Tuesday, July 20, 2010

LATEST TRICKS: Mountain Prelude

Last week we did what we live to do--travel.  We went up to the Adirondack Mountains for a few days and followed our typical travel tenets--explore, learn, listen, share, challenge thyself, and eat good food.  This was the first trip we've taken since committing to "Old Dogs New Tricks" and while this trip wasn't an "official" part of that expedition itself, it certainly was a part of the journey.  We went into the mountains with our blog business cards in hand, eager to invite others to come along with the old dogs as we traverse the ins and outs of America, middle-age and the new American dream.  What we discovered was heartfelt enthusiasm, eager advice, and moving tales in some of the most unexpected places.
  • We could have sat and chatted all day with Debbie at the Whiteface Mountain gondola.  I can't even remember now what it was that drew us to her just after we disembarked from the ski lift.  Did she say something to us?  Did her kind face draw us to her?  I'm just not sure but she warmed our hearts and inspired us with her words and wisdom.
  • Then, there was Fred, bartender and renaissance man at the Great Adirondack Brewing Company in Lake Placid. We had so much in common—from a love of Civil War history to a mutual awareness of a defunct brewpub called "Gettysbrew" in Gettysburg where the beer maker didn't taste or drink the beer he made (the results were, let’s just say, “legendary”).  Then, there was Fred's invaluable advice on places to visit and nosh along the South Carolina coast.  Fred also shared with us that he is the father of two US ARMY infantry officers who served combat tours in Iraq and he is the co-chair of Tee Off Fore A Cause which actively supports the Wounded Warrior Project.  While Ted and I are exercising our freedom to explore the new American dream, there are thousands of devoted men and women serving in proud service to our country. This was an important reminder to us that, when these servicemen and women return home, their ability to resume or pursue their own American dream may be severely compromised.  Needless to say, our stop at Great Adirondack Brewing was much more than a visit to a brewpub.  We would go well out of our way to share conversation again with Fred.
  • And, how about Bert, our co-host at the Willkommen Hof Bed & Breakfast in Wilmington, New York?  We enjoyed his company and he made us chuckle again and again when we thought about his Monday night advice for attending breakfast the next morning: "Just be down here before nine if you want something hot".  We do love a straightforward approach!
  • We were reminded what a small world it is when we did indeed come down to breakfast before 9am the following morning.  There sat another traveling couple...my parents' next door neighbors from Syracuse.  What are the odds?  But, that is so true of life: Truth is invariably always stranger (and more delightful) than fiction.
  • There was a curious and delightful convergence of perspectives at the Hungry Trout in Wilmington, New York.  What could have been just a delicious dinner of succulent trout turned into a round robin of conversation about life and its lessons among yours truly and her handsome husband, a 26-year old father with wisdom beyond his years, a senior couple who met on Second Life, a bartender with spunk, and our waitress who was radiant about a recent opportunity that is opening doors to her American Dream.
  • We learned that our hosts at the Schroon Lake Bed & Breakfast are living their own American Dream--when least expected.  Mark and Sharon opened this marvelous B&B last year and we look forward to sharing more about their odyssey on a future "American Dream" post. 
So, why tell these stories now, when our departure date is still several weeks away?  As we keep learning, nothing happens independent of everything else and nothing lives in isolation.  Everything affects everything and so it is with "Old Dogs, New Tricks".  It seems that the train has already left the station even though the bags aren't even packed! -- Laura

Monday, July 19, 2010

TRAVEL TECH: Sign Our Guestbook

Let us know you found us!

Thank you for visiting our blog or following us on Twitter or via email. Please take a moment to sign our Guestbook by commenting on this post. Feel free to let us know who you are, where you're writing from, how you met us or heard of us and any suggestions or feedback you might have about our itinerary, blog or whatever. We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

TRAVEL TECH: Getting the most from our blog

Welcome Aboard!

