Mother Theresa

Mother Theresa

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

CHOOSING MY TRAVEL LUGGAGE

This is a photo of Janice Waugh.  I have been an avid reader of Janice's blog SoloTraverler  for as long as I have been considering my RTW trip.  I like her blog, especially since we have matching hair color and she seems to be a down-to-earth person when talking about long-term travel.



Janice is a big proponent of traveling light - she even offers her packing list of what to put in those front and back-backpacks.  But I just couldn't see myself loaded down like this.  So I went searching on the millions of other travel blogs for what these writers/travelers use for luggage on their RTW trips.  

Weight was the #1 factor when choosing their luggage.  The lighter the better, and that means not only the weight of the luggage, but the weight of the stuff you are going to stuff into that luggage.  

I took into consideration all the pros and cons of a backpack verses a suitcase.  I  noticed that the majority of long-term travelers who blog are just a wee bit younger (20-30 years) than me, with strong backs and legs.   They all seem to prefer backpacks.  Very LARGE backpacks.  




Another  consideration I needed to keep in mind, was that foreign airlines have different size requirements for their carry-ons than US airlines do.  US airlines use 22" for a standard carry-on.  But I will be flying Ryan Air and Easy Jet to get around Europe. These cost-savings airlines have horribly strict luggage weight and measurement standards. (Think Spirit Airlines)  If you don't meet their standards, you can easily pay more to bring your luggage on your flight than you do for your flight!  A very LARGE backpack can incur a very large fee.  Their standard carry-on is 19".  

I knew I wanted luggage that I would never have to check - that would never be further away from me than in the overhead bin of the aircraft.  It would have to be lightweight, even when packed, for me to easily put it up and pull it out of said overhead bins, and meet the measurement requirements for ALL foreign airlines I might be flying.  

FYI, luggage shopping is not nearly as much fun as shopping for clothes - but there are sure a whole lot of choices out there nowadays!  I had narrowed my search down to  either a 19" Eagle Creek or a 19" Briggs & Riley wheeled carry-on.  Both have life-time warranties, so even if the airlines were to destroy the bag or it got chewed by an orangutan in the jungle, they will repair or replace it at no charge.   But in the end, Briggs & Riley won for two very important reasons.  

First, it's outstanding design element.  It's the only suitcase company that puts it's pull-out handle-bars on the outsidof it's bags, not in the inside.  

Think about that for a minute.  If you open any other suitcase with wheels and a pull-out handle, those bars for the handle run right down the middle of your bag, on the inside, where they are covered nicely with the cloth lining, but take up a lot of space (2 1/2 - 3" each) and make packing difficult -  because the bottom of your bag is has two 'ribs' you have to pack around.   

The second reason I chose this perfectly wonderful little suitcase is - it was FREE! I was in SoCa in late September doing a little luggage shopping while babysitting my granddaughter and my oldest happened to be with me one day in their local REI-type store.  I showed him the B&R bag I liked and he got a big grin on his face and said "don't buy it here, just come on back to the house!"  When we got back he ran upstairs and came back down with exactly the bag I was looking at - AND a matching backpack!! 

 In his line of work he gets lots of logo 'freebies.'   He had just gotten these from one of his customers in northern Washington state.   I certainly don't care one bit that each piece has the customer's logo colorfully embroidered on them.  As a matter of fact I liked the idea that with the logo they would stand-out in a crowd of luggage.  

Here are some photos of my 19" carry-on.  I realize that European cobblestone streets and hiking up stairs aren't great for wheeled-suitcases (which is why so many travelers use backpacks).  But this one is so lightweight, with both top and side handles, as well as it's pull-out bar, that I should be able to maneuver most any situation.


And here's a couple of photos of my B&R backpack.  It's very comfortable to wear, has lots pockets and places for everything you might need. With both of these well-constructed and light-weight pieces,  I will have plenty of room to pack my clothes, toiletries, gadgets and all other necessities that  I will need for my RTW trip.  In case you are interested, both my suitcase and backpack are gray.  They won't show dirt and with their colorful logos, they will be easily identifiable.




So what's next - WHAT TO PACK - Which mean planning an itineray!




