Today we start the 2nd half of the trip. We just left my Dad's in beautiful Crown Point, Indiana. It has great old homes and a surprising number of lakes. However, one of our criteria is that we live outside of major media markets so Crown Point is out of consideration.
We had no idea we'd be taking this long. However, we wanted to make this a low-stress adventure so each day we decide what we'd like to accomplish the next. After experiencing the first leg of the trip, we've learned through visiting some cities criteria we really value in our new home. Those include a nearby grad school, some aesthetic beauty (preferably lake front), and a healthy economy. We've found seeing the towns gives us a great intuitive evaluation of many important factors, including how the economy is fairing. We've also been given some good warnings from friends such as, "Be careful, some small towns don't welcome strangers." Although we've made it clear we're looking for a small town, that's a relative adjective. Healthy towns we're interested in have averaged in population from 15,000 to small cities of 500,000.For example, Madison, Wisconsin, at 500k is too big for what we like.
This morning, we were surprised and flattered to hear Kathy & Judy on News/Talk 720 WGN discuss our project and solicit listeners to share their travel and relocation experiences. We've already received some very nice notes and suggestions for additional towns to consider - thanks so much to those who have responded! Sarah and I are plotting the outline for the last part of the trip right now and will post more details tomorrow.
Dinner with Tisa in Chicago on Monday night was so much fun. She and Randy have been good friends for years. I met her more recently and she has quickly become one of my favorite people. She has a great outlook on life and is a terrific conversationalist. It was also nice to be able to discuss our trip and plans with her; she really gets the concept of creating a deliberate, meaningful, and passionate life, so she was able to provide helpful feedback as well as some points for reflection.
Crown Point, Indiana
Then, yesterday we spent the day with Randy's dad and Lynda, and were given the Crown Point tour. Frank and Lynda live in Crown Point on a lake about an hour from Chicago. Which, especially for Randy, is pretty much the best of both worlds. The small town has an adorable historic downtown and some lovely homes. As much as Randy would love to live near Chicago again, he pointed out that to a certain extent the familiar people and surroundings could hinder us from really stepping out and courageously attempting some aspects of the life we have in mind. But spending time in the area has definitely given us (even more) food for thought.
This morning we hit the road again. We haven't had internet access during the past few days, so before even leaving the Chicago area we've stopped at a coffee shop and are catching up on email and bills and updating the blog. We hope to wrap up the remainder of the trip within the next two to three weeks. We are having so much fun and would be in no hurry except now that we have several exciting places from which to choose, we are also looking forward to getting back to Phoenix to sell the house and begin the next phase of moving forward. But who knows? We may have yet to discover the just-right place, and it could be just beyond any one of the next bends in the road. So we are keeping an open mind and being sure to enjoy the many unique experiences of the moment, while at the same time imagining what our lives might be like in each of the places we visit.