Sunday, December 24, 2006

How do You Deal With Loneliness?

Dr. Lou Stoetzer, co-author of the book How Do They Live Like That?, offers a reminder that living a full-time RV lifestyle can be lonely at times. He recommends on his website that "when you load your rig for that big trip remember to take along the phone numbers of your close friends...reach out when the blues hit." This advice has helped me survive as a "road warrior" for the past five years. When I have an assignment in a new town, I check my PDA, PITT Alumni Directory, and Rotary connections for friends and family who may be living in the area. It's uplifting to reconnect with an old friend from college or a cousin who I haven't seen since I was a kid playing in Grandpa's back yard. A dinner out or quiet visit in their home can give you something to look forward to and make life on the road fun! I expect that as Ed and I travel we will be reconnecting with some people who have touched our lives. I also expect that we'll have some folks who will want to come visit us if they hear we're on a tropical beach in December or attending a special cultural event. Why not beat the loneliness by having an open door that swings both ways?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Do You Believe in Fortune Cookie Messages?

I love fortune cookies! Those eight to ten words printed on a paper no bigger than my pinkie finger can make me reflect on life, give me a boost, or simply make me laugh. Today, however, my fortune seemed prophetic. "A bold and dashing adventure is in your future."This message came out of my dinner cookie after spending a midday visit with Dr. John and Harriet Halkyard, authors of "99 Days to Panama: An Exploration of Central America by Motorhome." I read their book last August and contacted them by email suggesting that we meet when our paths cross in Houston. Instead, we met in Gun Barrel City. Ed and I meet with the Halkyards to discuss our RV travel plans, gain insight on Central America, and hear tips for life in an RV there. They offered a tremendous amount of information that only those who have been over the road can provide. Now, both Ed and I are aching to hit the road; and when we do, my fortune will come true.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Inspiration from James A. Michener

Imagine my astonishment when I read, "I had on file in the back recesses of my memory such a wealth of enticing subjects about which I would write that my brain would justly be termed teeming..." My favorite author James A. Michener described himself this way in the first chapter of The Eagle and The Raven. His words reflect my feelings too! For in preparation to travel full time aboard "Patty's Charm", I created and regularly update a list of ideas for articles and even books that I will write. I am also being selective about documents that I intend to keep handy for when the time comes to extract these enticing subjects and commit them to paper. These ideas harbor as memos in my Palm One waiting for the freedom of the road to unleash them. Until then, I remain committed to write a case for support for a client wishing to raise $50 million for a endowment campaign and a policy document for a new foundation. My brain is teeming!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Restraint

Holiday merchandise tempts me - ornaments for the tree, serving bowls painted with snowmen, Christmas decorations - yet I maintain restraint. The words, "Will it fit in the bus?" run through my mind with every item I pick-up. So instead of buying more seasonal stuff, I simply fight the urge to buy this year.

I have always loved Christmas decorations. Our tree went up on Thanksgiving night and will remain in the living room until New Years Day. Bayberry candles scent the dining room and will be burned on Christmas Eve in the half century old family tradition to bring us good luck. This year, I dug out my childhood Lionel train, the one with the orange colored engine. I like hearing it hum around the tracks under the Christmas tree. I found some working twinkling lights in the attic and hung them around the front door. And, in a burst of craziness, Ed and I used electrical ties to hold another set of lights around the arms and back of my Cracker Barrel porch rocker.

One new decoration did arrive in my weekly office mail. It's a 10 inch snowman toting a Christmas tree over his shoulder and holding a star as a lantern in its hand. I didn't actually buy him, I bid $10 on him when the online charitable auction started. No one out bid me; in fact, no one else bid on him. Guess people in Texas just aren't into snowmen like us transplanted northerners. I hope he will fit in the bus!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Career Break Plan

You share a lot of history when a friendship goes back for over 35 years. That's me and Val. High school classmates, college roommates, married to guys named "Ed", holidays together at Indian Lake, and phone calls whenever the day spares a moment. At long last, she came to visit me at my Texas home and sat with me on my squeaky porch swing. In one of those heart-to-heart conversations, she asked, "Why do you want to give this up?" By contrast, Val and her Ed will be moving to Georgia and settling in a big 4- bedroom house with a 3-car garage; my Ed and I will be settling into the 40' x 8' motor coach.

I responded by handing her the Lonely Planet book The Career Break Book: Swap your briefcase for a passport and live your dream. I reminded Val of the sense of freedom and spirit of adventure that we had in our youth before all the responsibilities caught up with us. I told her that I want to recapture that feeling and the book in my hand gives practical advice on how to move in that direction.