Until then remember - 
                    "Life is either a daring adventure - or nothing!"  Helen Keller






Monday, September 22, 2014

"Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
 Auntie Mame

I've been thinking about this for a long time and have finally realized that NOW IS THE TIME!  While I am still healthy and can actual 'do', I am going on a round-the-world trip!  I plan to revisit places I have seen before that I was to see again.   Add to that all the places I want to visit that I haven't seen before - all before it's too late.

Right now I have set March 1, 2015 as my departure date - but there are several things that will determine the actual date - like selling my stuff, sub-letting my apartment, putting my affairs in order.....but I have my fingers crossed that this will be The Day.

I plan to keep my family and friends updated as to where I am, what and how I'm doing and post lots of photos of the wonderful (and maybe not-so-wonderful) places I see via this blog and on my Face Book page - Re's Home on the Roam Goes Global.  

You're invited to come along and share the adventure of my lifetime!

ReAnn

Sunday, December 23, 2012


It's Christmas time in Chicago.  Twinkling lights, cookies baking, families gathering, snow falling, noses red , toes cold, children smiling, Santa coming....

It will be such a very different Christmas for me this year.   For the very first time in my 66 years I will be spending it alone.  My first grandchild is scheduled to arrive on January 3rd and I didn't want to over stay my welcome by flying to CA a week early.  And though an invitation was extended from #2 to fly to Raleigh, with losing my job just 2 weeks ago, the price of a flight just wasn't in the budget.  

So here I sit, warm and cozy in my beautiful apartment with Christmas carols softly playing in the background.  What are my plans for Christmas you might ask?   I'll be babysitting my cousin's 3 cats - feeding and petting while they are gone for the next 8 days.  My wonderful sons gifted me my 'most wanted' gift - a iPad.  They said to open and use it immediately instead of putting it under the tree and opening it on Christmas morning and I did and have enjoyed taking several free workshops at the Apple store learning how to use this great techie toy.  Yesterday I did my end-of-year file clean-out - shredding un-needed receipts and moving those required into a file for this year's taxes.  I finished sewing a cute jacket and pulled a few other pieces of fabric out of my stash to contemplate what they may become in the New Year.  I'm reading a couple of books I got from the library by people who have walked the Camino de Santiago and downloaded a couple onto the iPad so I won't have to haul real books with me to CA.  

Several friends have invited me out for holiday lunches and dinners and I've enjoyed a few holiday celebrations with the new groups I've joined.  On New Year's Day I've been invited to join a walking group in the Loop where we will walk from State Street to the top of Michigan Avenue and back; then enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of Macy's Chicago flagship store (which to those of us who have lived here, will always be and still wish it were Marshall Fields).  We'll conclude with lunch in the The Walnut Room, where carolers will sing and their massive tree will dominate the scene on this, the last day the decorations will be still up and shinning.  



I will come home and take down my tree, put the ornaments away for another year and start packing my suitcase for my flight. It all sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Sounds as if I've been busy - and I have. But it's almost like I am forcing myself.  I know there are many, many, many people who spend every holiday alone.  I even know some who prefer it that way.  But I'm not one of those.  I'm lost with no one to cook a big meal for, no one to bake cookies for, no one to watch the original Die Hard movie with on Christmas Eve (a Scott-family tradition), no one to talk to except via a phone or Face-Time.  It will just be so lonely and sad and even now, typing this, I feel tears gathering and think 'how stupid are you being?'  Grow up!  You're a big girl and this is dumb!

But I'm a people person.  I love being with and around people, especially 'my people' and this year I won't be and that makes me sad.  I think about and wonder how many Christmas's I'll have left - I know - maudlin and stupid - but I learned the hard way 13 years ago that nothing is permanent or lasts forever so to miss spending even one holiday without those I love it really difficult.

So before I get to the point where I can't type and my keyboard gets ruined from getting wet, I'll just say this - enjoy your families.  Enjoy the time you have together - even if it's only for one day and even if some of them you don't even like - try for just one day of peace and love and togetherness.  Take a moment to remember those who are no longer with us and say a prayer for the parents of the children lost at Sandy Hook.  Count your blessing and then turn and give those you love the most a great big Merry Christmas hug!

