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.

And Now, a Word From Our Sponsors….

 

raftingThe first baby boomers were born in 1946 when the average lifespan in this country was 66.7 years old. That didn’t give anyone a lot of time to grow up, get married, raise kids, work a 9 to 5 job and retire before it was all over.  Anyone born in 1946 reached retirement age on January 1, 2011, and 10,000 people a day, every day, for the next 19 years, will turn 65.  Today’s baby boomers will live to their eighties and beyond, and it’s estimated that by 2050, there will be 3.8 million people on the planet over the age of 100.

Yet only a handful of companies recognize that this new wave of consumers are hungry for the kinds of adventures they have waited their whole lives to experience.  Baby boomers are turning to adventure travel in droves, and that is why we have designed a unique program to allow baby boomers of any age to become whitewater raft guides, with an exciting four day intensive raft program on the French Broad River in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina!

This accelerated program will dive headlong into a series of whitewater training exercises combined with a classroom education, to teach everything from proper inflation techniques to the basic uses of ropes and riggings, to paddle commands, ferry angles for crossing currents, how to get a raft unstuck from rocks, and swimming techniques in swift water.  Participants will have the chance to guide a trip at the end of training, and the festivities will conclude with an awards ceremony at the Hot Springs Campground with a full Southern barbeque.

Whether you are looking to improve your existing whitewater raft skills, or you want to take the grandkids boating, French Broad Rafting Expeditions Fantasy Raft Adventures is the accelerated learning experience for you.  Class sizes are limited to a total of 12 students to provide each participant with the opportunity to practice their whitewater raft skills on Class Two, Three and Four rapids on one of the oldest rivers in the world, surrounded by breathtaking scenery in one of the most celebrated parts of the country.   Asheville was recently named one of the top five places to live based on our commitment to sustainable living, organic farm to table culinary experiences, the arts, and a beer culture that is second to none.  Oh, yeah, and we have the Biltmore Estate as well!

Participants in this program will be provided with all necessary raft gear, from personal flotation devices to helmets and paddles.   Coffee and pastries will be provided each morning before departure and every lesson comes with a full lunch at the covered pavilion.  Transportation to and from your accommodations to the outpost will not be provided, however all transportation from the outpost to the put in and the take out will be provided along with the bus trip back from Hot Springs Campground on Monday afternoon.  Travel and other accommodations are not included in the cost of this package, but we will be happy to provide recommendations for hotels and rental properties as well as restaurants, spas, shopping, and other activities.

Total cost of the four day intensive Fantasy Raft Guide School is $750 per person.   Participation is incumbent upon the number of people who enroll.  We need a minimum of ten participants per class, so if classes do not full up, your deposit will be refunded in full.  You must know how to swim and be in good health in order to be able to qualify for this class.  All participants will be required to sign a waiver indemnifying Adventure Rafting Expeditions in the event of injury or death.

For more information,  visit our website at babyboomeradventure.com

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….

Well, Dip Me in Spit and Cover Me with Bird Droppings….

I have just witnessed a miracle.  After seven months spent jumping through increasingly smaller hoops accompanied by the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher in the background, the journey to obtain a title for the Dodge Travco we bought last February has finally…just today…resulted in an official document delivered to my mailbox by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, and which is now in my hot little hands.

This seemingly ordinary event began when we purchased this awesome turquoise and white throwback, and drove it from Crossville, Tennessee to Asheville and discovered that it had no vehicle identification number.  Anywhere. On the entire vehicle.  North Carolina has turned purchasing anything with wheels  into an art form of  Draconian proportions under the best of circumstances; if you purchase a vehicle in the state, both parties must be present to have the title transfer notarized, which means, you can buy a car on Saturday, but until you can have the transfer notarized on Monday, you are out of luck.  In our case, we bought an “antique” vehicle, which means (under normal circumstances) an inspector comes to your house, checks your paperwork against the VIN number, signs off on it, and away you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a registration, and hopefully, a brand new title.

The Travco didn’t HAVE a VIN number, so the inspector issued a new one, which means we had to get an indemnity bond from an insurer stating that they were willing to take the risk that we hadn’t stolen it and that the seller was satisfied it was no longer his.  After obtaining said documentation, we took everything to the bank to have it all notarized.  Nobody said we had to do that, but we figured, why take any chances?  I went to mail it, but there was no address, so I took it to the local Department of Motor Vehicles, figuring, after weeks of struggling trying to pull all the paperwork together that I was good to go.

The woman who runs the Department of  Motor Vehicles said Michael had to be there to sign off on it as well.

Naturally.

At the time, he was working at the river from 7 am to 7 pm  and couldn’t get to the Department of Motor Vehicles if his life depended on it. Of course, this being the rural south, there ARE ways around the problem.   I looked this woman in the face and said, “”What would you say if I told you that Michael was out in the car.  That he broke his leg and he can’t make it up the stairs?” She shot back, “Did he break his leg today?”  Without skipping a beat, I told her, “its funny you should say that, because he just broke it this morning”.  She told me would just go ahead and look up his driver’s license information, the paperwork was handed over, and off I went….

When I finally got a letter in the mail TWO MONTHS LATER, it said that the indemnity bond didn’t specify that the “body style” of the vehicle was a “housecar”.  Which is a quaint way of saying it isn’t exactly a recreational vehicle but it IS bigger than a breadbox.  Now my indemnity bond needs a rider, so I apologize profusely to my insurance agent for the trouble I have put her through, but I get the rider, I send it off and two more months pass before I decide to call the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what is going on.  The woman who took my call said, “Oh, well, it doesn’t say on the indemnity bond rights of survivorship, but it DOES say that on the registration, and the two have to match exactly”.

Seriously?  Now my rider, needs a rider (how very “party of the first part”, “who’s on first” of you) and by the way, would it have killed you people to catch that the last time I needed a damned rider? I mean, you have been at this for five months now.  Surely someone might have noticed that particular discrepancy before.  Except that I find out that once the paperwork reaches the special titles  office it goes to ONE PERSON.  ONE person WITH a job, who WANTS to KEEP IT gets to mosey through stacks upon stacks of paperwork looking for errors so they can get a regular paycheck while the rest of us have to wait around for the damned title to show up – someday.  And no one, not even my patron saint at the DMV had ever heard of someone having to jump through so many hoops just to get a damned title in the 25 years she’s been doing her job.

But here it is, in a stack of mail, on a day when I sold the glass kilns from Michael’s studio for some decent coin, got a killer deal on business cards and t-shirts for the new RV business (website in progress!), won $10 from a scratch off lottery ticket, nabbed a room for the Occasion for the Arts Show in Williamsburg  the first weekend in October for a song, got my confirmation email from VibrantNation.com as a guest blogger, put my first short story in the mail for a writing competition that pays $1000 to the grand prize winner with a story about  a lime (of all things) and wound up on the waiting list (okay, that part kinda sucks. I’d love for some art show to just go wild and take me on the first try, but what the hell) for the American Crafts Council show in Baltimore this February.

So somebody, dip me in spit and cover me with bird droppings.  Cause this girl is on FIRE!!!