Rick is a Boston boy, transplanted to Key West, Florida, at age 45, and transported onto the byways and highways of North America at age 65, when the full-time work gig wrung itself out and the Road’s call just got too sweet.
The WritingA matriculation from Boston College with a B.A. in English led to a 14-career as a high school English teacher.
The best course each and every year was Creative Writing. Handing a roomful of 17-year-olds an open invitation to make withdrawals from their cascading brains — instead of the usual deposit, deposit, deposit — led to some amazingly times. The goal was to have them feel that writing was not merely a tedious task that had to be completed on deadline; it
could be enjoyable, as an escape, as a way to tap into who they were and whoever they thought they could be. Some of their work was fantastic. (Some wasn't. Not gonna lie. Ha.)
Underclass curriculum involved writing, vocabulary, writing, vocabulary and more writing. It was about How It Is Done; how to use words to their advantage, how to build sentences for ultimate clarity, how to construct a cohesive essay. If they could gain a degree of mastery in these skills, they would not fear the process, and they could learn the power of effective communication.
As track and cross country coach, I wrote more than 300 articles for the local newspaper under the pseudonym Thom S. Hunter, a twist on the name of my favorite gonzo journalist of the era.
I love words. Teaching those young adults how to wield them was exhilarating ... and exhausting. After 14 years, I took Thoreau's advice and pulled myself out of the rut of conformity ... and out of the snowbanks of the northeast..
Relocating to Key West opened the doors to doing writing, rather than teaching it. After the summer cross-country roadtrip of 2004, the “short letter" to family and friends, turned into a 3-volume, 115-page, fully-illustrated document entitled, Road Romp '04, or How I Spent My Summer Vacation. (See Samples) That was done Old Style: scribbled journal notes from the road painstakingly transcribed afterwards into Word.
Then came the technological expedience of the iPad Mini in 2012, and an immediate zoom into blogging, which billowed and bloomed into the tome that is “Barhoppin’ Bone Island”, more than 900 screen-typed pages written purely for the enjoyment of friends. Recently I've upgraded that site into the more SEO-friendly KeyWestBarHops.com
The RoadThere were eight conversion vans from 1979 through 2019, the best five of which were good for an average of 200,000 miles. They crossed 48 states and 9 provinces. Having summers off was a huge plus back in the 1980's, but the more recent major trips came in two-week or three-week bursts in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
More recently, there was an Alaska exploration in 2015, and a 23-day campervan (i.e., Toyota minivan) tour of Europe that passed under 18 flags and covered just under 8,000 miles.
There might be a night or two in an inexpensive hotel room on any given roadtrip, but I've always preferred bedding down for the night in my own van, and there have been quite a few inventive locations.
In February of 2020, I purchased a 2018 RAM ProMaster cargo van and spent the next year-plus immersed in a DIY conversion into a fully livable RV, with solar power, running water, screened windows, refrigeration, and much more. It is fully documented in my other new website, www.RicksRoads.com.
Well, now, there is no time limit, no rush to get in "one more National Park" before grudgingly returning to work. And that means more time to write about my own travels, and to write in any way I can about road life, road travel, driving vacations, and the like.
(More to come....)