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Six thousand miles covered in a period of eight months, across 18 different states — all to complete one incredible journey. In 2015, Laura Elsenboss and her husband John achieved a lifelong dream to travel cross-country and tour the United States by bicycle.
A cross-country cycle tour is just one of the many exciting things that Laura has been able to do in her life. Laura’s opportunities all stem from her lifestyle of challenging herself to try new things and not being afraid to leave the house now and then, sometimes for a year at a time.
Taking on the Challenge
Life has taught Laura to utilize her experiences and skill sets in different situations. “I look at life in chapters, each one a different story where I can try something completely new,” says Laura. Whenever an opportunity arises Laura simply says “yes”. Because of this, her life story is an adventure, each chapter more exciting than the last. In addition to biking across the country, Laura has taken a two-month cruise around South America, lived in Hawaii where she toured all seven islands multiple times, took a glider flight, learned how to swim, and the list continues to grow.
Career at Pfizer
Laura’s adventurous spirit goes back to her time at Pfizer where she explored a new career path. She joined the company in 1989 in Drug Discovery where she worked in advanced research. After 11 years in the research department, Laura made a career change out of the laboratory and into clinical trial management where she worked in pharmaceutical sciences. Later she transferred to Quality Assurance, where she spent the last 7 years of her career. “Pharmaceuticals was what I always wanted to do and the opportunity at Pfizer to move around and try new things was what I loved about working there,” Laura said. As a result, she was able to witness the entire drug development process from start to finish, a continuum that can often take about 17 years.
Overall, Laura reflects on her time at Pfizer as one of her many accomplishments. “I achieved my dream of working in the pharmaceutical industry,” she said. “I got to try new things and develop new skills that I applied throughout my time at the company. I enjoyed a successful career.”
Retirement: The Adventure of a Lifetime!
Laura taking in the views at Badlands National Park.
Six weeks after Laura retired in 2013, she and her husband moved from Connecticut to Honolulu, Hawaii where he would finish out his career. In Hawaii, Laura became immersed in the island’s culture by learning the native language how to cook native dishes, and Hulu dancing. She also did volunteer work as an Exhibit Guide at the Waikiki Aquarium, served as a Guardian for the Malama na Honu Organization (Care for the Turtles), and volunteered with the Hawaii Bicycle League. In her free time, she ushered at the Hawaii Theatre.
After coming back to the mainland, Laura and John sold their home in Connecticut and moved to Florida where they made plans for their biggest adventure to date, an eight-month bike trip cross-country. In April 2015, after seven months of preparation, Laura and John got on their bikes and headed out onto the road for a year-long cross-country adventure.
Laura on the road at Badlands National Park.
Although Laura and her husband had planned most of their trip, the time it would take was indefinite. Aside from a wedding in San Diego later that year, the couple was free to explore wherever they wanted for as long as they desired. “We got to see beautiful places in our country, meet some of the most amazing people and just enjoy each other’s company doing what we love,” Laura said.
One of Laura’s most memorable experiences from the journey was biking through Badlands National Park. “Being completely immersed with no barriers between you and the environment and the scenery and the wildlife is simply phenomenal,” she said. Upon completing their bike journey, the couple spent four-months driving home and returned a year to the day from when they initially set out.
Back at home in Florida, Laura is heavily involved with her local community where she is an Exhibit Guide in the Education Department at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. She volunteers there to help rebuild the native oyster reefs and does community outreach on behalf of the Center. Laura is also involved with the Woman’s Club of Stuart which raises scholarships for young women, something she is very passionate about. Laura also keeps herself busy with sports from hiking and biking, working out, and local travel within the state of Florida.
The cross-country cycle trip was just one of many adventures that Laura is enjoying in retirement. She and her husband are hoping to do a cycle tour across Europe as well as Canada and most recently have accepted seasonal jobs in Yellowstone National Park. This summer they will be working at the Bridge Bay Marina on Yellowstone Lake. Laura and John visited our country’s first national park while on their bike journey and knew that was the next adventure to pursue. Laura advises her fellow retirees to take whatever opportunities come their way. “It’s all about challenging yourself to try new things and not being afraid to leave your house. It’s always going to be there when you get back!”