Long and Winding Road

I finally got on the road Monday around noon. Like most road trips, this one started out innocent enough. My car was packed full of what few remaining items I wanted to hold onto; some clothes, some memorabilia, important documents, etc. Ahead of me was 2000+ miles of road to cover at the end of which where my kids and grandson, behind me was a life I had grown accustomed to, people that I’ve grown to like and love, and my house, which someone else will live in. To say I was awash in a jumble of emotion would be an understatement if it were true. Truth is that I tend to avoid emotional turmoil by concentrating on the task at hand. So, as I drove away from my house, my friends and loved ones, my adopted city the only thing on my mind was deciding which podcast I was going to listen to first.

That single mindedness lasted almost until I reached the Mississippi border. (I know it’s odd, but enjoy spelling Mississippi.) The first crack in my shield against emotions came with the thought that there were so many things I had intended to do after retirement. Then there were thoughts of places I wanted to visit and people I wanted to visit those places with. By the time I crossed into Louisiana all that stuff I talked about in the paragraph above was flooding my mind. There was nothing to be done really, like the highway I was on, my life’s path has been laid out in front of me and there was no turning back.

Sunset in Mobile AL

Funny thing about roads, they take you places, but what you encounter along the way is what makes the journey interesting, or not. I saw a lot while driving I-10. Spectacular sunset in Mobile, beautiful sunrise in east Texas, and indescribable scenery no matter where I looked. Mid-Texas had gotten some rain and everything was green, not what I expected.

Green Texas

One thing I will say, driving through Texas on I-10 SUCKS!!! It seemed like it would go on forever! Its only saving grace, at least while I drove through, was the varied weather. Fog in in the morning in East Texas, overcast and breezy in mid-Texas, and a dust storm in West Texas.

That dust storm was the freakiest thing. There was a storm front moving through west Texas. As I approached the outside temperature dropped from 90 degrees to 80 degrees and the wind started picking up. Off in the distance there were several sizable dust devils. One had to be a thousand feet tall.

As I drove further west clear skies grew nasty looking clouds and the wind blew even stronger and the temperature to the mid 60s. The wind blew so strong that several trucks had to pull over or risk being blown over. I drove on and ran into the rain part of the front. Ahead of the rain clouds at ground level was a huge orange cloud. The rain clouds where pushing dust clouds ahead of them. I drove into that dust cloud and it was so thick that I could hardly see 100 feet ahead of me and I had to slow to 20mph and turn on my flashers, as did other vehicles around me. As quickly as the dust cloud formed, it dissipated. But the wind was even stronger and it rocked my car. Tumbleweeds streaked across the road. What rain that did fall was dust colored mud drops that splattered and caked on my windshield.

Coming storm

I’ll admit to being a little concerned.

By the time I reached El Paso much of the storm had passed and there was spectacular sunset. A great way to say goodbye to Texas. The rest of the drive was at night and pretty much smooth sailing, though it was windy.

I arrived at my daughter’s house at 2AM local time. I was beat.

More to come.

Stay tuned.

Baby Steps…

Those of you who know my plans know that I should be in Tucson right now basking in the presence of my daughter and her family while we await the arrival of my son, who is driving in from Oceanside, later in the week.

Well…, I’m not in Tucson. I’m not basking or waiting. I’m still here in Orlando. As I was mentally checking through my todo list late last Friday I realized that I’d forgotten to pick up the title to my car from the tax collector office, and a major reason from me to drive out to Tucson instead of fly is to deliver my car to my daughter, and she needs the title to register the car in Arizona. So, I have to wait for the tax office to open on Monday (today) to collect the title and be on my way, finally. This mishap wasn’t entirely result of an old brain at work (or not working), I had tried to pick up the title almost two weeks ago, but the bank had forgotten to remove the lien from the title after the car was paid off, a process that takes several days to percolate through the system. I had contacted the bank and initiated the process, I just forgot to follow up.

Initially I was more than a bit miffed at myself for forgetting, but I took heart in two facts:

0. I got a chance to hang out with some friends for a bit
0. I actually had a lot more to do to the house to make it ready for the renter than I realized

That first one was an unexpected pleasure, it’s always good to see friends and I really enjoyed their company. I will missed you all when I’m gone.

Most of the weekend, however, was spent dealing with things that I just didn’t anticipate. For instance, after sodding my backyard I noticed that water began pooling at the gate to the backyard. That meant that there would be a mud puddle there after every rain. Not good. So I installed a paver walkway. I also rearranged the garage to make better use of the space I’m using for storage. Basically, I had more time to do a better job of making my house better for my tenant.

So, it’s now 4 AM or there about on Monday morning. I’ve got the car packed, my bags packed, and the house ready. I’m anticipating arriving in Tucson sometime Wednesday. My son will arrive Thursday. My kids have said they have plans for me to give me a “proper sendoff”. I’m just hoping I don’t get arrested.

Stay tuned,


This Just In…

I just got a note from the Peace Corps. My address, at least for the first three months in country, will be:

Vern Seward

Peace Corps

 Office PO Box 6862

Nachtigal Street

Ausspannplatz Windhoek, Namibia

I will have a new phone number too, but I won’t get that until I’m in country. Those of you who have my current number, please hold on to it. I have an unlocked phone and will purchase a new SIM card for the new number, and just hold on to my (US) number for emergencies, or when I visit, and when I get back at the end of my tour.

The Peace Corps also suggests that we use WhatsApp for texting and voice calls. I’m currently in WhatsApp, but it’s tied to my current phone number. My user name is Verngzr and I believe you’ll be able to find me that way when the number changes.

