Our blog title had to have a musical influence and these lyrics best describe our adventure – so here you go!
Goin’ Mobile Lyrics
I’m goin’ home
And when I want to go home
I’m goin’ mobile
Well, I’m gonna find a home
And we’ll see how it feels
Goin’ mobile Keep me movin’
I can pull up by the curb I can make it on the road
Goin’ mobile I can stop in any street
And talk with people that we meet Goin’ mobile
Keep me movin’ Out in the woods Or in the city It’s all the same to me
When I’m drivin’ free, the world’s my home When I’m mobile
Hee, hoo! beep beep! Play the tape machine Make the toast and tea
When I’m mobile Well I can lay in bed With only highway ahead When I’m mobile
Keep me movin’ Keep me movin’
Over 50 Keep me groovin’ Just a hippie gypsy Come on move now
Movin’ Keep me movin’, yeah Keep me movin’, groovin’, groovin’, yeah Movin’,
Yeah Mobile, mobile, mobile, mobile, … I don’t care about pollution
I’m an air-conditioned gypsy That’s my solution
Watch the police and the tax man miss me I’m mobile Oooooh, yeah, hee!
Mobile, mobile, mobile yeah
Hello there and welcome to our blog! We realize the introduction post is long and wordy so feel free to skip it but if you have the time, have a quick read. You will only have to read it once as it will never change ….. Here is our story; please enjoy.
Joe and I have been married for 34 incredible years. We have lived in Calgary, Richmond, Langley and West Kelowna.
We have two perfect boys and two beautiful daughter-in laws; Jordan & Amy and Spencer & Lindsay. They all reside in Vancouver and enjoy rewarding careers. Our children encouraged us to follow our dream and never let us forget it. There were phone calls, visits, emails, gifts that included food and wine from all the countries we planned to visit, the perfect travel bag and accessories. Wait a minute! Seems now that they were trying to get rid of us – LOL??? All kidding aside, these four wonderful people that we call our own, also have a love of travel, fine food and wine. We are inspirations to each other. We love them dearly and will miss them deeply. We hope they will join us on one or two legs of our journey.
We also have an adorable chijuaua cross named Salsa that is the sweetest dog we know.
Joe and I have always loved to travel and have enjoyed vacations and road trips (with and without the kids) throughout Canada and the USA (including Hawaii), cruised the Netherlands, did the Mexican all-inclusive thing (enough times), and followed Jordan to Australia for Christmas in 2005. I discovered ‘apartment living’ as opposed to hotels, about 15 years ago. For us, it is the only way to go. More space, ability to eat in if desired and much cheaper than hotels.
Since our last visit to Europe in 2008, we knew we would be back. We loved each country we visited, every city we toured. So much history, so much beauty. We exclaimed “we should buy a condo here!” at each and every stop. They say if you throw one coin into Trevi Fountain in Rome that you will return. We knew we would.
Our original plan was to travel Europe for one year but then we learned about the Schengen Area which made that very difficult. Here is how that area works in a nutshell:
The Schengen Area is the area comprising 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. For non-Schengen citizens, (Canadians) you are allowed entry into the zone for 90 days within any 180 day period. These days don’t need to be consecutive – the total is cumulative. Once day 181 hits, the count resets itself.
Travel Visas are complicated to obtain in Europe so we will be going in and out of the Area a few times to stay within the rules. We also decided to include some Canada and US areas into the journey that we have not been to or not been to together. We are very excited to return to Quebec, where we spent our 25th anniversary in the fall of 2005. The colours were so spectacular, we wanted to return at the same time of year and are thrilled that we can.
(A side note….we originally booked our 25th anniversary in New Orleans. I had JUST finished making all the final arrangements when Hurricane Katrina hit. After we realized the devastation Louisana and it’s people had met, we thought we missed out on a chance of a lifetime to visit this amazing location. As fate has it, New Orleans is on our itinerary for December.
The original start date on our adventure began as November 1 2014. Just a random date we, together with our kids, picked as a goal date. Then it moved to October 1, and finally it has settled to Sept 4 2014. The timing is around the weather, where we will be, and when. We tried to avoid packing winter clothes at all; just wind/water proof jackets and multiple layers. And very small suitcases. (Gasp!) What about the shoes!?!?
