Left my happy home to see what I could find out Left my folk and friends, with an aim to clear my mind out – Cat Stevens
June 2014 – The plan this year is to see son David safely married, retire from our jobs, and go on walkabout for a year or so. The theory we are testing is whether we will be able to live more economically by traveling than by staying at home. To this end, we rented out our house, sold our car, stored our furniture, canceled one mobile phone and all our subscriptions, and left home with our backpacks (containing two sets of clothes, sleeping bags, small tent and an ultralight alcohol stove). We each carry an iPad, and we share one mobile phone, which we plan to use mainly as a GPS.
We established a monthly budget, with the understanding that we may overspend in the U.S. and in expensive western European countries, but will conserve by spending time in less costly countries. We will travel overland whenever possible, keeping air travel to a minimum.
Our first destination in June is the 1000 mile Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, to test our equipment and get Karen in good enough shape to tackle hiking in Europe. We then fly to Lisbon, Portugal in mid-August to start walking the Caminho Portugues. We’ll travel until we don’t want to travel any more. Stay tuned!
September 2014 Update – we completed 500 miles of the Ice Age Trail before heading overseas. We shipped home our tent and stove, but are holding onto our sleeping bags in case we need them on the Caminho. We are happy to report that we are both healthy, strong and maintaining our goals and our budget.
December 2014 Update – we completed the Caminho Portugues, and used a EuRail Pass to see parts of Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The Pass was expensive, but worthwhile, and we’ve seen some amazing things. We stayed for two weeks in Istanbul, and are now exploring southern Turkey. We subscribe to the International New York Times and Time magazine online, to keep abreast of the news. We miss our sons and granddaughters, but video call home weekly using Google Hangouts, and keep in touch with friends by email and Facebook. We’re feeling strong and healthy, working within our budget, and are looking forward to the rest of our journey.
March 2015 Update – we really loved Turkey, and ended up spending almost three months there. From Istanbul we caught a flight to TelAviv, Israel, to spend ten days in Nazareth and Jerusalem walking the Jesus Trail. It was a nice warm respite to the winter weather – had we known how nice, we would have stayed longer! Several long train rides got us through northern Turkey for brief journeys through Georgia and Azerbaijan, where we caught a freight ferry across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan. We crossed Kazakhstan in two stages, stopping to visit Astana, the second coldest capital city in the world. Unfortunately, we will remember Astana as the place Karen slipped on the ice and fractured her upper arm. We are now in western China, with a goal to complete an overland journey by rail within the two 30 day visas granted us by the Chinese government, while seeing sacred places and eating good Chinese food. The adventure continues!
June 2015 Update – Well, as of June 10, we will be on the road exactly one year. It turned out that 30 days in China was enough for us – so crowded, so polluted, so much construction. It may have been different if we’d gone to the touristy cities, but we’ll save those for another journey. From China we headed south to Laos, then Thailand, a two week trip to Japan to hike the Kumano Kodo, and now Cambodia. We’ve slowed our pace and are taking advantage of the cheap prices, good food and friendly people of Southeast Asia. We’re staying as long as our visas allow.
A lady in Japan, when hearing that we were traveling for a year, asked, “How much do you fight?” Not ‘if’, but ‘how much’. I considered the question seriously. I think many relationships would break down from the stresses imposed by constant togetherness. I get testy/crabby/stressed on days when we have a train or plane to catch, and don’t get back on even keel until I’m comfortably ensconced in my new room. Jim gets testy when he can’t hear someone giving directions, and wishes I was more help with navigation. So, testy, yes, but I really don’t think that we have fought, thanks to Jim’s easygoing nature.
We are also asked when we plan to bring this journey to an end. I’m starting to miss having a garden and a dog, as well as the pull toward friends and family and the constant ache for the grand babies. Jim wants to get back on the Appalachian Trail. So, we are starting to talk about the places we have left to see this time around – Malaysia? Singapore? Bali? Fiji? New Zealand? Please weigh in and help us decide!
September 2015 Update – After a month in Cambodia, we returned to Thailand for a month on the beach at Koh Chang, then continued south across the Equator to hike the jungles of Malaysia, see the beautiful orchids in Singapore, and experience the Hindu/tourist culture of Bali, Indonesia. Lots of great food, great beaches and nice people. Now, after almost 16 months on the road, we are feeling some travel fatigue and have decided to head back to the USA. New Zealand will have to wait for a future adventure!
December 2015 Update – we are back in Virginia, getting caught up with friends and family. Last month we bought a house, and will spend the foreseeable future settling in. Jim went back on the Appalachian trail two weeks after we got home.
September 2016 Update – short sojourns this year, to Germany for a family wedding and to hike part of Jakobusweg, and a Franza family reunion and trip to Charleston, South Carolina planned in October. Two new grand babies to welcome this winter!
January 2017 Update – the Camino is calling us back to Spain. This time we plan to follow the Via de la Plata for three months, starting in April. It took us 80 days, but we walked 1000 km (621 miles)!
January 2018 Update – Mexico beckoned to us for a month in the late winter. Then it was off to jolly old England for two months of hiking in the Yorkshire Dales, the Cumbrian Lake District, and the Cotswolds.