Until next year......

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Here we go....again!

Hello Everyone -

Bet you thought I had given up writing this blog!  Nope - just took a break while getting settled into my new Chicago home.

Over Thanksgiving (see family above) my youngest mentioned that my Facebook posts were getting much too long and I should go back to blogging instead.  I agreed with him, so here we are, approximately 9 months after my last post.  I will try and catch you up with what's happened since last we met....


I now live in the big city of Chicago! and I am so happy compared to living on the beach in Wilmington, NC that I almost can't express it in words.   How can I possible say that, you might ask?  You left sea and sun and warmth for noise and crowds and soon-to-be-snow-covered streets?  Well, since you asked....I chose Wilmington to settle in because it was in the area where we as a family had spent so much time while the boys were growing up.  We vacationed on Holden Beach, a barrier island just south of Wilmington, for weeks each summer for many, many years.  I have wonderful memories of all of our friends and family visiting us there.  When John passed, it was where he asked that his ashes be scattered.  We spent many wonderful hours dining and shopping and sightseeing in Wilmington, we even discussed retiring there, so you would think this would be a perfect place for me to settle down.  

It is a perfect place - if what you want from life is peace and quiet, a few restaurants, a tiny bit of theater, hardly any shopping and everyone you meet is 'coupled-up'.  Not a hot-bed of activity for singles.  Not a hot-bed of any activity, really.  I made a few good and lasting friendships while there but I was always looking for a way to get-out-of town.  That should have been a hint.  First it was the Peace Corps that took me away, then it was living in my wonderful Minnie Winnie RV that took me across the country and back - several times,  and lastly it was a renter that drove me crazy and necessitated my just 'geting away!' for awhile to rethink my life.  That's when I took the top off the Jeep and drove to the opposite coast - and back.  By the time I returned, I knew it was time to put Wilmington in my rear-view mirror for the last time.



I have now lived in my huge, 1920's apartment for 9 months.  I'm almost used to having upstairs neighbors with little children who run and jump and bang at all hours.  I'm almost used to having downstairs neighbors who when home play their music loud enough to make my floor vibrate.  I'm almost used to having a fire house/ambulance center around the corner which sends out it's vehicles, sirens blasting at all hours all day and all night.

I am used to living in the diverse, colorful, fabulous, interesting neighborhood of Rogers Park. I am used to shopping at wonderful, little neighborhood markets instead of huge grocery stores for most of my food. I am used to the necessity of walking anywhere I have to go (I sold my car) and I have become extremely adept at riding all the forms of pubic transportation that Chicago provides it's residents.

I am enjoying my membership in such diverse new groups as Friendship Force International, The Haute Couture Club of Chicago, The Windy City Walkers and The Chicago Digital Photography Group.  I even found a nice little part-time job working 2-3 days a week as a reservation specialist for a small hospitality company.  I have met more people and made more friends in 9 months than my entire 5 years in Wilmington.

So what's next?  A couple of HUGE family events will be taking center stage in the New Year.  Son #1 and his wonderful, beautiful finance will be presenting me with my first grandchild in early January.  They live in the San Diego area so I really won't mind going out there for a few weeks to help out in any way I can at that time of year.  Then in May they will celebrate their wedding in Cabo San Lucas.  It will be my first time back in Mexico after living there several years ago and I'm looking forward to a return visit.

Once all the festivities are over, I will begin focusing on my plans to walk the Camino de Santiago.  If you've heard about or seen the movie The Way staring Martin Sheen, then you know a little bit about the walk of St. James.  I first learned about it reading Sherry Ott's travel blog  - http://www.ottsworld.com/.  I became enthralled and engrossed with the idea and possibility of my actually doing this walk, this pilgrimage.  The walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port  in France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain is just a wee bit under 500 miles long.  The average time it takes to walk is 4-6 weeks and yes, most do walk it alone.


Once this thought took a firm grip, I immediately started searching the web for all the information I could find and the first and most information-filled site I found was this one http://www.caminodesantiago.me.uk/ in case you want to read a bit about it.   I then joined the huge, on-line forum with 1000's of past, present and future walkers who so graciously and willingly share their insights, thoughts and helpful suggestions with each other and anyone who might pose a question.  I've just ordered my first books from the library and Amazon and will spend the upcoming winter months learning all I can about this exciting adventure.

