Be Home For Dinner!

Posted November 14, 2017 – Narrated by Jim
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Kids free-ranged with a minimum of parental oversight in the 1950’s-60’s. Maybe because the grown-ups had bigger problems to deal with – such as the atomic bomb… but the result was an era of beneficial neglect – a miracle in parenting that produced innovative and creative people.

On Saturday mornings, I’d mount my bike and shout from the other side of the screen door, “I’ll be home for dinner.”

On rare occasion mom and dad demanded details, so I’d give them the usual, “I’ll be at Erin, Marilyn or Michaels” which really meant nothing.

Then, pockets crammed with sunflower seeds, I’d bike standing-up down in the center of the empty palm-lined suburban streets of National City, California … wind vibrating through my velvety crewcut – no cell phone, beeper, GPS tracker – righteously independent and ready for anything.

Exploration was integral to the joy and excitement of my childhood. In our developing California suburb, things were always changing.

No kid wanted to be the last one to hear that a canyon was being cleared for a new mall or something. It was a major coop to be the first to ask, “Hey mister, whatcha doin’?”

This was years before the term “latch-key” became a catch-all for every social problem. I never felt abandoned by my working parents or threatened by authority figures.

This unplanned freedom was my vocation. The world was my playground and navigating it was a cinch with my bike – the finest in Schwinn machinery according to Captain Kangaroo.

My first bike

Sure I was learning responsibility and the results of my actions – but that developing adult crap was buried beneath epic landslides of exhilarating discoveries and finding new methods and routes to get there faster.

The 70’s.

… and while all this was happening in southern California, Carmen was volcano-spelunking in the pastoral landscape of the Phlegraean Fields in southern Italy with her sister Deborah.

2003, Carmen revisiting the neighborhood volcano, Monte Nuovo, near Naples Italy.

Traveling full-time in an Airstream without making reservations captures the feeling of an American era that is kind of lost now.

Our parent’s generation was more about control, ours is about freedom, and pushing the rules aside. Not knowing where we’ll be in a few days or even tomorrow awakens our youthful 60’s vibes.

Sure, there’s risk in not making reservations in advance – and we’ve been advised by some of the best to not to go to Florida in the winter without an itinerary. Yet, here we are.

Sunset at Trimble Park, Mt. Dora, Florida – we arrived three days after the park reopened from closure due to Hurricane Irma.

It’s early in the winter and some parks are still closed due to storm damage, but so far we’ve lucked out. Lucked out last year, too. Yeah, sometimes were in the best places and sometimes were not, but we’re always home for dinner.

Nearly 500 days on the road now and we’ve yet to be turned down for the night. The worse thing that could happen is we’ll have to occupy some parking lot somewhere and roll out of bed in the morning for fresh coffee and a hot breakfast.

Cracker Barrel parking lot, Opelika, Alabama

LIB is our way to hold onto the sensation of youth, if not the thing itself.

Living this way allows us to nuance our schedule and change on a dime.

Like, for instance this week. We had planned to stay at a County Park for a few weeks, but a local told us about a campground 30 miles away with an amazing 22-mile bike trail. So we moved.

Some of the places along the trail are almost magical.

We’ve been cycling the West Orange Trail, testing out our new Hookworm tires and tubes the technicians at the coolest bike shop ever – Star Bike Shop in Savannah, Georgia – installed on our folding bikes.

All along the trail there are places to stop and take a break.

The trail winds through wooded areas, residential neighborhoods, charming parks and villages with bakeries, cafes …

Downtown Winter Garden, the trail goes right through town.

and breweries … a welcoming community to “go home to” during this season of gratitude!

Crooked Can Brewing Company, Winter Garden, Florida

Safe travels for the holidays!

26 thoughts on “Be Home For Dinner!

  1. I was just talking with my daughter in law yesterday about how I would be gone all day when I was younger without my parents being concerned. A different time, for sure. Enjoy your travels. We will be full timing in the spring if all goes as planned.

