December 30, 2012

The Plan

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”     Mark Twain

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
"trade wind"  (noun): a wind blowing almost constantly in one direction--usually used in the plural.      

Maiden voyage of 'The Cruiser' in March 2011 at Lake Pueblo
Welcome to our family travel blog which we have named “Catching the Trade Winds.”  The inspiration for our title is the above quote by Mark Twain, a most beloved American humorist who always seems to catch the larger meaning in such brilliant, succinct prose.
As we embark on our new RV adventure, we decided a blog would be a wonderful way to stay in touch with family and friends.  At different times you will hear from both of us as we head to Western Europe—in the direction of the trade winds—for what we hope will be a wonderful year of travel, accompanied by learning and discovery and a renewed sense of inner peace. 
This is actually Chapter 2 of full-timing on the road for us.  In June 1989, after Al retired from the Navy, we sold our home in Virginia Beach and put our belongings in storage.  Then, as many of you know, the Galus family of four, along with their two cats, hopped into a new Suburban with a 29-ft travel trailer hitched in the rear. Over the next 10 months we home-schooled our two children for 3rd and 4th grade as we travelled 29,000 miles throughout the western U.S. and Canada. During that magical year our favorite homes for the night were the campgrounds in national parks, national monuments, and national forests.  However, not knowing where we would settle down at the end of our year of adventure was the unconventional part of that plan.  In April 1990, we ended up in Colorado, just as a big snowstorm settled on our campground in Manitou Springs.  We quickly decided it was time to find new jobs and make Colorado Springs our next home. 
This time around, planning our travels in the information age of the 21st century has given us such an advantage. In 1989, the Internet, cell phones and cable television did not exist. In a certain way, that made our life on the road back then seem more idyllic.  I remember not knowing anything about a storm called Hurricane Andrew until 3 weeks after the event when we saw some headlines on a discarded newspaper in a laundromat at Yellowstone National Park.  In that same year the Berlin Wall fell, and we knew nothing about it until days later when we had one of those deluxe campgrounds with TV reception.
Fast forward two decades and change; we find ourselves longing to reignite our life experiences on the road.  But…there is so much to think about!  What to do with our home is just one of many issues we have handled a bit differently.  I guess we have matured somewhat because this time we do not intend to put our belongings in storage and give up our home in Colorado.  Our more grown-up plan is to enlist the services of a caretaker.  More about that later… 
So…our daily life has changed over 20-plus years.  Now we like staying connected, and we feel like we are much more prepared for Chapter 2.  We have read travel books and have done hundreds of hours of Internet research, which we hope will help us avoid “inconvenient” surprises.  A search for travel blogs has put us in email contact with others who are experienced RVers in Europe.  Their invaluable advice has helped us with a variety of issues such as electrical differences, RV insurance, RV shipping, European-style sewage systems, solar panels, propane adaptors, credit cards, and cell phone options.  As 2012 comes to a close, we have solved (or made decisions on) most of these issues.  It was a no-brainer that shipping our RV (with its Mercedes-Benz engine and taller, narrower Dodge Sprinter chassis) to Europe would be the most logical plan for us.  Now it’s time to have some modifications made on our 23-ft American-style Pleasure-Way RV.  And, that will be done next month in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, where there are lots of RV experts catering to the snowbirds.  
Until then…
"There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it."                              Charles Dudley Warner (friend of Mark Twain)