Sunday, September 22, 2013

Philadelphia Freedom

After a year and a half of planning, 6 months of homelessness, we will finally be on our way to Italy in the next few hours.

We have had a wonderful time in Philadelphia with our friends, Donna and Michael.  They cooked for us constantly, and I ate every delicious bite.  I have now forgotten all of the bad food that we ate on our way across the country. Donna is like a sister to me and I have come to love Michael, her husband as a brother.  We will be sad to leave but have already made plans for their trip over and ours back to see them.

We had dinner on the Moshulu with the best financial ever, Will Wolf of Insite Advisers.  He is part counselor, part priest, but mainly a very good friend who has helped us protect and invest our assets. He is the best.
Will on the left, me, Stefanie and the Stoic One.

Our bags are packed...
Luca is in his Thundershirt

We are ready to go...The Stoic One is post from the Queen Mary!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Texas, Louisiana, Alabama

I can't believe what a big state Texas is...the place is huge especially if you are driving an Audi A4 packed to the gills with a sweet little dog in the back. At the widest point it is 773 miles and I feel everyone of those miles in my butt.  We are now about half way across the US.  Leaving the Bay Area meant we left good food that was easy to find.  I am sure there is good food in other states, but so far we haven't found it.  Deep fried food, Mexican beans and rice...this does not bode well for my digestion.  We have stayed in some very nice places.  We loved the Residence Inn in Abilene.  We are staying in a very nice hotel now, the Remington hotel. It's interesting in Italy and the Bay Area good food is around and not that difficult to locate.  In other places in the US most of the good food is in the home.  That is probably also true of Italy.

Luca has been the easiest dog.  People come up to him, want to pet him.  He has learned to relax with this although he is still very wary of toddlers. Not that I blame him.  Let me see....some remarks about people in Louisiana.  Very, very friendly.  The women wear make up and get "fixed up" like true southern women.

I have never been to Mississippi before, and I still can't say I have been there.  We drove straight across the state on I-20.  I must confess to some California prejudices about the state.  My only images are of shanties and poor people.  I am sure that is still true.  I didn't expect the state to be pretty.  It has rolling hills, green trees, lots of pasture land. I could have been in Kentucky or Tennessee.  I wonder what it would be like if we got off one of the exits and explored.  No time. On to Alabama.

It is now 17 day  until we move to Italy permanently.  I feel anxious.  I compared it to the feeling before getting married...that approch/avoidance conflict. Such a big decision. I think making this transition so long, has given me more time to mull this over, worry about things I can't control, second guess every decision we've made.  The Stoic One remains.....stoic.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Across the US Now at D going to E tomorrow


View Cross Country Map in a full screen map

Cross Country Adventures A to L

We are finally beginning the last stage of our trip.  It still does not seem real.  It seems more like we are on an extended vacation for the rest of our lives.  We spent several days with our good friends Dorothee and Mike and their new, fantastic home in Palm Desert. It was the final goodbye to our California friends.

We are still saying goodbye to places. We said goodbye to the Pacific ocean, beautiful but I never swam in it. Too cold. We said goodbye to the state of California as we drove over the border and into Arizona.  That was more difficult.  The Stoic One has lived in California all of his life.  Born in Los Angeles and even did his military service in California.  He is sad to leave his brother and family but ready to move on. A native Californian leaving his birth place, but he is, well, stoic about it.

For me California has been the golden state of dreams, aspirations, opportunities and good fortune.  Coming from Michigan and then Tennessee, when I arrived in California, I swore I would never leave the state. I have felt at home here. I felt understood here. My work has been here, and the majority of my friends are here. The state is beautiful with the mountains, deserts, ocean all within driving distance. So when we crossed that line and the Stoic One said, "Say good by to California" it was saying good by to many things. I think mainly I was saying goodbye to my youth; those yearnings for freedom and success that once attained seem to vanish into the dark recesses of my memory. Odd how the yearnings diminish with age; at least for me.

I go to Italy full of curiosity. I really want to speak Italian well, but that is a goal, not a yearning. By working hard, and having great luck, the Stoic One and I have a sense of financial freedom in retirement.  We know we are lucky, and we do not have unlimited resources, so we know we must also learn to live like the Italians, not the Americans. Be happy with what we have.  Enjoy the things of life that don't cost money. Find motivation in living that does not begin with making and spending money.  This will be a challenge.

So here we are on the beginning of our journey across this huge country. We are in Tuscon, Arizona.  If you have never been to the Sonoran desert, it is worth the trip.  The cacti are fascinating.
This is the state "flower" of Arizona.  They can live 200 years and can grow up to 10 tons during its lifetime.  Can you imagine?  It grows only about 3 inches a year (unless some fool is watering it all of the time.) It can also store up to 2000 pounds of water, in case you wondered how the native people lived out here. In June this sucker blooms for ONE DAY ONLY. Needless to say we don't have those pictures. Between 50 and 75 years, a limb will appear.  This cactus is very old and treasured. It only grows in the Sonoran desert in the US and Mexico.

Blooming prickly pears. The Stoic One often refers to me as "prickly" mainly when I get too hot.  Now I really know what prickly means!