Reflections from the Road- Post Trip Thoughts

Todd Washburn |

I survived!!!!!   Thirty days on the road with 10 teenage boys ages 14-16.  Almost 6,000 miles.  -Eleven days backpacking in northeast New Mexico (Philmont) carrying a backpack I wished was lighter and climbing mountains maybe I shouldn’t have. The last one took us up about 1800 ft in a mile- that’s about an average 34% grade.  A 2 hour wait through a tornado warning in Denver.  Watching the kids “fry” at a water park in Oklahoma City when they forgot to reapply their sunscreen. They looked like lobsters- minus the butter.  There was climbing on tanks and helicopters- and seeing the Blue Angels aircraft- at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas.  There were milkshakes at Sonic and stories of the kids’ first time visiting the Las Vegas strip (at night, of course).  It was a blast.

A couple of things I learned or relearned:

•  Time flies when you’re having fun.

•  Tough times seem much less so after-the-fact, and for that reason sometimes it’s better to take on the tough option.  The view might be really nice at the top.

•  Technology can give you a lot of freedom- or cause you to miss a lot.  Technology allowed me to go on this trip and still interact with clients and others. It really helped us find places (Sonics, Walmarts, and even a Golden Corral) and opportunities we couldn’t have planned for.  But if you get too tied up in surfing the web you might forget to look out the window and see the oil wells, cattle herds, elk and the mountains.

•  Flexibility is the key.

The last is probably the biggest lesson for me. I’m a planner.  I’m always helping clients put together “plans” that seem to have all this certainty.  But we couldn’t even plan a 30 day trip with absolute certainty.  We didn’t know when we’d get a flat tire.  We didn’t know when a traffic jam would put us behind schedule.  We didn’t know that unprecedented rain this summer at Philmont would turn usually dry stream beds into rivers, wash out bridges, and turn trails into mud pits.  Sometimes you just needed to find a different way to get where you needed to be.  But sometimes the adjustments turn out to be fun.  Late heading for the next campground while on the road?  Stop at Dominos, buy some pizzas, and eat on the road.  Pizza, chips and a movie and the kids were happy as can be.  Leaving the water park late, meaning dinner will be a little later?  No problem- it’s after 8:00, so milk shakes are half- price at Sonic. Dessert first.  No one complained.  I want to keep these experiences in mind when I’m working with clients on their plans.  Change or flexibility shouldn’t be something we fear or worry about.  We should look at it as a little extra spice in the mix.  It’s OK to eat dessert first sometimes.

Last lesson:  it’s still good to come home.

I hope you have an opportunity as I did to do something off your wish list this year.  A  very big thanks to all my clients who were oh so supportive of their financial planner taking off on this wonderful adventure.  I really appreciated your support.