A Vacation from Retirement?

Once in a while, no matter whatever my status has been in life, and from a young age, I have always had the need to get up and go, somewhere…anywhere.  After being raised in a flat land farming community in North Central Illinois, the desire to just take off and go somewhere showed up early in my life.  Immediately after graduating high school, my bestie and I got in his car and drove to Orlando, Florida (mainly because it had palm and coconut trees).  A year and a half later I realized I needed the Navy as much as it needed me, so I could get both an education and my travel fix.  It not only worked for me, it became an addiction.  I believe sometime early in my life, I must have been abducted and administered a transfusion of Gypsy blood.  During the 20+ years I spent with the Navy, my addiction for change was satisfied on the average of once every 3-4 years.  For most of my life after leaving the Navy, the travel clock kept ticking and the desire to move along never subsided…and if anything it has since gotten worse. Without the government footing the bill like in my earlier days however, and like most good working class people, I had to settle down and go to work carving out my piece of the American dream.  Settling down after my Navy years was difficult for me. If you have never read about my Enchantment with Paradise, you can take the time here to read it, I’ll wait (I’m not going anywhere…at least not in the time it will take you to read it).

Texas Joe's at Subic Bay

Texas Joe’s at Subic Bay

 

A fire burns as viewed from Mt. Samat in Bataan

A fire burns as viewed from Mt. Samat in Bataan

 

During my post Navy years and  During my throughout my  working life, my inner voice would constantly  remind me that it’s “time to go!’  It was  something that was difficult to resist, working  and all, and on occasion, I could only take so  much and I would accept the challenge to  just get away from it all.  During all our years  “Before Paradise” we managed to travel to  the four corners of the U.S. and even made it  to London once. My wife has a collection of  souvenier plates from every state or territory  she has ever visited and now totals some 29  plates (she is missing a  few). So  that’s not  so bad…I guess.

Now that we are officially “retired” here in the land of coconuts (Philippines), that burning desire to go somewhere that plagued me over the years seems to have been subdued, until now…..we had to go to Guam. Because my wife is a Permanent U.S. Green Card holder (she never felt the need to  become a U.S. Citizen) and in order for her to retain that permanent green card, she must not be outside the U.S. for more than one year. So we had to make a trip to Guam to get her passport validated (Guam is a U.S. territory). Now instead of me, the foreigner, living here like many others doing the tourist visa thing, and being required to leave periodically, she is the one who needs to travel, not I (I am a permanent resident – 13A Visa).

Because a trip to Guam was in order, I arranged our flight to coincide with the date I first set foot on the island in 1974, exactly 40 years to the day (I love irony). It was a rather quiet return, without all the fanfare that General Douglas MacArthur once expected and received when he returned to the Philippines during WWII. Maybe if I would have made the proclamation “I Shall Return”, things would have been different. A fiesta in my honor maybe? …I don’t think so. Oh well.

BBQ at Tumon Bay

BBQ at Tumon Bay

Once we arrived in Guam, we rented a car and spent three full days seeing the sights, doing  some much needed shopping, and visiting with Teri’s cousin and her Guamanian born husband.  Nice  people. They took us to Chamorro Village on a Wednesday evening when all the fiesta  food and tourists come out. I never was a “tourist” on Guam before. I was always a local, so  this felt different. I definitely ate my share of red rice, BBQ, Kelaguen, and Fina’denne.  Once  Teri discovered that the world’s largest Kmart was just up the road, she was there!  And, many  more times during the course of our three-day visit (she is really missing Walmart!).  A Trip to  Two Lover’s Point was also in store, as well as a trip to the beach on Tumon Bay for a peaceful  and laid back afternoon BBQ (everything in Guam is laid back). After doing and seeing all that  we  could in the alloted 3 days, it was time to head for home in the Philippines. :/

 

Paul, Randy, & Bill at Texas Joes in Subic

Paul, Randy, & Bill at Texas Joes in Subic

 

