Posted November 14, 2017 – Narrated by Jim
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.
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.
… 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The trail winds through wooded areas, residential neighborhoods, charming parks and villages with bakeries, cafes …
and breweries … a welcoming community to “go home to” during this season of gratitude!