We left on Friday, the 16th of August, and returned last night. In total, we traveled over 2,600 miles and visited seven states (eight, if you count Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as a state, as some “Uppers” [pronounced “youpers”] have advocated). The UP was the most beautiful part of the trip, with spectacular Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Lake Superior) leading the list of sights, but the Wisconsin banks of the Mississippi were also stunning as the green rugged hillsides met the lush wetlands of the broad river below.
It has been quite a few years since I last took a road trip. What had been a staple of our family’s summer vacations disappeared once the kids moved out of the house. I think thereafter that subconsciously I felt that in order to maximize vacation time, I had to fly to a “destination” so that vacationing could start right away.
But on this trip, I found there was something recuperative about driving for miles between stops, focusing only on the open highway and the cars immediately in front and in back of me. And it was somehow curative having nothing to do but curse the omnipresent truckers and the endless parade of orange cones. And what a relief – the major decisions consisted only of where to stop next and what hotel to stay in that night.
Still, driving as far west as Fargo, North Dakota to stay the night in my –49th state (one more to go to make it an even 50 – a $50 AMEX gift card to the first one to guess which state I’m missing – send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org – one guess per email address – not available to FPI employees or RSMs), and as far south as Iowa City, Iowa, one does travel some very long stretches of highway. And while driving long distances does clear the mind, it can be boring. My wife is very loquacious, but some days we were in the car ten hours!
Thank goodness for Talking Books. For some reason, the miles seem to speed by when you have a CD of a bestselling book playing away in the background. It’s that way in other aspects of life, as well. I read on the treadmill and 30 minutes just evaporates. And which seems longer, a morning watching TV news or a morning sitting alone (no fair falling asleep) on your back porch?
Yes, being exposed to a constant flow of information makes the time pass quickly. I know many of you have discovered the Talking Book method of avoiding boredom on long driving trips, and I’ll bet you’ve also experienced the problem with the technique. Yup, you get so engrossed you miss an exit… or two.
The point of all of this is that in everyday life we have so much information flowing at us that we can overlook where we’re going. It’s certainly that way with investment news. The earnings and economic news never seem to quit. And every position, and each action – be it buy, sell or hold – has commentators and gurus voicing an opinion on every side of the subject. For many investors, it is impossible to sort out the right direction to be heading in, let alone whether you should be on the entrance or the exit ramp for the investments making up your portfolio.