I’ve been a victim of severe wanderlust ever since my parents, for my high school graduation present, granted me the use of the family station wagon for the summer of ‘63. A friend and I threw some air mattresses in the back and put 7000 miles on that sucker, all around the (pre-Interstate) US. Since then I’ve lived in a dozen countries, hitchhiked coast-to-coast five times, and bicycle-toured through 24 nations.
Which brought me to Tokyo, where I ran out of money and set to work there for six months so as to continue a world bike tour. That was in 1981. It’s home now. Since then I’ve run an Italian restaurant and a Brazilian bar, written ads for IBM, and chief-edited two magazines. For the past three and a half decades I’ve written English news scripts for NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and 6000 movie reviews for a city magazine.
So life was good in the supercity, but about 15 years ago I realized that, simply put, I hadn’t finished traveling yet. I subscribed to Motorhome and soon knew everything there was to know about those big, quad-slide, Class As. But something just on the edge of my consciousness was asking, “Do you need that?” Well, no. The “freedom of the open road” that their ads touted seemed more to me like “freedom of the open Interstate and overpriced KOAs.” So I googled 4WD campers and Bill Swails popped up. ‘Nuff said.
In June of 2008 (just before the financial crash) I cashed in some stocks, called Colorado and said, “Build me one.” Then I arranged to take two- or three-month leaves of absence twice a year from the TV station (the film criticism I continue to do online), and began my semi-retired, bi-continental existence. Since then I’ve been to 40 states, seven Canadian provinces, five European countries and Mexico. And Burning Man.
I carry a bike in the back seat and a fold-up kayak in the storage area (I’ve paddled the Everglades, Lake Huron, New Hampshire, Tahoe, and the Avon River at Stratford).
I’ve become the ideal houseguest, bringing along my own bath, bed and cold beer. My mobile lifestyle has allowed me to reconnect with dozens of old friends and make hundreds of new ones.
I can’t imagine life without my ‘Roamer. Plus it’s a hoot to always be the coolest RV on the lot.
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