She's Kathleen, he's Rus. The dogs are Ziggy the Lab, and Bubbo the rat terrier. We've been married 27 years and it feels better than ever. Our home is Arcata, California, on the Redwood Coast. We have 3 grown sons who've taken over the family business. Kathleen is a marriage and family therapist, which comes in handy from time to time, and plans to resume her practice when we return from our travels. Rus is doubtful about his prospects for being rehired by his sons (at his former salary, anyway), so he's not making any plans yet.
Our adventure really began 2 1/2 years before, during one of our winter beach walks, when Kathleen turned to Rus and said, "What would you do if we had a million dollars?" Being a practical person, what came to Rus' mind was paying off mortgages, doing some repairs, maintenance, remodeling, and investing what was left. Kathleen wasn't impressed. She said, "Come on, use your imagination!" Well, Rus was using his imagination, but Kathleen's imagination sounded like more fun, and it became the inspiration for this trip.
We never got the million dollars, and didn't need it, either. All we really needed was the inspiration to make this change in our lives, and everything else fell into place.
It takes a lot of planning and preparation to quit your former life and begin a new one. Rus likened it to dying and having to be the executors of our own estate. Our sons had to learn Rus' role in the business and Kathleen had to close down her practice. Then we had to get our house ready to rent, sell our cars, give away lots of stuff, and organize our finances so we could manage them from a distance. Also new cell phones with better coverage, a new ISP, a mail forwarding service and notifying everyone of the changes. Not to mention the things we should have done anyway and avoided for years, such as medical directives, setting up a living trust, and making long overdue repairs on our house. And a thousand other things. It was a full time job for 6 months and didn't even include the biggest thing of all, which was choosing a vehicle and adapting it to our needs (see "The Rig").
Our plan, subject to change without notice, is to explore the United States for a about six months before we head south of the border to Mexico, Central and South America. We expect to be gone two years, but at the rate we're going, it could be longer because we keep falling in love with the places we visit and staying on.
Who Does What?
Maybe you wonder, like I always do when I read about a couple's joint creation, who does what? Well, I'll tell you. Rus and I are not smart enough to do it all so we diversify. We have each taken on the jobs that we are naturally inclined toward and for the most part enjoy. Rus is in charge of things that are mechanical (the rig and all it's many systems, fixing things that break, etc) and I am in charge of things that are technical (computers, aircards and wi-fi, cell phones and digital cameras). We don't overlap much and that usually works just fine. Lately though, I've been feeling jealous of Rus, writing to his hearts content while I'm scratching my head over the details of web design, something I knew nothing about before this adventure. I'm learning, slowly but with frequent frustrations and mishaps, how to put this site together so I hope you'll forgive any broken links or disjointed pages that I have yet to remedy. And I hope to have more time for writing after I master this skill and can create pages with ease, speed, and confidence. Well, maybe!
We find that we are settling into a routine where Rus does the lion's share of the driving and I navigate. I take care of our finances, mostly online or through automatic payments that were set up before we left home. And some jobs we share, like cooking, washing the dishes, and certain necessary but unpleasant activities.