April 28, 2011

The Best Made Plans.....Are Changeable

As part of our satisfying retirement lifestyle last year Betty and I took a 5,000 mile driving trip around the Northwest. We started in Phoenix, went to Zions National Park, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, parts of Montana and Idaho, and ended at Olympic National Forest in Washington state, before heading back through Oregon and California. Even though tiring and plagued with terrible weather most of the time, it remains one of our favorite vacations. The trip was almost a year ago and I don't think I have yet to make it through all 3,000 pictures we took.

This year's goals included another driving trip. We wanted a totally different "look" to the trip so visits to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, San Antonio and Austin were penciled in. Being an obsessive planner I began to explore routes, collect brochures, and build a budget for the trip. Family was alerted to our date of departure. 
Our two girls are now in their 30's....where did all that time go?

Then, about a month ago something happened. I woke up one morning with a tremendously powerful urge...an urge to re-visit Hawaii. Together and separately, Betty and I have been to the islands a dozen times. We celebrated Christmas on Maui twice with the family and again on the Big Island. The whole family became certified scuba divers during one of our stays. I had business clients in Honolulu, Kona, and Hilo that allowed me several trips. We were on Kauai just 3 months before the massive hurricane, Iniki, leveled the resort where we stayed.

We have a real connection to our 50th state. Hawaii feels like our second home. The minute we step off the plane, the scents and the trade winds cause instant relaxation. If it wasn't for family, I think both of us would have figured out how to live there, at least part of the year.

So, that morning when I felt this tug toward the islands, it wasn't the first time. But what struck me with the power of a tsunami was that I hadn't been back in 10 years. That was a startling revelation. It was a rude reminder of the passage of time. How could I have stayed away from a place that is so important to me for a decade?

That afternoon, after about 60 seconds of contemplation, Betty and I decided to scrap the driving trip and plan to head west across the Pacific. By dinner time I had plane flights booked, had a car reserved and a condo lined up. For several days less than the driving trip, the cost is likely to be almost $1,000 more. But, as someone who preaches the importance of memories over things, it seems like a worthwhile investment.

Camera-fanatic Betty is already insisting we stop at every waterfall on the drive to Hana so she can snap away. That may be impossible (there are hundreds) but I'm sure she'll fill at least two memory cards with beauty. With 600 curves and 54 one-lane bridges the drive to Hana is unique in all of America and worth the white knuckles.

One of the best things about a satisfying retirement is this ability to change plans in an instant. Albuquerque and San Antonio will still be there when we finally take that trip. But, we had a severe Hawaii itch and just had to scratch it.

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  1. Wow, Hawaii! We went there on our honeymoon. It is a mystical place. We thought about going back for our 25th anniversary this year but decided not to endure the airline hassles to get there. So we took a two week driving trip through Virginia and surrounding states. Being a history buff, especially the founding of our country, there is a lot to see there. If you want a memorable driving trip remember there is land east of the Mississippi that can be explored :)

    Have a good trip....

  2. Morning RJ,

    We have plans (changeable, of course) to fly to Baltimore in 2013 and explore the eastern shore of Maryland. Then, we'd like to head to the Smoky Mountains and drive through the area you describe.

    I was born in Philadelphia and my wife is from Pittsburgh and West Virginia so that part of the east is familiar. She has some family there we would visit as part of the trip.

    Too bad our travel budget isn't larger. Personally, I'd take at least 2 major trips a year and live in an RV for months at a time.

  3. My father was stationed there 50 years ago. My aunt and uncle settled there. My family lived in Hawaii for 18 months. It must have been a critical juncture in the kid's life. They both consider Hawaii as their favorite vacation spot. My son says that if Dad dies first he will find me on North Beach. He is probably right.
    It is outrageously expensive. It could be floated away by a wave- or exploded in a volcano...but there is nothing like it. I cannot wait to see Betty's pictures. I am sure I can smell the surf from here!

  4. Janette,

    Yes,the cost of living there is a major problem. The local folks we have met usually work at least 2 jobs just to make ends meet. The islands are so vulnerable to not only natural disasters, but also supply issues. Everything comes by ship. Several years ago the major carrier suffered through a strike and Hawaii basically ran out of toilet paper and many food choices for a few weeks.

    All that said, it is heaven. And, yes, Betty will take a few thousand photos, come home, and produce some incredible artwork. Maybe that will be the push she needs to start her own web site and sell her works.

  5. That is the perfect example of what is so great about retirement! On a whim you can change your mind and go somewhere completely different! Or different dates, or for a longer or shorter time, it's all up to you!

    Have a great time!

  6. Hawaii: didn’t really leave, just waiting to go back. (That’s probably a poor paraphrase of something already written, but somewhat accurate.)

    Congratulations on soon ending the wait


  7. @QwkDrw,

    I like that phrase. It certainly fits our feeling.


    Since you just came back from the Big Island I am sure you can relate. Actually, we aren't going until late September so there is a lot of life to lead between now and then!

    Retirement gives you a certain flexibility that a working life doesn't. I relish that freedom daily.

  8. What a great story about being flexible and listening to your inner nudges. That will make the trip to Hawaii all the more delightful!

    Sorry I didn't know you last year when you came through Oregon. I would have enjoyed taking you and Betty out to one of my favorite restaurants! Next time!

  9. Hi Galen,

    We have been to Oregon several times. I had clients in Portland, Eugene, and Medford. Betty and I enjoy lighthouse spotting along the coast. And, there's nothing better for us desert people than to be in a warm lodge while watching a big storm pound waves against the rocks.

    Yes, next time!


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