Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 307 Road Trip

Snow, rain, sleet and hail - we experienced them all. That is one thing about a road trip - change is always right around the corner or over the hill. The fields, the streams, the mountains, and the ever running road continuously surprises. This road trip took us over the Cascade Mountains in Washington State and over the plains and Palouse of central Washington and down into the Columbia river gorge.  In this first day we saw the snow, sleet, rain and hail. We bunked down at a great motel in The Dalles, on the mighty Columbia River. We walked to dinner at a Wellness Center right on the banks of the river. The wellness center is new and houses all sorts of facilities to keep one well: swimming pool, health club, naturopathic offices, cancer treatment center, physical therapy, etc. The wellness center also has a bistro that features only organic food and wine. We felt blessed.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowry.

Holidays always encourage family trips. Blood wants to mingle. We usually find ourselves headed south to Sutter Creeks, California where our daughter and family live. Sutter Creek is in the foothills of the Sierras just east of Sacramento. It straddles historic highway 49. Beautiful  rolling country; open fields with horses grazing, vineyards that are red and gold in the fall, and Oak trees that radiate fall colors. The roads are narrow and twisty. Lots of old historic towns inhabit the region. They all offer a sense of time gone by.

Our music discs go on before we get a mile from our door. They accompany us for the duration. They are mixed with our audio book selections. On this trip; Status Anxiety by Alain De Bottom going south. We liked this book so much we thought we would listen again on our way back north. And then in a glorious little used book store in Santa Rosa we came upon an audio book entitled The Essential Barack Obama featuring Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope. We were enthralled by his writing, his reading and his story. We only got through the first book. It was great to hear him read it.

We love to take a road trip  in our car thirteen year old car. We bought it for just this reason three years ago. It is a small SUV. It has room for all of our stuff including my guitar. We usually hang a couple of bicycles off the back. We researched on the web and got the car that was rated the best for safety, comfort and reliability. We still love traveling in it. It has fulfilled all of our wishes.

I know that many retired go for an RV on road trips but it has never appealed to us. We like to meet local folks as we travel and we do that on walks, in restaurants, coffee shops and motels. We strike up conversations with people who live where we are traveling. 

We drove on the little red & black roads as much as possible. We avoided Seattle and Portland. We would rather spend our time walking  around Bend, Klamath Falls, Santa Rosa or the beaches of Oregon. We aimed for the East side of Sierras on the way down and the California and Oregon Coast on the way back north.

We can point you to a great coffee shop in Yakima, Washington or in Bend, Oregon. In Bend there is Thump or another named Looney Bean. We also found great shops in Klamath Falls, Santa Rosa, Eureka, Lincoln City and Astoria. We rarely use those roadside drive-ins. We like to stop, stretch and check out the creative decor of a locally owned shop. We are rarely disappointed. On the Oregon Coast at a place called Ruthies we were treated to not only great coffee but also the beautiful tattoo art on the barista and her life story of being abused, married, divorced and yet raising four foster children.

Of course there is more to traveling than coffee shops. We love to stop and walk along the beaches or through the trails that might lead to a scenic overlook. This all ads up to not many miles being traveled each day. What some folks do in one or two days took us three. It means one more nights worth of lodging and some food. A small price to pay for a more enjoyable view of the country your passing through rather than just getting in the car and driving. Next time we will try to allow four days for the same trip or maybe five. We seem to always be driving past something that I want to stop and look at  but then say out loud, "We just aren't getting anywhere today. We have to keep driving. We are lucky to make three hundred miles a day. Next time I would like to plan lower than that to  two hundred.

When we were younger and first retired we use to take road trips with the car and a motorcycle. That is a good way to go. I road the cycle and Brenda drove the car. We would try to stop every fifty miles for a ten to fifteen minute break. Maybe time to take a little walk. Have a little snack or even a short nap. We didn't make many miles in those days either. That is another little negative about traveling in a comfortable car. One tends to just sit there and let the miles roll by. It takes determination to stay in control. Or to paraphrase an old quote from my dad, "Just because the car  is comfortable  doesn't mean you can't stop and take a walk".

One of my all time favorite books is entitled, "Small is Beautiful" by BF Schumacher. I like to think of travel along similar lines, "Slow is Better". I know people who pride themselves on how many miles they travel in one day. I have a hard time understanding  this type of living. I proudly recall biking with our kids in Ireland when they were still fairly young and one day out on the western Ring of Kerry we came upon this beautiful little town and beach. My daughter, who was probably 12 or thirteen at the time asked if we couldn't stop and spend the day.  I responded by saying we had only biked 5 miles that day. She came back with "But Dad, we are where we want to be. We are biking around Ireland". We stopped for the day.


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