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Mill Creek Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By SharonAnn Hamilton
Traveler, Pet- and -House Sitter 

Heart to Heart with Freewheelin' Dan

Freewheelin'

 

Last updated 2/21/2020 at 4:01pm

"Free-wheeling" Dan, the husband.

An "interview" with husband Dan:

You are currently in the fifth month of freewheelin'-traveling and pet sitting overseas after 68 years of little travel.

What prompted you to try this adventure? I've read about different ways of traveling for several years including housesitting. I wanted to travel but not alone, then met SharonAnn, (the disrupter) a seasoned traveler, and voilà! kindred spirits for adventure. We married in August 2019 and headed into the sunrise.

Did you keep a home-base? No. Reasoning? We'd independently sold our homes several years ago. The empty rental is unnecessary because we aren't sure where we'll next settle next, and we'd rather spend the money on traveling.

Is it more expensive to live in Europe that in Edmonds? Food seems cheaper, gas is more expensive (around $5 a gallon), can't speak to rent or mortgage, the VAT tax is like a sales tax, and we don't know about utilities or cellphone bills.

What spectacular things have you enjoyed? Amazing architecture, centuries old, stonework and ironwork, I wondered how did they build these things? Eiffel Tower (engineering and the color), Vaux-le-Vicompte chateau (and story), countryside of Scotland (beautiful), stonewalls around the fields in Northern England, port cities in France and England, the magnificent cathedrals in Gisor, Chartres, Abbaye de St Savin, Auch in France, 'hairy coos' in Scotland (cows), Stonehenge, the Mary Rose in England (1511, Henry VIII ship sunk after 34 for years, underwater for 437 years, raised and now reconstructed as a museum).

What differences strike you the most about Europeans vs. Americans? I do notice accent differences, and local slang with accents is challenging. Some customs, like eating times, can be hard to get used to. The food: in France we had delightfully fresh baguettes daily, inexpensive but very good wine and a large variety of cheese. In Scotland and England, the fish & chips are always good no matter where.

What similarities do you notice? In every conversation, people mention their family with love, they work, shop for food, cook and hang out with friends. Just like us.

What do you do every day now that you are retired? Sleep later than ever before, take care of the pets, walk several miles daily, more reading, and sightseeing.

What bothers you in this lifestyle? Missing not having a home base in PNW, roundabouts and the driving require full attention and is stressful, touch of boredom in not having my own patio/garden.

The worst experience? The first night in Edinburg, rainy, first time driving on left, stick shift after 40 years. Very scary!

What did you give up and not miss? During the first month in France I didn't understand local TV, and it became unimportant. The material possessions I gave up, and now I've completely forgotten.

What do you miss? Family and friends, familiarity of daily life, habits, clothes dryers.

How does it feel to live in other people's homes? The first feeling is about being responsible and respectful to the owners and homes. Warm greetings from our hosts and a tidy guest room help us to feel like honored visitors.

It's not as uncomfortable as I'd imagined. It takes time to figure out where everything is. Learning the quirks of the house and pets, ie; water pressure, light switches, fireplace, laundry take some time. I am fascinated by the pictures on the walls, some over a hundred years old. They show the respect and love for family.

Do you enjoy the pets you care for? Yes, the cats and dogs are very affectionate and want attention as well as food. But the rabbit, tortoise and pygmy goats just wanted food. I felt very connected with Noisette in France and Hugo in Scotland. They are sweet, energetic, curious, loving and great dogs.

What do you do when it's time to move? Planning logistics rentals need to be investigated. For example, we are leaving Gosport, UK on the SE coast of England. We want to experience and see more of the countryside.

We'll be taking a taxi to the Gosport Ferry, getting on the National Express bus for Victoria Station in London, finding the metro to take us to St. Pancras Station, also in London, getting on the Eurostar, changing trains in Paris, and ending in Lyon, France, taking the local bus to pick up our car rental, driving to our next pet sit. #All in one day.#

Alternating moments of terror with the sheer delight of the Chunnel and subsequent countryside of France. Who needs adrenaline sports?

✓Plan well and roll with the unexpected;

✓Be respectful and kind at all times;

✓Be flexible and open to changes;

✓Pack light;

✓Keep sense of humor, you can now call me flexi-Dan;

✓Don't wait, go while you still can.

What is the best experience you've had? The people we've met along the the way. No matter their country, they have been warm, hospitable, accommodating, generous. Showing us local sights, giving suggestions for day trips, and sharing laughter and good food no matter what language.

This Thursday, our local group of friends is throwing us a Bangers 'n Mash party because they love us and want us to experience some of the fun food of England. I've made friends for life.

Find out more: SharonAnn and Dan's latest adventures The Missing Glove on the http://www.PetSittingAroundTheWorld.com blog and Facebook by the same name. SharonAnn & Dan offer, "How to" coaching services for future global travelers. Find out how to prepare your life for traveling in "The Secret to RIGHTsizing" (a guide to redesigning your life) can be pre-ordered. Register for your copy.

 

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