As you read this column, my wife and I will be returning from our summer family vacation, an epic 3,800-mile road trip in our family's class C motor-home, towing a mini-van and a motorcycle (on a really cool trailer manufactured right here in Valpo). Along with my wife, we had three teenagers (including one borrowed niece) and a 9-year-old with us, all lounging around somewhere back there.
If you find yourself thinking, “You call that a vacation?” I completely understand. I do find, however, that nothing clears the mind like trekking across the country in an RV. My day-to-day stresses just seem to fade away as I trade them in for brand new RV-related stresses. As anyone with RV experience will understand, with dozens of systems, something in an RV is always acting up, and for some reason just the sight of my rig going down the road seems to prompt the aggressive desire to pass in other drivers.
I also enjoy seeing our country at the pace of an RV. No one “makes time” in a Class C motorhome towing a trailer, and something about the rig just opens the door to meeting interesting new people.
My first observation as I crossed the country was that America is “crazy busy” right now. Semis full of stuff, traffic, full campgrounds and lines everywhere. Lines for dinner, lines for gas, lines for coffee, lines for attractions, lines to check-out. If our economy is teetering on recession, it's not starting on this route.
Our first destination was near Breckenridge, Colorado, to meet some good friends who had rented a condo for the holiday week, and thankfully secured us a last minute non-reservable campsite.
The family we were meeting runs a successful small business in Valparaiso, and the Dad loves the topics of business and investing.
Conversation eventually turned to shop talk, and I asked how their order book was looking.
You have free articles remaining.
“We are crazy busy right now,'' was the reply. “I’ve had to staff up and work hard to get everyone trained, it just won’t slow down.”
Since my friend’s business is development related, I consider his workload to be a kind of local leading economic indicator. His statements validated my prior observations, that America is crazy busy right now.
From Colorado we were off to Glacier Park, Montana, to attend my oldest daughter’s best friend’s wedding. I had always considered the bride-to-be as pseudo-daughter, and I was excited to see her. After graduating from Ball State she had moved to Hawaii and met a rugged young man from Montana, where they eventually decided to settle.
As I looked around the wedding at the educated, gainfully employed, successful young people (aka Millennials) starting their lives, getting married, buying homes, I couldn’t help but feel optimistic about the future. My son-in-law was so “crazy busy” he couldn’t even get a full week off for the wedding, and everyone in the group of friends who had made the trip to Montana was working hard and moving forward in life.
My daily routine at home is bombarded with financial news about interest rates, stock markets, the Federal Reserve and unemployment. While the intent is to stay informed, as my job requires, I think sometimes it's also possible for my informed perception to become a bit myopic.
Yes, interest rates and stock markets are important parts of the investing puzzle I work constantly to solve, but economies are ultimately built on the foundation of people. And as a little out-of-office time has just showed me, people in America are crazy busy right now, building business, building lives and building a great future for our amazing nation.