Sunday, December 25, 2005

In October, I attended a publisher's conference in Denver, Colorado, and was once again reminded how many variations there are in people's idea of the perfect dream trip.

I met Lars Clausen at the conference. He is a Lutheran minister in Chelan, Washington and his book is One Wheel - Many Spokes. Yes, he traveled the states on a unicycle! His adventure included:

9,136 miles through all 50 states
2 Guinness World Records
6-month family adventure

The book is a lively read -- and quite a twist on what most of us envision for our road trip dream. You can read more at his website

Monday, December 19, 2005

New Year's Resolution: Take a long vacation

Impossibly busy? Taking time off is not just good for you, but can reduce stress and even change your life!

“Every year, we go through the same old tired set of ideas –weight, diet, the relatives, our boss, our golf game, our spouse, even our kids – everyone gets a piece of our best intentions. But at some point don’t you just want to scream, ‘But what about making ME happier?’” laughs Carol White, co-author, along with her husband Phil, of Live Your Road Trip Dream (RLI Press Well, how about a vacation?

Phil goes on to say, “Most resolutions are ‘defect’ driven. Think about it – fix your weight, spend more time with the kids, start a workout program – all things that are ‘wrong’ with you. You are depressed before you start”. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Phil and Carol White have the perfect idea. Grab your partner, and the kids (if they’re still at home), and go see the United States. For a long time. Not just your annual vacation, they mean a real trip – a journey and a life-altering experience. Seem impossible? It’s not. In fact technology makes these trips even more possible than ever.

The Whites know more than just a little bit about how to do this and how life-changing it can be. They ventured into all 48 of the contiguous states, saw all the National Parks and along the way had the experience of a lifetime. They now spend their days encouraging others to make their own dream happen. “Some people say ‘Wow, I could never take a year off!’”, says co-author Carol White, “but that’s not really what this is about. Whether it is a road trip, a sailboat trip, or a trek for an extended period, the planning is the same and the rewards are often a changed outlook, less stress and some amazing memories that will last a lifetime.”

Now you are thinking, “Easy for them to say, they are retired, but I’m still slogging away making a living.” That’s even more reason to consider the possibilities. Along their way in their nineteen foot camping van, they saw many families and young couples and talked to them about mid-life journeys. The ways of actually hitting the road were as varied as the people themselves, but the bottom line was, they all wanted a new experience in their lives and were willing to be creative in making the changes necessary to allow it to happen.

The Whites have many tips and hints for would-be road trippers, but here are five to help you get your New Year’s resolutions off on a more positive note this year.

· Decide how you might pay for such an adventure and start implementing your plan. You can do it for the same cost as staying at home, but you just have to get rid of those expenses at home.
· Set a date when you will leave. Up until that time it is all just talk. You’ll be amazed at how quickly things will start falling in place to make your dream a reality.
· Enlist the help of family and friends to make the trip more meaningful. Give them “assignments”. Most of us have obligations that we have to figure out how to manage while we are gone. Grown children, business and social friends, church and community groups are all sources of help and excitement in planning your adventure.
· Pick a theme or set of ideas to guide your trip. Make sure that everyone who is going has an idea of what they want to see during the journey. If you have school-age children, you will be home-schooling them for the duration of your trip, so plan “lessons” that will cover their needs – reading, history, spelling, math, science and more can all be woven into your everyday activities – and it will be a time of learning that they will never forget.
· Don’t over plan your trip. When you go on a two-week vacation, you tend to plan your every move to maximize your time. When you go on a long trip – say a month or more, you can’t possibly plan your every move, nor would you want to. The joy of exploration and the unfolding of adventures is the most important part of the experience.

So instead of those same tired old resolutions, why not plan to change your lives – even for a short while in the scope of life, and see if some of those other “defects” don’t just take care of themselves.

Now that’s a resolution worth working on.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fifty-one weeks a year,
these tough hombres are
businessmen, dads, jocks, and husbands;
but, on that fifty-second week of the year --
They become the Montana Mountain Men.

