Lately our attention has been focused on the final stages of transition. Moving sales, Craigslist, eBay, vehicle titles, Goodwill, item delivery, meeting friends, leaving — it’s been a whirlwind, and it was much more mentally taxing than we had anticipated. It was also a bit emotionally wrenching. Dixie, of course, shed a few tears here and there, and even gruff old curmudgeonly Glenn gets a bit misty-eyed now and then about leaving his Denton pals behind. And one thing that gets drowned out by the emotions and whirlwind of activity is the motivation behind it all. More than once we have had to stop and ask ourselves “Why are we doing this again?” And now that things have started to settle down a bit, it seemed like a good time to reconnect with the ‘why’ of it all
One of the reasons we are retiring early and hitting the road is to see the many awe-inspiring places of the world, some of which might not be there by the time we get to them. Most of the world’s glaciers are melting, including Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska. It has already receded greatly since we saw it in 2007. Islands may disappear, fire, erosion, suburban sprawl and vandalism can all mar the beauty of places. And every year there are attempts, many successful, to simply give away public land, land owned by us, the people, to corporations or other private interests. We’d like to see as much as possible while we still can.
Another factor in our decisions is simply age. We are much more able to hike and explore now than we will be in twenty years. And getting back into shape takes extra effort and time. And now we’ll have that time! No more job schedule to work around, no excuses either.
One other motivation is our desire to expand our minds. As much as we think we may have rebelled against our parents’ generation, the fact is that the vast majority of us simply move one or two steps away from the philosophies we grew up with. Religion, politics and general worldview rarely change drastically, but traveling helps to break down the walls that we imagine divide us. When we have announced travel plans in the past, inevitably the first thing we hear is a warning: ”Be careful!” This is usually followed with details, such as which parts of town to avoid, and possibly personal accounts of encounters with criminals. This was especially true when we went to New York in 2002, and we hear it almost every time we mention New Orleans. And yet we thoroughly enjoyed both cities, and we visit New Orleans every chance we get! When we visited Mexico in 2008 the warnings were even worse, and yet Dixie says that our trip there changed her life. Her existing stereotypes of that country and its people were shattered. It was a wonderful preview of our future journeys.
Finally, there are many countries, and many continents. Each one has a multitude of ‘must-see’ places, and yet there is only so much time, and only one life. We think we’d better get started!