A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Packing it in!

It's been a busy, busy couple of weeks.  Countless Expadorians before us know what we're talking about.  That last rush before getting ready to head out.  The constant questions...did you think to?, I thought you took care of that!  A hundred and one things crossed off the to do list.  Then a coffee break to review where we're at and the list mysteriously grew 102 more items...all crucial and urgent!

Heck and we're not even moving yet!

 We are emptying out our apartment, putting everything in storage and preparing to embark on a two week  cross country road tour to see things and family.  (Nancy and Chuck are our inspirational gurus here!)  Then it's off to Cuenca for our first visit.   We're planning to be there two months, then return for one final round of  madness (preparing to become Expardorians)  before we make it permanent.  We are excited and looking forward to the journey and meeting many of the folks we've communicated with or have followed on the blogosphere.

As Brennie's Clark is prone to say:  "Life is Sweet."

See you all soon, "Juntos en el camino de la vida".

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Past Travel Has Helped to Prepare Us For Our Next Adventure:

Suzanne & Roger 
We’re often asked about our many travels.  It seems some current as well as future friends are curious about the number of places we’ve lived and have traveled to.   It’s flattering to be asked to relate all those adventures but it would probably take too long and we would never get back to our upcoming relocation, the true subject of this blog.

However, to let those who are curious get to know a little more about us and where we've been, this blog will share assorted photos from some of our previous explorations. This will enable us to relate the story of some of our many wanderings in a somewhat briefer fashion.  Since our previous few blogs have focused on Suzanne, these photos will feature poses Roger has been caught in during these travels. Warning: some of these are dated and despite the presence of some dark hair strands and unfamiliarity to some, they are, indeed, actual un-photo-shopped photos of Roger.

Here are Roger's landmark poses:

Feeding a friend in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, Az.

Getting ready to fly over the Grand Canyon in Arizona

On a family vacation to Key West, Florida
At the helm of the Queen Mary,
now permanently berthed in California.
Setting sail from Vancouver Harbor
in British Columbia, Canada

With Suzanne in Kauai, Hawaii
Roger's  favorite chef in Bernal, Mexico

Sitting in ruin (literally) during a tour
on Delos Island, Greece
At Huntington Gardens in
Los Angeles County, California

Outside a restaurant in Istanbul, Turkey

On a castle wall overlooking the harbor in Bodrum, Turkey

Shooting a photo of son Stephen as we climbed
up the Montreal overlook.

With Suzanne and stepmother Mary
on Sannibel Island, Florida

on Coronado Island Island, San Diego, California

On the porch at the Hemmingway house,
Key West, Florida

Taking a break on the Alcatraz prison tour.
Lunchtime in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Roger by a famous statue near
city hall in Florence, Italy

In San Francisco

After whale watching off the coast of
Mazatlan, Mexico.

These are a few of the wonderful places we've been fortunate enough to be able to visit and enjoy.  We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to share these experiences with each other.  It is because of learning from them that we look forward to the days ahead,  "juntos en el camino de la vida".

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Great Good Byes!

A lot of friends are wishing us well as we prepare to head off for our exploratory trip to Ecuador.   One of the nicest farewells came from some former associates of Suzanne at her previous place of employment. 

Former work associates wish Suzanne farewell at a luncheon at Kincaid's in downtown Phoenix

Suzanne had originally worked with these folks when we first relocated to Arizona because of a job transfer for Roger back in 1999.  She took a different position after being laid off in an economic cutback in the middle of last summer.  So some of these folks had been co-workers for a decade or so.  When we announced her last day at her current employer and the fact we had finally decided to go ahead with our retirement plans and explorations, a former associate, Susan Folz called to have her attend a farewell luncheon of former co-workers.

Susan Folz, luncheon organizer
and Chris Grant were former teammates
with Suzanne at The Arizona Republic
Despite the short notice, there were a dozen of her former teammates in attendance.  What a delightful surprise!  It was very enjoyable and gratifying to share the time and receive the well wishes of these associates, some of whom Suzanne hadn’t seen for months.

Leaving good friends is always somewhat tinged with nostalgia and a small sense of loss.  However, it becomes much easier when you depart with their congratulations and good wishes.  It helps to know that we have many friends who understand our sense of excitement, joy and expectation as we continue our adventure:

Juntos en el camino de la vida!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

With A Little Help From Our Friends!

