That’s true for Bruce and Sue Grey, a married couple in their fifties, who are currently touring the country by bicycle.
The Greys, residents of Carbondale, Colo., visited Eunice last week as part of their journey, which has already logged 4,100 miles.
Bruce, a civil engineer, and Sue, an architectural drafter, were both laid off during the economic downturn.
“Every day I would watch another engineer go out the door, and I knew my number was coming, because I work in the field; if I don’t have billable hours, there’s really nothing I can do in the office that produces anything,” Bruce said. “I could tell, when my boss came to tell me, he had that look, and I said, ‘Dude, I knew it was coming, I was just counting the days.”
The two are both avid bicyclists, and, making lemonade out of lemons, decided to begin their retirement dream of traveling the country a little early.
So they put all their belongings into storage, bought some camping supplies, and headed out onto the open road.
Their decision may seem strange, but the Greys said that it costs less than staying at home waiting to be rehired, and provides an exciting adventure in the process.
“We’re just average people; we’re not triathletes, not health food freaks. This is just something that we discovered that has become a passion. You get the benefits of the exercise; you can pretty much eat what you want and not worry about gaining weight. That’s just our vehicle for exploring the United States and meeting people,” Bruce said.
They began their journey on Aug. 11 at Glacier National Park in Montana, and have since been traveling across the country.
They travel an average of 40 miles a day, but take time off for bad weather or to visit with family and friends along the way.
They first arrived in Eunice two weeks ago, on the advice of a friend who suggested they visit his old friend, former Eunice mayor Curtis Joubert.
During the cold snap they rented a car to drive to New Orleans for a week.
They returned to Eunice and left last week, after the weather had begun to warm up.
The Greys said that the best part of their journey has been meeting new people in small towns across America and learning their stories.
“It’s things like the random meeting of people who take an interest in what you’re doing and open their hearts to you; they talk to you and they tell you the details of their lives; that’s the thing we really came out here to do is to meet people, learn about their towns,” Bruce said.
They said they’ve really enjoyed their visit to Louisiana, and are sorry they will miss Mardi Gras.
“Here we’ve learned about the Cajun culture, which we hadn’t known anything about, so it’s been facinating to learn about the history of the Acadian people and why this area became so concentrated with Cajun culture, so it’s a way for us to learn things about the people of our country that we wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to learn. I don’t know how we’re ever going to go home,” Sue said.
The couple has been able to keep in contact with friends and family via cell phone and their blog, which is located on a server for bicyclists traveling the country: www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/nomads.
Sue said that people has asked her if she ever feels in danger, but she said no. “The vast majority of people you meet are wonderful, caring, generous individuals. One of the main reasons for doing this is to renew our faith in our fellow human beings.”
Their journey may come to an end in a few months; Bruce has been told that his company should be ready to hire him back by summer.
“When we get to Florida, we’ll head north, and we’ll just keep going until my company decides it’s time to hire me back,” Bruce said. “When they hire me back, we’ll just ship our bikes home and jump on a train back to Colorado.”