Tips & Picks

The Wonder of Wandering

By Betty Fitterman
Adventuresinthe BettyBus

Some of us retirees have chosen to move to warmer, sunnier, breezier or more convenient climes.  Others have chosen to stay in the old homestead come hell or high water.  A lot of us are travelers.  And a bunch of us travelers are wanderers; full-timers who have severed our roots, sold our “stuff,” and committed to the open road.

This doesn’t mean that I consider full-time wanderers the elite of the traveling retirees.  Far from it.  We’re actually a pretty scruffy bunch, taken as a societal grouping.  I doubt that even one woman of us (or man for that matter) owns more than one pair of emergency high-heels.  I further submit that we find little use for panty hose other than to strain the bait, strain the paint or, perhaps, rob a bank.

And if you are living the mobile lifestyle in a motor coach or any other kind of recreational vehicle – what my friend John Brady has dubbed “The Turtle Life” – then your clothing choices must of necessity be simple, few and all-purpose.  You wouldn’t pack a tux, for instance.  No room, and how often do you get invited to the White House anyway?  It’s jeans, shorts and T-shirts, mostly, which is what most of America is wearing to church, school, restaurants these days, so I’ve discovered.

As a girl raised in the suburbs who made her career in the big city, after a year of wandering I’m still taking care of my manicure and pedicure needs, my hair and my skin.  But you’re far more likely to find me at WalMart’s beauty salon than at Frederic Fekkai’s.  I rarely wear makeup anymore.  If it’s a choice between getting to a National Park before the long lines, or putting on that humanizing mascara, you know what wins.

However.  Now that I think about it, I’m only a sort-of Wanderer.  I fall into this category because my husband is a destination-seeker.  He’ll wander, but only on a schedule, only if there’s no pressure to be somewhere, and only if he feels like it.  You can wander, he says, when we get there.

Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it.

Take, for instance, yesterday.  We had arrived at the RV campground at the base of Mt. Rushmore, a lovely setting and a nice, clean facility.   We relaxed with a passable meal and a good martini at the local pub, got to bed early and arose at a reasonable hour in the morning.  Throwing on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, we were out the door and off for the monument almost immediately.  We beat the crowds.  Of course we did.  John was driving.

In the afternoon, John suggested we head into Rapid City for the local Cabella’s to pick up some shotgun shells for his beloved sport of trapshooting.  While I was purchasing road sandwiches at Subway, he was in the gas station getting directions scribbled on a map by a woman who looked like she shopped regularly at the outdoorsman’s favorite chain store.

Of course we got lost.  But what a place to lose yourself in!  Miles and miles of loopy forest road, up one of Dakota’s famous Black Hills and down into another.  There was a series of turns I will never forget.   We would go under a wooden bridge, then loop around and go over the bridge, then go through a one-car tunnel, then under another bridge, loop around, cross the bridge and so on, for several more times.  Then we were at the top of the hill and looking down at the valley we’d just been driving in. Amazing.  For almost two hours we explored this incredible forest, taking tons of pictures, none of which looked half as good as we actually experienced.

“Are you worried that we’re lost,” I asked my husband the destination seeker after a while.  “No,” he said, grinning.  “Are you?”

Now that’s what I call wandering.  And why I’ll be a turtle until the urge to merge with the land overtakes me once again.  And why, after 41 years of marriage, I still think there’s hope for the man.

About Betty Fitterman:
Betty Fitterman was in advertising for over 30 years before her retirement in July of this year.  An award-winning writer, she was EVP/Creative Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Lintas Advertising until 1997, when she and her partner Frank DeVito formed DeVito Fitterman Advertising, which today is a successful agency serving blue chip clients like Johnson & Johnson, Ricola, ASCAP, Fujifilm and Arch Insurance, among others. To read her humorous observances on mobile living, visit her blog at  


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