Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 869 Winter Road Trip

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

A road trip someone said. "Yes," I replied. I love a road trip. In retirement we have taken so many  I have lost count. Regular listeners will have noticed the podcasts have been few and far between the last month. That is how long we were on the road. I took equipment to continue podcasting along the way but I had problems with it. And we were busy. Seems like I never really had time to sit down and write and record. Sorry.

But now I feel like I must relate a few lessons learned on this winter trip. They might help you think about ramifications if you may someday consider taking off during the cold season.

I have to emphasize that a road trip in the spring, summer or fall is much different than one in the winter. One of the most noticeable changes is the number of hours available for day light driving. The dark releases into daylight much later in the morning in the winter. We all know that. But when on a road trip it takes on special meaning. , You, or I should say, we have a hard time getting going when it is dark. We tend to sleep later.

The wheels on our rig never rolled before 9am. And they also never rolled after 5pm. It was dark by then. And our old eyes didn't  like fighting bright headlight beams. That adds up to 8 hours of driving time.

But the purpose of a road trip for us is to see the country, the buildings, the mountains, the rivers, the canyons, the wild horses, the antelope, etc. etc. We stop. We have to stop. We have to walk a bit in the desert, among the sage brush, up and down the rocks, across the snow fields, down Main Street. There are so many places that entice us to stop. So we stop. Many times I found myself backing up and backing up to see something a little better that we had just passed.

Another basic rule of life for us is to stop whatever we are doing at 11am. That is time we devote to our health. We exercise. We always exercise - walking, biking, strength training, rowing or some other physical activity. It never happened on this road trip. We never had time.

I mean we felt like we couldn't take time. After stopping for all the other reasons given we rarely make 100 miles in the mornings. Then we tried to meet a goal of around 300 mile days. That rarely happened either.

On the other hand, it was beautiful. The countryside was stark and sometimes snow lit the day. We were in the west - Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada. It was often a mix of desert sand and snow draped mountains.

We did sprinkle in stops at our daughters in California and saw two of my siblings in the Phoenix area. By the way, it was cold and rainy in Phoenix. I know it is not supposed to be but it was. Everyone said, "This is just so unusual. We are all so happy that we are having rain." We weren't so happy.  We drove through driving rain all the way through Washington state both going and coming. We were looking for sun.

We did enjoy the silence and lack of other tourists. Sometimes we were the only guests at viewpoints, pull offs, museums, and in the restaurants and motels. Several times we were the only guests. These situations always brought up the Bates Motel story from "Psycho".

It was amazing to drive for many miles and not see or hear another car. The west is big. It was always satisfying to stop the car and step into the silence of the desert. We got good views of real wild horses in northern Nevada.

I should mention that this road trip like many others of ours included a couple of Home Exchanges. We had one place in Gilbert, Arizona for a week. It was a beautiful, well furnished large house next to a golf course and close to bike trails. It rained all but two days while there but we did enjoy a couple days and sun and biking on the trails that run along the canals.

The other exchange was located right downtown in Phoenix. It was a very small, vintage furnished apartment. It was minimal in almost every way but it was so well located that we loved it. Close to restaurants and the very heart of the city. The finals of the college football playoff were happening and we enjoyed the celebratory activities. It was an unexpected pleasure.

We did enjoy some sunshine while living downtown. We were able to take advantage of the bike sharing system the city provides. Bikes are locked up downtown in many different locations. With a phone app and a credit card you can rent these by the hour. Ride wherever you like and then park at another bike station. You are charged only when you are rolling. We roamed around the city and parks I think almost every day.

Then there was the Musical Instrument Museum. We were told by a friend to not miss it. We left it to the last day but we're so glad we got there. We stayed in the afternoon until they kicked us out at five. I've never seen anything like it. It reminded me of the LBJ Museum in Austin. I had been told the same about it. "Make sure you visit it". Well, we left it until the last day and then we're so glad we saw it. We thought it was the high point of our visit to Austin a few years ago. Well, we felt the same way about the Musical Instrument Museum.

We probably will not take any more winter road trips. When we got home a mixture of restaurant eating and lack of exercise had added five pounds to each of us. Stepping on the scale was not pleasant. At this time in life our health usually takes precedence over most other things. Maybe if we stay west of the Sierra's we will avoid the snow and cold and live to drive down that lonely road again.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery with something to think about. We left our winter road trip glad that we took it but realizing it is much different than a warm weather road trip.

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