Becoming a creator has been a dream from an early age, I just didn’t know where it would lead and how it would manifest itself. I grew up in a small town and when I graduated high school, I was so excited to begin the next chapter of my life. The decision had been made to attend art school far from home. I yearned to create a new life for myself, one where I formed my own destiny. I wanted to set out into the world and make a place for myself, one of self reliance.
My early years of work accomplished this goal. I supported myself by working in what I deemed the most creative small advertising agency in Houston, Texas, and later as a freelancer. Working was fun, but after marriage and my first child, I became a stay at home mother. I continued on that mission for years. I used my creativity in many aspects of homemaking, and it was satisfying. However, I hadn’t accomplished my goal of creating something myself, a business or creative outlet.
After twenty-four years of being a stay at home mom, the last of the kids went off to college. I was able to begin to focus on my own interests, and with John’s encouragement, work on my golf game again. We moved several times which gave me the creative project of decorating and remodeling our homes. I loved decorating and loved being a handy woman, fixing things on my own. John was always appreciative of my efforts to make our home cozy and warm.
We had been planning on John retiring at the end of 2020. He had told me when I met him that he wanted to retire at age fifty-five, and well, fifty-six was pretty close. At the end of 2019, Alcoa began a process of downsizing their operations. John was offered a package. He was giddy with excitement. It was one year earlier than we imagined, but with a package he could do it at fifty-five. His goal was accomplished.
Our retirement plan was always to travel the world for months at a time, so upon the news, I went to work immediately planning a trip to Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Croatia, and all the smaller Balkan States like Albania and Kosovo. I had this “brilliant” idea that I could create a blog and write as we traveled. John was all in.
I soon discovered that blogs do best on a website. That way, you can organize it into different categories and archives. I began to think about creating my own site. While you’re at it, they said, you might as well incorporate FaceBook and Instagram, too. Pinterest is a great resource for traveling, so adding it as well sounded like a great idea.
Becoming a creator was still my dream…
John had always thought he would stay connected to the corporate world by doing leadership training and consulting for companies. Alcoa provided an executive coach in his package. She was wonderful but after speaking to her several times, he came to me and said his heart wasn’t in it to continue to do the same thing. He wanted to try his hand at something completely different. Knowing that I was creating a website, he asked if there was an opportunity for him to get involved. I suggested he create YouTube videos of the places we go, and we could link them to the website. I would also need someone to help me with accounting and the business aspects of the idea.
The genie was out of the bottle!!!
My inner dream to create something had become a joint venture. I was thrilled! Knowing that John wanted to join me in this crazy idea of making a business out of our travels became a new dream we both shared. My parents had shared a business. I grew up seeing them solve problems together. I love John so much and having him help me was exactly what I needed. It was too much for one person to learn on the fly.
Then, the coronavirus hit Italy…
Our plan for a summer in Europe had to be cancelled. I had spent weeks planning it and now I had to spend days canceling it.
We still wanted to continue the dream of travel, but we knew we would need to stay in the United States. John had always spoken of his desire to see all the National Parks, so we pivoted and created a new retirement trip. We bought an Airstream trailer, an idea that seemed a bit crazy at the time. I once again began planning a trip. This one was for seven or eight months traveling the U.S. going to every National Park in the lower forty-eight states.
Then, the coronavirus hit here…
We once again canceled our plans and waited…
Since the beginning of the year, we have been working tirelessly on our new business. We’ve created a website and learned about analytics and optimization for it. Other than my background in visual design, we knew nothing about the process. Rarely has anything been straightforward or intuitive. Every challenge has been compounded because finding the solution creates a new discovery of another shortcoming we possess.
We knew we needed good camera equipment. Once the virus has passed, we plan to backpack our way around the world again, so we needed lightweight items. We researched cameras and equipment and since neither of us are photographers, we pretty much had to start at the beginning figuring out what we needed and how to use them. Unfortunately, we are still learning. We tell ourselves it will get better as we go.
While we’ve been waiting to go on a trip, we used the time to learn. We’ve studied online forums, YouTube videos, manuals, and read countless articles on various subjects. Hiring professionals to teach us what we don’t know was a smart move. And, we are guilty of mooching information from our kids and friend’s kids. We are amazed daily at the brain power of millennials.
We’ve had quite a learning curve. Actually, our learning curve hasn’t been a curve at all. It’s more of an arrow up towards the sky. I’m waiting on it to become a curve.
In all this “fun” we’ve been having, we also had to plan a third trip. This one will have us travel in our Airstream for six months, returning home in November. Our route will take us through the interior parts of the U.S. and then another trip, next year, around the outer edge. We are staying in state parks, national parks, private campgrounds, Boondockers Welcome, and Harvest Hosts. Traveling for no more than four hours a day on the road, we will be moseying around the country at a very slow pace. It will be an adventure as John and I have never camped in an RV before. But, in order to truly be Retirement Travelers, we figured this was a big part of retirement traveling and we wanted to experience it.
The dream lives on…
My dream of becoming a creator has finally happened. I couldn’t have imagined a forum like a website (or even an audience for it) when I left home so many years ago. But, with the advent of the web and social media, it has given me an opportunity to chase a dream I’ve always had. No, I’m not young, but I’m capable. With John’s help, we’re powerful. Powerful to create a new exciting life of adventure and beauty. I once read a quote, “It’s never too late to become who you might have been.” I’ve held on to that one for years waiting for my time.
A few months ago, I looked over at John and said, “Honey, you’re not retired anymore!” We both had a much needed roar of laughter. Sarah, our business coach, told us it’s called an “encore” career. Her confidence in us, along with our very supportive grown children and family and friends have helped us charge forward. We are hopeful of the many experiences we will have and the people we will meet. We believe there are some awesome friends to find.
Now is the time…
National Parks are opening back up and states are opening their parks as well. Since we plan to camp out of our self-contained home, we feel it is the perfect time to venture out and see our beautiful country. We packed our trailer with more food than clothes and plan to eat “at home.” Walmart Pickup will be available to us everywhere we go. Supporting local restaurants will be something we add occasionally, too, as takeout. We are committed to practicing social distancing because we want to remain healthy for the whole trip and protect communities we travel through. We even have bags to cover our hands while getting gas. The good thing about pulling our home behind our truck is that we don’t have to use bathrooms in gas stations and rest stops.
So, if you see us on the road, honk and wave. We are excited to finally be able to get out and explore, from a distance!
Check out this cute song our daughter, Ashley, sent us:
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube to follow our journeys:
Thank you to these professionals who have helped us with our getting this venture going:
Evan Holflich www.evanhoeflichmarketing.com
Sarah Guinn www.righteverywhere.com
Erik and Julia Lembcke www.ursadvisory.com
WordPress Business www.wordpress.com/business
Eneida at Airstream Tampa www.airstreamtampa.rvone.com
Alan at InkHead Graphics http://www.inkheadgraphics.com