You ask, we answer! Hopefully this page will shed some light on our background and motivations.
Don’t you ever work?!? Yes, but as little as possible. We have various projects going on from time to time. Kent does part-time computer programming, and many times he can work from remote locations. Heather still has her fingers in real estate. Plus, we sometimes work part-time at our destination. For instance, when we’re at a ski area, we can both work as ski instructors.
Are you rich or something? Nope, not even close. We drive a 14-year-old car, own a small house (where all expenses are covered by the rent), and watch our expenses closely. We have been living with erratic, “lumpy” income for close to a decade now, so these Unexcused Absences are just self-imposed periods when we don’t earn much.
Do you have kids? No; see vacation resume. Twenty-two sailboat or canal charters in thirteen years…
Do you have pets? No; see vacation resume. Annual ski vacations, in Europe if we’re lucky…
Do you have houseplants? No; see vacation resume. A six-week driving trip around the USA…
Do you have rare and delicate plants requiring constant tending in your yard? No; see vacation resume. You get the picture…
Why are you doing this now? Hopefully our complete set of postings will give you the big picture. The short answer is that life is short, and as we age the looming sense of our own mortality is becoming acute, so in early 2010 we decided to set things in motion to take a year (or maybe more!) off and just do the things that we’re supposed to do in retirement. Plus, we both like to see the world, experience new things, the usual mid-life crisis stuff, but instead of trading spouses and buying a convertible, we’re doing this!
How did you get ski instructor jobs at Beaver Creek? We got lucky. A bit of luck, and a bit of timing-is-everything, and suddenly we were wearing head-to-toe blue ski outfits and doing our best “bend zee knees, 10 dollars please.” We knew someone who knew THE someone (specifically, the head of Ski School for the Beav), and things just worked out. That, plus the visa requirements in the US for temporary foreign workers tightened substantially last year, to where close to 15% of the Vail/Beaver Creek foreign ski instructors could not make it back into the United States for the 2010/2011 season.
What’s been your favorite vacation ever? We get this question a lot, and it’s surprisingly difficult to answer! Kent’s personal favorites have been sailboat charters in Tonga (the very remote South Pacific) and Turkey. Heather still longs for Bora Bora, in Tahiti, many years later. Then again, there’s the canal boat trip through Alsace/Lorraine in France that we both just loved, so much so that it helped lead to Phase II of our Unexcused Absence. Of course we can’t forget the amazing time we had skiing with friends in Val d’Isere, in the French Alps! And then there’s our hiking trip to Yosemite National Park, and the sailboat charter in the Bahamas right before we began this whole Unexcused Absence… You can now see why it’s such a difficult question to answer. If you really want to dig in to the destinations we’ve visited, hop on over to doctorvacation.com for our complete vacation resume.
What’s been your least favorite vacation ever? No one actually asks this, but it’s important to put the question in, because from our answer above you’d think that we just love every place we visit! One thing a little unexpected is that our least favorite vacation has been a sailboat charter in the Seychelles, supposedly one of the most exotic sailing locations in the world. It wasn’t because of our friends, who are fantastic travel companions. It wasn’t due to the weather, the water was warm and the tradewinds were blowing. It wasn’t that the Seychelles were too developed (Tahiti wins there), or too expensive (Tahiti again). We didn’t even get attacked by pirates. It’s probably just that our expectations were too high. In any event, we had a fun time, but it’s one of the few places we’ve been where we have no interest in going back.
What do you do all day on these sailing trips? Isn’t it boring? There isn’t one specific thing (or set of things) that we do, each trip is different, but there’s always something fun to do. The best way to answer this is to point out that Kent used to bring a book to read during these trips. And he noticed after a dozen trips or so (he’s not always very observant) that he never even opened the book, because of all the continuous fun things going on. So for the past 10 or so sailing trips he hasn’t a) bothered with, or b) missed, bringing a book.
All this foreign travel – are you guys spies or what? Not as far as we know.