Richard and Colleen’s Excellent Adventure #1

Since July 2019, the print version of the Advocate has been running a series of articles submitted by Colleen Wileman and her husband, Richard Chevrefils (Richard is originally from Pine Falls). The couple left their jobs and sold their home to travel around the world in 2018. During these times when all of our travel plans have been uprooted due to COVID-19, we thought our on-line readers might enjoy the chance to live vicariously through these crazy adventurers, so over the next several weeks we will be posting these articles until we are caught up with the print edition. Enjoy!

Put that in your pipe-dream!

We have literally travelled around the world. During the last 11 months, we have travelled through 30 countries by planes, trains and automobiles, caravans, buses, and boats.

We have ziplined in New Zealand, hiked Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa, safaried in Tanzania, witnessed life and death on the Ganges River in India, rode a camel around the great Pyramids of Egypt, cruised down the Nile, spent Christmas Eve in Bethlehem and walked in Jesus’ footsteps in Galilee and Jerusalem, explored the ancient history of Athens, Rome and Pompeii, witnessed the horror of the Holocaust at the sites of Dachau and Auschwitz, empathized with the citizens that for years lived behind the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, wandered across the Belgian and French countryside remembering the sacrifices that Canadians made for our country and the world, and followed our history through the streets and roadways of Great Britain and Ireland. We are overwhelmed by the things that we have seen and done and we have barely scratched the surface of this great, big world.

So, how did we get here, you ask? It was probably a couple of years ago that Richard, my husband, best friend, love of my life (well, you get the idea), came home from work with this announcement: “I think that we should quit our jobs, sell the house and go travel the world for a year”. My outside voice said “Hey honey, that sounds like a great idea!”. My inside voice said “Wow, he’s had a rough day. I wonder what we should have for supper?” As the days wore on, I could see that Richard was mulling over the computer and every now and then would say things like – “Should we do some hiking on our RTW? (Round The World)” or “I think that Australia and New Zealand are definitely on the list”.

Meanwhile, I just kept my head down, went to work, came home, walked my dog, saw my friends and basically continued to live my fairly normal, boring, completely uninspired life. Every now and then I would get into the spirit of his musings and say “how much do you think that will cost?” And so, the spring of 2017 carried on in this fashion until I realized that he wasn’t just goofing around. He was actually serious about this thing!!

We were busy planning his youngest daughter’s social (spring) and wedding (fall), planning a trip with friends to Costa Rica for 2018, planning some camping-horse riding trips for the summer, planning suppers, planning when to spend time with family, planning, planning PLANNING!!! Yet, it seemed that we weren’t getting much accomplished. I started to pay more attention to what Richard was saying. Could we actually sell the house? What about the dog? The horse? Our jobs? What would we do for money? Where would we live when we got home? What would our friends and family think? Were we crazy? Could we just drop out of our lives for a year?

I started doing some reading and research. Amazingly enough, there are people our age (55+) and older that are travelling and having the time of their lives. I mean, you never know what life is going to throw at you. You can keep planning for someday but someday may never come. So, ever so cautiously, I said “I’m in” and planning took a new turn. When would we go? When would we sell the house? When would we quit working?

We started looking at alternative living arrangements. For example, downsize to something – a trailer, an apartment, condo? At the end of August 2017, my 93 year old father fell and broke his hip. Unfortunately, he would not be able to go back to the farm. My mother made arrangements to move to town but that left the farmhouse empty for the winter. How would she keep it heated, what about vandalism, who would feed the birds and the deer? Being the oldest daughter, I came up with the harebrained scheme to move out to the farm and solve all these problems. Just one BIG problem – it was four hours away from our jobs in Winnipeg. The commute would be brutal!! So, in January 2018 we sold our house, quit our jobs and moved to Russell.

The next six months were spent planning for our journey of a lifetime. We needed to determine luggage, clothing, insurance, where we were going, how we would get there, how much money we would need, what needed to be pre booked and what could we do on the fly. Would we stay in hostels or BNB’s? Everything needed to be researched and this became our new full time jobs. We booked a trekking excursion to Mount Everest Base Camp but in March, Richard’s knee started to act up so we cancelled the trek and booked a safari in its stead. As a result, a number of other things needed to be reworked as well and a whole new plan took shape.

As we got closer to our departure date, we said goodbye to family and friends in Manitoba. We spent a few weeks with our kids and grandkids in Alberta before we finally left Canada from Vancouver on August 12, 2018. And so began our Excellent Adventure and life as we knew it would never be the same.

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