So you are asking Are you nuts? You're 66 years old, you have a bad foot,  a bum knee, not in the best of shape, and you think you can just take off to France, traipse over the Pyrenees mountains and across the vast northern plains of Spain to some cathedral on the other side?  And to answer your question, the same one both boys asked at Thanksgiving, is you bet I do!  And if that makes me nuts, then so be it.

Why are you doing this?  I found while driving cross-country in the Jeep, when listening to music or books-on-tape was impossible with the top off,  that I  came to truly enjoy the solitude, the quietude, the peacefulness of only the sound of the wind whistling past.  My mind was set free to roam from thought to thought.  It was the very first time I had ever taken to really reflect on my life so far; what if anything I have accomplished that has meaning, besides the birth of two wonderful sons; and what did I still want to do, can I do, with the time I have left?  Reading the many voices who have written about their experience walking The Camino made me even more sure that this is something I have to do while I still can.

So for those who enjoy reading long, rambling posting which will in turn allow you to 'travel along with me' wherever the road may lead....welcome...or as the case may be....welcome back. I only plan to post sporadically for a while, focusing on the highlights, maybe even a few low lights of my daily life,  but I will keep you up-to-date on my preparations as I get ready for this next great adventure.

Until next time..... 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trucker Babe Signing On!

WheW - moving is just no fun. First I was told I needed a 16' truck, but then Penske was nice enough to up me to a 22' for no extra charge. I thought great, bigger is always better. But my local store only had 26' trucks, which they were going to let me have for the same cost - but of course, the cost of driving that much bigger of a truck across country would cost way more in gas and I tried like crazy for them to get me in the promised 22' - but that didn't work. So they took some $$ off for the larger size and I drove home the 26' footer - THANK GOd!

The two guys who came to load the truck worked 3 more hours than had been estimated - for a lot more $$ - but my 26' truck is stuffed literally to the very top and all the way to the back door! Not one inch of space is left. If I had insisted ont he 22 footer I would have had to leave 4 feet of stuff in NC!

As it is, when I thought I would be on the road by noon, it wasn't till 3 p.m. I bid adieu to my little house by the sea and headed on the first leg of my road trip to Chicago. Pulled into my youngest son's cul-du-sac in Raleigh at 6 p.m. Grabbed a quick shower and dashed off to dinner my son, good friend Page and broker/good buddy Matt Archer. Delicious Indian food and then to bed really early - which is why it's only 5 a.m. and I'm wide awake and typing!

Plan to be wheels-up by 7 a.m. but forecast is that we will be driving into some pretty severe thunderstorms. Keep your fingers crossed for a safe drive and a few prayers wouldn't hurt either.

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A New Adventure Begins.....

I have lived in my little-house-by-the-sea in Wilmington, NC on-and-off for the past 5 1/2 years. I say on-and-off as during that time I was away serving in the Peace Corps and then traveling cross-country in my RV or in my Jeep.



I decided it was time to move during my 4-month road-trip last Fall . With the wind whipping through my topless Jeep preventing me from listening to any type of music and with only my own thoughts playing in my head, I came to the realization that I was just not happy living in Wilmington - I needed to make a change.

I moved to Wilmington for several reasons. First, it's on the ocean and I'm a 'water baby.' What's interesting is that when you live here you end up not spending a lot of time on the beach - especially during the summer months - as they are jammed packed with tourists. I can barely get over the bridge, let alone find a parking space!

Second, I moved here because I knew the area. When the children were quite small we started vacationing each summer on Holden Beach, the most beautiful and family-friendly of the area beaches. It was there that I have some of my happiest memories. It was there that we spent our last family Christmas and New Years together before learning of John's cancer. It was there that his ashes were, as he requested, scattered over the waves. So I had this connection to Wilmington and thought it would be a perfect place to settle.

But it wasn't - for many different reasons - one of the major ones being that Wilmington has become a huge COUPLES retirement community. Though I've met and made some good friends while here, it really hit me that I'm single! And even though I really am not interested in ever remarrying, as a single person you are not welcomed with open arms into the local couples social scene (you might want to steal someone's husband - seriously!!!).