First 90 days
Vancouver, Chicago, New York, drive up the coast to Maine. Back into Canada (Quebec), Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Loisianna, and then over to Europe.
Next 90 days (Schengen)
Portugal, Spain, France (30 days in Paris).
Next 90 Days (out of Schengen Area)
Croatia, Molvania, Turkey, Russia, who knows!
Next 90 Days (back in Schengen Area)
Italy, (30 days in Rome) and beyond!
Why not? Because we can!
When Joe quite smoking in early 2013, it was the turning point for me. Joe suddenly had more energy, started working out and eating healthier. He felt better, and looked great! He had more free time. I didn’t have to wait for him to ‘grab a puff of fresh air’ in restaurants, airports and hotels. He suddenly became the perfect travelling companion. That, coupled with our discovery of the joy of hiking, pointed to one thing – the time was right. We were ready for an extended journey. We already shared the love of good food and great wine, of course each other’s company. We just had to find the courage to do it. And we did.
When we moved to Kelowna 5 years ago, my Mom was very ill and sadly passed away 6 weeks later. I wasn’t working at the time and so I as able to spend a great deal of time with my Dad. Dad and I had lived in separate cities for 30 years so we really got to know each other better during time. Sista Patty, Dad and I started a lunch club, ‘The Thirsty Trio’, and had many great meals and walks. When I went back to work in March of 2009, Dad and I saw less of each other but Joe, Salsa and I have faithfully kept a weekly date to see Dad for Happy Hour every Tuesday. Cheese and crackers and cocktails. Freshly baked pies, popcorn, and many other delicacies have been served over the years. We all look forward to this time together each week and this, and especially Dad, we truly shall miss. However, my Dad and Mom were avid world travellers themselves and Joe and I enjoy listening to Dad’s stories of the places they explored. So we know he has a good understanding and appreciation of our need to travel and a respect for us for doing it. Dad is 87 now and I know if he could join us, he would. Actually it wouldn’t surprise us if he showed up in Germany or Switzerland – oh how we would love and enjoy that!
It Takes a Village To Raise A Dream
Oh Salsa, how can we leave her behind? With great difficulty – but we cannot put our life on hold anymore because of our dog. Perhaps that is hard for any pet owner to understand – and for me too because I actually haven’t done it yet. However Salsa has co-parents – Jan and Brian Kerr. Salsa goes to their house any day Joe and I are both working and when we go out of town. Salsa loves them – probably more than she loves us it feels like! These kind souls volunteered, without asking, to take our dog for a year. Who does that? They do. And so because of them, we are able to go on our adventure. Hopefully, with time, Salsa will forgive us for abandoning her for a year. We plan on face timing her to see how much weight she has gained/lost and to monitor her flying lessons.
Our next door neighbours, the Gambles, have invited Salsa into their home anytime the Kerr’s are away. I know my Dad would have loved to have taken her, but caring for a dog for a year would be too much work for a man on the prowl. LOL!
Quitting Our Jobs
Quitting our jobs was another hurdle we had to work in. Joe and I both work for the same company, GLH Vending, so it was important to us to give them enough notice to find two replacements. We still needed to work for as long as we could, so didn’t want to give too much notice either. Timing issues came into play (possession date / departure date) and things just fell into place. Luckily our employers are a great bunch and were very supportive. Joe and I were professional enough to want everything to be covered once we left, so we all worked together. We will miss all of our GLH friends and family a great deal!
Our departure date from Kelowna is also Joe’s official retirement date and he is thrilled and ready to kick back. What a great start to retirement! I am so happy for him and look forward to him running the house. I, being the much younger wife, will have to return to work when we get back. Doing what, I don’t know; I’ll think about that in about 12 months!
The Feeling of Homelessness
People have asked how we feel about being ‘homeless’. This experience just began on August 22 2014, so we can’t say for sure at this point. But how I imagine it, is we will pack up every few days, or week or months and go to a new ‘home’ in a new country or city or island with new views and awaiting experiences. We don’t have a home to miss or many personal belongings. We will miss our family and our friends but are lucky to live in an age of electronics and social media. We will never be far away!
PREPARING FOR A ONE YEAR ADVENTURE
We have been preparing for this adventure for over a year. First I started doing a lot of research on travel insurance, medical coverage, weather, (this is where I discovered the Schengan Area), where to go, etc. In the beginning, the planning process was totally overwhelming.