Now if this isn't a group for the movie "City Slickers" I don't know what is. A by-invitation-only gathering brings these young men from all walks of life -- most of them didn't grow up on a ranch or farm, but they all felt the need to connect with their Wild West heritage on some level. Some had never shot a gun, some had never owned a pair of boots, but all of them swear by the enrichment and camaraderie provided by their once-a-year, let it all hang out, be a crazy, swaggering cowboy outing.

So why the MONTANA Mountain Men when they are all from OREGON? Their first outing was to Montana, and one of their very talented members wrote a song that has become their anthem.

Take a listen - it is really good.
(click on "Montana Mountain Men" MP3 - it takes a few seconds to load...)

Thanks to Christopher Edmonds, AKA War Paint (in the red shirt), for sharing this story and to Greg Herman, AKA Many Guns, for writing and recording this wonderful song. Part of their "initiation" ritual for newcomers is the assignment of their Montana Mountain Man name--something that they all look forward to with great expectation.

Oh, and no, they don't sleep in the wooden shack.
Just off camera is a huge motorhome -- and a few tents.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Price of Gas Really Doesn't Matter

“The good news is that there is no reason to cower in the corner of your RV trying to avoid the gasoline bogeyman,” asserts Carol White, author of Live Your Road Trip Dream – Travel for a year for the cost of staying home. “While none of us are thrilled about the new reality of gas prices, this is not a reason to cancel your travel plans, particularly if you are planning that dream trip of a lifetime.”

White, who along with her husband Phil, took off and traveled the country for a year in their Pleasure-Way class B motorhome, know more than a little about how much it costs to travel for an extended period. When they budgeted for their trip initially, they planned on an average of $1.75 a gallon for gas. When they returned, 37,500 miles and a year later, their actual average cost had been $1.56 a gallon. They paid as high as $2.35 a gallon in California, and as little as $1.22 in Georgia.

"Although some RV owners are concerned about fuel prices, the added cost is only a small part of the equation and not an overriding issue," observes David J. Humphreys, president of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). "For most RV owners, the advantages of RVing–such as greater flexibility, control and comfort–outweigh the higher costs of fuel," he concludes.

“Gas prices were fluctuating like crazy then also, and we weren’t sure what to really expect, but we did know that the price of gas wasn’t going to prevent us from getting out and seeing our great country,” Carol confirmed. “We knew that in the overall scope of trip expenses, this was not going to be a ‘deal breaker’ for us.”

“As it turned out, at $1.56 average over the year, it represented only five percent of our total budget and it was only our fifth largest expenditure,” Phil added.

Carol went on to update their information, “We recently recalculated our actual budget, using $2.25 as the average price over the same 37,500 miles, and it only moved the expense to eight percent of the total cost, and still the fifth largest expense.”

Phil and Carol go into great detail in their book not only about budgetary concerns, like gas, but also provide would-be travelers with tips about everything from what to do with your house and cars, to how to manage relationships while you are gone, to what to do about mail, bills and investments.

The Whites, who are definitely upbeat about encouraging others to get moving from the “dreaming to the doing,” laugh when describing the most often asked question: How to be with your travel companion on a 24/7 basis.

Phil provides a decidedly unabashed answer when he suggests, “You learn those two precious little words ‘yes, dear’ early on!” He continues on a more serious note adding, “You really learn to support each other on your off days, which you will both have. This is much easier than at home, because it is just the two of you with no outside influences to be considered. You really get to be two kids again, and it is great fun.”

Their final piece of advice? Don’t let the price of gas keep you from living your road trip dream. You will never forget or regret the times that you spend exploring your fondest travel ideas – whether it is a road trip like ours, a sailboat trip around the world, a trek through Asia or backpacking through Europe. The planning basics are the same regardless of the destination – and the White’s book is ready to help you plan your trip of a lifetime.