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Now introducing: Travel with OurSeniors

You asked, we listened! is excited to announce that we are launching a new monthly article all about travel! Our travel experts, Sandra and Ric Bush, will report back monthly to share their experiences, tips, and lots of great photos to get you itching to travel and stay active and healthy!

A Great Loop Experience

It all started with, “Honey, do you want to take a boat ride?”

Some 305 days, 17 states, two countries, three Great Lakes and 70 locks later, we completed a 5,400-mile journey aboard Sandy Bottom, our 29-foot Bayliner Classic boat. The journey earned us the Golden Looper status and a gold flag to replace our white rookie version!

For those of you who don’t know, the Great Loop route encompasses the majority of the waterways east of the Mississippi River and north to Canada. The path started with the Intracoastal Waterway at our home in Daytona Beach and took us north to New Jersey where it ended and we found ourselves now traveling in the Atlantic Ocean for 40 miles. We navigated the Hudson, Detroit, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Tom Bigbee, and Black Warrior rivers as well as many smaller ones connecting the waterways. There was also the historic Dismal Swamp, started by George Washington in the 1700s, which straddled the border of North Carolina and Virginia and, the 300-mile Erie Canal in New York. The largest bodies of water were the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, from Mobile to Fort Myers. We opted to cross the state via Lake Okeechobee to bring the boat back home.

When we tell people we completed the Great Loop, most smile and say, “That’s wonderful.” But what they didn’t comprehend was the dedication and hard work or how we had to adapt to daily life in the confinements of our modest boat. We ate, slept, showered and kept each other company 24 hours a day. We bought groceries, cooked and did dishes, visited laundromats and completed housekeeping chores. We read dozens of books, worked on crossword puzzles, watched movies and walked to local stores, barbershops and farmer’s markets. And, we did it without watching television.

People often ask us what our favorite part of the trip was and we quickly agreed, passing the Statue of Liberty in New York City and the Erie Canal, lined with small villages built along the waterway. Of course, there are many other memories like the dozens of lighthouses we glided by, Mackinaw Island with horses being the only mode of transportation, Sleeping Bear Dunes, navigating the waterway through downtown Chicago and the Blue Angels show in Pensacola. We anchored the boat and walked ashore to our own private beach as the stunt planes roared overhead. We traveled with dolphins, otters and white pelicans, too.

But don’t think it was all easy-peasy. There were tense times too, like the day we bounced for hours over huge waves as we crossed from Norfolk, VA, into the Chesapeake Bay and the many bad storms on choppy Lake Michigan caused by westerly winds. We read daily weather reports about lake-induced water spouts in Lake Erie and were forced to stay put for a week. And, we can’t forget the muddy Mississippi where we dodged logs, spare tires, swirling waters caused by weirs and the huge wakes kicked out by the passing barges. It was downright terrifying.

Another wonderful aspect of the trip was the relationships we forged with other boaters. We met Mandy and Langdon in Mississippi and traveled nearly 800 miles with them. They were from Thomasville, GA, and crossed their wake (finished) in St. Marks, FL. When it came time to cross the Panhandle to the mainland, strong winds made the passage impossible. So they “adopted us” and took us home for five blissful days. The break was just what we needed.

For us, it was a magical time filled with lasting memories and new adventures.
Would we do it again you ask? “Maybe, parts of it!”   

 By Sandra and Ric Bush

*All photos provided by Ric Bush          

We hope you enjoyed our first of many travel articles! If you like what you see so far, just wait til you see what's in our print magazine this spring! 

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