Posts Tagged With: travel

Of Life Postponed

As an Executive Life Coach there are some things I emphasize to a lot of my clients: The power of choice, the importance of accepting responsibility and accountability as the keys to being truly free and the absolute necessity of knowing what matters to you and what you’re all about if you are to truly live your life. Some get it and some do not, much like the population in general. Many times, we fear doing what we want and, in fact, need to do. We abandon what often truly matters for the illusion of security. A friend of mine, who enjoyed a very high-paying position is a multinational corporation noted that “all positions are temporary.” He understood that security, especially absolute security, is an illusion. While it has certainly been misused, the oft quoted words of Benjamin Franklin come to mind:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”

With due regard to Franklin and the context in which he wrote those words in 1755, I nevertheless find the words force me to ask myself what I have given up to purchase some temporary safety (security).

Sometimes, I find it necessary to examine my own life and see if I have been taking my own advice. What do I need to do? What risks have I avoided, or from which risks have I fled, in the interest of a position of security that is temporary at best? How much of my life have I postponed?

I’ve recently written several posts about travel and boats, here, here and here. The need to travel, and more, to live in a vibrant and vital way, grows with every passing day. While it may take a while to realize, the dream, I understand, will not go away until it is either fulfilled or I die filled with regret about what the things I did not do.

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

Sterling Hayden put it this way.

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

What is it you need to do? What dream calls to you? What is that thing that will not leave you alone, that wakes you in the middle of the night. What is it, the very idea of which fills you with both unspeakable dread and an almost palpable anticipation?

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What Kind of Boat do I Need?

It’s a nice, balmy 29 degrees as I write this. That’s too cold for me to be outside working on the projects I need to finish, so I’m thinking about my recently resurfaced boat obsession, instead. Recently, I’ve written about travel and boats, here and here. I did some searching on iboats.com and discovered something amazing. It is possible to buy a used sailboat, equipped and ready for living aboard and cruising the Great Loop, for $10-15K. That’s amazing! Since I’ve written about houseboats, before, I thought I’d try to list the relative advantages and disadvantages of houseboats vs sailboats. Of course, these are written from my perspective, so there is almost certainly some degree of bias.

HOUSEBOAT ADVANTAGES
  • Space. Lots of space. Tons of space, especially for a boat, where space is typically at a premium. Depending on the size of the boat, a houseboat can have in excess of 1000 square feet of interior living space.
  • Stable ride. While some designs can pound a bit in water that’s a little rough, the boats are designed for comfort. This “stable” ride comes at a cost (more on that, later)
  • Shallow draft. Many, perhaps even most, houseboats are designed to let you go into the shallows. Some are even designed to be “nosed” into shore so you can hop off and continue your fun, ashore.
HOUSEBOAT DISADVANTAGES
  • Most are not designed for living aboard, full time. While there are exceptions, my admittedly limited experience has been that the furniture and finish is more along RV than home lines. This means that with constant use the furnishings show wear and tear pretty quickly.
  • Not seaworthy in any kind of significant sea state. The hulls aren’t designed to withstand the rather significant stresses of being underway in truly harsh weather. The same seems typically true of the “superstructure” of houseboat. I’ve been offshore in nasty weather in a variety of vessels designed for it. Taking green water over the bow was not a huge deal. The boats were solidly built and had a number of water tight compartments. That’s not the case with most houseboats and idea of taking a significant amount of water over the bow of a houseboat is the stuff of nightmares. Those expansive sliding glass or french doors that give such a beautiful view of your surroundings would shatter, letting all that water fill the inside. We call that NOT GOOD.
  • Poor stability. Wait a minute. Didn’t I just say houseboats have a stable ride? I did, indeed. Here’s that cost I mentioned. All boats have their own unique stability characteristics, and it’s important to understand stability if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on boats. Without going into a lot of detail, some boats are more stable in their initial resistance to rolling or even capsizing. This initial stability can be seen when we compare a round-bottomed canoe with a pontoon boat. The canoe tends to roll quite a bit with very little movement by the person in it. A pontoon vessel, on the other hand, doesn’t move much at all. Secondary stability is the resistance it has to rolling even further and potentially capsizing (turning upside down). Many canoes have great secondary stability. Pontoon vessels that roll beyond a certain point have very little (not all houseboats are pontoon boats). While there is more to stability than this, the point is that the hulls of most houseboats, whether pontoon or barge hulls, are not suited to windy weather and the larger swells and waves the wind can produce. Every boat has a point beyond which any further rolling will cause it to capsize. Boats on pontoon and barge hulls reach that point much sooner than some other designs.
  • Difficult to maneuver in the wind. The amount of boat, including hull and superstructure, above the waterline provides something for the wind to blow and is sometimes called the “sail area” because it catches the wind much like a sail. The greater the sail area, the more difficult it can be to maneuver the vessel, especially in tight quarters.
SAILBOAT ADVANTAGES
  • Most economical under engine power. Think about this: the hull of a sailboat is designed so the boat will move simply from wind power. When under engine power, this means it takes less power (and less fuel) to move the vessel. Whereas some motor vessels may drink fuel at the rate of 5 or 6 gallons per hour (gph), it is possible for some sailboats to move and consume only 0.4-0.8 gph.
  • Able to move without engines (duh). When solely under sail, the boat uses no fuel at all.
  • Very stable when the wind blows. The design and function of sailboats is such that when sailing, the wind will often tend to make the boat roll less, rather than more, especially if it is a relatively heavy boat for its size.
SAILBOAT DISADVANTAGES
  • Limited space. Very limited space. Because of their design, space is at more of a premium than on other types of boats.
  • Slow. Unless you’re sailing a racing boat in the right wind, sailboats don’t go very fast. Of course, if you’re a “take your time” and “it’s about the journey, not the destination” kind of person this might be an advantage.

