a man looking back at his past road trips modifying travel with parkinson's

I Have Become a Parkie Pooper

Recently, my wife and I traveled to "the great state of Ohio," as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson might refer to it were he to go back there. It’s a long drive that takes a lot of mental preparation for my parkie pooper self.

We used to do 7-8 hours straight. Now, Parkinson's demands we stop overnight in the middle. Additionally, I need time to get physically and emotionally ready in advance. Fortunately, when we get there, my wife gets to see her family. This time was especially important since it was for her sister’s wedding.

Encourage experience now

While there, we struck up a conversation with her nephew who just graduated. When prompted, he informed us that he was going to be putting off college for a little bit. Hesitantly, he told us that he had the opportunity to travel the country in support of his sister’s boyfriend’s auto-racing team. With this he smiled, awaiting judgment.

As a college advisor, you’d think I’d give him "The Talk," but I found myself wanting to give him a high-five. After all, we only have so long to see the world. Life obligations and happenings have a way of changing everything. Money and health come and go. Children and mortgages come and stay.

In life, before Parkinson’s, I was able to join the Air Force and live in England for over 5 years. Throughout my life, I’ve been to 44 states. I've had a ton of memories that can never be taken from me. Dreams are what they are. Reality is a 50/50 choice. We make the best of what we can do. As for others, especially family, we wish the best.

Needing order

Of course, Parkinson’s, the mortgage, disposable income, and the twilight of my career constantly get in the way of doing the elusive 6 states (Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota). The feeling of my back being jacked after long, uncomfortable travel reinforces it. The awkward feeling of being exhausted in crowds means I need more quiet time with just my wife or alone.

Then there is the bring it all home sensation of needing order, or at the very least, orderly disorder. This doesn’t make me the guy at Sandals Jamaica who was ready to get back to his routine.

He was a real person, too. All you can eat, poolside recreation in a tropical resort with someone you love is a meaning of life. Yes, so too is home sweet home with a loved one and a furry little pet, but I digress.

Uncomfortable reality

The point is that I’m not ready to leave comfortable vacation. I’m just not going to solo drive 22-23 hours from West Lawn, Pennsylvania, to Biloxi, Mississippi, again.

I’m definitely not going to drive tandem 40 hours straight from San Francisco to Big Bend National Park (Texas) to literally sleep on the side of the road! For that matter, 4 hours from the Chesapeake Bay to Chateau Glass is a rough ride made rougher in a cramped car.

Doing what I can

I guess you could say that being a parkie pooper has me living vicariously through my nephew, but so, too, was his defense of Kansas City to my wife.

Recently, I started to realize my body is rapidly telling me the Great American Petroglyph tour may need to be amended. My right knee constantly aches. My back is shot. My energy is down. Gas prices, strife, and the pandemic are altering European travel, so I need a new dream I can do before Parkinson’s waives the white flag. That's Kansas City.

Dream big

The nephew loved Kansas City’s entertainment and sports. He may not have done the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame, the WW1 Museum, or the Jazz Museum, but he saw the Royals and did the local cuisine, amongst the fountains.

Ribs, steak, music, history, sports, and whatever oddball sites we choose to see. Fly in quickly and rent-a-car. I know those museums will kick butt.

If I can just find a way not to be a parkie pooper, this newly modified travel life can still kick butt. As for the nephew, I wish him Life Routine Guy's time and money to see it all, while he can. I know my 18-year old nephew will take advantage of it more than that guy did.

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