We are currently on an extended "sabbatical" from our work careers. We are trying to take a little time out at this stage of our lives, while we still have the youth, physical health, desire, time, financial ability and life circumstances to allow us to do so.
We have seen too many friends and family who have reached retirement only to lack the ability to do some of the things they had so longed for and planned to do.
We have many examples in our lives. My grandmother died before she could realize her dreams of travel that she had worked her entire lifetime to achieve. Stephanie's uncle died on his last day of work, literally a day away from starting a new life. We have many examples of people whose health failed them, or their spouse's health no longer allowed travel, or their financial or life circumstances changed and would not allow them to realize their lifelong dreams of exploration and discovery.
Why give up everything?
We learned when we went out for a year via motorcycle that as long as we had a home, possessions, jobs and businesses back here, we would never be able to fully immerse ourselves in and fully learn from our travels. While away on those trips we always had everything back home tugging at us and speaking to us, figuratively and, unfortunately, literally.
We determined that in order to have the full experience, with no ties that bind and no nagging responsibilities, we needed to fully divest ourselves of everything we had accumulated over our lifetimes. Thus, we closed our businesses, sold our home and vehicles, some of the furniture and donated just about everything else. All we kept was tax records, travel mementos, family heirlooms and the motorcycle.
We both have a love of travel. Stephanie spent a lot of time in Germany as a young girl, and traveled extensively in Europe while she grew up.
I remain driven by the unquenchable thirst for learning, knowledge, growth and discovery. I think I get it from my grandparents, Clarence and Frances Hackney. Their home was always full of National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, and other magazines. They supplied me with an endless stream of books by Jack London, Jules Verne, etc., and the farm shop was always open and available for anything I wanted to disassemble, invent, or create.
Back in 2002 I passed the milestone of a million actual flight miles (that’s miles traveled in airplanes) on United Airlines. I wrote the crew of the plane I was on when I passed the one million mile mark a little note that I gave them along with a restaurant gift certificate. I think the note encapsulates the source of my wanderlust and thirst for adventure pretty well:
“December 30, 2002
Forty years ago, on this day, at 5:12pm, I was standing next to the Rock Island Railroad tracks that ran behind my grandfather’s farm in Iowa. At exactly that time every day, the Rock Island Rocket passenger train would roar by. There I would be, waving at the engineers and peering into the windows of the cars, straining to catch sight of the passengers within. As their faces flashed by, I would wonder, “Where are they going? What adventures are they having?”
As the train disappeared into the setting sun, I would turn and walk back to the farmhouse, my gaze moving skyward. There I would see the contrails of the new jetliners lacing the sky, stretching from horizon to horizon. Still awaiting my first train ride, I could scarcely imagine the glamour and excitement of air travel, especially on a jet.
At night, long after my grandparents had gone to sleep, I would lie awake reading the stacks of National Geographic magazines and the ever present novels of adventure and discovery: Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, the collections of Jack London, Tom Swift and The Hardy Boys.
As I filled my imagination with the wonder and allure of far away places, from miles away the rotating beacon of the Newton airport would sweep across the house and paint the walls with alternating pulses of white and green. That airport beacon became the heartbeat that powered my wanderlust, my imagination, and my endless thirst for discovery and adventure.”
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