What I’m thinking is that despite all the creature comforts offered by houseboats, a sailboat may be the way to go for a person who wants to do more than simply motor about a bit in protected waters. Certainly, if one desires to complete the Great Loop, or journey to the Bahamas by boat, a houseboat is simply not an option. Now, to find the sailboat for the purpose. Oh, and I should probably learn to sail…

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Of Boats, Travel and Wanderlust

I’ve mentioned before that I really like boats. Apparently, it’s genetic. About two days ago, my oldest son called me to let me know he’s considering

  1. Joining the Merchant Marine
  2. Staying in long enough to gain his First Mate certification, and
  3. Buying his own sailboat/motorsailer and both liveaboard and charter

Apparently, wanderlust and the desire to travel has not skipped a generation.

All of which has me considering boats, yet again, especially motorsailers. That’s a pretty dramatic departure from houseboats. Why would I do that? Blame it on my time living on one coast or island or another. As much as there is to explore, just on the Mississippi River system (about 15k miles of shoreline), the world has a whole lot more. And, as much as I could really enjoy spending my days cruising up and down the Mississippi and its tributaries, the fact is houseboats are designed for protected waters and the idea of being on a boat but still being effectively landlocked bothers me. Think about this: It is possible to cruise the Mississippi River system, enter the Great Lakes, work your way across the Northeast, transit down the eastern seaboard, cruise about the tip of Florida and eventually work your way back to the Mississippi. It’s called the Great Loop…but you can’t reasonably (or safely) do it in a houseboat because of the time spent in the Great Lakes and offshore. But, with a motorsailer, especially one equipped with modern wind, solar and hydro generators, there is almost nowhere one couldn’t theoretically head. Combine that with building an online business and suddenly it becomes much more than theoretical.

Boats are freedom

Boats are freedom

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A Travel Idea

I should preface this with an admission. My family of origin is from the coast of North Carolina. Before that, my dad’s branch was from the coast of Scotland. One uncle was in the Navy and another in the Coast Guard. I was in both. The result? I like boats. I like boats a lot. When I travel, if I have the time, I like to explore. It doesn’t usually matter how far I go in a day if I get to explore and look around. All of which brings me to the subject of houseboats. Yes, houseboats. Those ubiquitous and often horribly ugly floating hometels found on many lakes and rivers, sometimes captained by people unable to read navigation charts or follow the rules of the road for ships and boats (I know I’m biased, but several years in the Coast Guard will do that to you).

The Mississippi River System comprises not just the Mississippi River. It also includes portions of the Cumberland, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri Rivers, as well. All together, it encompasses about 15,000 miles of commercially navigable water (I note commercially because many smaller recreational vessels can navigate waters that aren’t viable for commercial traffic). That’s a lot to explore, even without considering the possibilities opened by using a boat that draws far less water than a commercial tug or barge. Think of it this way:

  • The Mississippi River is navigable from Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN all the way to New Orleans, LA
  • The Missouri River is navigable from Sioux City, IA to St. Louis, MO
  • The Cumberland River is navigable for some 190 miles, from its mouth on the Ohio RIver
  • The Ohio River is navigable from its mouth at Cairo, IL all the way to Pittsburgh, PA
  • The Tennessee River is navigable from its mouth near Paducah, KY to Knoxville, TN
  • The Illinois River and Waterway is navigable from Lake Michigan to its mouth in Grafton, IL
  • The Arkansas River (along with the Verdigris River) is navigable from its mouth on the Mississippi to Tulsa, OK