In our last blog, we told the tale of two friends, Kara and Kent, who helped us say goodbye to Suzanne’s favorite car.   (They also helped us pack and move when we sold our house and downsized.) The telling of that tale reminded us we have been blessed with help and encouragement from a large number of friends many, many times in our research, planning and preparation for retirement abroad.   That list would include two friends, Michele and Chris, who became our realtors.  Despite being in the second worst real estate market in the country, they helped sell our house for more than 90% of our asking price in under fifty days.

Friends Lenore and Mike
greeting us at the door last xmas

There’s many more but with this post we want to acknowledge two special friends: Lenore and Mike.  Lenore and Suzanne became friends as co-workers better than a decade ago.  When Suzanne began to go to sales and flea markets to pare down some of her collectibles, as well as dispose of many of the items we had after the passing of her mother, they “teamed up” on regular occasions to work those events together.   We socialized with this great couple during their courtship and were in attendance, as they became man and wife last year. 

Lenore and Mike joined us at Roger's
favorite Greek restaurant for his birthday
Suzanne and Lenore posing before
getting back to work selling "stuff"
From loaning folding tables for flea markets to helping us set up and even helping us sell, they’ve been there to lend a hand.  They will even provide us lodging during our last couple of days before we head off to visit relatives before flying to Ecuador for our exploratory visit.   In short, whether it was lending us a hand or just offering us a break and sanctuary from our daunting tasks of downsizing and researching prior to reaching to our retirement decision, they've always been there as good friends.

Here's a little further pictorial look at this nice couple:

Our hosts prepping for an enjoyable dinner.
The ladies cooling their heels literally!

Mike grilling salmon for us in his back yard.

Lenore and Mike recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary.  We acknowledged their special relationship by posting on their Facebook pages:  “the next coolest thing to having been married to your best friend for 40 years is to be a newlywed married to your best friend. Congratulations Mike and Lenore”.    We’ve spent 40+ years discovering that enjoying life together makes each day special.  Lenore and Mike have happily developed that same sense of daily life adventure in their first year.  It’s always good to know and appreciate friends who are as we always try to be: 

“Juntos en el camino de la vida”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Saying Goodbye Isn't Always To Other People

Kara and Suzanne at Lunch

     Part of the preparation for becoming an ex-pat is saying goodbye.  The odd thing is, it’s sometimes more about saying goodbye to customs, habits and things than it is about saying goodbye to people.  That was one of the subjects of discussion the other day when Suzanne had lunch with her good friend Kara.  Kara and her husband Kent have been close friends since they moved to Phoenix and became co-workers with Suzanne a few years back.  We refer to their two Samoyeds, Klondike and Kodiak as our “granddogs”

Suzanne's "Baby": Her 98 BMW  Z3 roadster
   Suzanne had already discussed with Kara the fact that we’ll be able to stay in touch.  We haven’t even made our first trip down and there are already plans afoot for visits and maybe a joint rendezvous in either the Caribbean or Mexico.   Nope, the “goodbye” discussion here centered on the fact that Suzanne’s pride and joy, her “98” BMW Z3 roadster, had been sold in preparation for moving out of the country.  She was going to miss it and wanted to something special before "turning loose".

Before taking the final top down drive
with Boo-Boo,  her faithful "car bear".
   We had actually bought this car from Kara and Kent about 6 years ago.  Kent is a car buff who has owned nearly as many cars as I have hairs in my beard.  He finds fabulous, mint-condition, used cars, buys them, enjoys them for a while and then sells them so he can try something else.  Well The Z3 was one of his best finds and once we bought it from him, it quickly became Suzanne’s “baby”.

   It was in superb condition and the fact that it still had less 60,000 miles on it meant we got a good price.  so Suzanne spent a little extra to have it spotless for its send off.   (Patience, we’re finally getting back to the “saying goodbye” part!).   Suzanne and Kara decided that in addition to the final top down drive, she and Suzanne should have some photos taken “Thelma and Louise” style to commemorate Suzanne’s last day as owner.   
Here are some of the shots of Suzanne saying “goodbye” to her BMW:

Suzanne and Kara alias "Thelma and Louise"
The ladies sharing Suzanne's last moments as the car's owner.

For safety's sake, never hit the road without your car bear on board!

       The car is now gone.  Hopefully, it will bring as much enjoyment to someone else as it did to Suzanne.  As she said after signing over the title:  "I've taken care of that car for the past few years, now it's going to help take care of getting me to Ecuador!"   And that, dear readers, is how Roger and Suzanne say goodbye to a car before they head on down the road.

Juntos en el camino de la vida!