While we were in Barcelona in July 2016, we stayed with a happy, young guy/old soul named Pau. He’d just returned to his home country after spending six months in India. Wow, was he centered and calm! In a heartfelt moment of counting blessings during dinner at Pau’s one night, I (Beverly) gave thanks for my legs.
What Brought That Up?
Dirk and I had spent that day sightseeing. We walked from Pau’s place near the Arc de Triomf, down to Barcelona Beach, back along La Rambla, with lots of off-the-main-drag meanderings along the way. We walked for hours, and every step of it was beautiful! Barcelona quickly became one of our favorite cities. As we walked that day, I had an obvious but profound revelation: my very short legs were taking me all around the world. They were allowing me to see and do things that for years, I’d sat and dreamed about.
So here I was, having spent the day touring Barcelona by foot, mostly looking up at the stunning architecture everywhere and not thinking at all about the demand I was placing on my legs. It’s been routine, everywhere we go. We walk wherever it’s safe and feasible to do so. Depending upon where we are and what we’re doing, we might fall short of breath at times, but our legs never seem to give out or give up. They do what we expect, take on some scrapes and bruises from time to time, and get us where need to be – every time. I was mindful of that, and it made me happy.
Inspired By the Single Chicagoan
A couple of months later, Dirk and I were hanging out at a rooftop bar (imagine that!) in Athens, Greece, called “A For Athens.” We were admiring the view of the Acropolis at night and eagerly awaiting the late arrival of our sons Gerard and Steven from Texas. A young woman from Chicago, who was traveling alone for her two weeks of vacation, sat down next to us and we started chatting. As we talked, she confessed that traveling alone takes her way out of her comfort zone. She does it anyway.
She’s Walking Everywhere, Too
As she spoke, she revealed that she had been in a bad auto accident a couple of years ago. She’d been told that she probably would never walk again. She took control of her overall health and her healing process, learned a ton about nutrition and natural remedies, and surprised her doctors and everyone around her by slowly, painfully, eventually getting up and walking. (Obviously, there was more to her story than that, but that was the gist of it.) She told us that she’d never really appreciated what it meant to have two legs until the accident happened. She decided that, as long as she had two strong legs and was healthy, she would get out and see the world. Even if that meant doing it alone. As trivial as it was in comparison to her inspiring story, I shared my Barcelona “revelation” with her.
I silently gave thanks for my legs again.
“Why Are You Doing This, and When Are You Going Home?”
As Dirk and I have been traveling around the world these past 14 months, we frequently have been asked what prompted us to do this RTW thing. Our usual response is something along the lines of “because we’re still young and healthy enough to do it, so we believe we should.” Some people have also asked us when we plan to return home. We honestly didn’t know at first. But these past few months, our response has been that, if all goes as planned, we’ll return to the States by way of Hawaii in July 2017. In time for my 50th birthday. Hawaii 5-0! And then head back to Texas from there.
You Know What They Say About Best-Laid Plans
But things have a way of not going as planned. If we’ve learned anything during our 14 months of almost non-stop travel, it’s that. And still, everything happens exactly as it should, when it should. We assumed that, if we went home before July 2017, it would be because of family or money issues. It never occurred to us that it would come down to our own legs.
We Haven’t Been Everywhere, But…
We’ve walked for miles and miles, knowing without a doubt that we’d reach and surpass our goal of walking 1,000 miles in 2016. Maybe we still will. In the meantime, we’ve trekked to the tops of mountains; spelunked through caves; hiked to countless waterfalls; waded in creeks on remote islands; sloshed through deep, stinky mud a time or two or three; done tower and castle climbs throughout Europe; left footprints in the sand on every continent except for Antarctica; and a whole lot more. We’ve walked from Sydney to Seoul, the long way. We’re still not done, but maybe our legs need a break.
In fact, Dirk’s left knee has made that perfectly clear. We believe it’s a torn meniscus.
So, Where’s Home?
Dirk’s decided that, if he’s going to have to sit still for an unknown period of time while his knee heals, he might as well be at home. I agree. For months, we’ve been pointing to our backpacks and grinning when people ask us where home is. We sold our house and most of our possessions before embarking on our RTW.
But we’ve never forgotten that home is not just where WE and our backpacks are. Home is where our family is, where most of our closest friends are, and where our roots are. Home is where our legs have decided they need to be for the next few months or so. So we’ll listen our bodies, rest up a bit, and then – later — get to the really challenging stuff: hikes in Peru, China, and Nepal, for example.
We’ve Got Some Catching Up To Do Anyway
Because we’ve been too busy creating memories to write much about them, we’ll be catching up on a lot of that while we rest. One thing’s for certain: our lives are never boring. We’ve got lots of stories to tell. Our hope in sharing them with you is you’ll feel inspired and know that – whatever your heart desires – you CAN live your dream, too.
Brian-Approved, We Think
And, if you, too, are blessed with two legs that still work, we want to encourage you not to take them for granted. Get outside and use them! Maybe you’re ready to trek in Nepal. Cool! But maybe a beginner hike in your home town is more your speed right now. Either way, it’s all about taking the next step. Push yourself a little — or a lot. Get out of your comfort zone. That’s when you’re living!
We believe our good friend Brian, who lost the use of his legs when he was thrown from a horse 20+ years ago, would agree and approve of this message.
Back To Our Home Country
As for us, there won’t be any boot-scootin’ for a while; but for now we’re glad to be back in the land where that’s a thing. Back to the home of ZZ Top, who gave us “Legs.” Back to our home country: our beloved Texas. We’ll see y’all on the trail in a few months.