After being employed for 15 years, PolicyWorks offers employees a 5-week sabbatical. A sabbatical is time away from work in which employees may gain fresh experiences, perspectives, and skills that can fuel their personal and professional growth. Our Senior Vice President, John Cacciatore, recently took his sabbatical after being with the company for almost 16 years. Cacciatore states, “I was to be completely cut off from electronic communications for five weeks so I could completely unplug from work. This is something I have never done even during vacations throughout my four-decade career in politics…I was really looking forward to it!”
When planning his sabbatical, John knew the best way for him to “check out” of work was to travel. John and his wife, Robin, decided on a road trip vacation through parts of the western United States alongside their two Canine kids, Marley (15+ years old) and Mackie (6 years old). Together, the family piled into a car and began their long, exciting road trip.
Utah: Moab, Arches National Park, and Glenwood Canyon.
The first stop on their adventure was Moab, Utah, and Arches National Park. On their way, they also drove through the spectacular Glenwood Canyon in west-central Colorado. Arches displayed a fabulous setting of unbelievable rock and stone formations. They drove and hiked many areas of Arches during parts of two days. John says “It was fascinating to see how Mother Nature sculpts our planet.”
Moab, although a very neat tourist town, had flooded just a couple of weeks before their arrival which resulted in a gritty pinkish-red film that covered the area of Moab where they stayed, ate, and drank. Despite this, John and Robin enjoyed Moab and look forward to returning someday.
Coronado Island, California
Their ultimate destination was Coronado Island across the bay from San Diego, CA. John and his wife had been to Coronado a couple of times and thought it would be a wonderful place to relax, reflect and refresh – They were right!
“We walked almost everywhere – to the beach, to restaurants, to go shopping, and I was even able to walk to the golf course! We rented a house for two weeks with multiple outdoor patios and a courtyard to enjoy the beautiful weather. Across the street from us was also a very nice dog-friendly park” says John. John and Robin especially enjoyed afternoons eating tacos and having spectacular drinks at Taco Shack on the beach at the Hotel Del Coronado.
Traveling with two Midwest-raised dogs, they had to take Marley and Mackie to experience the Dog Beach. “It was a new experience for them and for their humans. Marley acted like he had been to the beach a hundred times while Mackie was a bit more cautious of the larger dogs running around. They both seemed to have a good time!”
There is no doubt that John is a big baseball fan. The San Diego Padres were in town while they were in Coronado and were scheduled to be playing the Albert Pujols-led St. Lous Cardinals. At that time, Pujols was marching towards a very significant milestone – 700 home runs in a career. Only 3 baseball players have achieved this number of home runs in the well-over 100-year history of the game. John said, “I attended a day game and Pujols had 698 home runs. I almost saw 699! As luck would have it, Pujols hit numbers 699 and 700 in Los Angeles the next night.”
John had an interesting experience as their stay in Cornado came to an end. During their last weekend at Coronado, John went to the beach to enjoy the sun and one last swim in the ocean. It was low tide, and as he was walking back to the beach, he was stung by a stingray in my back left heel. “It felt like something bit me! I stopped the bleeding and walked back to our house where Robin helped me get it patched up. She is always prepared!”
Scottsdale, Arizona back to Iowa
John, Robin, and the dogs then headed towards Scottsdale, AZ, and the Arizona Biltmore resort. Along the way, they drove through the desert along the Mexican border. They saw the wall and border patrol agents. “This part of the country is very desolate and harsh – hot, rocks, mountains, and no cover. If someone is trying to get into the United States in this area, they are indeed very desperate to leave wherever they are coming from,” says Cacciatore.
On the way back to Iowa from Scottsdale, they spent one night in Albuquerque, NM. Albuquerque is on a mountain rising up from the high desert of New Mexico. As they drove into Albuquerque, the sun was setting and it was raining, which generated multiple spectacular rainbows. John says, “We actually saw the bottom of the rainbow – pretty cool!”
On the route home from Albuquerque, the family took a different way home than usual. They went to Dodge City, KS, which is the home of Wyatt Earp & Gunsmoke, a TV show from their youth. John said, “We saw a statue of Doc Holiday walking across Wyatt Earp Boulevard. We witnessed the agriculture industry complex at work as Dodge City is a cattle town. It is also trying to be a tourist attraction – an interesting combination.”
Together – John, Robin, and the dogs passed through 11 states on their journey across the western United States. They said, “we returned to Iowa with a deeper appreciation for the beauty and the challenges living in the west – some things you can only experience by car and not flying over.” After long hours in the car, everyone arrived home relaxed and refreshed…and still reflecting!