Once we arrived back in Manila, it was clear  that my travel bug affliction was back. So we  decided rather than go home to Samar, that we would change directions and head for the Subic Bay Freeport Zone where we witnessed some sort of Transformation of Subic Bay. From there we travelled to Dinalupihan in Bataan province to visit with our friends Paul and Mayang T, joining them at their beautiful home on the mountain. There, along with their family and friends (most of them hard-core Manny Pacquiao fans), we witnessed Pacman’s much deserved win over Timothy Bradley. Oh happy days in the Philippines! The Red Horse,  Emperador Brandy, and coconut wine (tuba) would be flowing this night. It was better than the sad alternative of losing anyway. After meandering around the Subic Bay area for 4 more days, we decided to buy that car we have been talking about and do some driving (this travel bug was definitely alive in me now). Now we were staring at Holy Week for the next four days or so, and because everything was going to shut down (our bank included), we decided to take the bus liner to Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Peninsula, to spend the holy weekend with Teri’s sister and her family. On Easter Sunday, we spent the day at a local resort with the family where we BBQ’d and swam in the nice covered pool. Four days later I was back on the road to Subic to pick up the new car. I left Teri in Bataan and returned with the car to pick her up. Now we had enought of room for plenty of Pasalubong and by the time we departed from Mariveles and headed for Samar, the car was packed out. Mostly clothes and hand me downs for the family back home, and some delicacies from the peanut stores that the family owns.

At the family's peanut store in Mariveles

At the family’s peanut store in Mariveles

Swimming at a resort pool in Mariveles

Swimming at a resort pool in Mariveles

Now we were back on the road and headed to Manila. Wait, I have to drive through Manila?!?  I did this one time back in 1984 and swore I  would never do that again. I lied. We managed to find a Manila street map before  we hit all the jeepney madness, and much to  my delight, the map was about as useful as a  football bat. Oh, the streets where all there  on the map, it’s just that the names didn’t  match up with some of them which made my  Manila  navigation just slightly more difficult.  Have  you ever driven in Manila with one eye?  With  the map I had, that’s a good analogy.  Now I can affirm, I will never do that again!  Without stopping, we finally made it through Manila by mid afternoon (we arrived there  about 10am) and headed south. We spent the night in Lopez, in Quezon province, just before reaching Bicol province and just north of Naga City. The following day we drove through the southern Luzon countryside, without the aid any map, through mountains, coconut tree forests, past volcanoes and as far south as you can drive on the Island of Luzon, to the Port of Matnog. We only made two wrong turns and never much out of our way. Matnog is where we caught the ferry for the 1 hour journey across the San Bernardino Straights to the port of Allen in Northern Samar. We arrived in Samar about 7:30 pm, unloaded and drove the final two hours home, where I found my bed. I then spoke these words to my very good-looking bed – “I will never leave you again, I promise!”

One more dust collector!

One more dust collector!

 

A portion of Teri's plate collection

A portion of Teri’s plate collection

 

In one big nutshell, our planned 4 day trip  turned into 15 days and was an appropriate  length of  time away from home to keep the travel bug at bay for another year. We  accomplished more than we ever though we could. My wife got her passport validated, I enjoyed a sentimental return to Guam on my 40th anniversary, we ate lots of good food, spent some time with good people, seen  many sights, watched the Pacman win, picked up a new car, did I mention all the good Cheeseburgers I enjoyed at Texas Joe’s? And oh, Teri got her ZUMBA  fix several times along the way and collected yet another plate.

All in all, It turned out to be a much-needed vacation from our retirement in paradise.

2 thoughts on “A Vacation from Retirement?

  1. I recently found your website and enjoy your blogs. It’s funny we’re about the same age and both served in the Navy (1971-1975) and I was stationed at Polaris Point, Guam on the USS Hunley (AS-31) ’71 thru ’72! Like you, I too have that travel bug. Later I shipped with the Merchant Marine, stopped in ’02 and am now processing to return to sea with the merchant marine again while simultaneously moving to the PI to live/retire. Love the PI and can’t wait to return for good. Take care shipmate, enjoy your retirement and peace be with you!

    • Hey Frank, thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you got bitten by that same bug in Guam! My friend and retired Navy SC up in Subic also went to the MM and sailed with them for about 10 years until he settled here. Remember the old Polaris missile that stood along the road at the entrance to Polaris Point?….well, I noticed two weeks ago during our visit to Guam that it was gone. A friend said it had been moved down closer to the docks, but I didn’t have time to drive out to the Point. It was an old landmark I noticed missing right off.

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