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Feeding the Need - Travels Near & Far
Koppenhaver's Selected Travel Journal Entries
Feeding the Need

Ten years before my fiftieth birthday, I hatched a plan.  I wanted to reward myself for reaching that iconic milestone.  The way things were lining up, fifty would be the year I wrote my last tuition check for my daughters’ educations.  Supposing I’d still be in good health, I started dreaming of a sabbatical as a reward for the sacrifices my wife and I made while rearing two delightful children.  Through all the iterations of those dreams, one thing remained constant… the sabbatical would involve one of my very favorite activities: travel.  A Kerouacian road trip, perhaps.  Or a hike up the Pacific Coast Trail.  Or a voyage down to Antarctica.

Through the years, other reasons began to emerge that started fueling the need for a sabbatical.  Most notably, work.  Recently, my company has been on a magical tear – one of the finest ten year stretches in the company’s 167 year history.  Heavy growth has nearly tripled our size necessitating many workflow, technology, and personnel changes, all of which have kept every single day full of challenges.  It’s been a wonderful whirlwind, but none of it has come easy.  My throttle has been wide open for a long time.  A pit stop seemed in order.

As I’ve dealt with the demands of raising a family and a full throttle career, a few outside interests have become neglected.  Fresh out of college in the ‘80s, I started writing a journal and have kept it alive ever since.  It’s been a wonderful mental therapist.  But the entries have slowed over the past few years.  Setting off on a sabbatical tangent would surely jump-start entries again.

Another outside interest that’s been neglected is simply being outside.  Like my journal, a few hours in the woods or on a mountain top are tremendously therapeutic.  They always refocus me away from the minutiae of an often too-artificial world to a more holistic view of life.  But those experiences have been infrequent lately.  I’ve spent too much time in a building at seventy two degrees, under florescent lights, and with no breezes blowing.  I want to get dirty, in an earthy kind of way.  To step in mud and be guided by daylight hours; not a clock.  To be cold and zip up my coat, or warm and de-layer.  I want to hear wind rustling and water trickling, and not give a shit about electronic dings.

As a final reason for this sabbatical, there’s this: I live a wonderful life that I enjoy immensely, but I often stay under the radar.  Being a bit introverted, I don’t share my wonderful experiences that well.  The forty hours I spent in Cochise County, Arizona last year, for instance, were some of the best of my life; yet few know just how spectacular that was for me.  Now though, I want to make a bolder statement.  Frankly, I want to have a story; one I can reflect upon with great fondness: a feather-in-my-cap when telling stories to the grand kids.

Last July, I took the most important step in bringing this sabbatical to fruition – I secured permission from my employer to take whatever time was needed.  Since then, the planning effort has risen to near-compulsive levels.  And now, extreme planner that I am, a thematic itinerary is in place to address all of the reasons feeding the need.  Here I am, one week from embarking upon the sabbatical of a lifetime.  I couldn’t be more ready for it.

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3 comments or Leave a comment
thoughtsbykat From: thoughtsbykat Date: March 13th, 2016 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds exciting! I travel vicariously through my friends. Where are you going? Do I have to wait for your posts? I hope to do more traveling in the future.
koppenhaver From: koppenhaver Date: March 14th, 2016 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks Kat! Stay tuned... reports from the field will be posted soon. You can vicariously ride along as much as you'd like!
thoughtsbykat From: thoughtsbykat Date: March 14th, 2016 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Travel safe and enjoy yourself.
3 comments or Leave a comment