I’m sitting here on a very cold Sunday afternoon, 3 days into 2010, and thinking about how much my life has changed in the past 12 months. Watching the news shows this morning as they did their ‘year in review,’ I realized that there are year’s that are defining and year’s that just seem to ‘pass by’ without much change. For me, 2009 was not a year that ‘passed by’.
This time last year I was sitting on the island of St. Kitts in the Eastern Caribbean, questioning why I was so unhappy being Peace Corps volunteer – something I had wanted to do since I was in college. Was it the escalating violence on the island with no safety measures in place to protect us, or the rules and regulations that this antiquated government program has never changed to allow for the influx of ‘baby boomers’ they are so aggressively recruiting? Both lead to my resigning early and returning to the States with my future totally up-in-the-air. Here I was, a 62-year old retired woman, no job, no home (it was still rented), and not a clue about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
I thought maybe I wanted/should try to find a partner. A man who was smart, could carry on an intelligent conversation, enjoyed traveling, laughing, a round of golf, sipping a glass of wine and walking hand-in-hand along a white-sand beach. For 30 years I had been blessed with a husband who liked to do all those things. But now that would mean actually finding and meeting someone who fit those qualifications – and how and where do you do that at my age? Dating really sucks – and even when I have tried, it’s proven not worth all the hard work! I realized I can do, and enjoy all of these things by myself or with my girlfriends!So I’ve eliminated this as a likely scenario, though I know my son’s would love for me to find someone to ‘look after their crazy mother!’
Then I was asked, and actually considered restarting ‘Stitches, Great Fiber Getaways’, the tour business designed for fiber-lovers that I ran for 20+ years. But I no longer had a partner to share the very hard work this entails and I also realized I had ‘been there and done that.’ And shouldn’t life be about growing – seeing and doing and learning something new?
Then I had this little idea which was sparked by Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” CBS series from year’s ago. On the curvy road to Burnsville, down the mountain from my house in Penland, NC is one of the ‘landmarks’ that had caught Mr. Kuralt’s eye and caused him to stop to chat with the homeowner’s. It’s a mailbox which is mounted on a very tall flagpole and has a little sign that says “for airmail only.”
Every time I dove by that mail box it made me smile and remember that interview. Mr. Kuralt had been ‘on the road’ in his RV for just over a year at that time and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful to just travel the back roads of this big, beautiful country, stopping when and wherever I wanted to just chat with the people who live along those roads?’ So this little idea began to germinate. I had nowhere to live, all my furniture was in storage, no one was hiring old, or even young people and I realized this was the time to fulfill the last big dream I harbored – traveling the U.S. and seeing up close the many places I had never seen.
So now we’re back to where I started this blog last March when I drove West and purchased Winnie, my ‘home on wheels’ and began actually traveling those interesting and beautiful backroads.
I’ve met so many wonderful,interesting people along my journey so far. I’ve made friends who will be friends forever. Sue & John from Lake Tahoe that I met in a tiny campground in central Illinois, Laura & Mark from upstate New York who were my ‘neighbors’ in WY for a few weeks, and the fabulous Berlo sisters who let me join their ‘sisterhood’ and have made my stay in FL a truly, memorable experience. There is Bob & Sue, Jeff & Julia, Ed & Marie, Sue in Moab and I could go on and on. I’ve learned all about work/camping and have had 2 fabulous bosses and one real jerk, realizing that this is a really fun way to live and work for short periods of time because you are in a location you choose!
During the past 10 month’s I’ve been asked over and over why I, as a single, older woman, live this way, without a real mailing address or ‘real roof’ over my head. People have even used the word ‘brave’ when describing how I live. But I would never consider myself brave. There are 1000’s of single women – and men, and even more couples, who travel across the country, loving this way life for the freedom it gives us.
Maybe each of us have been bitten by what I call the waunderlust bug. We all yearn to see what lies around the next bend in the road. To stand under redwood trees that tower above us or wiggle our toes in sand on the edge of a sea; to follow a line of massive combines across the wheat fields of the Dakota’s or to stand within arm’s length of a huge, hairy buffalo; only by getting up and actually ‘going’ allows us to have these experiences. And how we love to GO!
I must admit that I’m getting antsy to ‘move on’ though I have 3 more months left on my contract here in Panama City Beach. I’ve sent for and received all types of brochures about what I’ll be able to see and do when I move to the Oregon coast this May. I’m looking forward to the 3000 mile trek across the country to get there – I’ve chosen and re-chosen my route at least 5 times and know it will change many times before I actually start driving. Just thinking about the places I’ll see and the people I’ll meet along the way is exciting.
I want to thank those of you who follow this blog that I don’t even know. The web is amazing and it brings the world and new friends into our homes via our computers. I hope you will continue to enjoy ‘traveling along with me’ as I continue to share with you what I’m doing and seeing along the highways and byways of our huge, diverse and beautiful country.
I wish each of you a 2010 filled with happiness, good health, love, joy and prosperity.
Until next time….take care of each other.
(Would love to say the wonderful picture of the fireworks is mine, but it’s not. Take on New Year’s Eve in Vancouver, photographer unknown – I just loved it and wanted to share the sparkle!)