Day 153 of the Nowhere To Be Project marked my 47th year of life and the fourth day of our British Isles Explorer voyage onboard the Viking Sky. The morning was spent at the spa as we cruised the English Channel. A deep-tissue massage followed by a few minutes in the hydrotherapy pool gave me a lot of time for reflection. I am so grateful for the life I’ve had, especially for the many low points. It is easy to wish away bad days, but without those I probably wouldn’t be as profoundly appreciative of the good ones. Speaking of good days, my husband and I raised a glass to at least 47 more years as we floated in the infinity pool and watched the world go by. Can life possibly get any better?
We spent day 152 of the Nowhere To Be Project in the charming seaside town of Dover, England. Our first stop upon arrival was to Dover Castle which was rebuilt by my 20th Great Grandfather, King Henry II, during his reign. Henry is widely regarded as one of the most successful rulers in England’s history and the sprawling castle is surely evidence of this. Walking in the actual footsteps of my ancestors is one of the reasons why travel is so important to me. The view I enjoyed from a window in the tower of the castle today probably wasn’t all that different from the one my grandparents, Henry and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, had in the 12th century (well, except for the fact that mine included my current home away from home, the Viking Sky). It just proves that we all leave a legacy for those who follow us whether we intend to or not. I’d like mine to include the importance of wanderlust.
Day 148 of the Nowhere To Be Project was an absolute frenzy as my husband and I prepared for our British Isles Explorer ocean voyage on the Viking Sky. If you’re anything like me, the time you set aside for pre-travel preparation and packing never seems to be enough. This is always the case no matter if we’re preparing our RV for a lengthy voyage, or cramming two weeks worth of necessary items into a suitcase as we are now.
Our dog, who is a almost as well traveled as we are, was not happy when the suitcase came out. Somehow he knows that he will not be accompanying us on this trip. Initially he tried the block move where he presents himself as a barrier between me and the suitcase. Next was the attention-getting scheme where he feigns illness to distract me from packing. Despite a bath, a brush, and extra love, he remained miserable, finally retreating to his chair for a nap leaving me with a heavy dose of travel guilt.
On Day 112 of the Nowhere To Be Project we had the pleasure of sharing our chosen hometown with a friend. Our houseguest is visiting Vail from Florida and is completely enthralled with the majestic sights and experiences that only Eagle County can offer. It is thrilling to see our favorite spots through the eyes of a first time visitor. It sharpens our passion for Vail each and every time we get to play tour guide with our visitors.
This day renewed my appreciation for the art of travel blogging. Despite our best efforts as travel addicts, we cannot possibly visit every nook and cranny of this amazing planet. We can, however, live vicariously through the words and photographs of the bloggers who so generously share their insights with us. On the rare day that I’m physically homebound all it takes is a quick click to see the world. How great is that?
On Day 100 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself on the verge of an emotional meltdown. I’ve been in my hometown for the past couple days to deal with some family stuff. I’m not one of those people who longs for the familiar comfort of their hometown. Quite the contrary actually. For me, my hometown is more comparable to a haunted graveyard than a welcoming respite. As a result, I came here very, very reluctantly after receiving some news that left me feeling compelled to leave my husband and dog midway through a RV road trip. In short, a sense of obligation led me back here again. Truth be told, I usually avoid being here at all costs because the ghosts of my dysfunctional childhood seem to lurk around every corner, both literally and figuratively. Every street holds a memory. The faces seem to stare with a sad and familiar knowing. This place nearly stole my spirit and that is why I left. I knew that happy people existed and I eventually found them. I also found my own happiness along the way and I protect it fiercely.
Many say that running away is never the answer. As a retired mental health professional, I can tell you that sometimes running is an effective survival mechanism. This is especially true if what you’re running from is incapable of change. Flight can provide sweet relief when you’ve exhausted every ounce of fight within you. My personal beasts only show their fangs in Central Florida so I generally stay away.