I went on to remind Val that plenty of times in my life, I set out on a course that I could not foresee the outcome - parenthood for one. What did I, an only child, know about raising kids? Some how I managed. Writing a grant use to scare me. Did I ever think I could raise millions of dollars for charity through grant writing? No, but I did! The same is true with the adventure of living in the RV and traveling. It's a path to follow and one that I can change if things don't feel right after awhile. It's an opportunity to seize now or never because "someday" never comes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Getting Ready to Go Full-time RVing

The week before Halloween, I stopped at a pumpkin patch in Chandler, Arizona to buy a pumpkin for a friend that I planned to visit. The lady managing the tented site, approached me from her RV parked nearby. After picking the biggest pumpkin with the perfect shape for carving a jack-o-lantern, I asked about her lifestyle and travels. She told me that she and her husband live aboard the coach and travel around picking up seasonal work like selling pumpkins. "What fun!" I thought as I wobbled on the black high shoes that I'd been wearing for over eight hours since my 7:30 AM business meeting and as I tried not to get pumpkin dirt on my Kasper suit. She shared that the hardest thing about going fulltime was getting rid of things too impractical for the couple's new lifestyle. She told me that she gave keepsakes to her children to hold, probably forever, and the rest she sold at her yard sales that went on week-after-week. I could empathize. I have filled two of the four packing trunks so far to store at Mom's house unless she violently protests. And, the storage shed is beginning to brim full with my garage sale items that only a Saturday morning, crack-of-dawn garager would want.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Patty's Recommended Readings

I have loved to read books from even my youngest days. Sometimes, I find that I read two or more books as a time - fiction to lull me to sleep, business books to stay on top of my profession and watch trends, and travel related books to take me places where I have yet to go and enjoy the journey of other adventurous people. Here are my recent favorites and recommended readings for you:

99 Days to Panama: An Exploration of Central America by Motorhome, Dr. John & Harriet Halkyard, Brindle Press, 2005.

Around the World by Freighter: Discover Your World from a Cargo Ship, Bob Hartley, Trafford Publishing, 2004.

Desert Memories: Journeys Through The Chilean North, Ariel Dorfman, National Geographic Society, 2004.

Driving through Latin America: U.S.A. to Argentina, Chris Yelland, International Publications, 1997.

Errant Journeys, David Zurik, University of Texas Press, 1995.

Europe by Van and Motorhome, David Shore & Patty Campbell, Odyssey Press, 2001

Hemingway in Africa: The Last Safari, Christopher Ondaatje, The Overlook Press, 2003.

Road Fever, Tim Cahill, Random House, 1991.

Roads: Driving America’s Great Highways, Larry McMurtry, Simon & Schuster, 2000.

RV Chuckles and Chuckholes: The Confessions of Happy Campers, Darlene Miller, Roving Pen Publishing, 2005.

Tales of a Female Nomad, Rita Golden Gelman, Three Rivers Press, 2001.

Dolly Goes Around the World

Some people ask me, "What is inspiring such a bold move to give up a Texas home, secure surroundings and hit the road in your RV?" My desire to do this can be traced to a 29-cent book which my parents taught me to read back in 1961.

I read the book so often that I memorized Dolly Goes Around the World and recited it to Sister Joel's first grade class at St. Benedict's School in Johnstown, PA. I was only six-years-old, but even then I wanted to be like the blinky-eyed doll featured in the book traveling to the forests of Peru, on the pampas of Argentina, ashore in Hawaii and fishing in Alaska. Over the years, the book disappeared, given to a cousin or tattered and tossed out which I do not know. But the rhyming phases always reminded me that traveling means new experiences and fun.

Last spring, I found an antique book store with a copy of this beloved book. I ordered it online for the inflated cost of $32.99 plus shipping. This little literary treasure will go with Ed and I as we begin our explorations.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Talents and Time

Until Ed and I hit the road, I work as a senior consultant for Ketchum, a fund raising consulting firm with offices in Dallas and Pittsburgh. Some of my current clients include Prairie View A&M University, USA Swimming Association, Barness Family Jewish Community Center East Valley, and CHW Foundation - East Valley. I give my "all" to my clients as I mentor their development staff and show them ways to increase giving for their institutions.

Today, especially as I work at home for a client in Colorado Springs, I am overwhelmed at the talents I give. And, I cannot help but wonder what I could be creating for my own future as a travel writer if I had the time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Getting Ready to go Full-Time in the RV

Today, I filled the first of my keepsake trunks. Knowing that I would not need these mementos, meant that I simply went through closets and drawers identifying things dear to me. I started chronologically, high school year books, photo albums from my years at Hempfield and PITT, Alpha Delta Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon pins, my pledge book, and composites covered the bottom of Trunk #1. Then, I added my wedding dresses, wedding photo albums, the dried bouquet of roses, and the apron from my bridal dance. Next, I folded Suzie's christening gown and Communion dress followed by Christopher's infant size christening outfit and added them the trunk. The children's report cards, scouting badges and medals, and handmade Mother's Day gifts cherished for so long filled spaces. Diplomas, awards, published works, and Rotary flags fit nicely too. When I closed the lid, I felt like I had created a time capsule of my life...a treasure chest of my past and a glimpse of my life's passages.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Call Us the Myth Busters

When Ed or I tell people who have never considered our country’s southern neighboring countries that we intend to travel in our motor home through Central and South America, the reaction is predictable. “Can you really get there from here?” “Is it safe?” “I’d be afraid to go there.” When met with these reactions, we both feel compelled to comment on our readings and known experiences of other adventurous spirited persons. Call us the myth busters! Often, I wonder why people seem so afraid to leave their comfort radius around “home” and experience more than what the television brings to the arm chair audience.

