Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives… and I will be picking two posts from the blogs of those participating from the first six months of 2020. If you don’t mind me rifling through your archives… just let me know in the comments or you can find out the full scope: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020
This is the second post from author Pete Springer and this week I have selected a post which showcases a couple who blog about their travels… definitely one to follow.
Meet Margie and Tony
One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is getting to know interesting people from around the globe. A few months back, I came across a delightful couple named Margie and Tony, who were traveling around the country in their campervan and sharing stories of the unique places they’ve visited. You can find them at Back Roads and Other Stories. I encourage you to check out their blog and learn about some of the fascinating areas they have visited.
I recently reached out to them and proposed an interview, which they graciously agreed to do. Rather than writing anymore, I think the best way to get to know them better is to read the interview.
1. How did you come up with the idea to blog about the places you travel to?
The idea of writing about our travels was always in the back of our minds. We started a blog about 10 years ago to accompany a road trip to Newfoundland so that our daughters can follow along. After that trip, we went on a few long trips that we didn’t document in any way other than the occasional post on Facebook and taking photographs, and we found that we forgot a lot of detail with time. Places, activities, special encounters, etc. all blended in or faded away. When we bought the campervan, it seemed like a great starting point for a new blog. We wanted to record our travels, our adjustment to RV life, and as it happens, our life during COVID-19. Now that we have more than a hundred posts, we are hooked…
2. Have you always liked to travel?
Yes! We both came from families that liked to travel, and we both moved a lot as children. Our parents went through some tremulous times during the second world war (each one of them in a different country and under different circumstances, yet all four had incredible stories to tell), which may have planted in us a seed of adventure as well. In our twenties, we backpacked through Europe and Asia; we would work, save money, travel, and repeat.
Once our family grew and we settled down in Canada, we had many long road trips with our kids; we travelled to Israel, to the USA, and in Canada. We were those terrible parents that would pull their kids out of school to take them on road trips, but each and every trip had an immense impact on their growth, learning, and world view and we have no regrets.
Once we moved to the farm with some livestock responsibilities, demanding jobs, and the kids’ school, we had to cut down on travel, and on many occasions, we traveled separately because someone had to stay and look after the horses. For a few years, travel consisted of conferences and the occasional business trip taken separately, but once the girls were grown up and we had someone to look after the horses, we were able to go on road trips together once again.
Eventually, our horses passed away one by one; the horse that we thought will outlive us, passed at the ripe age of 34, and when he passed, just like that, we were free to travel with no restrictions again (other than a bit of work commitments).
3. As you approach retirement, is this something both of you knew you wanted to do for quite some time?
Yes, we spent the past few years taking long walks in the forest, envisioning just how we will travel again after our retirement. There was no doubt that we would, but we weren’t sure whether we wanted to get some kind of an RV, or continue traveling as we did before with a combination of camping, hotels, and rentals. We ended up choosing a campervan that was suitable for road trips, especially with our dog, Emma. We decided to buy the van before we retire and try it out on a couple of trips. It was a good call since we needed to postpone our retirement a bit and were able to enjoy both travel and work (sometimes simultaneously). We love the freedom and flexibility of hopping in the van and going on a trip without booking places to stay. Once we actually retire, we will be able to go for longer and even more flexible trips.
4. Do you have any family considerations that would make it difficult for you to travel for extended periods? (Parents, children, grandchildren, pets?)
No, we are empty nesters. Our daughters are all grown up. I mentioned before that we had horses, which really limited our ability to travel, but now that they are gone, it is no longer a constraint. We still live on the farm, which is a small piece of paradise and requires a bit of upkeep, but other than that, we are free to travel.
A bit of a side story is that our youngest daughter moved back to Canada from England, and our grand plan was that they will live in our house while we travel. As best laid plans go, COVID-19 happened just after they arrived, and we had to stay put, keeping them in captivity with us. Luckily we all get along!
Having Emma with us had some travel limitations, and when she got sick, it was even harder (think having a dog that has the runs in an RV park…). She passed away a year ago, and although it freed us to go into every museum that we wish to and for as long as we want, we miss her dearly. The only obstacle between travel and us is the COVID-19 travel restrictions, but we will ride it out and be ready to roll as soon as we can!
5. Where have been some of your favorite places to visit so far? Why?
This list can be very long! We’ll try and come up with a few frontrunners.
The Far East was an incredible place to visit, trekking in Nepal, visiting Burma when you could only get a visa for one week (we tried to see as much as we could during this short time) and living and working in Japan were all incredible experiences for us. The desert is one of our favorite places to visit, and we spent some time in the Mojave Desert boondocking in our van.
We hiked in the several deserts in Israel and in the high desert in Colorado—all amazing places that we hope to write about.
One of the most special places that we had visited in Canada is the Island of Newfoundland; the landscape, the people, and the unique culture captivated us, and we would love to go back one day!
We mentioned working during travel, and one of the most enjoyable things we did was work as extras in a movie in the Philippines. All the extras were trucked to a location in the mountains where we went to war in a Santiago post-apocalyptic movie. We made life-long friends during that time, which made it special. It will always be associated with that place, and both become extra special.
6. Your blog is called Back Roads and Other Stories. Does the title of your blog give away that you enjoy visiting rural or lesser-known places?
Yes, it does, but it also implies that we like other stories. Some of those stories can be found in cities, along freeways, or in our backyard. The back roads can be more relaxing to travel on, and since we don’t need to get anywhere in a hurry, we can stop and experience things along the way. Remember those times driving on the freeway, and by the time you saw a sign for a really interesting place, you passed the exit, so you just let it go? We just don’t like missing those places.
This is also a sneaky way to allow us to write just about anything! Tony’s Carpentry projects, Margie’s archaeological experience, homesteading – the list is endless. One of the rules of blogging is to find a niche and focus on it. It looks like our niche is being eclectic and unfocused.
7. Where are some places that you hope to visit in the future?
Everywhere, but that may not be very realistic.
We have plans to visit Northern Quebec and Northern Ontario as soon as travel is safe again. We had a plan for a cross-Canada trip and a visit to Alaska, but that was put on hold due to the pandemic. We hope to visit the western US again, especially Nevada and Utah, and perhaps continue to Oregon.
We would love to spend a couple of winters in Arizona again and explore the desert some more, but this list may change at any time, and some other exciting travel opportunity may come up!
8. How are you planning to chronicle your travels? This blog? Photographs? A book? Other?
For now we are utilizing our blog and photography to document our travels and other stories as they unfold. We share our photos and stories on our Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter, but publishing a book has always been a dream. Perhaps one day…
I don’t often recommend checking out other blogs to my friends, but this one deserves your attention. Finding something you are passionate about is one of the keys to retirement, and I’d say that Margie and Tony are well on their way. I encourage you to ride along with them as they explore the back roads and other unique places.
©Peter Springer 2020
About Pete Springer
My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.
When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.
I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!
One of the recent reviews for the book
Today, more than ever, children need role models and so do adults, parents too. And we need to re-learn basic responsibility and how this is a two way road.
Finding your inner voice and passion is what we all need to discover and Pete Springer paints us a vivid image in this book.
This is an entertaining read based on first hand experiences dripping with humor.
A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed although I already brought up two children.
A must read, wether you are a teacher or a parent. Grandparent too.
Thanks for dropping by today and I know that Pete would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.