I normally spent weeks planning a one week vacation….how do you possibly plan for a year? It was so overwhelming that there were many periods I did absolutely nothing. Closed the book. Switched gears. When we printed out full page, month by month calendars it got better. We had multi coloured stickies that were labeled, and moved around as rough plans started to form. I could picture it now! We still use those 12 pages as a guide in our planning. We still had to deal with the everyday routines of working, living, playing, company, mini-vacations/trips. I learnt to focus on one thing at a time. Spencer and Lindsay were married on July 19 2014. We made sure that was all about them and turned off the planning buttons when it came to events leading up to, and the wedding. It worked!
There were many sleepless nights with to-do-lists dancing in my head; little things and big things I hadn’t thought of. Taxes! Change of address! iPhones, iPads, apps, passwords OMG. Lots of work but slowly, with a little help from friends and family, it all came together.
Over the course of the year, we started going through our house, room by room and deciding what to sell, giveaway or keep. Anything classified as KEEP was questioned as to whether to was “worth paying to store this for a year”? This was an overwhelming task at first. As a woman, we like to have lots of clothes, whether we wear them or not. Because in our minds, we like it, it was on sale, one day I will be skinny again and it will fit, someone gave it to me….ladies you know what I mean. So this overwhelming task of thinning out clothes, took 2 or 3 passes per season. On each pass I would have to stop once the feeling that I was throwing what seemed like my life, away. Same thing for trinkets, dishes, and furniture. Several passes. But at some point later on, little voices kept telling us IT’S JUST STUFF. And we started to realize it was JUST STUFF. And it was and it is. And suddenly it became easier to sell or giveaway things. STUFF from the KEEP pile was removed. I would get so excited as Joe’s success in selling our STUFF grew. We have a bank account earmarked for furniture for our return and each little deposit was exciting. The world of selling STUFF is a whole other story so I will try and condense it.
Buyers are interesting and sometimes odd people. Once, I think a man was trying to give me a cheek or Eskimo kiss when we were alone in the garage. Wtf? So awkward! Garage sale people that want to offer you $.25 for something marked $.50. Really? But by the third garage sale we tried, very hard, not to let them bother us. It is SO rewarding when someone loves and appreciates a piece they bought/received. Pricing things is very difficult. At one point I called my sister Linda and asked her advice on how to price furniture. Linda told me to take what you paid for it and cut it in half. We followed that principal and it worked great. Of course you have to factor in age and condition and chances of anyone else but you liking it, but it was a great guideline – thanks Linda! Our office happened to be right next door to a charitable used goods store so many weekends Joe just loaded up the Jeep and made deposits to ‘Share.’
We were not prepared to start dipping into our life savings to make this adventure a reality. So we took into account that Joe would be retiring and as much as we loved our house, we decided to sell it. It had become too big for us anyways and we lived in a strata that does not allow rentals, so that was not an option. We then decided when to list our house based on our departure date and took the plunge.
I called our realtor, she had one open house and about 12 showings and two weeks later, it was sold. As expected, everything happened very quickly after that. Frankly, I don’t know how we kept it together during this entire process. I never broke down once and Joe only had one little snapping episode on moving day followed by a ‘run in’ with the house and the UHaul. Pretty good if I do say so myself!
We are using some of the house proceeds, (also knows as Spending Our Children’s Inheratence) to fund our one year of travel. While we are away, the balance of the proceeds, along with our RRSP’s will be working hard for us earning us an allowance. We anticipate they will have grown somewhat upon our return. Additionally, I will have more time to return to ‘playing’ the stock market. I have done very well over the years and know I can increase our earnings once I am back on track (have the time) and trading some good dividend earners.
I did some quick calculations on what we will be saving not owning a home and vehicle. Would you believe $12k for the year, easily! If I included what our we used to pay when we had a mortgage, I could add another $24k to that for a total of $36k a year. Plus you have to eat and drink wine so if we consider those things as part of our cost of living, our trip is going to be relatively inexpensive! LOL
When we return to Kelowna in Sept 2015, we plan on renting something for awhile until the perfect condo comes our way. Joe will be retired, I will find a job or perhaps a perfect little business will be our choice. Our return is not something to plan now; we know we will be different people then so will leave that to fate for now.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Please visit our blog when you can; you are important to us!
Paula and Joe Thompson