For several years I had a blog called “Overseas Over Sixty,” where I chronicled my adventures being a woman over 60 years old and living overseas – first in Israel, then Korea for 4 years, then a year in Budapest, with several trips to other countries during the years of that blog. Well, I’m now over 70, and because of COVID and the pandemic, I haven’t been able to travel anywhere outside the U.S., although there is travel to be had right here in the USA. That brings me to the start of my new blog, “70 over 70.” Let me start from the beginning of this new journey.
My life with my husband, Steve, of 38 years, has been filled with adventures, lots of adventures. We have lived in five countries, run a business together for more than 25 years and travelled to more than 60 countries. We are best friends and we have spent so much time living in very small spaces, we have become quite adept at creating space with each other, even when we are in the same room. Airpods have certainly helped. We share a love of getting to know a place, living amongst people that are different from us, and travel, travel, travel. Don’t get me wrong, our relationship has had its ups and downs and ins and outs. There have been times where I thought we were the poster couple for what a marriage can handle without breaking. Our love for each other, and the life we have made together, always wins out.
So, when Steve began studying Van Life, I thought it might just be a phase and I didn’t think much of it. We had just watched Nomadland and I thought that might have been the motivator. Our plan for the Fall had been to return this September to Budapest, where we lived for a year and Steve would teach again. I am proud to say that I am happily retired, well maybe not fully retired, but certainly not looking for a job. As we got closer to the summer and a decision had to be made about the job offer, the outlook for Hungry and most of Europe continued to appear gloomy. Steve began looking at vans of all types again and talking to everyone he knew who owned, or had owned one. He was doing his research. I thought I might want to pay closer attention, since this van life thing started to look a little more serious. Before I knew it, he had set up time to go look at a used van that was for sale. This is probably a good time to say that in the last 10 years, we owned a car for a total of 7 months. We have been happily car-less. Now, we were talking about buying a van and living in it. That would mean driving all the time. For two people who haven’t owned a car for awhile, that was a drawback-to say nothing of the expense of the van, the insurance, maintenance, gas, etc., etc. Then Steve saw a post for the exact van he had been searching for; fully equipped and ready to go. It’s a rather large Dodge Ram Promaster. It’s equipped for “living” in. Well up to a point-there is no shower. It was in New Jersey.
We called the seller, and before I knew it, we were negotiating the price. We agreed on an amount and Steve said we would get back to him. We looked at each other thinking this was an impulse purchase and a little crazy, so we wrote to the owner, thanked him, and said we had changed our minds. We were reconsidering Budapest. The next day, I was out with a friend and my phone rang and Steve simply said, “Let’s do it. What do we have to lose. It will be a great adventure and we can sell it when we get back home.” I heard myself say “OK,” remembering what Marilyn Monroe famously said, “Ever notice that ‘what the hell‘ is always the right decision?”
Before I had time to really think, Steve had called the owner back and we sent him a deposit, booked a flight to Newark to pick up the van, transferred enough money into our account to pay for it, got insurance and temporary plates and we headed to New Jersey. It happened in about 48 hours. Done. Let the adventure begin. We drove the van back to Maine and now the fun starts, making this our home. We ordered vanity plates with “GENJI.” That is the name of our home on Peaks Island named after the restaurant where we had our first date more than 40 years ago. This van will be our “home” for at least 9 months.
Thus, the need for a new name for my blog. We were on a Zoom call the other day and I asked my friend Tucker if he had any ideas, and without skipping a beat, he said “70 over 70.” 70 miles an hour and over 70 years old cruising down the highway on my new adventure. So here is my first post. I plan to blog a lot on this trip. We leave in September and return in May. Between now and then I need to learn lots about van life and how to live a life with only those things that will fit in the van. We plan to visit friends along the way, stay in Airbnb’s and if we really like a place, we can stay as long as we want. We have no commitments, except our friends Lauren and Tucker’s wedding in May in Pennsylvania- otherwise, the country is wide open to us.
This past year of the Pandemic was filled with reflection and dreams of better times ahead. It was a year of no travel for us, which is the first time in so many years that we stayed put for a year. I’ll follow the words of Marilyn and just say “What the hell.”