Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


283 Home Again

Home again - and it feels just right. Maybe that is the best thing about traveling. When you come home and get up the next morning and it feels just right. You are where you want to be. You have made at least one good choice in life.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Some of you regular listeners may have noticed that I just went three weeks without publishing a new podcast. In the five or six years I have been doing these this is the longest dry spell.

The cause: computer error. Or, perhaps it was my error. I did not have a surge protector hooked to my smallest laptop which I was going carry with me on the trip and would use for publishing as I went from place to place.I had prepped for the trip by installing all that I would need to continue podcasting on one small netbook and then the power surged. It shut my desktop computer down but it was protected. It came back on. No such luck with the netbook. It was blown.

I could have panicked and ran for the computer store and purchased another and struggled to load all the programs I would need for the road but it would have been a rush. And I do not like to rush. I took a deep breath and decided to let the podcast go.

But I am back - and it feels so good. That is one of the best things about any trip; that return home and the comfort that settles in the instant you walk in the door. The smells are familiar and friendly, the rooms are well known and comfortable, the views are inspiring in their own way. Everything says to relax.

The trip: I wanted to talk about the trip. What can I share that retired folks or anyone for that matter might find informative about travel?

Let me start with the decision to take the trip. Forty years ago we made a list of life goals: things we wanted to do if we had enough time, money and health. This was before the term 'bucket list' came into use. We called our list: "Things to do before we die". Among things on that list was a visit to New York City and a train trip across America. This trip filled the bill. We added Boston to the list because it is close to NYC and has so much history and culture of interest. And Chicago got on the list because I refused to fly all across the country without a break. I just don't like long flights.

We started planning months ago by selecting the time of year for our journey. We wanted it not to hot and not to cold. We wanted to go when it was not high tourist season. After talking to several people who had been there we selected late May and early June. And how did it work out? Perfect. It was a little hot a day or two and a little chilly a day or two but for the most part it was perfect.

We then started to contact home exchange members for possible house swapping possibilities. I have talked about this in former podcast - see Episode 037 Retirement and Home Exchange.  We had two exchanges owed us from last year when two New Yorkers visited our place. We contacted them and worked out dates that would be agreeable to them and would work with us. We were left with two days  between exchanges when we would have to rent a hotel. Not so bad we thought: just two nights.

We then wrote home exchange members in Boston for the time we would be there and secured a swap there. Things looked good.

A train trip home would allow us to avoid air travel on at least one of the legs of our trip. We had not check our old list but later we found it was listed as one of our life goals.

We again wrote for some home exchanges in the Chicago area. We secured and exchange there and we were ready to go. We packed our bags and that is when my computer burned. Not unaccustomed to thing going wrong at the last minute we adjusted and walked out the door with only an iPad. It would keep us in touch with the world but it would not allow for publishing podcasts. I would get a vacation from that aspect of my life as well.

One other complication came in the form of our home exchange in Chicago. It was a beautiful place right downtown and fit our needs completely. But our contact with the owners had evaporated about a month before the trip. We would write emails. We tried to contact them through their home exchange listing and all failed. We could not arrange for picking up the keys to the unit. What happened?

We had gotten a spam letter with their return email about a month earlier. We think that perhaps they cured the problem on their end by forwarding all email from some addresses, our included, into their spam folder or trash. Perhaps we had done the same. It was a technological screwup. We lost the exchange. We had to rent a hotel.

Once you have experienced the pleasure of home exchanges, hotels just can not compete. Not only do they cost a lot of money but the rooms seem so inadequate in every way. So our trip started out with this second glitch. From now on when we arrange an exchange we will get a personal phone number and a snail mail postal address to insure we don't loose contact once the ball is rolling.

We did adjust and accept our fate. We loved Chicago. We loved the neighborhoods and the biking. We walked and biked all over the downtown, the lake front and a couple of close residential neighborhoods. The people of Chicago have that midwestern sense of hospitality. They were so very friendly and helpful. They look you in the eye and speak with a sense of wanting to help. They love their city. It was clean and beautiful. But it was the midwest and we had left that part of America some forty odd years ago and were ready to take on The City - New York City.

I'll continue this travel report in the next episode.

This is Retirement Talk.

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