Re-adjusting to life in the US

After a quick trip across the US from Philadelphia (complete with stops at, yes, you guessed it, several train museums along the way) we are settling into our new community of Montrose, Colorado.

We got to spend a day at Witt's uncle George and aunt Bobby's house where Quinn got to run a really great train layout.

We got to spend a day at Witt’s uncle George and aunt Bobby’s house where Quinn got to run a really great train layout.

Back in Colorado!

Back in Colorado!

Our "stuff."

Our “stuff.”

Headed from Denver to Montrose, with our stuff.

Headed from Denver to Montrose, with our stuff.

Moving into the house that Witt's parents helped us build.

Moving into the house that Witt’s parents helped us build.

Haven't seen many of these in the past couple of years!

Haven’t seen many of these in the past couple of years!

We only had two days in Denver, and it was bitter-sweet. We were able to get together with a few of our friends, and it was great to see them. But we only got to spend a few hours with them, and with everyone’s busy lives, being five hours away isn’t that much different from being in South America. But we do hope get some visitors our way this summer.

Montrose is a town of about 25,000 people located five hours west of Denver. Traditionally it’s been a ranching community, but over the past 10 years they’ve really started to develop a tourism infrastructure, building a whitewater kayaking park in town as well as expanding hiking and mountain biking opportunities.

Some people have asked us how the re-entry has gone, and to be honest, overall it’s been pretty easy. When we returned from Africa over 10 years ago, going into a supermarket was overwhelming – we’d been used to something the size of a convenience store being something to look forward to!

In Latin America, and especially in Chile and Argentina where we spent the last months of our trip, large supermarkets are common and can be found in almost any medium sized town. Some of them are even owned by Wal Mart, and it shows as soon as you walk in. I have noticed that the prices of everything here in the US seem to have gone up since we’ve been gone, but I guess that’s to be expected.

Being here during the presidential election season isn’t exactly fun. Some of the candidates seem to try to prey upon and even stoke fear and hatred of anyone who is not American. That kind of thinking goes against everything we’ve learned as travelers.

In moving to Montrose, we’ve decided to eschew our previous corporate lives and with that forego the cushy healthcare and 401k plans that came along with them. While traveling we had a travel medical insurance policy that cost us roughly $2000 per year. In Montrose, which by unfortunate coincidence has one of the highest private insurance costs in the country, we’re paying almost $1400 per month to get a high-deductible plan under the ACA.

Twice in South America we went to a hospital or clinic for treatment for an injury, and both times (in Ecuador and Chile) the treatment was quick, easy, and free. I’m not saying these countries have perfect healthcare systems; I’m not sure how easy it would be to access care for major or ongoing medical needs, but it sure seems better than paying an extra mortgage payment for what amounts to catastrophic coverage. I try not to think about it too much. Just writing this makes me want to move to Mexico! Okay, that and tacos.

Another thing I’ve noticed, especially when we’ve had television, is the sophistication of the American marketing machine. It’s not like they don’t have TV ads in other parts of the world, it’s that here the marketing efforts seem more focused, subtle, and pervasive. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but it feels a little bit sinister to me.

On the up side, Quinn is loving being in one place, having his own room, and being close to his grandparents. And I’m pretty sure his grandparents are happy to have him back!

4 Responses to 'Re-adjusting to life in the US'

  1. Bobbie staggs says:

    Well said and insightful! Things to think about!

  2. Bobbie staggs says:

    Love the pictures!

  3. Karie says:

    Is that the only upside? Quinn loving his own room? And the washing machines? Just kidding. I know it is complicated. Thanks for keeping your readers updated.

  4. Witt Sparks says:

    Thanks for the comments! There are definitely some positives that I didn’t include in the post. One that comes to mind immediately is having easy access to all of our stuff. No more “van shuffle!”