Why We Travel

People have asked if we have a reason behind our travels.  Normally we just call it an ultimate bucket list trip, but there’s a bit more behind it.

Growing up, my parents made sure we went ‘somewhere’ during our summer breaks.  Even if it was just a drive up to the Shenandoah Parkway or a trip to Virginia Beach, they made certain we didn’t just sit in Richmond (Virginia) all the time.  I think it is in our genes, as Mom lived in Minnesota most of her life, then moved to California with her parents, then Oregon then after my older brother and I were born, moved once again to Virginia.  Dad went even farther, being from Los Angeles, but living all over the place after he got out of the Army, before settling in Virginia.  And having done our family tree, the rest of our ancestors were travelers too.  When we were all adults, my folks moved to Florida, so we followed them.  For some of us, Florida felt like home.  Others moved back to Virginia.

During the last 15 or so years, medical problems began to pop up.  I got breast cancer for the first time the year before we moved to Florida.  Finished treatment with Mom and Dad by my side the entire time, then Mom and Dad went back to traveling, including a 80 day cruise around Europe and RVing around the country.  Then, after several years in Florida, Dad got diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease.  Fast forward a few months and he and I were back in the hospital, him for complications from the auto-immune disease, me with breast cancer again.  We both got better, though Dad continued his fight with his chronic disease.  Then, in August of 2015, we lost my dad.  This hit Mom hard.

Six months later (April 2016), I was back in the hospital.  Come to find out, all those treatments for breast cancer did a number on my heart.  I now have congestive heart failure along with a few other issues.  But, after 3 months of treatment, we got my heart back up to the low end of normal and my cardiologist said I was good to travel.  This is when we did our prequel trip.  We figured out we really enjoyed traveling together.  Oh, sure we have our spats.  I mean, you’re traveling with someone who knows you better than any one else.  And I don’t care how old you are, if your Mom uses your middle name, you know you’re in trouble, whether you’re 4 or 41.

Mom is getting up in age, close to the age when her mother passed.  Of course, sometimes she’s able to do more than I can, so I can’t see the aging affecting her.  Sure, she can’t drive due to some vision issues and if we were ever pulled over and she was asked to walk a straight line, she’d be hauled off to the drunk tank even if she were stone cold sober, but she’s the driving force behind our travels.  She also is keeping me out of working in some office where every day would be pushing me closer and closer to the end of my physical abilities at a break-neck speed.

We poke and tease each other (yes, I do still yell out ‘DINNER’ when we drive by broken tire pieces on the side of the road while she still uses the dreaded middle name) and basically drive each other crazy, but there isn’t anything or anywhere else I’d want to be.  So, we will pack up Red Rover once again and hit the road while we still can.  Because life is too short not to travel.  Or, to quote that sage philosopher Jimmy Buffet, “I’d rather die while I’m living, than live while I’m dead”.

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The Thrill of the (travel) hunt

While flexibility is one of the key components required for living this roaming lifestyle, one of the biggest thrills comes from the planning.  With our trusty road atlas in hand, Mom and I both settle in to search for our next destination.

With a bit of help from Bing in judging distances between places, we find a couple options and search both AirBnB and Hotels.com, keeping in mind any place that could earn us stuff.  I’ve joined multiple hotel chains’ rewards clubs, several gas clubs and a couple different grocery store chains to find the best deals.

With this in mind, we’re going to be staying in fancy casinos, tiny houses, dude ranches, boat houses, and Old West style cabins.  We’ll ride on trains and stay near beaches.  We’ll watch the sun set over farms.  We’ll hear the thunder of the falls and the quiet of the mountains. Also, we’ll dig for diamonds, watch a rootin-tootin’ Wild West show, ride a horse, and might even find ourselves on a corner in Winslow, AZ.

And yet with every reservation we make, we know that there is a good possibility we’ll have to change our plans. (Thank goodness for free cancellations).  We weren’t supposed to see my cousin on this trip and yet, because of a…ahem…sh*##y situation, we ended up enjoying both his restaurant and time with him and his family.  Weather happens and since there has yet to be invented an app that allows you to control the weather, we’ve adjusted.  Some days, there’s plenty of things to do and others, nothing.  Thank goodness for E-books.

So now, as we pack up to head back out tomorrow, we keep our eyes on the road before us, while looking for interesting turn offs.  Because you never know…