Our adventures together began back on 17-April-2009. We were both living in downtown Chicago just four blocks from each other, but each leading our own separate lives. And then it happened – a chance meeting on the red line train platform (Grand Avenue stop) where each of us was heading up to see the Cubs take on the Cardinals in what was the first Friday afternoon game of the season. Fred got back early from a business trip so decided to head up to Wrigley to see if he could pick up a game ticket. Fortuitously, my girlfriend & I just happened to have an extra one. It was, to use the Yiddish term, “bashert.” Fred passed my spontaneous “fun test” – he bought us beers at Murphy’s Bleacher Bar; he was definitely fun! We enjoyed a Cubs victory over the Cards, teasing us into thinking we might have reason to be hopeful for a winning Cubs season this year… we imbibed a bit more post-game at Bar Louie… we took the red line back into our neighborhood together and traded phone numbers, and called it a day – a great, life-changing day, as it would turn out…!
Over the next couple of months we realized how much we had in common and how much fun we had together – biking, hiking, meeting one another’s friends and family, etc. Then in September of 2009, the PBS television series by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan — The National Parks: America’s Best Idea sparked something in us. We watched the six-episode show together; 12 hours that depicted the 150+ years of the evolution of a cohesive national park system. With tales of naturalist John Muir, President Teddy Roosevelt, and National Parks Service directors Stephen Mather & Horace Albright – from Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, Acadia, The Great Smoky Mountains and on up to Denali in Alaska — it became clear to both of us as we sat on a sofa in a high-rise condominium in downtown Chicago that there was so much of our great country we wanted to see and/or see again… together!
In 2010 and 2011 we vacationed in Arizona, Hawaii, and Kentucky, among other places, choosing these locations so we could visit the National Parks there.
We married in January of 2012, got retirement buyouts from our respective employers in August 2012 and went to Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks to celebrate marriage and retirement. And then we began earnestly planning a two-year road trip to see the rest of the National Parks — 10 down; 49 to go.
In the spring of 2013, we bought a 30-foot RV which we named Charley, and after a couple of “shake down cruises” over the summer [Fred’s U.S. Navy term for these trial run camping trips; Laura viewed them as “training wheels camping trips”] we declared ourselves ready, more like chompin’ at the bit, to become “full-timers” — definition: those who live 365 days a year in an RV; having an RV for a home.
So here we are in early 2014 making plans to sell our condo and put everything we own into storage for a couple of years… we’re selling our current SUV [it’s too heavy] and buying a new Subaru Crosstrek as it is available in a manual transmission model which is required for towing behind an RV… we’re making lists and lists and even more lists of all that we have to do and buy and figure out before we “launch” sometime in May or June. We have a couple of wonderful National Parks books, a GPS, and an atlas for back-up for the places (and there will be many) where we won’t be able to get a cellular signal. And at this point we have a huge desire to get Out There to see and experience it all – we’re ready to hit the road together! And to borrow from The National Parks video and quote Margaret Gehrkes from her 1929 diary entry after hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon,
what is life but to dream and do…?
Thanks for following along with our journey. The wonders await us…!
–Laura & Fred Jolly