The 1969 Dodge Travco That Started it All

Two years ago we started the Baby Boomer Adventures blog based on the purchase of a 1969 Dodge Travco we found on craiglist in Tennessee. It was turquoise blue and white, both classic and a little corny, with a lot of rough edges and even more potential. It was the perfect throwback to the baby boomer generation and the launch pad for new careers as the “voice of the boomer generation”. We had visions of plastering our web address down both sides, loading up the dogs, some video cameras and editing equipment, and traveling the U.S. in our awesome new “Boomer Mobile” chasing baby boomers and their adventures from coast to coast.

It took six months to get the Travco registered after we discovered it had no vehicle identification number, then Michael left for the RV Training Center in Florida for nine weeks. Two weeks after he left, I broke my ankle so severely that I was in bed for two months and have only recently become mobile enough to tackle the interior restoration, and our grand plan to conquer the world in a 1969 Travco was replaced by the inescapable realization that a 27 foot Dodge Travco was never going to accommodate two adults, two cats and three dogs no matter how grand our dreams.

Because Michael has been working almost non stop as a mobile RV technician when he isn’t working as a whitewater raft guide on the French Broad River, it fell to me to begin the restoration myself. I pulled up all the old carpet, cleaned and refinished all the wood work, cut and stained new wood panels and all the baseboard, reupholstered the banquet seats, made new curtains, and with the leftover fabric, made a quilt and matching throw pillows, and replaced all the carpeting. We will be putting the Travco up for sale just as soon as Michael has had the chance to test all the operating systems, including the generator, water pump, heating and air conditioning.

We hope someone out there sees in the “Boomer Mobile” what we did, and they can put it to good use on some awesome camping trips around the U.S. We haven’t given up on the dream of becoming the voice of the boomer generation, but we need to do it in an RV that has room for our menagerie, a Harley Davidson, an editing bay, and a future big enough to accommodate all the living we have left to do.

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Why Starting All Over Again is no Big Deal or Why Age Has its Benefits.

I’ve never understood why people are so afraid of change.  Life changes every single day, and so does how you feel about it.  I have faced tragedies with grace, and fallen to pieces over minor setbacks.   I am used to struggling, and fighting, to get what I want, and to keep from losing it. Sometimes, life comes easily to me, and sometimes it seems that no matter what I do or where my heart is, nothing goes the way I’d planned.

Michael and I have been at a crossroads for what seems like years.  We both gave up our art careers to concentrate our energies on surviving, and while we are both as type A as they come, we just could not decide on a direction for our futures.  We never really factored in how the economy was impacting our ability to get out of the mess we found ourselves in; we both thought it was something we were doing, that we could change our circumstances through sheer force of will and by redoubling our efforts.

In some ways we were right; in the past year we saved our house from foreclosure, put some money in the bank and decided on a direction for our future.  We managed the impossible in just six short months, but we’ve also paid a high price for it.  After working twelve hours a day, seven days a week as a whitewater raft guide this summer and putting every penny he made into the bank,  Michael fell off the top of a whitewater raft bus a week before RV school started.  He suffered a minor concussion but dug into school anyway and is number one in his class. On my way back from getting him set up in his new apartment in Largo, I discovered that the company I work for decided to move my division to the Phillipines in mid October, leaving me without a job (or the choice to take a job I would hate).   A week after I returned home, I fell in the backyard and broke every bone in my ankle.  I had to have emergency surgery and will be in a cast for at least another four to six weeks. Because I am on medical leave, I still have a job even though my division no longer exists, so I can’t work, but I also can’t collect unemployment.

One of the great benefits of age however, is understanding that even though the last few weeks have not been optimal, nothing lasts forever.  We went from having no idea what to do with ourselves for the rest of our lives at the beginning of this year, to deciding on a totally new career path and working to make it happen in less than six months.  Michael is just two short weeks away from being certified as an RV Technician by the RVTC, with the ability to replace, install, or repair everything from air conditioning units to water heaters, and from awnings to tow packages, in every type of recreational vehicle you can imagine.  We plan on spending six months of the year in Asheville, and six months of the year on the road, which should suit both our pocketbooks, and our wanderlust, just fine.  There are a few other projects in the offing, not the least of which is the whitewater raft guide intensive for baby boomers next summer, baby boomer TV, and whatever else happens to capture our fancy that other boomers can relate to long the way.

