Trip to Wonderful

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Plan (version 1.0)

The current (1.0) version of "The Plan" is this: Get the house presentable for sale, put it on the market, hopefully getting a quick bite (it is a historic house with a very large urban lot), and close sometime before May 15th. Then pack up the house and send the movers out to some yet-undetermined location on the Left Coast. The cats will board with a friend until we're settled and they can be safely airlifted to our new home. The dog is undergoing "service dog" training, so as to be Jonah's four-legged replacement for his current two-legged in-home support aide, so he will travel with us.

And for the rest of us? Veteran tent campers, such a journey in our LL Bean's Waldorf-Astoria Tent might take too high a toll, with all the set-ups and take downs, particularly late at night, fending off a pack of hungry skunks. So we're on the hunt for (gasp!) a pop-up camper. Nothing with a lot of bells and whistles, just enough room to sleep six comfortably.

Then we head out. Our goal is to arrive somewhere on the West Coast (my preference - Oregon, Eric's - the Bay Area) sometime before September. Or not. Depends upon how long we can sanely travel with four kids, currently ages 2.5 to eight. We'll mostly stay in public campgrounds, although some urban destinations here and there may require stowing the rig in a safe parking lot and roughing it in a nice hotel room for a night or two. We hope to see as much as we can of the land "from sea to shining sea", although I'm not exactly convinced of the merits of the Deep South in mid-summer. Throw in a dozen species of poisonous snakes, and I'm even less convinced I travel much below the Great Smokies. But that all is still TBD.

I imagine it will be challenging, even down-right hard work, from time to time. But Eric and I agree that the best memories we have of spending time as a family are those from our camping trips; to Passamaquoddy Bay in late spring, to Cape Hatteras in late summer. Despite hurricanes, tornados and swarms of mosquitos the size of buzzards, we are never as content as when we're ensconded in nylon and down.

Some of my reasons for wanting to do this now are personal. My father lived his entire life making wonderful plans for his retirement, putting off many of their travels until they could enjoy them with all the time in the world. Three months after he retired at 62, my father died from a brain tumor. Four years later, a diabetes-induced heart attack took my mom at 63. All of their parents lived to be eighty or more; they had no reason to think they didn't have years ahead of them in which to enjoy their retirement together.

Despite having four small children, neither Eric nor I are particularly young. Ergo, carpe diem. This opportunity seems to be throwing itself at our feet, so there is no time like the present.

When Dwight and I first met faced to face, we kibbitzed over the prospect of putting together a book on travelling with autistic children. I still hope to lasso him into a few chapters on his own travels with his son, Bobby. This is an opportunity to put our experience and resources we gather along the way, both through this blog and, hopefully, should we find a willing publisher, in print, to share with other families of neurologically exceptional children.

So that's the plan, version 1.0. I'm sure we'll see many more versions along the way.

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