And then there is the fact I am a middle-of-the-road liberal Independent and I am also not a Baptist. That might sound like a rather silly statement, but times have really changed since I moved here and these two characteristics have began to stand out in this land of church-going, extremely conservative Republicans. I recently had a man tell me he could never ask me out as he would only date a God-fearing Christian woman who attended church regularly and voted the RIGHT way. Those that know me well can guess my response....ggg.

While driving those 7999 miles last Fall I thought about where I would really want to live - someplace that would make me happy..and I could afford. Someplace I have a good, circle of friends; where are there fabulous museums, excellent theater, great concerts and to-die-for shopping. Plus I wanted good public transportation and a large body of water. I came up with only one place that fit my criteria... HOME....to Chicago.



Though born and raised in Danville (126 straight south of Chicago on Route 1), I fell in love with the Windy City during several summer theater sessions at Northwestern while in college. I packed up and moved there 2 days after I graduated. I sang and danced my way across some of the cities biggest (and smallest) stages, met my John and was married there, We sailed Lake Michgan, had a $500-a-month apartment on Lake Shore Drive (it's now a condo and they want over $300k for our one-bedroom) made wonderful, life-long friends who still live there, left to live in Brussels and then Mpls/St. Paul and returned 30 years later to live in the far western suburb of Barrington (where I spent most of my time hoping on the train to spend my days downtown!)

I adore Chicago. I love a BIG city. I love the diversity, the hustle and bustle, the fact if I want a bagel at 4 a.m. I can find someplace open and serving them hot and fresh. I love all of the opportunities and organizations I can pick and chose from to join-in and participate, I love even the raucous politics. I love the idea of living in a 'neighborhood', knowing my neighbors and being able to walk to the local grocery store - all the things I've missed while living in a small town.

So I put my little house on the market October 1st and starting flying to Chicago to look for my new home. It took 4 trips (undying thanks to my cousin Sarah and her husband Mike for allowing me to use their apartment as my local B&B during these vists!) and a great realtor with Dwell Chicago to find me my perfect place...but in January I did just that.

I had come to the realization that at that my age I no longer needed or wanted to 'own' property. The upkeep of a home near the water was enough to make me know that I could do without the hassle of home maintenance or yard upkeep for the rest of my life. So I went in search of one of those wonderful, old, pre-WWII buildings that downtown Chicago is famous for. I wanted a building done in the Arts & Crafts design that had retained it's original architectural features - like a fireplace, built-in bookcases and hutches, walk-in pantry and huge bay windows.

I found my perfect, 2-bedroom apartment in the East Rogers Park neighborhood.

Rogers Park is a great place to live. It's located on the far North side of downtown, and boasts a wide array of locally-owned grocery stores, fruit markets, delis, restaurants and bars nestled along it's tree-lined streets.

My place is a short 5 blocks to the lakeside where I can hop on my bike and ride for miles north into Evanston or south to Lincoln Park and downtown. I'm 2 blocks for the El, 3 blocks from the Metra (commuter train) and within mere feet from over 10 different bus lines. Because of all these options and a near-by Zip-Car lot, last week I sold my little Jeep.

My house is filled with boxes stacked to the ceiling and covering every flat surface.

I've hired a crew of movers on both ends to come and load and unload my furniture. I've talked my youngest into hoping in the truck in Raleigh and riding along to keep me company (which means he'll do most of the driving - tee hee).


What I have really gotten so tired of hearing, over-and-over-and-over again, since I began telling folks that I was moving is "how can you possibly leave the fabulous, year-round nice weather of the South and return to the snow and ice of the Midwest?" And to that I say...easily... you just have to know how to dress for it. I've bought a really good down-filled coat, a pair of boots, hat and mittens and I'm ready for what little winter is left to endure once I arrive. I keep telling people that weather isn't a reason to keep you some place. Weather can effect your mood but good weather alone can't make you happy.