A very wise and amazing friend of mine and I were talking not long ago about how damaging this economy has been to baby boomers in particular, and some of the reasons why.   We decided that it’s impossible to work harder, or even wiser, to change the trajectory we are on, not with the perfect storm of cutbacks, wage reductions and age discrimination to overcome.  I still think most boomers feel there is no way out of the mess we are all in, but clinging to what worked before isn’t the answer.   Take a deep breath, step out of the box, and look for ways to challenge yourself.  Some things may work, some things may not, but holding fast to what you know won’t change the fact that that someday, you will be gone from this earth. Have the courage to do something different, even if you start one step at a time.  Michael was a photographer for 25 years, then an artist, and now, an RV Tech.  I was in the film business for 12 years, a successful gourd artist for 20 years, and now, a middle aged broad with a broken ankle and a whole new career at 53.

Life is too short to be afraid of change, and it won’t stop the inevitable from happening anyway.  So get out there and do something different.  You might be surprised at how much one slight shift in your consciousness opens you to new ideas, and new adventures.  My next adventure is to put the finishing touches on the new website and promotional materials for the new business.  I am designing the website myself, and I gotta say, its going to be killer….

Alice in Wonderland or how Change is the only Constant

I frequent a horoscope site by Jonathan Cainer every morning to get a fix on the day. I do this, not because I expect to meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger, but because his astrological forecasts act (for me, anyway) more as a daily affirmation; what to be aware of, what to avoid, how to look differently at a setback, or be open to an opportunity that may not seem like one at the time. If I can find a way to gracefully negotiate the day, then I will take it, in whatever form, and more often than not his horoscopes have been really useful in providing me with a place to start.

A few days ago, the forecast said I was living the life of Alice, that my world was magical, and I had a childlike view of the world…

To put it bluntly….bollocks to that one, Jonathan…

On the way home from Florida, I discovered that the job I hate, but which is holding us together for the moment, will be ending in 60 days. I didn’t find this out through any of my supervisors. I found it out from the people I work with. There has still been no word from any of the people who actually know what is going on with my job, that anything has changed. Working for this company is difficult on a number of levels, and while they have absolutely NO obligation to check with anyone but the legal team and their accountants before making a move, it does seem everything about this place is designed to stick a fork in the souls of the people who make it possible for them to buy Lear Jets, a start-up tech company, and a new brewery.

Our finances are at the breaking point most of the time anyway, so losing a job, even one I despise, wasn’t the news I had hoped for on the way home, and it CERTAINLY bore no resemblance to Alice in Wonderland.

Or did it?

As chance (or serendipity) would have it, Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland was on TV the night I read this horoscope, and I realized, my life IS like hers. Everything about that story has to do with change. With being bigger than everyone else in the room. Or being much, MUCH smaller. With thinking you are one place, when really, you are someplace else. With being at the mercy of a crazy Queen, or an absent minded rabbit, or an enchanting but wildly unbalanced hat maker. Being resourceful, and scared, and clever, and in the end, stronger than you ever imagined you could be.

Like Alice, I am learning to go with the flow. I may not have a job in 60 days, but I have the promise of an awesome new career ahead, one that will allow us to travel, and let Michael use his considerable skills to fix things, and allow me to write, and create art. School is turning out to be one of the best choices we have made in a long time. It showed us what we could do together, as a team, to take control of our lives again, and head down the road to a bright new future. I am sure there will be lots of changes along the way, but, there will also be adventure, and new faces to go along with it.  And really, what could be better than that?  I mean, Michael is learning about propane gas today.  That HAS to come in handy for SOMETHING.  Right?   The Cheshire Cat never had THAT…