The very best part of my road2reinvention is visiting friends and family along the way. Beth Moten played an instrumental role in my picking up stakes from Washington, D.C. and hitting the road.
Beth was a colleague in D.C. She served as the legislation director for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Possibly the toughest job in the AFL-CIO. Representing federal government workers in a time when they are a punching bag for everything wrong with government. Beth has real style and class, and a truly gifted sense of humor. So on the day she announced she was retiring and gave a thoughtful and beautiful farewell speech, I had to agree with her. I was “done”, too.
My favorite part of Beth’s farewell was telling her personal story of being raised on a ranch in Texas, and how she and her brother worked hard and got good grades so they could escape the ranch. Beth said, “now all we want to do is go back to the ranch”. I completely understood. I wanted to get the hell out of D.C., because Congress was so dysfunctional and it wasn’t any fun. And, this was even before Trump was elected, or even announced for president.
In 2016 the GOP members of Congress regardless of the issue had a few basic talking points: Small Business are job creators, government regulations are job killers, taxes are too high; and, Obama Care is collapasing and killing both small business and jobs. A good read is: It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism by political analysis by Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman J. Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. Mann and Ornstein are not liberal or progressive, but they hit the nail on the head when they write about why Congress is gridlocked. When moderate and compromise are bad words, nothing is going to get done.
It seemed right that Beth would be one of my first visits on my road. We rode horses, drank wine and watch Poldark. We didn’t talk about Washington, D.C., congress or politics. It was a wonderful visit. Just a year earlier we were important people, in the know. Now we were happy woman doing what we wanted, thanks to our union pensions.
Now in California, I visited my cousin Karen and her husband Larry in Santa Cruz. Karen and I traveled to China in 1985, just after China opened to foreign tourist. Karen returned to China several times for work, and saw the dramatic changes occurring. Our trip was about seeing China as it had been shut-off from the rest of the world.
Karen and I were both single at the time, she returned to Santa Cruz and several years later married Larry. But our trip to China bonded us in a deeper way then just being family. I hope soon Larry and Karen will join me somewhere on the road in their soon to be purchased camper and truck.
Now I am house-sitting in Vallejo, CA. Vallejo, unlike Austin, Palm Springs, and Santa Cruz, is not a place I would want to live. It has nothing of note, but for its proximity to San Francisco, Berkeley and the wine country. Vallejo’s claim to fame may be going bankrupt in the financial crisis of 2008.
I have friends in the area, so this month I will see Kim Keller and Carol Travis both labor union woman I had the pleasure of working with. Kim is still fighting the good fight, organizing workers; and Carol is retired and enjoying her union pension.
On other days Maggie and I are exploring the local dog parks, thanks to a great app BringFido. Point Isabel is our new favorite. In addition to several miles of off-the-leash walking trails along the bay with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and SF, it has a cafe and doggie grooming shop.
Some people visit museums, we visit dog parks.