The good news about today is that I self-medicated with a joyful lunch with my happy, healthy, fang-free adult son. I followed this up with a trip to the mall (another perfectly acceptable coping mechanism, within reason of course:-). First, I devoured a scoop of Häagen Dazs dairy-free chocolate salted fudge truffle ice cream, each lick bringing a bit of calm and composure. Then I bought a luscious cruelty-free tarte lip gloss at Sephora in the cheeriest color I could find. Surely it will help me shine my way through the rest of my time here. Self-care comes in so many forms, doesn’t it? Maybe, just maybe, these small indulgences will keep the ghosts at bay until my impending escape.
It is Day 28 of the Nowhere To Be Project and I spent it revisiting my social science roots a bit. I came across a British study today on marriage that boasted the following headlines:
“More than 9.6 million Brits have regrets about their marriage.”
“One in twenty married adults believe they married the wrong person.”
“One in ten married Brits are heartbroken over the one that got away.”
“1.6 million currently married Brits regret having had an affair.”
Interestingly enough, despite these perceived failures with love and marriage, researchers indicated that a good portion of participants were still able to find fulfillment through friendship and travel. Even though the study ended on a positive note with friendship and travel, reading these declarations made me so sad. My travels just wouldn’t be as thrilling without my husband who also happens to be my best friend. We both worked really hard to retire early to travel and spend more time together. We’re actually excited about spending months on end together in a tiny RV! I’m currently in an amazing marriage, but I have experience in a really bad one as well. Needless to say, I know what matrimonial regrets and what-ifs can feel like. I also know that the fairy tale is possible. I decided to dig a bit deeper into the study.
The research was sponsored by an insurance company and was conducted by an organization called Opinium in January of this year. I couldn’t find any information on the research methods, data collection, or data analysis other than the claim that the sample used was comprised of 2002 adults and was representative of the population as a whole. As a former psychology professor, peer-reviewed empirical research was a major focus in my work, research and teaching. Since I’m not sure that the steps for conducting valid and reliable research were followed here, I am hanging on to the fleeting hope that perhaps the data is flawed in some way.
Maybe the claim that nearly ten million Brits regret their marriage is erroneous. Perhaps the number of people who think they married the wrong person or lost out with the one that got away is much, much lower. And maybe, just maybe, there are fewer than 1.6 million citizens in need of a scarlet letter. If, by chance, the data happens to be correct, I’d ask that no matter how dark things may seem, never cast aside the possibility of happily ever after. It’s real and it happened to me.
In the film version of Jurassic Park, chaos theory is proposed as an explanation for the unpredictability of nature. Chaos is something that most well-grounded individuals strive to avoid. Interestingly enough, the opening scenes of that iconic motion picture were filmed at the Garden of Eden Botanical Arboretum along the Hana Highway on the island of Maui. I ended up there yesterday by mistake and true chaos ensued when my husband (who likes to “freestyle it” rather than plan) got us horribly stuck. We ended up on the road that everyone told us to not to: the Hana Highway. It is a very narrow winding road that snakes along the coast of Maui through lush and dense vegetation that severely limits visibility. Add the fact that there are seemingly hundreds of one way blind passes and bridges along this highway. These literally took my breath away each time we had a near miss head-on collision! It got so bad that I might have preferred the chaos of being chased by a Velociraptor to the ride I experienced up and down the Hana Highway.
Just when I thought we had reached the end, my husband discovered that there was only one way in and one way out of Hana. This meant that we would have to do it all again to get back to our resort. My initial response was anger and disgust. I mean, how does one go through life like this, so recklessly unprepared? As I quietly stewed in the passenger seat hyperventilating, I decided that there was absolutely nothing I could do. Relinquishing control is not a strong suit of mine and is certainly something I’m working through. Instead of white-knuckling through the two hour return journey, I chose to take photographs. I took hundreds. I think my initial goal was to focus on the route’s dangers as evidence of my partner’s mistake. Eventually though, I began to hone in on the extreme and profound beauty of my surroundings. Guess what? The ride back was over before I knew it. I’m sure that we had just as many near-death moments as we did on the first run, but I didn’t really notice them as much. I embraced the chaos and in doing so found beauty like I’d never seen.