Again, that’s a lot to explore. So, here’s the idea with which I’m toying for a few years from now:

  • Liquidate as much “stuff” as possible
  • Buy and rebuild (or build new) a houseboat
  • Equip it for a home office
  • Explore, explore, explore

Now, to convince my wife…

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…at a place known as Phantom Hill

Sometimes, in our eagerness to explore the far off and exotic, we miss what is close by. While the U.S. doesn’t have a history nearly as long as most european countries (there’s a brewery in Germany that has been brewing beer non-stop since 1040 AD!) our country, like most others, was shaped by events that occurred long before anyone now living was born. Shortly before Thanksgiving my wife and I decided to do some local exploring…

What is now called “Fort Phantom Hill” was a U.S. Army post established in Texas in 1851. While relations with the Comanches were pretty good at the time of its establishment, by 1854 things had changed significantly and the decision was made to replace the infantry with cavalry. As a result, the post “on the clear fork of the Brazos River at a place known as Phantom Hill” was abandoned. Its remnants stand today as a record of how quickly things can change in a country expanding into the frontier.

One should always honor traditions, so here’s my nod to the “include a picture of the sign that tells you the name of the site” tradition.

Fort Phantom Hill

Fort Phantom Hill

Phantom Hill Guard House

Phantom Hill Guard House

Unlike the majority of the post, the Guard House, which also functioned as the jail or stockade, remains relatively intact. I was impressed with just how solidly built it was. Notice the thickness of the walls in the doorway.

Wooden door and thick stone walls!

Wooden door and thick stone walls!

Many of the chimneys remain intact. These are from the officer’s housing area.

Chimneys

Chimneys

There’s a lot of debate as to what would have happened had the Comanche and other tribes had access to the same technology, especially the weapons, of the Army. Would the eventual outcome have been different? One can argue that there’s evidence to suggest it would have. The Army’s rather disastrous pursuit of the Nez Perce in the northwestern United States is an example of technology and industry not always translating into immediate combat superiority. Still, a friend of mine noted that it wasn’t weapons that led to the eventual defeat of the various tribes. It was that the Indians didn’t think of war in terms of long campaigns. Still, they were able to adapt somewhat to that view. My friend said that it was the sheer number of settlers that brought about the downfall of the tribes.As one author noted, “we could defeat the man with a rifle but we couldn’t defeat the man with the plow.”

the most powerful weapon on the frontier?

the most powerful weapon on the frontier?

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Not You

I am firmly convinced that travel can lead us to an ever increasing degree of responsibility and self-discipline. This assumes that we aren’t routinely having someone else take responsibility for everything: where we’re going, how we’ll get there, what we’ll do, where we’ll sleep, what and where we’ll eat, etc. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with being coddled or pampered occasionally. If it’s the norm, though, our travel becomes less than it could be, and so do we. Which leads me to my Jim Rohn quote:

Let others lead small lives, but not

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Of Boots, Mission and Travel

I own a pair of Justin boots. In fact, I’m wearing them right now. They’re several years old, which doesn’t really give a feel for the mileage on them. I’ve worn them on virtually everyone of my last 50,000+ motorcycle miles, including when I laid the bike down in the rain and slid down the road (thank God for good gear – all I got was some bruises and a small scar on my elbow). They’ve been on hunting trips and hikes in the desert. I’ve had them on my feet in the sun, the rain and the snow. They’ve been covered with green lawn clippings and dust in hot summers. The soles have been caked with mud and what my very southern mother referred to politely as “rabbit pellets.” With all that, they are still very wearable. On the other hand, I have another pair of boots that I wear very seldom. While they have been subjected to less harsh use and conditions, they are not in very good shape, though they, too, were quality boots when I bought them. They’ve not been neglected; they just haven’t been worn very much. Why the difference then? I think it comes down to purpose. Boots, at least any that I think are worth having, are made to be worn. Just as guitars are made to be played and motorcycles are meant to be ridden, and both tend to fall apart if not used as intended on a fairly regular basis, boots need to be used for their purpose.

Used for their purpose

Used for their purpose

I’ve known people with expensive, high quality guitars who don’t play them. When they are finally picked up and played, the tone is often not as rich as that produced by a lesser guitar that’s been played more frequently. Motorcycles that are allowed to languish for too long in a garage are frequently far more difficult to initially ride when returned to service than bikes that have been ridden regularly – even if the owner was careful to maintain the stored bike.

It’s the same with our talents and abilities, isn’t it? Just as muscle tone is lost in the absence of exercise, our skills, both learned and innate, tend to atrophy or “grow rusty” with nonuse.

