While many boomers cringe at the thought of retirement, some like Mark Weissenberg, 66, are having the time of their life.
With enough money socked away in the bank, Weissenberg embraced his childhood dream of becoming a cowboy. He did it by traveling 500 miles in a two-horse wagon from Cleveland to Ocala, Florida."I wanted to have an adventure"
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1960s, Weissenberg idolized screen icons like John Wayne and Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns.
"People in my generation grew up with that, winning the west, the Pony Express, 'Rin Tin Tin, every one traveling in wagons," Weissenberg told Business Insider in a phone interview. "Everyone worshiped them."
After shoring up cash—and telling his wife of 36 years he was doing this no matter what—he started looking up wagons online. To his dismay, all he found were "beautiful gypsy wagons that didn't have A/C, were too heavy or too expensive (at least $30K)." If this trip was going to happen, he'd just have to build the wagon himself.
Six months and countless hours of tinkering with luan wood, Styrofoam and 2 x 4 planks later, Weissenberg had built the ultimate caravan. Though it wasn't much to look at, inside it was just as cozy an apartment, and outfitted with A/C, Wi-Fi, a bed and a fridge (plus hydraulic brakes)—all for a fraction of most wagons' cost. The grand total was only $13,000.
Still the mission couldn't continue without two horses. For those, he dropped $7,000 each, naming them Susie and Clara-Jo.A thousand shades of blue
Once Weissenberg hit the road, he met all sorts of characters from all walks of life. There was W.H. Fosterberry, the 80-something cowboy, who grew up riding horse and buggy wagons, and the ranchers at DD Stables, who were kind enough to wash and feed the horses and hook the wagon up to a portable generator.
"One couple was so worried about me, they gave me their dog, Taco, so I could have company and stay safe," said Weissenberg. "It's been an incredible thrill, and I'd do it all over again, especially if I was younger. It's been a thousand shades of blue."
Even better, Weissenberg hasn't paid for a thing because people have been so generous.
"To be honest, I haven't spent any money. I figured it'd cost $1,500 a month to take care of the horses, wagon repairs and buy food here and there, but in all, I think I've spent less than $50."
Having been on the road for over a month, we'd say that's a pretty great bargain.DON'T MISS: An incredible photo tour of a cabin in the wilds of Canada >
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