The packing/storage trunks arrived today. Let’s move on from Whitehouse, Texas.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I'm Done with that Side of the House

For all the miles that Ed and I traveled in the month of August, we could have been well on our way through Central America. Ed had driven a box truck from Houston, TX to Canton, NY to assist his son Andrew and daughter-in-law Cindy move to their new home. And, I packed the Dodge truck with Suzie’s stuff to move her from Whitehouse, TX into the dorm at William Woods University in Fulton, MO. Now, we hope that with the kids settled, we can focus on what we need to do to make our commitment to travel happen.

These moves emptied half of the house with Andrew and Cindy taking a complete bedroom set and Suzie gathering what’s important to a college sophomore – TV, computer, a closet and dresser full of clothes, and everything else a girl needs. Only mementos remain: some high school yearbooks, Rodeo ticket stubs, cross country race numbers, ribbons from winning in hunter/jumper equestrian events, and tattered Dover catalogs. I’ve asked Ed to order some heavy-duty trunks to store these keepsakes.

That is part of our plan – to store mementos in trunks, give away or sell the contents of our home. Friday, I pointed at the empty guest room and Suzie’s room and announced, “I’m done with that side of the house!”

Living in only half of our 2,000 square foot home might somehow condition us to living in our bus conversion a mere 320 square feet. Goodwill, the Whitehouse Library, and people who frequent yard sales will benefit from the next wave of downsizing. We’ll also put some items on eBay and Craig’s List. And, I intend to be aggressive in carting things to the trash.

The items that we will take in the motor home must have a practical or recreational use, be wearable or edible. These criteria should make decisions of what to place in cabinets or storage bays easy when we move into "Patty's Charm."

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Road Is Calling Me

I combined a client call this week with pleasure. I traveled in my rental car on Monday to Sedona, AZ known for its artists’ community and red desert rock formations. The scenery took my breath away! I noticed a scenic route on the map so I decided to take it south through Jerome to Phoenix. The map did not tell me that the road was a series of hairpin turns and switchbacks through the Arizona mountains. Of course there were no guard rails, no road bream, in other words no room for driver error. At the end of the “scenic road”, I ended up in Prescott. I found the nearest brew pub to settle my nerves and checked the map for an interstate highway. Wednesday, I headed east to the Superstition Mountains to hike a short desert trail. I ended up on another one of Arizona’s “scenic roads” and turned around after two miles. These roads make the climb to Pittsburgh’s Mt. Washington a piece of cake. Thursday night, I explored Tempe – shops and restaurants – civilization.

All the while as I explored these new places, I kept thinking about how Ed would navigate those turns in our RV and where would we boondock for the night. I thought about how much fun it would be to hang out at the Mammoth Grill on AZ Route 88 (one of the "scenic routes") in Apache Junction for a night of cold beers, listening to the bar band, and not have to drive 30 miles to the Hampton Inn. This mini trip reminded me of how ready I am to begin the unhurried wandering that will come with the commitment of the full-time lifestyle in our motorhome. Soon I will be wandering through Mexico and the Central American countries not the USA.

Monday, July 31, 2006

We're going full-time RVing

So much preparation! We have the house for sale with a pending offer; we've listed the furnishings for sale on Craig's List - Tyler, TX, and incorporated Global Tourism Solutions, Inc. as my new corporate entity. I eagerly read every book and newsletter about travel through Mexico, Central America and South America. (My comprehensive reading list will be posted to my website in by September.) We have decided to allow ample time to ready "Patty's Charm" our motor home as we need a new generator, house batteries, new tile in the bathroom and a few cosmetic touches to the carpets and window treatments. Ed is building me a work station in the coach so I can chronicle our trip and publish information on our Blog. Our early target date to shove off and to begin our road trip is spring 2007. The pull to get started grows stronger each passing day. We've ordered trunks to store keepsake photos and financial documents. Who needs these on the road?! The joy of simplification to leisure clothes, some necessary household items, food, fuel, and a laptop will bring relief to our harried life in Whitehouse, Texas. We will be offering a newsletter through my husband's company website for anyone who wants to follow our journey. Hold on, it will be a great ride!

We'll be heading to Mexico, Central America and eventually South America.