Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Irwin's Party Photos

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Party On

So what does a couple who is getting ready for a one-year sabbatical do? Manage their work-related responsibilities, sell a building and all its furnishings, pack and prepare the vehicle, and...THROW A PARTY!

We did not want to miss the opportunity to celebrate Irwin's 80th birthday.
And so on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend a terrific group of people arrived at our home and, of course, accompanied by wonderful food -- with the requisite too much of it.
(We even forgot to serve the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake -- because there were so many other desserts and birthday cakes.)

There were new folks and local folks and folks who traveled a distance to be here, and incredible reunions (a bunch of out-of-town old friends who hadn't seen each other since Rebecca's bat mitzvah 14 years ago).

The weather was cooperative and most of us were in the yard, setup with extra tables and chairs. The scenery, our gardens and grounds, benefited tremendously from Alan's attention over the previous weeks. The party started at 2 PM and the last people left at 10 PM.

The best time was when Irwin told his stories to a captivated audience during present-opening time (Thanks so much, Phil, for the push.)
It was a lovely, special event.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Comments -- Please Do and How To

Dear Readers,

We really like the responses that we have already been getting about our recently inaugurated travel blog. Some people comment directly on the blog and some in personal emails to us. Both are encouraged and appreciated. But there have been questions about how to comment directly on the blog. And when Alan said he didn't know how to access people's comments, I realized that I should explain.

Under each blog entry, on the lower right-hand corner there is a link, in small blue letters, "comments."
It will have a number in front of it. If you look at the posts now, you will see a few have "0" and a few have a number. The entry, A Packer's Lament, presently has "7."

Click on the "comments" and you can read the comments that people have written and/or post your own.

It is easier than it looks. Here's what to do:

  1. Type your comment into the box on the right hand side of the page (where it says "Leave Your Comment").
    Complete the "word verification" -- just a precaution for the blog not to receive spam.

  2. Then click on one of the options under "Choose Your Identity."
    The easiest one is: Name/URL
    You can fill in any name you want...Probably your first name is best. (You do not need a URL to post -- you can leave the field blank if you don't have one or don't want to share it. If you do have a blog or website of your own, this would be the place to enter the web address.)

  3. If you would like a direct response from myself or Alan, please check back later in the comments for our response, or be sure to include your email address in the body of the comment if we do not already have it.

  4. Finally, be sure to click on the "Publish Your Comment" button when you are finished. Please only click once, even if you do not see your comment appear immediately, as it sometimes takes a few minutes for the page to update.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Packer's Lament

Packing is one area that I concede there is a huge male-female difference, at least in my crowd -- with the guys generally getting it better. Or at least it seems easier for them. All reminiscent of old Cathy comic strips with her lamenting about taking two weeks to pack and unpack for a one week trip! Yes, I do realize that we will often be traveling in well-trafficked areas with many retail options...where they would love us to use our credit cards. Still I have to start with a foundation and want to -- Be Prepared.

Almost every woman I know dislikes -- in various intensities, perhaps hates, anguishes, dreads, agonizes -- when faced with the decision of what and how much to pack. And then men like my hubby, blithely open their closet and in less than fifteen minutes pack for a weekend -- or for half a year! Alan already decided on what clothes he's taking and did his dry run.

As for me, I've been thinking about packing for months.... partly because we have small closet areas. And I only deal with one category at a time -- pants, shirts, outerwear, etc. Now I am confronted by my all-time stumper, what shoes to take.

I just took out my trusty copy of Live the Road Trip Dream (the memoir by a couple, the White's, who traveled cross-country for a year in the same size van as ours) to check the woman's packing list...and I feel relieved that she packed seven pairs of shoes.

Read on ONLY if you pack too much -- otherwise this amount of detail will drive you crazy!

Not even a shoe-fetishist, I am having trouble paring down from the same number that Carol White took. My current choices, subject to change:

Keens -- the blue or pinky-purple ones?
Sandals -- Actually, slides, black cushy and comfortable
Sandals -- Brown, multi-strapped inc a back strap
Walking Shoes -- Ecco black flats
Hiking Boots
Birkenstocks -- my crummy old grey ones that I wear as slippers
(and, I didn't count the cheap pair of flip-flops that I wear in campground showers.)

And all but the hiking boots fit in my cute shoe cabinet, under my bed.

Dear Readers -- what do you think? Any suggestions? What would YOU pack?

Friday, May 16, 2008


This 22 ft van will be our home for 6 plus months!

Alan's Story

This is the great land and maybe sea cruise - a year off to go and do whatever we feel like doing at the moment. Yes we are committed to traveling in this small but fancy RV but to where and when???? Go west young man - well not so young and it is man n woman and besides there is much more land west so it seems like the obvious choice. Having crossed the continent by bus, motorcycle, thumb and of course plane this is yet another way to do it. The choice of RV dictated by wanting to visit lots of wilder places (like walmart parking lots) and still be comfortable. Excited going, sad about leaving. The whole trip and year feel like another bookmark, or is it bookend in my life. At 23 years of age I took a year off (oh I hadn’t yet worked much so off from what you might ask) to travel. Well here I/we go again - another adventure YAY!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

In the Beginning...

Barbara's version:
Inspiration often comes to me in dreams or from books. Travelogues, many self-published ones, have helped us to develop our trip ideas. Wisdom gained from dreaming and reading, and reading about travel dreams.

Alan's and my initial discussion about taking an extended time off to travel started in a West Marine store in Key West where I perused a book while patiently waiting for him to select some boat gadgets. Even though we already owned a boat, I found the book, Honey, Let's Get a Boat... A Cruising Adventure of America's Great Loop.

A number of months later, I was introduced to Live Your Road Trip Dream: Travel for a Year for the Cost of Staying Home, the story of the White's land trip across the country. Alan and I both liked the idea of an extended, mostly unscheduled, decide-what's-next-when-you-wake-up-in-the-morning kind of journey and were intrigued by their description of Class B RVs. We had our stereotypes and so never envisioned ourselves as "the RVer types." But on another FL vacation we stopped at an RV show to look at these vehicles. You almost couldn't find them in the large arena full of tow-behinds, cab-overs, and rockstar-band-sized buses.

But we found a few Canadian made 2008 baby-boomer luxury versions of the 1960s vw vans that whet our appetite and curiosity. So next we spent months searching the internet and locally to find more of them. And ended up outside Syracuse at Seven-Os purchasing a Roadtrek 210 Popular (check out the Roadtrek website for the guided tour - http://roadtrek.com/default.aspx#) -- built on a van chassis, it is a bumped up, out, and down van with a Chevy engine. Very fancy "camping" with a queen-size bed, a bathroom with toilet and handheld shower, kitchenette, and a fancier TV than we have at home (a 19-inch flatscreen, in case you are wondering).

And so here we are, in the last month of preparation for a one-year sabbatical. A bittersweet transition time for me as I say good-bye to many people and look forward to the adventures ahead.

What's your story, Alan?