Great escape: Carmel couple takes extended vacation to New Zealand

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Marc and Martha Allan of Carmel had talked for years about a temporary move to another country.

“Lauren told us we were talking about this when she was in middle school, and she’s 28 now,” Marc said of his eldest daughter. “We always talked about going someplace and spending awhile and not going as tourists, but as much as residents as we can be. We saved our money. We scheduled a time that would be good to go travel.”

Marc, 61, retired in May 2019 from Butler University as an adjunct professor of journalism and news manager. Martha, 63, retired from Section 127, a design agency, after eight years. So, the couple planned for an extended stay in New Zealand. They spent 6 1/2 months there, having left in September 2019 and returned in late March.

“We got a visa that allowed us to stay as long as eight months,” Marc said.

They spent three months in Auckland, then spent time in Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. The Allans had to leave 18 days early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We left while we could still get a flight home,” Marc said. “We were going to go to Australia for about a week and a half.”

The Allans’ great adventure began with a full summer U.S. vacation traveling west, going through the upper Midwest and returning home through the middle of the nation. The trip started with seeing Paul McCartney at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

“It was part of the country we hadn’t seen,” Marc said. “To see Montana and South Dakota is just breathtaking. They are really beautiful places.”

Martha said the trip was originally Marc’s dream.

“I’m not much of a traveler, though I’ve really done (a lot) in the last year and happy we went,” Martha said. “I’m glad to be home.”

Martha said she enjoyed both adventures for different reasons.

“Going across the country, it was amazing to see how many different places you had never been to — datelines you had never seen before,” she said. “But we went to not just bigger cities, but little holes-in-the-wall, too. We would always try to look for a local gym if the hotel we were in didn’t have one.”

They would travel 100 to 150 miles a day, so they didn’t spend all day in the car.

Marc said the biggest surprise in the U.S. was a visit to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

“We basically go to the next big point and stop there,” Marc said. “Coeur d’Alene was just going to be a stop before going to Spokane, but Coeur d’Alene turned out to be so beautiful. It was eye-opening for us.”

Then after the summer vacation, it was a brief stay home before heading to New Zealand.

“We wanted to go to a place that was fairly far (away) and they speak English,” Marc said. “It looked like a beautiful country, and it is.”

The Allans, who met at Emerson College in Boston, will be married 36 years May 5. The couple frequently spoke to Lauren and younger daughter Lucy by Skype and WhatsApp. Lucy visited around Christmas and Lauren visited in late February. Lauren graduated from Carmel High School in 2010 and Lucy in 2015.

“I don’t think we will ever go as long as we went but we did see the value of going for a pretty decent chunk of time,” Marc said. “One of the things that was interesting in New Zealand is just about all of the museums are free. The national museum, Te Papa, is a huge building. It’s five floors and tons of art and other things in there. When you go to a museum in the (U.S.), typically you try to get in as much as you can. The nice thing about going to a museum open to the public for free is you can go and take your time. We went back there on three separate times just to take our time and enjoy ourselves.

“We saw the benefit of being there a month or two. Don’t know we’ll ever do six months again.”

Martha said it made sense to do the trip while both were still active.

“We wanted to make sure when we traveled that we were able to physically handle hiking (and) walking around all day,” Martha said. “We didn’t want to be pushing the other one in a wheelchair or carrying the oxygen tank. We came back in so much better shape than (when) we left from all the walking.”

The Allans didn’t have a car in New Zealand, so they walked or used public transportation.

Marc said he isn’t fully retired. He worked as a reporter at The Indianapolis Star from 1988 to 2004 before taking the Butler job. Martha was a copy editor at The Star from 1988 to 2008. Marc was accepted into the Indianapolis Teaching Fellowship program that was supposed to start in May at Marian.

“First, you go to class and they teach you about teaching,” he said. “If everything goes right, you start teaching in the fall at a charter school.”


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