Free to Travel–Ashby Ponds

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In the 1950s, David Mitchell developed an appreciation for the great outdoors when he was a smokejumper in training after high school. He spent time fighting fires for the U.S. Forest Service in the greater Yellowstone National Park area.

When David retired after 35 years with Bell System, he and his wife, Janice, decided to set out on an adventure to see more of the country in a rented 25-foot motor home. Since 1995, the couple has turned this adventure into a way of life, often embarking on cross-country travels for months at a time.

Since moving to Ashby Ponds retirement community in 2012, the Mitchells enjoy more peace of mind when leaving home. Ashby Ponds is one of 16 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living and is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Va. The community has more than 100 clubs and groups, an indoor pool, a fitness club, transportation services, 24-hour security and flexible dining options.

The Mitchells met in 7th grade and went to high school together at Washington-Lee in Arlington, Va. The two were married during David’s freshman year at Virginia Tech, where he was on the football team, in the Corps of Cadets, and upon graduation received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant.

Throughout their marriage, the Mitchells have travelled to a number of countries outside the U.S., including the Netherlands, England, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Israel and Egypt, but they most enjoy the magnificent beauty of North America’s National Parks and seashores.

“We’ve been to every U.S. state and all the territories and provinces in Canada,” said David. “With every trip, you have unexpected experiences,” said Janice, who referenced their encounter with a once-in-twenty-years snowstorm in Tucson, Ariz., last February.

Typically, the couple travels for about six months out of the year in their 35-foot motor home. Their longest trip to date was a three-month

In 2000, David and Janice caught 400 pounds of halibut in Alaska after traveling cross country via motor home to get there.

In 2000, David and Janice caught 400 pounds of halibut in Alaska after traveling cross country via motor home to get there.

adventure to Alaska that included a fishing trip where they caught 12 halibut weighing a combined dress weight of 400 pounds; Janice caught the largest at 97 lbs!

The couple has experienced a new sense of ease since moving to Ashby Ponds last year. “Before, we had to make sure to pay the bills in advance, transfer the mail, arrange to have the lawn maintained, cut the water off, be sure snow didn’t collect on the roof, etc.” said David. “It was constant maintenance; now, that’s all behind us. Moving here has opened up a new freedom.”

David and Janice decided to move early because they wanted to go through the process of downsizing while they were still healthy. “The freedom of having the move and everything behind us is such a benefit,” noted David. “Instead of dreading all the decision making related to moving, we are already settled and free to plan our trips.”

When they return to Ashby Ponds from their travels, the Mitchells have other adventures awaiting them. Their children live nearby in Centreville, Va., and the couple has discovered clubs that suit their interests at the community. David has become involved with the woodworking club and is currently helping the group collect corks to make trivets for the community’s fall craft fair. Janice enjoys sharing her talent with the quilting group and recently had several of her quilts displayed on the art wall at the community.

The Mitchell’s next trip will to take them through the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park, among other exciting locations.

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