It began with two simple words: “We’re in.” We were at the funeral for an old high school friend, so in many ways it was like a high school reunion — the somber nature of the passing of a friend balanced with the joy of reconnecting with friends we’ve not seen for many years, or in fact decades. Small talk arose among an old friend and we mentioned an upcoming trip on a canal yacht in Europe I was captaining in another month or so. Cordially, we offered them a cabin, saying “The craft has four cabins and four bathrooms, we are only using one, buy your airfare and pay for your own food and see Europe for cheap.” Frankly it’s an offer we’ve made many times to many old friends that all seem to love the idea, but invariably have a schedule conflict. This time it was different. The next day I get a call, “We’re in.” They booked tickets on our same flight that day and a few weeks later, off we go.

Five years later, we’ve done nine more trips with them, Barb and Richard DeSantis, seven of them in Europe, six on the canals. The adventures we’ve had have the memory banks overflowing. I’ve always thought that one day as an old man winding down, reflecting on life’s highlights, that many of my happiest memories to date have blossomed from this. I still remember warm sun on my shoulders on a cool morning, dew on the grass, red poppies in bloom in the fields, the echo of swallows chirping and swooping over the canal as we peacefully glided through the Loire valley of the French countryside ... simply sublime. Or, stumbling upon an old Irish pub dating back 400 years, enjoying the vibe while savoring an Irish coffee. A ton of A-list memories have been catalogued for our future enjoyment.

No doubt, our DeSantis friends have equally developed their own cache of memories from these trips as well. In addition to that, our friendship that now spans more than 50 years since first grade following a decade’s long post-high school hiatus has returned stronger than ever. It all began again with our friends with a chance meeting, a brief evening of chatting and the words “We’re in.” It kind of reminds me of the old Nike commercial, “Just do it.” And life is often like that. Profound choices begin with simple initial steps.

What will you do with your time off? Remember, you can always recapture money, but you can’t recapture time. It doesn’t have to be a yacht in Europe. It can be a cabin in the Shenandoah, the hills and heritage of Pennsylvania, white water rafting through the wilderness near Wisp or anything different than what your day-to-day routine is. Recharge your life with travel. Your next vacation time is calling you. Are you “in”? I hope so. Enjoy!

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