We had hoped to be pulled up next to the beach near Galveston watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico to softly herald a new year. I was looking forward to taking long exposures of the Pleasure Pier, the lights creating a satin glow on the blurred surf. Bloody Marys by the campfire. Margaritas on The Strand.
Well, hell. Big ol' nope, pardner. We're still in the bleak midwinter midwest, watching as the mercury plummets. I still go to work, I still scrape the atmosphere from my windshield at 4:00 a.m. We are still looking forward to hooking up Highlander and rolling out for good.
So what happened?
Exuberant optimism. We had underestimated the time and money necessary to get our house on the market, and by the time the dreamy haze of our plans cleared, we realized that we were not ready, and by the time we would be ready, the time for listing the house would have passed right into December. Selling a house in Kansas City is tough around Christmas.
So we wait.
Bad news. A dream deferred is still a dream, but without a plan, that dream can become the albatross; dead and hanging around the sailor's neck.
Good news. The albatross is only sleeping. We've been working on the house, and will soon complete the short-term fixes needed to get the house listed and us on our way. The final part of the shock-and-awe cleanout arrives a few days after Valentine's Day in the form of a twenty-cubic-yard dumpster.
When did "dumpster" become a generic term? What happened to the Dempsy people?
The other good new is that we have destinations worked out. We were both a bit concerned about the amount of time on our hands as we transitioned to retired persons on the run. We've lived with structure for so long that we wanted to maintain a solid sense of purpose to augment our new and sometimes terrifying freedom.
We decided to ease into our new roles through volunteerism. Our first stop after we leave Kansas City is Bennett Spring State Park, near Lebanon, Missouri.
In exchange for our brilliant and outgoing people skills and obssessive-compulsive organizational talents, we will receive a camp site in the park with full hook-ups for water, electric and sewage. We will help where needed, but the parks allow you the time to discover the area and relax from time to time. I may even have to learn to fly fish. Maybe. It involves fish guts and things like that.
We arrive there right at the start of trout season, and stay through the spring. We'll hang out there for a while.
|Photo: National Park Service|
Here, with the same type of commitment to the park for our services, we'll spend the summer, out in the hot, dry, sun; under the deep blue skies by day and the starry canopy of the Milky Way at night. I have even promised myself to spend some raft time on the Green River. This is outside of my landlocked comfort zone, but that's part of what we're doing out here - stretching out.
Then . . .
We'll head out without a destination in mind, take advantage of our mobility to stay in the most temperate areas we can, and see a lot of what we've always wanted to see without the time constraints of the two-week vacation. We'll meet new people and with luck, create new images and the stories to go with them. Yes, we will eventually make it to the Lone Star State, but with fewer constraints on our time and resources. There are people there that we've met in a virtual sense and who we're most eager to meet in real life, capture their images, and hear their stories.