Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 435(185)In Praise of Slow Traveling

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

I've titled this program "In Praise of Slow Travel"

“Lets stop” my daughter said after biking 5 miles one early morning. We were on a 6 week bike trip in Ireland and Wales and were on our 5th day. Our mantra had been that we were “where we want to be”. We discouraged setting demanding goals and biking fast. We accepted the rule that the speed of our group should be determined by the slowest biker. That was her. She was 12. Her older brother and his friend would just have to hold up. Mom and dad would be happy to take our time. But on this day after just 5 miles we stopped. We were on the Ring of Kerry in southwester Ireland and we spent the day in this small town with a beautiful beach and friendly people. It was a day well spent.

This past week we just finished a road trip in some western states and on driving days averaged around three hundred miles a day. We thought we had traveled pretty slowly until Saturday night when we had dinner with friends who had also returned from a road trip. They averaged 150 miles per day.

“We will start at the crack of dawn” is one of my favorite phrases. That means around 9 or 9:30. Driving after 5pm is rarely done. We like to stop; take pictures, walk on the beach, have lunch, find a local coffee shop, or jump on our bikes for a short ride.

I know some people who turn a road trip into an endurance contest. It reminds me of people who like to drink 32 ounce cokes. Quantity is what counts. They judge the success of the trip by how many miles they cover. We have a relative who takes great pride in the number of miles covered in one day: seven hundred miles, nine hundred miles. I have a hard time imagining it. He determines the number of gas stops and bathroom stops before the car ever leaves the driveway. And then, no matter the protest, he does not stop. His daughter-in-law was screaming in agony on one trip for a bathroom stop but he would not. I don’t understand.

When we left Alaska our daughter flew to Anchorage to accompany us on our road trip south. We were 40 miles out of Anchorage when we first pulled to the side of the road. The mountains were beautiful, a glacier could be seen off to our right. “Why are we stopping” she said. “We have over two thousand miles to go. We will never get there”.

“No need to rush life” I responded. This quote came to me from a bush pilot many years earlier in Alaska. It had become a household mantra whenever pressure was exerted to go faster than what was comfortable for anyone. We made it down the highway. She just had to adjust her expectations.

Now I’m thinking of following our friends lead and pulling in our daily driving distance expectations. It might be better to travel less miles per day. That's one of the advantages of retirement. We have time. More time that we have ever had. We can take an extra hour, and extra day, or an extra week. By retirement age life we have learned to accept limitations. We don’t have to drink a whole case of beer in one afternoon.

Just three hours ago we were strolling down the streets on Granville Island in Vancouver. We had just explored a newly established studio where two young women make brooms in the Shaker style. They only use two broom making tools and they are each over a hundred years old.

We strolled outside and within one block met this distinguished looking older gentleman with an expensive looking camera strapped around his neck. He had a determined look on his face as he rushed along this street amidst leisurely strolling tourist. My impulse was to step in front of him and ask him if he was enjoying his vacation. I didn’t but I wanted too. He may find a heart attack waiting at the end of his aggressive trip.  

Retirement gives us time to breath, time to letup, time to push back from the table and sit in quiet repose. We should know by now that we aren’t really going anywhere. We may as well take our time.


This is Retirement Talk.



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