A friend who has been to Namibia and South Africa suggests that I also use Skype as it can be an inexpensive way to call and/or video call. I’m not sure many of you would want to see my ugly mug, my kids, however, have no choice. So, I will get Skype and use iMessage and FaceTime when I want to talk to my grandson.

Ain’t technology fun??

Stay tuned


And Closer Still

I’m ashamed to admit it, but my house looks like the set of a post-apocalyptic movie. You know, stuff everywhere, remnants of more carefree times hanging on walls, here and there are bags of stuff, some trash, some keepers.

Just need Denzel Washington to walk through reading a script from The Book of Eli: Chapter 2. (There is no such movie to my knowledge, but I wish there were.)

I’ve been attacking this place for days and while I’ve made great progress it just doesn’t seem to be enough progress. I’ve been at it to the point where I’ve suspended my morning walks so that I can get at the tasks still needing attention. So far, that hasn’t been enough. I’m not concerned though, at least not yet. If I’m still looking at the same stuff come Monday (3/20/17) THEN I’ll be worried. So it’s a double-down Saint Patrick’s Day weekend.🍀

Truth be told, last week I kinda got lazy and took off a few days. I needed the time away from the constant purging. Hung out with my friends, and I really needed to do that. That’s not to say I didn’t get stuff done, I did:

• All utilities (water, power, mobile phone, wifi/media) are now scheduled to be turned off at the end of the month
• Several runs to drop stuff off at GoodWill
• Made some hard decisions on what to keep and what to toss

That last one has been the toughest yet. I’ve been going through rounds of purging, and because of that I’ve already gotten rid of superfluous stuff; clothes that don’t fit, tech I don’t use, furniture I don’t need, so on. The purge now is dealing with stuff I do want, or at least I thought I did. I’m asking questions like: Which shirts to keep? Am I ever going to read that collection of books? Do I really need 10 pairs of white sox? ( Actually, that’s an easy one since I seldom wear white sox.)

One thing that’s helped is my focus not only on what to bring with me to Namibia, but also what I think I want to have when I return. I’ve always believed that less is best though I have succumb to a bit of consumerism now and then (which my collection of shirts can validate), so I see this as an opportunity to seriously reduce what I have, and to start gating the stuff I get in the future based on what I need versus what I want.

I think “want” has been a problem for most people, especially those of my generation. We grew up being bombarded with commercials telling us that the newer, bigger, faster whatszit is THE thing to have, and we bought into it. Big house, big car, big tvs, more, more, more! We don’t see what all of that stuff drags along with it: mostly paper. Mounds of it. And it collects and multiplies in dark corners and drawers.

Take your mobile phone for instance ( a favorite media whipping boy), I just shredded a garbage bag full of phone bills, just phone bills, all neatly stapled and stored, from 10 years ago! Back then every text and call showed up on your paper bill that sometimes was as thick as a magazine. I somehow managed to store it in such a way that I didn’t see the bill once I paid it. Out of sight… And so, they accumulated, 3 years worth!

My shredder is getting one helluva workout! (I’m definitely keeping it!)

OK, I need to get back to it.

Stay tuned.

Closer Still

I apologize again for the delays in my updates to this blog, it seems that the closer I get to my departure date the more I find that I need to do. That’s not to say that I haven’t made progress. Au contraire mon ami! I have been kicking task butt! Check this out:

• Completed sodding my backyard: This was a big pain because the place where I was buying the sod ran out and it was a week before they got more.
• Planted viburnums in the backyard: I was looking to add a little something to the backyard, which tends to stay moist even without watering. And part of the yard gets about 5 hours of direct sunlight while another part is in perpetual shade. I planted ferns in the shady part and they took off. The viburnum should do well in the sunny part. (All of this in a yard the size of a postage stamp!)
• I got a company to manage my house: Was gonna get my good friend Brian to manage the house while I’m away, but I didn’t take into account all that “management” entails, so I decided to go with a professional management company and ask Brian to be my local point of contact. Good company too! They took care of advertising, vetting potential renters, showing the house and more. Which bring me to the next bullet.
• Got a renter!!! This happened a lot faster than I anticipated. My house went on the market on a Monday, by Friday I had 3 potential renters! The renter I decided was recommended by the management company. A huge relief!!!
• Made significant headway in clearing out the final “Catch All” room: One of the small bedrooms I used as an office, sound studio for voice work, and a place to put stuff that I needed to look at, but tended to forget about…which usually meant that stuff accumulated… a lot. Making any progress in reducing the stuff in that room is goodness. Still lots to do there, but progress is progress.
• Sold off most of my furniture: This was big! Everything went to good homes or, as is the case for the small bedroom set because my new tenant asked for it, is staying where it is under new ownership. Really did work out well.
• Bought a travel camera: Sold my Canon 7D and am lending the use of my other equipment while I’m gone. I didn’t want to lug around a big camera, but I needed something more than what my iPhone can give me. Settled on a Canon G7X. Pocketable, big (1″) sensor for great lowlight shots, 5x optical zoom, wifi connected, the works all in a neat little package.
• Terminating services: Water, electrics, wifi, and mobile all terminated on April 1. That last one, mobile, posed a bit of a problem because I wanted to keep my mobile number. Terminating service can cause you to lose your number. After some investigating I found a nice solution. Transfer my number to a prepaid plan and don’t use it. AT&T offers such plans (as do other carriers I imagine) and I can keep the plan and number tied to a SIM while I’m away. (My phone is unlocked)

There’s more, but I won’t bore you with it. Needless to say, however, I have been busy.

The last bit of good news is that I got my plan from the Peace Corps last Friday. It looks like I’ll be flying from Philadelphia to Johannesburg, South Africa, then to Windhoek, Namibia on April 9, arriving on April 11. That’s gonna be a looooong flight.

Stay tuned!