As I grow older, I become increasingly convinced that each of us has, and needs to have, a purpose. Life needs a mission. If you don’t have one, you will drift on autopilot to your default mission. Though your default mission may look different than mine, they’re really the same. Our default mission is a life that’s lived just to survive rather than a life lived for the mission for which we are intended. Our intended mission, though, is far different. When we live our intended mission, we find ourselves far more engaged and more vibrantly alive

One of the best ways I know of to live a life that’s devoted to what a person is intended for, is to live a life that involves travel. If you really travel, meaning if you travel with your all your senses open and mind engaged, I believe you are very likely to encounter the reality of your mission, whatever it is, on a regular basis. The experiences and all the sensory input provide abundant opportunities to not only learn what your mission is, but to actually do it (or at least part of it).

Take a look at your passport. Do you have one? Is it well used, worn and filled with stamps or is it as pristine as the day you received it in the mail? When you look at a map of your home country, can you draw out the routes and trips you’ve taken? Can you point to the places you’ve been and recall what you did? Or, is a map simply a picture of places you’ve never bothered to visit and a list of things you’ve never done?

Don’t let yourself atrophy! Don’t settle for your default. Don’t live just to survive! Get out there. Go places, do things and experience life. Find your mission and live it.

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What’s in a Name?

Today, I changed my name. Okay, I didn’t really change my name. I did, however, change the name of this blog. I knew I could change the name of the blog, but I never knew I could change the address, too! Now, I can have a blog title, address and a name as a blogger that all center around a common theme of travel and change. That may not be essential, but it appeals to my sense of order and symmetry.

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Why I’m Here

As a coach, one of the most important things I do is help my clients achieve clarity. I do that in part by exploring some basic questions. When I say basic, I mean really basic – as in the dictionary definition meaning “fundamental.” That’s important because the answers to basic questions largely determine the answers to later questions and how each of us defines success in any area or field. It also influences whether or not we achieve that success. Two of the most basic or fundamental questions I ask my clients are “who are you” and “why are you here?”

If those are valid questions for clients, they’re equally valid for coaches like me. If they influence success in any field, then they influence success as a blogger, too. So, who am I and why am I here (why am I writing a blog?).

Rather than repeat all the “about the Retired Mustang” stuff, I want to say who I really am. Not always easy for an introvert like me, but here it comes.

I am, as of this writing, a 52 year old man. I’m a divorced father who loves and desperately misses his children from his first marriage. I’m fortunate in that I’ve found, this late in my life, someone who largely shares my goals, dreams, ambitions and outlook on life. I’m also fortunate to have a step-daughter I love and who loves me. We are a family.

I am a retired U.S. Navy officer who began his military career in the enlisted ranks. I’m a registered nurse, a hypnotherapist and an Executive Life Coach. I like to help people change and grow.

I am a man of faith. I ride motorcycles, fish, hunt, play guitar, cook, write and do woodworking and gardening. I’m a nerd who reads way too much. I like role playing games, movies and the theater.

I love to travel. More than that, I need to travel. There is so much to see and do in this world that to not see and do as much of it as possible seems to make a life less rich and fulfilling.

I suppose I could write everything in a journal rather than here, but that seems somehow less significant. I think it is, at least in part, the need to be significant in some way that has led me here, to blogging. The opportunity to somehow make a difference in the lives of others is part of what compels me to share what I see, do and think about travel and about life.

This is primarily a travel blog. My plan is to write about travels I take and have taken. I want to share my experiences, my thoughts about them and the way they have affected me. Maybe to make it more clear to me how they have shaped who I am. I also want to write about some other things from time to time. As important and compelling as travel is to me, there is far more to life than traveling. Traveling, though, is a great class for learning things you might not have learned, otherwise. It’s an amazing way to gain some real insight into yourself and “what makes you tic’ (or what makes me tic, in this case). I’m real big on insight.

I’d really like to connect with others who love, or are at least interested in, travel. I’m not all that concerned that everyone who reads what I write agrees with me. After all, travel, even with others, is in many ways a pretty individual experience. I do hope that I’m able to help some who are perhaps “on the edge” about travel make the decision to go ahead and take the plunge. I want to encourage others to perhaps go places and do things they haven’t previously considered or done.

By this time next year, I hope to have accomplished a few things with this blog. Those include having built a significant reader base through quality content and being ranked as one of the best new travel blogs. Why the reader base? Because a larger reader base means I’m reaching more people. It’s related to my comments about significance, above. The quality content part is important. I have no desire to attract readers to something other than a really good (travel) blog.

I look forward to the coming year with a lot of excitement. I hope you’ll join me.

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