RV I get claustrophobia. They just seem so confining. Plus there is the problem of driving a big rig and parking it. Today’s gas prices don’t help either. I have a friend that took one short trip this year in his RV. “What with these gas prices I’m not going very far from home,” he said. All in all, we never got very close to choosing an RV. I know people who really like them and they have their reasons. Those reasons just don’t resonate for us. An earlier podcast dealt with RV travel from some experts.

Considering all of our likes and dislikes we bought another car: a Lexus RX300. Not a new one. We are not rich. It is nine years old and has high mileage – just like my mechanic advised. We have sold our Saab and are still a one car family. The Lexus has very high ratings concerning safety, reliability and comfort. It also provides us with space for our stuff and with the addition of a bike rack we are set. It is a pretty fancy car, but it is older. It wasn’t expensive, and meets all of our demands. We will see how it works out on the trip.

The trip is one step closer to happening. We bought the car, had the new hitch and bike rack installed and Brenda made a map of the country that we can roll out and see where we are going; the major stopping points, the distance between them, and the places we will be staying – names, addresses, phone numbers and dates. I tried to find a map that would serve our needs and couldn’t find one. We ended up buying some big sheets of white paper and she just drew one. I wanted to be able to write on it.

The Epicurean Cult of Happiness is having its expected effect. The anticipation is making each day just a bit more satisfying and sometimes even exciting.


This is Retirement Talk.