As you explore our blog, you’ll discover that it is chock-full of interactive features.  Each one is designed to help you follow our journey, share with others, and join in the conversation. Here’s the road map for using each feature:

Tabs – Just under our road sign banner you’ll find the tab bar.  Each tab will take you to a different content area of our site:

  • Home is where the main conversation unfolds.  You’ll find our latest posts there along with comments from friends, family, fellow travelers and visitors to our blog.  Add your comments and join in the conversation!
  • About Us will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about your hosts.
  • Our Route contains an overview map of our journey.  Click the map for a larger view, which then allows you to zoom in even closer.
  • Our Itinerary gives you an ever-evolving look at where we'll be when and what we'll be up to.
  • Links is where you’ll find a categorized directory of our favorite travel and other resources.  No paid listings here—just a collection of sites we actually love and use.
  • Shop is your source for all kind of things that we recommend from our own use and experience.  Books, travel gear, music, DVDs, strange and wonderful souvenirs, essential oils, spices and much, much more.  We’ll tell you a little about it, why we recommend it, and how to get it.
  • FAQs is where we’ll answer those Frequently Asked Questions.  Pose a question in your comments or via Twitter and we will do our best to answer it.

Comments – Each post on the Home page has a comments link at the bottom of the post.  The link shows the number of comments received so far for that entry:

The same link appears at the bottom of each post on any page that displays multiple posts, such as when browsing by week or topic.  Click the link to read the comments, and then add your own if you wish.  You may want to ask a question, share you own experience regarding the topic, or offer a suggestion of things to do, places to see, or restaurants to visit.

To post a comment: 
  • Type your comment in the space provided.
  • Select the profile you wish to comment as from the drop-down list.  You may want to use your Google, blog or instant messaging account name.  If not, just choose Name/URL and enter a name of your choosing (if you have a blog or website, feel free to add the URL, too).  You may also post anonymously, if you wish, but we’d rather know what you’d like to be called.  That way, we can respond to your comments by name (which is much more personal than “Dear Anonymous…”).
  • Click the Preview button to see how your comment will appear.
  • Click the Edit link to revise your post, if needed.  Otherwise, type the letters you see under "Word verification" in the box below and click Post Comment.  An audio-based  verification word is available for those using screen readers.

Subscriptions – You can subscribe to our posts via email, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, or your favorite feed reader (we support both Atom and RSS feeds).  To do so, just use the corresponding tools in the right-hand blog column. 

  • If you are signed in with a Google account, you can receive follow-up comments to specific posts via email by clicking the Subscribe by email link at the end of the comments section of each post.  To unsubscribe, just click the link again (which now reads Unsubscribe).

  • If you prefer to receive follow-up comments in your feed reader, click the Subscribe to: Post Comments link at the bottom of the page for that individual post.  If you would like to subscribe to all posts, click the Subscribe to: Posts link at the bottom of our Home page.

Sharing – The sharing bar at the bottom of each post allows you to easily share that post with others via email, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook or Google Buzz.  Like my mother always said, “Sharing is good!”

Browse by Topic or Week – In the right-hand blog column, you’ll find a list of All Posts by Topic as well as a Blog Archive by week.

The topic list shows the number of posts in each topic.  Click a topic to open all the posts related to it.  If you click a topic link in an individual post, it will also open all posts related to that topic.

    The blog archive can be collapsed or expanded by week.  Click on the triangles to collapse or expand each section.  Click on a title to open an individual post.  Click on a week to open all of the posts for that week.

    For Best Results – You’ll have the best browsing experience with our blog (fastest page loads, seamless transitions, etc.) if you use any browser other than Internet Explorer.  Internet Explorer marches to its own drummer and, for some reason, it does a clunky job of rendering our pages.  All of the information is there, but page loads are slower and ugly black flashes appear as page elements paint in.  These glitches do not occur with any other browser we’ve tested.  If you have insight on how to correct these problems, feel free to share.  Meanwhile, we recommend you try one of the other browsers linked in the right-hand navigation column.  --Ted

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    AMERICAN DREAM: What is the American Dream?

