When one Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper retired after 24 years on the job, he and his wife decided to go on a boat ride. They didn't come back for 13 months.
During that time, Dwight and Shelley Durant traveled 7,750 miles on a 400-square-foot boat, at an average speed of 6 miles per hour. It's called America's Great Loop and it's one of America's last great adventures.
Dwight and Shelly have always loved boating and when they heard about the loop, they didn't just dream of doing it, they actually did it. It’s a journey that only about 150 people take every year.
"It's just freedom being out there,” said Dwight. “All this stuff we've worked so hard to accumulate, this home, our cars, doesn't mean anything to us anymore. We'd give it all away to have one more season to do that."
The couple took their two redbone coonhounds Molly and JoJo on a 2005, 47 foot-SeaRay boat called “10-7,” which is law enforcement code for “off-duty.”
Dwight and Shelley spent a month in Key West, two months in the Bahamas and made stops in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. They took in sights at Niagara Falls and New York.
They had no schedule, so when they were caught in the tail end of a hurricane, they waited about a week before taking off again.
"The No. 1 rule is, not to have any plans, not to have an agenda," said Dwight.
For supplies, they carried scooters on board and when they would dock, they'd ride to a store and come back with what they could carry in backpacks. As for things like banking and pharmacies, they just figured it out. The couple said they didn’t worry about events outside of their control.
"When the January riots thing happened, we didn't know about it until May,” said Dwight. “Can't do anything about it, so you're free of all the stress. It's fantastic."
The two started making videos to let their kids know they were safe, then started posting them to You Tube. Technology helped them keep in touch with family.
"I have two grandkids so I spent a lot of time Face Time-ing them. It was good because when we came back, our youngest is 19 months old. She knew who we were and remembered us," said Shelley.
There’s one question Shelley gets asked most about their trip.
"Most people go, 'Y'all still like each other?'” laughed Shelley.
Dwight and Shelley both say that in their nearly 17 years of marriage, they've never felt closer to each other.
The couple met people from all walks along this adventure, even some from Muskogee and Edmond.
"We've met friends we'll have for the rest of our lives," Shelley said.
It wasn't all smooth sailing. They dealt with a few engine issues and hit some rough water once, but all that was minor compared to the beauty and serenity of being on the water, away from it all.
"Everybody who's commented, (who) wants to do something like that but they won't put it on the calendar: they're working too long, someday, someday,” said Dwight. “So my advice is -- put it on the calendar, raise your children, work hard, get life's work done and set sail and go enjoy life the way you're supposed to."