Tommorow is a Wish, not a Promise. Live it Now.

Do you work to live or live to work? At various times we all work to keep a roof overhead, food on the table, and raise a family, etc. But at some time, if one is fortunate, the necessities are satisfied and it is time to take stock. For me the epiphany came late one Friday evening in a taxi heading home from the airport. My job had me traveling constantly and now I’m tired, sixty-nine years old, and thinking of a close friend that just died.  And the street lights just keep going by.  This was another routine return. I used the same driver for several years. Pulling into the driveway I told him that this was ‘It’, my last trip. I quit. Inside I told my wife. My exact words were: “I’m never getting on another (expletive deleted) airplane!” In the morning I put my carry-on bag in the trash barrel and sent a picture to my boss. I didn’t have to explain anything, he got the message. So now what?  Tomorrow is a Wish Not a Promise; Live It Now. I wrote that on my home shop wall that night nine years ago. Yes, epiphany is the right word and it came not a moment too soon.

I’ve never had a shortage of interests. Old cars, Morgans in particular, were a dominant passion since forever. I bought my first Morgan in 1972. I started my first job after leaving grad school at USC and used a salary advance and bank loan to pay for it. Obviously I couldn’t afford it and I knew nothing about fixing Morgans. When that car broke I bought another, and then another. With a sizable collection of Morgans in my garage, all needing work, I did learn the rudiments. And so it continued over the years. I worked a lot to pay the bills and always had other projects despite the diminishing number of off hours. Somehow there was always a Morgan waiting in the queue.

With retirement the focus changed. Before, I was always working on Morgans. I rarely had a running car and always seemed to be selling the good one to buy another basket case. Now, the plan was, I would finish and USE Morgans. My eternally patient wife Kathi wanted to visit Italy.  I didn’t: “I can see the sights in a book; there’s too many Italians there; and, most importantly, it’s just another ***airplane. But, over the years I have learned that the only correct answer to opportunities is: Why not? So OK; I’ll go and we will drive our Morgan. Actually our first European trip was not to Italy. It was before I retired.  Very early one Saturday Morning I got a call from another Morgan friend saying he and a few others had rented a chateau in France so they could go to the Le Mans Classic. He asked if I would like to share the experience. My mom did not raise a fool. I asked Kathi if she would be interested in “vacationing at a chateau in France”. Only later did I mentioned Le Mans.

For that first trip we drove Kathi’s 2005 V6 Roadster and accompanied Melvyn Rutter and others in the MSCC. The Le Mans Classic was overwhelming! Nirvana for a sports car nut, hell for someone that does not like crowds (never the less a highly recommended once-in-a-lifetime experience). From Le Mans we continued to Assen for the Holland club’s 40th anniversary gathering. We liked the experience but found that we preferred smaller groups and more flexibility. The Roadster was terrific but it was a “modern” car with all sorts of electronic stuff that, if something went wrong, I couldn’t fix.

After the Le Mans trip we skipped a few years while I restored BENE, our 1967 DHC, and then in 2015 we set off again. This time traveling alone with a loose objective of getting from England to Italy. It was a defining experience. We did not have return flights booked (old car, never know what will happen). After six weeks away we wanted to explore more but it was time to get back home. We left the car in Milan and made plans for a later return to complete the journey back to England. The next four years saw us repeating this pattern of shipping BENE to England, making an outbound journey, sometimes driving as far as Malta, leaving the car for a few months and then returning  after a few months to drive north back to the UK.

Our normal routine is to tow the car from our home near Boston to the docks in Newark, NJ. From there it travels via RO-RO (roll-on roll off) ship to Southampton UK. A RO-RO ship is basically a floating parking lot. You leave the car at the dock and when the time comes, dock workers drive it onto the ship. It is less expensive than putting the car in a container but the car is more vulnerable. Ship schedules are not as tight as those of airplanes. There is a time window when the car must leave the port of arrival before incurring significant storage fees. Aside from guessing the exact date the ship will unload there is also the uncertainty of how long it will take to clear customs. Rather than worry about the timing I normally have the car trucked from Southampton to Melvyn Rutter Ltd in Little Hallingbury. Having the car with Melvyn has two advantages: We can arrange flights at our convenience without worrying about meeting the ship’s schedule and his team can take care of any problems that occur in transit. Melvyn has an excellent B&B, The Pit Stop, at his facility and we always spend a night or two. For the return voyage Bene gets trucked back to the port after Kathi and I are on our flight home.

Yes; all this is expensive. Will I do it again? Why not? After all
tomorrow is a wish, best live it now.