We’ve been at this particular adventure for 12 weeks and are starting to get the hang of it. Most of the time what we’re doing seems pretty normal; at other times, not so much.
Every Day is Different
Most of our life we spend our time doing things that we’ve done before, and Looping isn’t like that. The winding, shallow Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway through Georgia and the Carolinas is nothing like the wide open Chesapeake Bay, and both are vastly different from Delaware Bay and the off-shore segment of the New Jersey Coast. The Hudson River, New York canals and locks are yet again a new experience. Each segment of our trip is quite different from the last.
We largely regard this as a positive thing, describing it to family and friends as providing the level of mental challenge we faced during our careers, without the downsides of having a boss telling us what to do, or deadlines imposed on us by others.
Chamber of Commerce Filter
We’ve visited innumerable towns and cities, and heard them described as the oldest this, or the first that, or the largest whatever, and generally been amazed at the ability of these communities to find ways to distinguish themselves. And, of course, our guide books describe every town, city, scenic location or other sort of destination as worthy of a stop, though in fact they vary widely in their quality and in capturing our interest. So we try to read between the lines and pick and choose where to stop and what to see.
The American Revolution and Civil War
The eastern part of our country brings the American Revolution and Civil War sharply into perspective. While both of us studied these periods of American history in school, it was all at a high level. As we have traveled along the eastern seaboard we’ve seen it on a much finer grain. This makes it more real to us, and somehow we connect to it more than we have in the past. This is one of the many things we’re loving about this journey.
Speed Dating: For Friends
While some Loopers travel together daily for weeks or even months, for us, most other Loopers tend to be part of our lives for a few days or a couple of weeks while we travel between the same destinations, and then we part ways. For example, we met Mike and Judy on One September in Mannasquan, NJ the day we came into a safe harbor out of the storm, as did they. Mike had retired only 17 days prior, and they’d begun their Loop only 10 days previously in Virginia Beach. They had already owned their boat for a number of years and done lots of cruising in it. We’ve seen them often during the past two weeks and quite enjoyed their company, but last night they flew out of Syracuse to visit Mike’s 98-year-old Mom (who still plays golf, but whines about only being able to do 9 holes these days instead of 18). We think it’s quite likely we won’t cross paths again until September after we all pass through Chicago.
When saying goodbye to people we’ve enjoyed, we always say “We hope we’ll see you further along the Loop”. We absolutely mean that, but we also know there’s an equal chance we’ll never see them again. Part of that is because traveling in groups requires setting an alarm clock and agreeing to all leave at the same time, agreeing on the destination for the day, and generally subsuming one’s wishes to those of the group. We find we prefer to make our own plans and decisions and let the cards fall as they may.
Perhaps we’ll follow these new friends on their blogs (if they have one), or perhaps hear about them from other Loopers, but in any case that sort of method is a more likely continuing connection with some. Doing the Loop is like living in a rural area: while there are a couple hundred of us doing the Loop each year, we are strung out over more than 1,000 miles as we follow the seasons around the Loop. Some are still in the Carolinas and others are already well along in Canada. Because we intend to finish the whole route in one year, unlike those who do it over multiple years, we’re sticking to the recommended approximate schedule of June 1 in New York City, September 1 in Chicago, and not arriving back to the Gulf of Mexico until after Hurricane Season ends November 30.