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On the road again

Globe-trotting couple pursue one adventure after another

Created date

April 27th, 2010

From Alaska to Argentina, there are few destinations Carolyn and Ray Bradley haven t visited.On safari in South Africa s Kruger National Park, they slept in a wood hut and saw every animal possible except a white rhinoceros, says Mrs. Bradley. One night a baboon banged on their door in a futile effort to get inside. That s an experience you never expect to have! she says. The Bradleys continue to add once-in-a-lifetime experiences to their list, averaging five or six trips a year. Mr. Bradley says his wife gets cabin fever if much more than four weeks go by and she hasn t left town. Later this month, they ll embark on their next big trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. We re kind of running out of places to go, she says. To which her husband adds, But you never know when something might trigger a decision to get up and start packing. He explains that s how last year s Vietnam trip came about. Carolyn walked in and said, Would you be interested in going to Vietnam? I said I thought I would. She told me there was a tour leaving in three weeks.

Ready, set, go 

That the Bradleys can escape at a moment s notice is due, in part, to their adventurous spirit and ability to go with the flow. Moving toFox Runin Novi, she adds, has only made traveling easier. Absolutely, says her husband. That s the great thing about being retired and living here. You don t worry about closing a house up and making arrangements to have it watched or winterized, he says. You just lock up, tell them at the desk that you re leaving, and take off.

Firsthand learning

The trips they take are many and varied. Rio, the Hawaiian Islands, the Caribbean, even the barge tours in France where we had some of the finest food and wine I d ever eaten and drank in my life those are relaxing, entertaining trips, says Mr. Bradley. But he suspects their educational trips China, Egypt, and Vietnam will stay with him the longest. You see a lot of things of historical significance that you ve read about but never walked by or touched in real life, says Mr. Bradley. Vietnam s infamous Hanoi Hilton and its Cu Chi tunnels are perfect examples. Having a perspective of the Vietnam War only from Western press accounts, We thought it would be interesting to see the locations and talk with the Vietnamese people, he says. Over there, they call it the American War, which is interesting and logical, if you think about it. Besides learning more about the Vietnamese revolution, he discovered the Vietnamese people remain suspicious of one another. Our guide was from the South and didn t speak too kindly of those in the North unless he was where he might be overheard by the authorities, says Mr. Bradley. For Mrs. Bradley, the China and South Africa trips stand out. She could scarcely believe she was standing on the Great Wall. It was so awesome to think they built it without the equipment we have today, she says. They say for every step, there was a life lost. When you re climbing those steps, which we did, you think about that. In 2002, they went on a three-week mission trip to Bolivia to build walls and cement walkways for a church under construction there. My job was to go to the well and bring back buckets of water, Mrs. Bradley says. The conditions were primitive and the work was hard, but she ll always treasure the experience.

Home again

Still, regardless of the adventure, home is home. And, Carolyn tends to miss home sooner than I, says her husband. She starts thinking of home, our friends there, and the comforts of our life atFox Run. After three weeks, she is absolutely itching to get back. On their return, Carolyn can t pass through a room or crowd without taking a minute to converse with everyone she knows or who looks like they need to be known, he says. Their involvements atFox Runare many: He serves on three committees philanthropy, general services, and entertainment; joins his neighbors at the piano duringFox Run sweekly Happy Hour; and sings in Fox Run s choir and its Lamplighters barbershop chorus. She volunteers in Renaissance Gardens,Fox Run sextended-care neighborhood. She also cochairs the Treasure Chest, the on-campus thrift store; helps coordinate community blood drives; and belongs to the Yarn Crafters group. But she most enjoys being a Fox Run Diplomat. Diplomats take new residents underwing and acclimate them to campus life. I ve been diplomat to five or six people so far, and I ve made friends with all of them, she says. In fact, the Bradleys both collect friends rather than stuff, so they ve arranged theirFox Runapartment not as a museum but as a place that welcomes people in. Because they converted their second bedroom to a den and they have a balcony, they can host more than 20 neighbors for an evening. The balcony comfortably accommodates four, she says, but we can squeeze in six, which we do a lot.