When Greg Ball who teaches music at Tarleton retires after 27 years this May, he and his wife Betsy — who’s taught international business for 14 years, also at TSU — are shedding most of their material possessions, going to Europe and diving head first into the vagabond lifestyle.
Their son, David, an acting major at the University of Oklahoma, graduates in May and daughter, Chelsea, is already out of school and living with her husband, Sam, in Copenhagen — so the kids will be doing their own thing and the Balls will be a pair of free birds.
“We sold our house and most of what we own and have started an online travel consulting business, The Travel Coach. After David graduates, we can pretty much go wherever we want to go. It’s very exciting,” Betsy said. “As you get older, this kind of thing gets harder because you never know what’s ahead health wise. So we’re doing this while we’re able to do it.”
Greg says, “We’re just going to be kind of vagabonding and see how it goes. We really want to start in Italy — in the Piedmont region and kind of bounce from there. We’re very interested in wine, so we want to help with a harvest, bring in grapes and see them turned into wine.”
The couple has their wine certification from The Wine and Spirits Education Trust so they have some "book learning" about wine.
“We’re certified at level three. We took that exam last year in Napa [California]. We studied for several months and then went and did a four-day intensive training there, and took the exam,” Greg said. “Basically, we’ll work a harvest through Workaway.com and WWOOfing [World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms] in exchange for room and board.”
The couple is also certified to teach English as a Second Language.
“We can do the ESL teaching online, or we can do it via direct tutoring. Also there’s Trusted House Sitters, where people need people to stay in their homes while they’re away, so there’s that opportunity, too,” Betsy said.
In addition, Betsy plans to teach some online classes through Tarleton.
About his retirement, Greg says, “I started in 1990 at Tarleton, so it will have been 27 years. The plan is to leave here on May 16. The house sold sooner than we expected so we’re living with friends until we leave.
“On April 29th we’re having a big jazz alumni reunion and concert. When I announced on Facebook that I was going to retire, one of my students started organizing it. We have close to 90 people who are going to play.”
His last Tarleton State University Jazz ensemble concert is May 1.
Greg’s parents live in Ohio and what few material items they have left are now in storage here, they’ll take there for long-term storage, then head for Canada.
“We always spend our summers in Canada, north of Ottawa,” Betsy says. “Right after my mom and dad got married, they bought a cottage next to a beautiful lake there so I’ve spent every summer of my life there."
The Balls — who have been married for 30 years — will then head to Copenhagen on one-way tickets to see Chelsea and Sam for a week, then start their tiny house lifestyle — but without the house.
“There may be a lot of people interested in this atypical mode of retirement and we would love for people to know what we are doing so they can follow us on our adventure. Our website and blog is www.eurotravelcoach.com,” Betsy says.