Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Road Trips, Some Say, Are for Wimps

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Road Trips, Some Say, Are for Wimps

an RV parked by an Alaskan roadside

Cruising is not just about the mode of transportation; it’s about the pace of travel. Having said that, there are differences in the three modes, air, sea, and ground, we should be aware of. Air includes huge commercial jets and smaller planes; sea encompasses huge ships or medium-sized ones, and river cruise ships or even boats; ground covers both road and rail (and road means cars, campers, and RVs). If cost, comfort, and convenience are the criteria we can use to differentiate between the modes, it will also depend on the purpose, distance, and length of travel. But there is one criterion which can clearly differentiate one from the others.

Wimp is defined as a weak person who lacks confidence, courage, etc. This definition has such a negative ring to it; however, I use it here in the sense of being risk-averse and cautious. Or maybe I used it simply because I needed a more attention-getting title. Seriously though, when a health emergency occurs, I would rather be on the road than in the air or on the sea. And I don’t mind being called a wimp because of that. To support my position, I offer two stories in anecdotal evidence.

Getting Sick on a Two-Week Cruise

MV Explorer in Akureyri, Iceland on the Enrichment Voyage

In June 2014, Bill and I joined the Enrichment Voyage on the MV Explorer during its two-week Denmark-Iceland-Scotland-Ireland-England swing en route to my daughter’s July wedding in a Scottish castle. The Voyage distinguishes itself from ordinary cruises by partnering with a university that delivers enrichment courses, when the ship is at sea, about the culture, economy, and government of the countries we were going to visit. It was a happy, young-ish cruise, and we would have wanted to do it again. Except that for most of the two weeks, we were down with the flu that didn’t want to go away.

Enrichment Voyage is that part of a Semester at Sea program where adults can join the young students studying for credit towards their degrees in international studies. Perhaps because young bodies are stronger, it was more adults that caught this virus going around a ship that had been at sea for four months. The combination of cramped quarters, stale air, crowds of people and tired immune systems is not ideal for containing the spread of air-borne diseases. We were sick for most of the cruise, and the small clinic could not handle the epidemic. If we had gotten off the ship, we probably would have healed faster. So cruising has not become one of our preferred modes of travel.

Needing a Pacemaker in Pittsburg, Kansas

our brand new car on a road trip to Pittsburg, Kansas

Last year, right after arriving from my four and a half months in Australia and the Philippines plus short trips to six other countries in the region, we had to leave for a road trip to attend Bill’s 55th High School Reunion in Pittsburg, Kansas. I have already written about how Bill collapsed in Auckland, New Zealand. So he went back home earlier than I did, had a check-up, and was fitted with an online heart monitor right before the three days we were to drive through New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.

On our first night at his sister’s house in Bill’s hometown, I accidentally dislodged the monitor from its position. The next day, Bill phoned his cardiologist’s clinic. They found that the monitor had not been sending signals throughout our road trip. The next day, just after we had attended the Welcome Event the night before, and while Bill was playing golf with his high school buddies in a small tournament, Bill’s cardiologist called and instructed us to go to the hospital right away to have a pacemaker fitted. It seemed that, when the monitor was finally able to dump all its readings, they indicated ominous 5-7 second heart stoppages. Bill didn’t want to have it done in a small town of twenty thousand; but the cardiologist insisted it would be unsafe to take a flight back to Phoenix, saying, “What if a stoppage occurs while he’s in the air?”


our old 37.5 ft motorhome and tow car on a road trip in Utah

Aaron Lauritsen, in 100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip, wrote: “It’s in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home.” That’s exactly how the Pittsburg orderlies, nurses, and doctors took care of Bill. It is clear that, if a health emergency occurs, there will probably be a home, a clinic, or a hospital that we can reach within an hour or so for the immediate proper care needed. Just imagine if we had been on a cruise and between ports of call (that’s why helicopter insurance is popular) or in the air with no near airport or a doctor on board? In other words, even if we are called wimps, we would much rather go on road trips!

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