    If we are going to explore a new American Dream, we thought that first we should look into its origins and definition.  Ha!  Easier said than done.  Just a cursory search of the Web and my head was ready to pop off.  Indeed, I think that's part of the point: Everyone seems to have a different perspective on precisely what IS the American Dream, where did it begin, and where is it going.  If we ask 100 people "What is the American Dream?", we'll probably get at least 60 different answers.  Perhaps that itself is part of the American Dream: the freedom to define one's own dream.  Maybe we should indeed ask 100 different people.  But in the meantime. let's have a look at the origins of the "American Dream".  In examining several sources, a general consensus seems to be that historian James Truslow Adams populated the phrase "American Dream" in his 1931 book Epic of America: 
    The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, also too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
    He also wrote:
    The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.
    That's food-for-thought.  -- Laura

    How about you?  What is YOUR notion of the American Dream?  


    Friday, July 9, 2010

    LATEST TRICKS: Falling in love

    4th of July will never be the same
    In mapping our route, researching destinations, and planning our itinerary over the past couple of months, our perspective on America has begun to deepen.  It is evolving into a much richer sense of this country we call home.  As mentioned in our first post, both the sharing and the planning has contributed to making Old Dogs New Tricks an amazing trip already and we haven't even hit the road.  This past weekend, we celebrated the 4th of July weekend with friends, family and strangers.  We observed throughout the weekend that our sense of the holiday and how American independence came to be is so much more personal to us this year than ever before.  While we have always treasured and valued our country, we are finding that it is never too late to fall in love!  -- Laura

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    ROAD WISDOM: Uncommon $ense

    When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
    ~Susan Heller

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    LATEST TRICKS: Birthing a blog

    A journey of 8,000 miles begins with a single blog 
    Today we built a blog, our very first blog.  Wow!  So now, our journey can "officially" begin.  It's already been an amazing trip and we haven't even hit-the-road.  A couple months ago, we started sharing our plan to take a three-month trip around the country.  The response has been moving.  We feel so embraced with enthusiasm and support for our adventure.  We are blessed with some very loving friends and family.  Thank you!

    So, how did it all begin?  This idea was only hatched a few months ago but already it seems so much a part of our lives, it's hard to imagine life before Old Dogs, New Tricks.  Like so many things in life, the idea was the brainchild of bad news.  What do two middle-aged professionals do when they BOTH find themselves without employers/income for the first time in 25 years?  This unexpected turn-of-events inspired a lot of questions, not the least of which was...What next?  As opposed to other times in our careers, the answers to "what next" weren't as obvious this time.  We were at a crossroads and we both agreed that it was time to examine, evaluate and "think outside the box". 

    The idea started simply enough late one night, lying beside each other in bed, in the dark, quietly pondering before falling asleep.  All was quiet.  And then, Ted's voice in the darkness: "Maybe this is the time for us to take that cross-country trip".  Nothing could have been more right.  Of course, there was plenty of analysis, discussion, and one-on-one "focus groups" for a few days, but the answer was clear.  The end result was a decision to use the unexpected lack of employment as an opportunity instead of a loss. 

    So, here's the game plan: We are literally going to “think outside the box” by setting off across America, learning more about our own country, our fellow Americans, and ourselves.  This trip represents both a long-standing dream and an investment in our future.  We believe that this physical and intellectual journey will help us to open our minds beyond the concept of “career move” or “next job” to the bigger picture of how to best use our skills to be of service, generate income, continue to pursue our goals, and protect our well-being in later years.

    It became clear as we started talking with friends and family that this is a journey that is meant to be shared.  FIRST STEP: We held a "Name Ted and Laura's Trip" contest amongst friends and family.  The names suggested ranged from inspiring to naughty.  Not only was the contest great fun but the title ideas inspired contemplation and helped us gain clarity about our goals and expectations for the trip.  
    SECOND STEP: Create a blog.  Ta-dah!

    Watch for more about the journey in upcoming posts.

    In the meantime, our departure date is September 4, 2010 with an estimated return date of Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2010.  Labor Day Weekend to Thanksgiving seems appropriate, don't you think?  --Laura