  2. Outstanding blog! Stay in touch, old friends, we’re hopefully going to be back on the road again soon…….Our truck should be done sometime later this week….’Stream on in the meantime,
    Larry and Jacquie

    1. I’m reading your blog this morning from Catalina State Park just 6 miles from our home in Oro Valley Arizona but, our first night in our new to us 2015 Airstream Signature 27 ft. Front queen floor plan.
      Walking Shadow, our American Sheppard, last night with the stars extra bright and numouous away from the ambient light of our Del Webb community quickened my heart, it is a blessing to be out camping once more following a year of distraction and focus on health issues. (Prostate Cancer successfully treated by proton beam therapy at Loma Linda University medical center in California)
      There’s nothing like a health issue to awaken ones awareness of their mortality and develop a renewed appreciation of the blessings of life and gratitude for treatments, cures and new hope.
      As we mix time in the Beamer with time at home both AZ and CO; Pam didn’t fancy my Captin & Tineel idea for naming our new rig favoring instead Proton Beam or Beamer for the Airstream and Accelarator for the truck, both intricatal parts of PBT and my treatment) I’ll try to appreciate each day and each opportunity a bit more. There’s no lease on life…this is the day the Lord has made rejoice and be glad in it.

      1. David, welcome to the world of Airstreaming! So glad you made it through your PBT successfully. You are so right that health issues cause us to reflect back on the past and cause us to look to the future as we realize how little time we have left. My four major surgeries have made me appreciate life, and living full-time in our Airstream has made me appreciate this wonderful Nation we live in.

  3. Awesome post guys! I remember those days… the rule was “be home before the street lights come on!” We miss you guys! Let’s meet in NOLA!

    1. Marty, thanks for the kind words! We hope to pass through NOLA on our way back to San Diego in spring 2018. When we have a better timeline, we will let you know.

  4. Contemplating a different life is like a step off the cliff into the unknown. Your post captures that sense of freedom, and that it is possible. We started our journey last August with our first Airstream and are planning a trip through the United States, from our home in Massachusetts to California starting next February. I will look forward to reading this post along the way. Thanks.

    1. James, freedom, that was what we were trying to capture. Glad that came through. We too will be heading toward California in March, maybe we will see you along the way!

    1. Amy, thank you! It was fun writing the blog post and remember back to those times. One thing I forgot to write in it was that no matter what time dinner was, I had to be home before the street lights turned on.

  5. The Airstream is this year’s new bike model, and drop a few letters off National City and you have “Nation!” Your playground’s just expanded!

    1. Jim and Melinda, great to hear from you!! Yep this amazing nation of ours is such a wonderful place to explore!!!

  6. “Be home before the street lights.” So true! Making forts in the fields (where houses are now); walking to the 7/11 for penny candy (yes, really a penny!), using clothes pins to attach playing cards on our bike spokes. Ah… today just don’t know what they’re missing. Happy Thanksgiving and keeping living my dream 🙂

    1. Lori, you are describing National City in the 60’s perfectly! Thanks for those memories. It is true that kids growing up today live with a very different level of oversight that we enjoyed. Didn’t seem to be that bad for us!!

  7. Greetings Fellow Travelers:
    We started our full time adventure eight months ago. What a difference these choices make! Love your blog. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. What a great way to reframe this journey: I used to disappear on my bike (with my sister, of course), in a neighborhood outside New York City, where EVERYBODY knew my parents. Still, we stayed out at least until lunch, often until dinner. We were wild and free, playing in vacant lots and speeding down big, long hills without using our brakes. We thrived. It was a wonderful world.

    Now, we just drive around and change direction on a whim. Yeah, we got good at that all those years ago. We just need to remember that attitude again, and LIVE IT!

    That said, I’m wondering what campground you are referring to, so I can put it on my list of possibilities for the future. Thanks, in advance!

    1. Susan, welcome to this wonderful world of full-timing on the road. Sounds like your neighborhood growing up was very similar to mine. You asked about the campground we stayed at near Winter Gardens. The name was Stage Stop Campground, but we would not recommend it for various reasons. If you want more details, use the ‘contact us’ page and we will provide them privately. Hope to see you on the road sometime!

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