A Year of Discovery - the Rocinantes' first anniversary
Updated: Jan 23
On January 30, 2022, Rocinantes on the Road published our first article. What a ride it has been. It's been a year since we started our greatest adventure.
What has the first year been like? Better than we might have imagined in almost every way. This is how I described it on New Year's Eve, 2022:
It is hard for me to express how much I have been transformed in 2022. This is the first year of my adult life where I have not worked full-time. It is the first time I have been in 9 countries in the same year. It is the first time I have had significant time for some deep reflection, and the first time I have not owned an automobile (since 1982). I have traveled by plane, train, automobile, ship, bicycle, tram, bus and my own two feet. The life of travel suits me and I am so extremely lucky to be able to live it, with my spouse and partner of 38 years, Paul Blaha. I'm looking forward to 2023! Happy New Year to my friends and family! I love you all.
Here are some of the highlights of our year.
Where did we go?
The Rocinantes visited 12 countries. We lived in 5 countries for a month or more:
U.S.A.(Michigan, Kentucky, Seattle, the Rockies, & Wisconsin Rapids)
Australia (Melbourne & Sydney)
We had short visits in 7 more countries:
Suva and Laukota, Fiji
Nouméa New Caledonia
Alotau and Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea
What kind of touristy things did we do?
We saw 11th-17th century castles in Lisbon, London, Paris, Tallin, and Stockholm. We saw Shakespearean theatre and opera in England, and ballet in Helsinki. We walked by the ocean, biked by the river, and hiked in the hills. We traversed many city streets. We visited museums and world heritage sites. We took tours. We interacted with kangaroos and kookaburras (and wombats!) We enjoyed the sauna in Helsinki.
How did we get around?
We took trams, subways, buses, trains, bikes, ferries, a ship and we walked a lot. We only drove in two places: when we were in the U.S. in our home base, and one day trip in Australia. We occasionally took an Uber or taxi. Paul drove a motorcycle across the U.S.A. and into Canada.
Who did we spend time with?
We mostly spent a lot of good quality time with each other. But, we visited family in Lisbon, London, Paris, and the U.S.A., and met with friends in every venue.
Friends and family we visited at home:
What did we eat
We ate really, really well. We had a lot of seafood, as most of the places we've visited have been on an ocean. We sampled local delicacies such as bacalhau a bras and pastel de nata in Lisbon, Indian curry and an amazing Van Gogh-themed high tea in London, croissants in Paris, reindeer stew in Helsinki, clam chowder in Seattle, BLTs in Michigan and Wisconsin, vanilla slice in Victoria, and much more. We visited foodie restaurants in Fiji and Melbourne. We visited traditional restaurants in little Italy and Chinatown sections of several cities.
In addition to adventures in good restaurant eating, we also shopped in wonderful markets and specialty shops, buying fresh fruits & veggies, staples, meat and deli selections, bagels and much more.
How did all this travel affect our health?
Mostly, traveling improved our health. When we had check-ups in June, all of the walking and better eating resulted in improved lab results, including lower A1C levels. We had lab tests done again in Melbourne with similar results. We both lost a healthy amount of weight. Of course, we did experience some consequences from sudden lifestyle changes, such as foot and joint problems, but these seem to be manageable. And, the constant relocation to Spring and Summer blooms has created a chronic allergy response in Kim and an occasional one in Paul. But overall, we're feeling better than we were this time last year and have developed good "walking legs"!
What did we do when we weren't being tourists?
We did a lot of touristy things, but most of the time, we lived in the places we visited, much like the locals. Because we're both retired, we can focus on projects that interest us. Both of us experienced bursts of creativity in 2022.
I (Kim) completed some projects from work related to Multicultural Lawyering, including co-teaching the Multicultural Lawyering seminar at WMU-Cooley Law School during May-August remotely. I read several books, including Sea People by Christina Thompson, and the latest Barbara Kingsolver (Demon Copperhead), Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Gamache), and Martin Walker (Bruno, Chief of Police) books, among others. I wrote about 50 blog posts for Rocinantes on the Road, usually in consultation with Paul. I took a lot of photos, posting some on Facebook, and some on the blog. I continued my ukelele lessons remotely with my teacher in Hawaii, and posted 14 songs on You Tube. In November, I started voice lessons with my same teacher. Late in the year, I received a grant from the Prepared Mind project to create a website called the Gen Jones Chronicles and started work on that website. Look for more about that in 2023. I also bought fabric in Papua New Guinea and made a dress, printing the pattern from Etsy and hand sewing. And, I made a lot of lemon cookies and two red velvet cakes. Proving you are never too old to (re)-learn, I successfully rode a bicycle after nearly 17 years! I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is.
Paul did the original planning and set-up for the Rocinantes blog, and wrote some posts for it. Over the last few years, Paul has created a dynamic financial model that balances and tracks our investments and helps us plan our short and long-term budget. This year, he spent time each month managing our investments and adjusting them, out-performing the market in what has been a bad trading year. Trading has been challenging with time zone differences. In late June, he drove his motorcycle across the country and along the Rocky mountains to Canada. The intention was to ride to Alaska, but bike problems forced him to abort in Calgary, Canada. He went back South & rode to Seattle. In late July, Paul went to Wisconsin to help his dad, and after his dad passed away, he managed his dad's estate. That task is almost, but not quite, complete. Paul launched a new set of grants for his Prepared Mind project (www.preparedmind.org), fostering 4 new projects and helping a family of 4 with rent. During that last quarter of the year, Paul did a deep dive into our expenses, coding our bank and credit card transactions into a spreadsheet to see how our first year went financially. Even with some one-time big expenses related to moving, we spent more than we anticipated so we're adjusting some budget categories for 2023.
As you can see, both of us are keeping busy, but we also spend a lot of time just relaxing, playing games on our phones, watching movies and talking to friends and family.
Have there been any downsides?
Nothing is perfect all of the time. We've experienced some frustrations with never being able to make our moving homes conform exactly to our desires, since we can't replace furniture or buy big-ticket items. We've experienced some sleep issues and logistics problems with some of the time zone differences. And, it can be hard to figure out a routine when nothing seems routine. But in the main, we've had surprisingly few problems.
Join us on the journey....
We've enjoyed having so many friends and family following along on our adventures. Since we launched the blog, we've had 1378 unique visitors from 56 countries. We hope you continue with us as we journey on.