Here, on this post, we both address the question “Why are we doing this?”. For some, the answer is obvious. They know why. Others, well, we just might be sharing a bit of inspiration to get you going on your own Tramper Voyage. We’ll explain how we, ordinary middle class people with debt, are able to do this, in another post.
We didn’t read each other’s entries so there may be duplications.
Why?: Well of course, haven’t you ever wished your vacation would last “just a few more days”? I like to play. If you know me well enough though, you’ll concede I love to work too. Balancing both is not an automatic function for me. I often have to remind myself to leave work, to not go see “one more patient”, or to just sit still for a change. My most common activity after a full day at work is to stuff in a meal, head for my workshop and attack some project or home repair until just minutes before going to sleep. I’m told I have 2 speeds, busy and asleep. Most of our biggest home projects (including several of over 400 hours) were all completed while also working full-time and without investing significant vacation time into them. It is this same drive that completed the camper and safening-up the truck just before this adventure.
With this zeal, I bike, ski, hike or just plain have fun. I find laughter easily and love nothing more than to share it. In the 80’s I moved to Silverthorne, Colorado and taught skiing, such that I skied 183 days in one year. Some of my skiing peers left the Rockies for South America or New Zealand for Winters there. Play can be a way of life. Teaching all abilities and ages of people is an avenue into their joys and ways. I know from those days that too much work dulls me. PT has held my interest longer than any other career or job and I expect it will do so for many more years to come.
Jane and I imagined some of this trip to follow “retirement”, that traditional time when we would have more time, to have earned enough money to “stop working”. In the hospital I see the tragic reality of people not being well enough to get out there and do those things they’ve planned. Jane’s Cancer shook our world. It could come back any time, or I could find one of my own. Or, I could “get hit by a bus” as they say.
I wanted to go from place to place, adventure to adventure and not agonize over a “vacation ending too soon”. So many times I go to some incredible place or just meet a great group of people there and have to “rush back on Monday for work”. I feel anyone who can arrange a dream deserves to try it.
I love the world. I love mountains, streams, valleys and the variety found in nature. A mountain vista is not a coffee-table book to look at. I love to be a part of it, to sweat the work of uphills, and generally just to say “weee!” I love to share that glee and my overall zest for life.
If I felt any need to “justify” this much fun, and I don’t, I would think back to my 23 credit semester in undergrad. I would think back to grinding through Physical Therapy School at University of Maryland, Baltimore. I would think about coming in early, leaving late at work everywhere I’ve ever worked. Or being oily and covered with various grits or metal dusts as a machinist. Wearing earplugs, eye protection and a respirator for eight hours makes for a long day. I always seem to throw myself into projects or jobs, so its only natural to throw myself into this.
Some other dreams of mine simmer still. They include sailing the Intracoastal Waterway. Riding a motorcycle on a cool trip. Introducing people to some of the many skills I’ve been blessed with. Growing more of my own food, raising animals for milk or meat. None of these are off the table. I hope you have a bunch of your own dreams too. The “daily grind” sort of camouflages and envelopes dreams. Credit cards pound your possibilities lower. The biggest dream killer is “evaluation”, thinking “I can’t do that”. Other people are often incredulous; listen to them too much and that can stop you too.
Another big motivator is our own surprise in our “fifties” at our current ability to bike, hike, and ski. With a little pre-season prep, a sensible plan and tempered paces we “go for six hours and more”. We can’t imagine this duration or intensity at 65 or 70 years old. Our midlife career changes almost guarantee we’ll be working way past 62. So, there is NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT! We are in the Tramper Voyage, an adventure of a lifetime. Join us if you can, whether online, in spirit or at any stop along the way.
Many years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I went on vacation to the Outer Banks every September. Our group of several young couples rented an isolated beach house. We stayed on the beach all day and prepared gourmet meals in the evening in the spacious house. It was idyllic, to say the least. I remember with what great longing I wanted my life to always be like our Hatteras weeks. Leisure, exercise, lots of time outdoors, visiting with friends. Reality always called me painfully back to the world of working, home maintenance, traffic and bill-paying.
But, then, inevitably, I grew up. Maturity cast a hazy distance over those free, wild weeks of my youth. I became totally engaged and happy with child-rearing and returning to college for a career I loved.
Years passed and, being a realist, I thought little about the life of leisurely exploring the beautiful world around all of us. Oh, there were trips and vacations aplenty. Wonderful trips into the wild or off on a bike or to a child’s playground. But, always there was a returning, too soon, to the “real” world.
But, over time, things happen that offer lessons. Lessons about how fragile and short life is. Lessons like the one my brother-in-law, Ed, taught me. Ed worked very long and very hard at his job as an investment banker. His dream was to live on the water and roam around on a boat. They bought the house on the water, but soon after, Ed was diagnosed with lymphoma. He died before he could enjoy the boat and take it out on the sea. The boat’s name? “SOMEDAY”. Ed’s ‘someday’ never happened.
As a health care worker, I see many people who retire only to find that they can no longer do the things they loved because of sickness or infirmity. Sometimes, sickness or infirmity happen very shortly after the long-awaited retirement date. So, there’s a lifetime of working and, of necessity, putting off ‘someday’. Then ‘someday’ never comes.
