Travel Diary
February 5, 2003
Nokomis, FL

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It's been two weeks since our last update. If you've been following along with our previous updates, you'll notice that we've been to Nokomis before. We're at the same great campground where we spent Christmas and New Years. When the weather turned cold up in Jacksonville, we headed south.

Nokomis is a very easy place to relax. The campground has everything we could want and we're close to good restaurants, great beaches and a couple of driving ranges. Our idea was to wait out the cold, and then continue back up to Georgia to see Pete's family again before starting our trek west. After we got here we realized that there was really no reason to hurry west -- especially when we are so fond of this area. We have extended our stay here through the end of February.

We're looking forward to officially being snowbirds (rainbirds?) for the month. It will be the longest we've stayed in one spot, and we are enjoying the break from the constant motion. One thing we've learned about our trip so far is that being always on the move can be tiring. Arriving at a new town compels us to explore and tends to make us feel like tourists. There is definitely comfort in having some continuity for a while. We went back for rock shrimp at Captain Eddie's and were recognized by our server. Having a few regular "joints" to go to is a nice change of pace.

Taking the month to stay in one spot will also give us some time to focus on relaxing and to brainstorm, ponder, research, and mull over life, priorities, values, and what comes next for us. Beyond all of the pleasures of the travel and adventure that we have, this may be the greatest luxury of the journey that we're on.

A space shuttle launch was something that Pete had hoped to see when we were only dreaming about seeing the country in an RV. In January, we were excited to have a chance to actually see a launch in person. On the day prior to the launch, we toured the Kennedy Space Center and learned a great deal about the shuttle program. We also got a launch program so that we could read about the careers and mission responsibilities of the seven astronauts who would be aboard STS-107. They all seemed to view traveling to space as the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

Watching the launch was magnificent. It was awe inspiring to witness such a technological achievement in person. It was thrilling to know that we had just seen seven astronauts launched into space. We were excited to follow Columbia's journey and its return.

On Saturday, February 1st, the STS-107 mission ended in disaster. We were shocked and deeply saddened to hear that Columbia had been lost.

Tragedies like this are difficult for everyone. Hopefully, in their wake, we can somehow find a way to address our feelings and grow from whatever there is to learn from the experience. We are grateful to have been able to witness the launch of the shuttle Columbia and to feel a small personal connection with the seven astronauts who lost their lives. We are sad for the astronaut's families and for their NASA colleagues. Mostly, we will remain inspired by the Columbia astronauts and hope that, like they did, we will always have the courage to follow our dreams.

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