So with a day and a half left before "Move Day" when I'll pick-up the 22' Penske truck and head North, I have an appointment with my hair dresser this afternoon, dinner and a concert featuring Wynton Marsalis at UNCW tonight, packing the very last things to be packed and one last meeting with my realtor tomorrow and then.....wheels-up! I won't be posting again until I get wireless service up and running and find the box with the computer, but promise to keep you posted on how everything is going.

I'm excited to get started as I've already been offered a part-time job at my favorite fabric store, a writing gig with the local historical society, being once again an active member of Sew Chicago and the Haute Couture Club of Chicago and I just volunteered to help with the 2012 Obama re-election campaign.

Life is good and only getting better!

Until next time....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

52 Days - 7999.9 Miles

The odometer, which read -0- when I pulled out of my drive early morning on August 1st read 7999.9 when I parked in my garage and turned off the engine of the Jeep 52 days later, at 2:30 p.m. on September 21st, to be precise.

I had just completed an ALMOST 8,000 round-trip drive from literally coast to coast in 52 days, stopping to visit many wonderful friends and family members along the way and got to see and enjoy so much of this fabulous place we who live in American call home.

So as this portion of my blog is drawing to a close, I am going to list, in no particular order, what I learned, what thought about, big decisions and what's going to be my 'next big adventure!'

Those who said 'I was so brave' to take this trip on my own didn't know what they were talking about.

Driving is driving - no matter what the distance. You watch out for the other guy, don't drive when you're tired, take numerous breaks, stop at every opportunity to see, taste and enjoy the different towns and states you are passing through. Be friendly and smile lots - you'll be amazed just how welcoming and friendly perfect strangers are when you greet them with a smile and show interest in their home town.

I never once felt I was in any danger (except driving down the Tioga Pass in Yosemite and that was my own personal fear of falling off the edge). No one ever approached me or tried to pick me up (darn) or acted inappropriately, whether in a restaurant dining alone or in any of the hotels and motels I stayed in on the road. I met complete strangers who shared great stories about their lives and even ones who welcomed me into their homes! I made memories that will last a lifetime.

• Learned that by being a right-handed person/driver that your left arm will be the one hanging out of the window most of the time and by the time you reach the West coast, your left arm with be much tanner than your right - which people will actually comment on.

• Learned that a shower curtain is a wonderful thing to carry in a semi-topless Jeep. It's the perfect size to tuck behind the seat backs and cover both seats when it rains.

• Realized it would have been smarter to pack the full-sized tarp I left in the garage at home. It would have covered the entire car and tied down with bungies - eliminating the how-to successfully get rid of the large pockets of water the bikini top collected each time it rained which usually ended up pouring down between the roll-bars and the doors, onto my legs, arms and flooding the floorboards. Oh well...

• I over-packed. But what woman doesn't? I was ready for any type of social outing and even though I did get to 'dress up' for several occasions, never got to put on my 'little black dress.'

• I gave myself a pat on the back for not shopping so much that I couldn't get the suitcases in the back.

• I am thrilled that my cousin Robbie insisted, and I really didn't want to take, a Tupperwear bowl along for the ride. It was where I stored the wonderful fresh-ground and very odiferous chilies I bought in New Mexico.

• An open-air car, be it a Jeep or whatever, does not lend itself to radio music or even iPod playing/blaring. The wind just overpowers the music. But it does give you long hours of thinking time - which really is a very good thing.

• GO WEST! If you haven't traveled through our Western states of WY, MT, UT, NV, NM, AZ and even CA, you PUT THESE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST OF 'MUST SEES.' The air is different, the sunsets are glorious, colors are muted but in some ways more vivid, the mountains rise up and the clouds come down to meet them. The food is even different. And the wide open spaces are breathtaking in their beauty and vastness. Do not miss seeing these before we cover them with cement and build another parking lot!

• Hug your grown children often and visit them even more often. Don't let being clear across the country keep you from driving your kids crazy at least a couple of times each year! Be amazed at what wonderful adults they turn into.

• Drive the back roads and stay at the 'mom & pop motels.' You'll get great service and meet some really fun people - and pay a whole heck of a lot less than at the big chain motels. Just remember to ask to see your room BEFORE you pay for it. And if you aren't pleased, there is always another just down the road a piece.

