Susan Sees the World
By Susan Roberts
The afternoon sky was a breathtaking blue, contrasted against whitewashed homes with their cerulean blue rooftops, all nestled along the cliffs of this small volcanic island in the south Aegean Sea. As I walked along the crowded streets, the sounds of merchants peddling their wares and tourists trying to strike a bargain were suddenly interrupted by church bells ringing out loudly on the beautiful island of Santorini. I tried to take it all in, the sights, the sounds, grateful for the opportunity to experience a place of such beauty. I was just beginning my six-month sabbatical from my work at Peacock Keller. Because of the foresight of my fellow partners, and those that came before us who envisioned a sabbatical program for the firm’s partners, I was able to fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling to amazing places.
I am the 11th Peacock Keller partner to be granted a sabbatical, and mindful of how quickly the time away from work would pass, I was determined to do and see as much as I could with the time that I had. A trip to Greece and Turkey and a cruise to several of the Greek isles was my very first trip abroad and as I expected, it proved to be an amazing experience. My travels continued after I returned home with a road trip to New York City with my daughter to celebrate her 30th birthday. She had never been to New York City before and it was fun to experience the city through her eyes as a first-time tourist.
Santorini Island off the southeast coast of Greece.
In early July I left home again in what turned out to be a 13,000 mile solo road trip through 26 states. Without any definite plan or itinerary, except that I would eventually end up in Arizona to visit family, I headed west. There was so much of this country that I had not seen. Each night I would study my trusty AAA Deluxe Road Atlas and decide where I would head the next day. I hit all the highlights: Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, the famous towns of Sturgis and Deadwood, South Dakota, Devils Tower in Wyoming, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I hiked four of the five national parks in Utah, each one revealing its own unusual and magnificent beauty as I trekked further and further in among canyons and arches. After arriving in Arizona, I enjoyed wonderful visits with family and old friends, and with my best friend from junior high, took a separate trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, starting in Santa Monica, California and traveling all the way up to the Redwoods.
After spending most of the summer in Arizona, I started out on my trip home, this time taking the southern route.
I visited the historic Alamo and walked along the lively River Walk in San Antonio. I ate delicious beignets at the famous Café du Monde in the French Quarter in New Orleans, just a few blocks away from my bed and breakfast. I rode the St. Charles street car past antebellum mansions and explored the “cities of the dead,” New Orleans’ famous cemeteries with their mysterious above-ground tombs and mausoleums and magnificent angel statues. After a weekend stay with friends in Jacksonville, Florida, the next destination was Savannah, Georgia, where I enjoyed a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city, a wonderful way to see the many different architectural styles of its houses and churches. My next stop was Charleston, South Carolina, another lovely southern city where I took time to just smell the gardenias.
I finally arrived home in mid-September but I still had one last trip planned, to a place that I had always wanted to visit, New Zealand. My sister and I joined a small group of seven other travelers from across the U.S. and with our two New Zealand guides, we explored the south island of New Zealand for two weeks, backpacking, mountain biking and kayaking our way from north to south. There are no words to describe the other-worldly beauty of New Zealand. From its temperate rain forests to its pristine coastlines, from high atop the dazzling snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps to the spectacular views from our kayaks on the open sea in Milford Sound, the entire experience was certainly one that I will never forget.
What a wonderful and precious blessing to have had this time off from my professional career, which allowed me to do and see so much! I am grateful to my partners for providing me with this life-changing experience. I want to thank my colleagues and staff who watched over my files and responded to the needs of clients while I was away. I very much appreciated my husband and son who kept things running smoothly back at home. And finally, a word of thanks to my clients, who wished me well and welcomed me back.
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