Some of the lessons we got at our jobs were joyful ones, of course. Like patient Louis C, who, well into his ninety’s, was as spry and quick-witted as you could want to be. Witnessing his sparkle, he would be asked for his secret. He summed it up thusly: “Don’t let the chair get ya!” Good advice, for daily living and good health. But it’s also good advice for life, especially if you paraphrase a bit to “Don’t let the negative get ya!”
Then, two days before Christmas in 2009, I got the hardest lesson of all. Stage 3 breast cancer. A very difficult year followed.
David and I had been talking about taking a sabbatical before the cancer diagnosis. Kind of a mini pre-retirement while we could still ski and mountain bike the way we like. Not a real sabbatical where they hold your job for you. Maybe even pay you a stipend? No, not that kind. A long trip. Longer than 2 weeks; longer that 8 weeks. Maybe for six months to a year!
Long enough to immerse ourselves in nature, to acclimate ourselves to be physically as strong as we can be, to ingratiate ourselves into the lives of far-flung family and friends and to indulge ourselves in seeing and experiencing some of the most beautiful things this country has to offer.
After cancer came calling, our resolve was strengthened. We bought a trailer. David spent two years fixing it up. We did the math and determined that we had just enough money for our trip. We dreamed of where we’d go.
Then, the ultimate step that made it all real: We quit our jobs!
On September 15, 2012 we pulled out of Towson, overloaded and overjoyed!
(PS – I was feeling down one day, letting the negative run away with me, and I wrote this paragraph, which is now funny and completely unworthy of this blog post:
“People who do not take tramper voyages don’t go because they’re afraid of what might happen or because they think they can’t afford it. People don’t go on tramper voyages b/c they know that crap, ridiculous crap, happens everywhere. Things you buy turn out to be crap, services you depend on turn out to be unreliable, people let you down, no matter if you’re on an extended vacation or fully in the rat race. It’s very disappointing to experience this crap when you’ve set up your expectations that things will go well, because you feel you’ve done such a good job of insulating yourself. People don’t go on tramper voyages because they know that crap follows you everywhere.”)
Loved reading “Why this trip?” from both of your perspectives. I am 59 1/2 and thinking I will continue work until 62 – mostly for health insurance reasons – but I am already on reduced time so ready for longer vacations. C. is 50 with a flexible schedule (he’s his own boss) so we are both seeing the value of “someday” being now. On our trip through Marathon we also met a group of RVers who had taken early retirement. They all seemed so young . . . and happy! It just seems that when I was growing up – so many just worked so hard for so long – and now one of the good things is that more people realize – don’t put everything off. Mix some fun into your life, either with early retirement, taking time off for awhile, or reducing of a work schedule.
When talking about positive vs. negative I was reminded of this (link below).
I’d lean towards the postive for sure . .. but maybe there is room for a little negative as well – to put things in perspective. I always think . . , without the negative – there would be no positive.
Yes Cathy, we too pondered. Unfortunately in the hospital we work with a skewed population. In a 500 bed hospital lie 500 of the sickest people in the area. Nowhere are you shown or reminded of the 2.5 million “Baltimoreans” or wherever who aren’t sick. So there you are, day after day, caring for people who may or may not ever have quality of life again. The national focus here seems always to be acquisition and accumulation. Even to the old indebted and third-mortgaged extent. We realized that we can now jump and skip like heck and may not tomorrow. One of my last few patients before this trip had, on his first day of retirement, fallen off a ladder cleaning the leaves from the gutter. Shattered his tibia and damaged his tibial artery bad enough to require amputation. So there he is, 62 and ready to start his “retirement” with 1-2 years of rehab to acclimate to a prosthesis. I love work and look forward to going back soon, but boy is this fun. Maybe in a few bill-paying years, start to work at some resort or recreation-based job…Spread the joy!
I have now read all your blogs and am up to date! Very fun and I look forward to more.
Yes, I like that saying “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.”
Also, the care giving careers would require some major re-charging time I would think. I used to teach special education and now am a computer programmer. Stress is there but it’s a different kind.
I noticed somewhere that you planned to eventually go to the Upper Peninsula. I am not sure if you have been before, but we went for the first time last summer in August and stayed a couple of weeks. We stayed in Munising and hiked around Pictured Rocks and found a book store we really liked there – Falling Rock Book Store and Cafe. We also stayed at Copper Harbor a few days and there is apparently fantastic mountain biking there. I hiked some of those trails and they looked really really hard to me – but since you are mountain bikers I bet you would love them. And apparently there is a bike shop in town that has a map for easy vs. hard, etc. Our main purpose was some rock that C. wanted to find. We drove around and searched old tailings piles – but never found the rock we wanted – so guess we will have to go back some day soon. We loved it and it sounds like your kind of place, too.
Here is to your continued safe travels, more fun, and meeting lots more nice people. It is so very nice to hear lots of good things.