• Face your fears. As I've gotten older, I've come to dislike heights and drop-offs without guard rails giving me some semblance of safety. There were numerous times during this trip where I was driving over VERY high bridges and along large canyons that went down and down forever and my hands turned white on the steering wheel from gripping it so hard. I did it. Don't want to do it all the time, but when necessary, I Can Do IT!

• In reference to the above, I realized that I am 65 years old and am only getting older. I thought about my dream to buy another RV and just drive until I can't drive safely any further and realized that I probably would have had a heart attack if I had been driving the Tioga Pass in my 30' Winnie towing the Jeep along behind. I really don't think, no, I know I would not have seen this stunningly beautiful part of Yosemite if I had been driving an RV this trip. Which made me think...maybe it's time you give up that dream and find another. I've had my RVing days - a fabulous year and a half of them and I loved every single minute of that time. But looking at what I paid for gas on this trip, Yikes! and that was just for a car. So RVing is not an inexpensive way to live and staying overnight has risen in just the year and a half I've been away from it. The average now is $40 for a nice place. That adds up quickly.

• Speaking of gas! Thought you would like to know that the 'gas portion' of the trip was $1672.22. That's driving a 2001, 6 cylinder, Jeep Wranger with a 15-gallon tank getting approximately 15 miles per gallon. Yes, I know, I need a much more fuel-efficient vehicle the next time I decide to do this!

• So now that I put the RV dream to bed, I thought long and hard about returning to Wilmington and my beautiful little house by the sea and I realized I am not happy in Wilmington. I love my house but I don't love Wilmington. I've been here 5 years the first of October and I have made very few friends (you can count them all on one hand and not use all your fingers). Those that know me know that I'm an outgoing, friend-magnet type person so might find this weird. I do. But I realized that Wilmington is a retirement and vacation destination area. The retirees are for the most part 'couples' and let me tell you, they DO NOT welcome single/widowed/divorced women into their circles. If I were a single man, much different. But single women are seen as a threat! Can you believe that, at my age? And would I even consider one of their husbands in my house, let alone my bed 24/7? NOT!! I also miss things like good, live theater and musical performances, outstanding museums, big libraries, great shopping, movie art houses, and real ethnic diversity in the people on the streets and in the choice of restaurants. None of that is available here - and really not in any of the big cities here in North Carolina.

So I started thinking....where I have lived that I was the happiest? That everything I just listed was available? That I had a group of friends there for years and years? That I could afford? (Sorry San Francisco, no matter how much I love ya, your too rich for my pocketbook.) That had major public transportation and major airports with direct flights anywhere in the world, anytime? That my boys might come to visit? That had the best football team in the America? Well, that I'm sure gave my choice away....

Watch out Chi-town, I'm coming back home!


Today I put my house on the market, contacted a rental agent in Chicago, called my friend Cathi and told her I would be taking advantage of her open invitation to use her guest bedroom while I re-acclimate myself to the city. I learned that they have re-named several of the neighborhoods! Even re-named a couple of the expressway. Why?! Planning to spend my last, warm winter here, unless the house sells immediately, which I doubt in this very depressed market, and move when the crocus peak their heard through the snow and start blooming up North, which should be March or April. Thinking of selling the Jeep as you really don't need a car in Chicago. With iGo and ZipCar lots all over town, I'll use one of these when I need to go someplace specific that isn't accessible via the "L", the bus or the train system. And for distance driving, there is always Enterprise.

I can everyone of you saying 'THE WINTERS ARE AWFUL! WHY ARE YOU LEAVING THE SOUTH and returning to SNOW & ICE?' Well, I really have missed 4 seasons, even snow. And I am perfectly content letting the bus and "L" drivers drive me where I would need to go during those days or just staying curled up on the couch with the kitties reading a good book. Also, I have an awful lot of family and friends that live South and I will most certainly plan my annual visits to their homes during the cold winter months!

I'm excited and know deep down that this is the right decision. It's the right time and the right place for me. So on those words, I will end this daily (almost) writing of MyHomeOnTheRoam for a few months, but will resume it again, for those interested, when I get down to the nitty-gritty of moving. Hey, I might even write about my upcoming visit and the neighborhoods I like and don't like. You all take care and be good to each other....

Until the next time.....