Photos: Doreen Orion, M.D. and Tim Justice, M.D.
For Orion and Justice, one of the highlights of their cross-country trip
was the time they spent in Alaska. In the summer of 2005, they visited
Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.
Doreen Orion, M.D., in front of the Prevost coach bus that would take
her and husband Tim Justice, M.D., to almost every state in the country
between 2004 and 2005.
When psychiatrist Tim Justice, M.D., first suggested to his wife that they
drop everything to travel around the country for a year in a converted bus,
she pronounced him "insane."
This was the quasi-professional opinion of Doreen Orion, M.D., also a
psychiatrist practicing in the Boulder, Colo., area.
Her reply to Tim's suggestion left no room for speculation. "I will
never ever, not in a million years, live on a bus," she told him. She
also asked, "Why can't you be a normal husband with a midlife crisis and
have an affair or buy a Corvette?"
Flash forward: Doreen is cruising down the road alongside Tim in a 20-ton
Prevost coach bus, which has been converted to accommodate all of the comforts
of home, including a full kitchen, bed, TV, and Internet access. When not
experiencing moments of "bus phobia," Doreen was having the time
of her life. Not only that, but she was posting their every adventure on the
road to an Internet blog titled "Leave the Driving to Him."
By way of explaining his wife's change of heart, Tim told Psychiatric
News that "some shrinks are better than others."
In other words, it took a lot of convincing on Tim's part—five years,
to be exact—between the time he became enamored with the idea of
traveling the country in a bus and the day in June 2004 they finally set
It didn't start out very well. On the morning of their scheduled departure,
they awoke to pouring rain. Someone was still fixing an electronic glitch on
the bus, and they had to delay their departure to late afternoon.
As Doreen guided the bus backward down their narrow, one-way street, one of
her sandals slipped off.
She "stepped behind the descending 40,040 pounds of Prevost" to
retrieve her shoe, "not even flinching as the sound of air brakes hissed
in my ear," prompting a stern admonishment from her husband.
"Never stop behind the bus while I'm backing up," he said.
Once they hit the highway, the bus door flew open, and Doreen climbed down
the stairs to pull it shut.
"As I swung it in toward me," she wrote, "the force of
the wind pulled it open even wider, this time with me attached, being sucked
Tim yelled at Doreen to let go of the door as he wrestled the bus into the
The bus door opened two more times that day, but Doreen then waited until
the bus came to a complete stop before she pulled the door shut.
That night, as they traversed Wyoming on their way to Nevada, a hailstorm
struck, and they pulled over again. "The sound of the hail pounding into
the steel skin of our bus was deafening," Doreen wrote.
She checked on the other members of the family—dog Miles and cats
Morty and Shula, who were traveling with them.
Shula, whom Doreen described as a neurotic cat "only a mother could
love," was cowering under the covers of their queen-size bed. Doreen's
blog indicated that she was able to maintain a sense of humor through
less-than-perfect circumstances. "I bet this scared the pee out of
her," she wrote. "It had. Right through to the
Fortunately, their luck turned, and they soon began to enjoy
Doreen told Psychiatric News that their travels were guided"
overwhelmingly by whim" and by her wanting to keep warm in the
winter and cool in the summer, and Tim's desire to see as many state capitals
as they could. By their standards, they succeeded, and drove to every
continental state except Rhode Island—"we didn't even realize we
missed it," Doreen said—Kentucky (it was getting too cold),
between summer 2004 and summer 2005.
Highlights of the trip included visits to Carlsbad Caverns, Niagara Falls,
Key West, Death Valley, and Alaska's Denali National Park.
They also made room for the unconventional: a trip to a UFO festival in
Roswell, N.M., an event Doreen remarked that she and Tim deemed "a
perfect opportunity to observe weirdness recreationally, without the
expectation that we do something about it."
They also visited Olive Dell Ranch, a family nudist resort in Southern
California. As they pulled into the resort, Doreen wondered about protocol."
I'm wearing earrings. Do I have to take them off?" and paranoia
struck. "What if this is some godawful joke, and everyone is clothed but
Shula, one of the family cats, crawls out from her hiding place under
the bedcovers after a bad hail storm.
Her and Tim's favorite nudist turned out to be the maintenance worker for
the resort, "who walks around with nothing on but a tool
During their travels, Doreen periodically reviewed insurance claims to
generate cash for the diesel fuel needed for their 179-gallon tank, which cost
about $220 to fill.
Tim took over many of the domestic duties, such as cooking dinner every
Of their time together, Tim said, "I rediscovered that she and I are
incredibly different, and I would have it no other way."
Doreen said her favorite part of the trip was "spending 24/7 with
Tim." The worst part of the trip, she added, "was having to admit
to Tim that he was right" about how much she would enjoy traversing the
country on a bus.
During occasional bouts of bus phobia, Doreen became afraid that an
overpass would shear off the top of the bus or that the bus would roll over on
a sharp turn. Would they do it again? "In a heartbeat," they
replied in unison.
The blog, "Leave the Driving to Him," is posted at<www.leavethedrivingtohim.blogspot.com/>.▪