Thanks, Cathy, for all your good info and good wishes! We haven’t been to the UP so the things you mentioned will be very, very helpful
I hope so. It is a very special place but then I see you are finding lots of those. I guess places are special in their own way. Here in Dallas – it would be hard to say what is so special. Fortunately for us we have a little niche in E. Dallas close to White Rock Lake and we’ve taken up sailboat racing. We too would rather gather experiences than possessions. We also don’t have smart phones . .. I think you said that somewhere that you did not either and I like it that it seems you are experiencing more and not necessarily glued to your devices. lol. So many people are. We decided we didn’t want phones smarter than we are. 🙂 Besides I am at the computer enough for work so better get outside and play while we have a sunny day here!
I enjoy hearing your “why” story! I have learned that everyone who travels has a why and I love to hear tit! Thanks for being open and honest! I am glad we are neighbors (but I wish it was a little warmer so we could all be outside together more)!
Gabe, Marci and gang
We’ve just begun reading your blog also. Its great, really love the pics of the boys in action. Can’t wait to ski with you-all. At one time I thought about giving up on the Eastern skiing, then realized that would have meant doing it a LOT less. besides, you only make one turn at a time! Jane and I love sharing those green and blue trails…SUCH GLEE! we would love to visit more too. We’ve been in the common room a couple of nights this week. Omar has it heated a lot warmer than when we arrived. We’re working on a puzzle of all things.
-David (pack up some Lego and come on down if you see the lights on, that’d be a lot more fun)
Hi guys! I wrangled your website address out of Olivia at a community meeting. Wrangling isn’t actually true, she was more than happy to give it to me, and you probably had already anyway! That’s the beauty of Lyme, all things are new again! 🙂 Though I’m late to the party, I’m glad to finally be here! I’m so pleased to finally see your site. I did spot your camper at home in the fall at one point, and then realized that you were probably passing through and just stopping home to say, “Hi!”, and so you were.
I love what you’re doing. I think it’s fabulous. I never knew that I would develop Lyme when I was still in my 40s and have it misdiagnosed and over a decade later still be struggling with it, unable to do the smallest of trips now. This past year has been an odyssey for me as well. It’s been a year of reassessing where I am and where I’m going, and along the way looking back at many wonderful memories of treks from the past. For some reason this past year they’ve become quite vivid, like pictures that I feel I can step into with all of my senses as if I were actually in those places and doing those things again. I’m seeing a new physician, a naturopath, and I have a lot of hope. I’ve also learned a lot about the kind of voyaging that one can do from their own home, though I won’t lie and that say that I wouldn’t love to do what you’re doing. I would, and I still hope to!
I’m always in awe of all the work you two do and how you both see the limitless possiblities of life and make them happen. I smile every time I walk or drive past your house. Did you know that?
Thanks for sharing your odessey with us all!
Hi Laurie! It’s so good to hear from you and I’m glad that things seem to be moving in a good direction. We’re glad to share via the blog posts. It’s been fun writing them! Be well and keep making vivid memories…
I loved reading about your journey…so far! I was turned on to your blog from a fellow mountain bike club member in Lawrence, KS, that posted your info on our club email. You’re both very inspiring in your thoughts and actions. I wish you guys the best in your journeys!
Steve, Thanks so much for the support. When we finalized a few take-off details and gave 6 weeks notice to quit our jobs (I was a PT in a hospital with pretty good hopes now of getting another job), It felt very indulgent. we felt like it was kind of all about us….then as we started traveling and telling the tale we realized it is kind of inspiring! Lots of people liked some version of the idea and we started meeting others out there living differently. (Like hosts at National and State Parks, free rent and utilities) ANyway, whatever the dream…its worth chasing for awhile while we still “ride the rocks” At 51, I don’t mind a long hard ride or occasional crash…may be a little more fearful when/if I ever reach “retirement age”. If you ever get East, drop a line, we’ll show you around some nice trails.
David and Jane
How fortuitous that we ran into you last weekend after 35 years. Good to see that David’s unfatigable energy lives on, and he has found a wonderful spouse who can channel it so positively. I’m willing to bet that returning to B-more and readjusting to life here was the hardest part.
Reading your blog brought back many memories of Roberta’s and my 1.5 year journey vagabonding around the world from 1986-1987. We chucked our TV, put a similar (world map) up on the wall, and started planning with pins in the map for a year – following the good weather from SE Asia to N Africa to Europe. We did not have a major camper rebuild to complete first, otherwise I don’t think we could have made it! Many of the reasons you cite in the “Why this trip” rang true with us then, and still make sense today. Hope we can visit and see the Tramper some day.
Rick yes, shock and awe. days it was like we never left…Sinai hired me back! Days we knew more than ever. We unknowingly bounced into a “Food and Shelter” mode. Vegan (mostly), a new floor, new roof, and painting our house kept me busy last Summer. This year we hope to get more biking, kayaking and hammocking done!
I’d love to see your Asia/Africa/Europe pics…telling your tales would pique great memories I’m sure! (1986-7 I was teaching skiing at Copper Mt Colorado..183 days on skis in one year. Life Rocks!) …and I am thankful for energy and Jane every day!