WHEN LARRY AND DEBBIE ABRAMSON
got married in 1985, they had a handshake deal: He agreed
they would buy a house; she agreed they would go to Nepal.
;ey bought the house in 1986. A year later, after saving
comp and vacation time from their jobs as social workers,
the Silver Spring couple packed up for two months in the
;at was merely a prelude. ;ey have traveled a lot since
then, and a few years ago Larry completed a six-year quest to
hike all 2, 178 miles of the Appalachian Trail. In January 2017,
the Abramsons embarked on a 13-month tour of 28 countries
across five continents. “It’s hard to believe we were gone for
a year and we have the audacity to say it wasn’t enough time,”
Larry says with a laugh.
Larry is 62. Debbie’s 61. ;eir two grown sons were excited
that their parents ignored convention and took o;. Family and
friends were both skeptical and envious. ;e couple’s original plan had been to undertake their mammoth adventure
after they retired and had fewer obligations.;But sometimes
the fates conspire. Larry was 29 when his mother died at 50.
His best friend died at the same age. So did a neighbor, and a
co-worker. He began to wonder whether they should rethink
how they had choreographed their lives.
“I kind of said to myself, ‘You know what? I am not doing a
straight line to 66,’ ” Larry says.
When he suggested that they hit the road earlier than
planned, his wife took some persuading. “I kept saying, ‘Wait
until we’re retired,’ ” Debbie says.;“He just kind of pounded
away. ‘What if we can’t do it? What if we aren’t able to do the
hiking and carry our backpacks?’;He wore me down, but once
I made up my mind, then I was all in.”
;ey spent a year planning. “I’m usually the risk-taker, and
Debbie points out the potential hazards in any decision,” Larry
says. Now she was game for going just about anywhere, like
Turkey and Myanmar, two spots high on the political unrest
chart. Larry was the wary one. He had done some country-
hopping after college. With more mileage under his belt, he
knew of the potential pitfalls.
;ey each made a Top 10 list. Turkey remained Debbie’s
number one. It spelled intrigue. New Zealand led Larry’s
list. ;ey quit their jobs with no assurances of being rehired,
rented their house and packed their bags.
;e couple visited some of the new Seven Wonders of the
Modern World: the Taj Mahal in India, the Colosseum in
Rome, and Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Inca sanctuary
high in the Andes Mountains of Peru.;;ey swam alongside
dolphins in Hawaii, played on the world’s highest Frisbee golf
course in Ecuador, and hiked the Giant’s Causeway, a strange
volcanic rock formation and World Heritage Site in Northern
Ireland.;;ey biked parts of the Canadian Rockies, backpacked
the Grand Canyon, and rode a hot-air balloon in India. ;ey
saw bears and howler monkeys, raging rivers and glorious sun-
sets, and “an unbelievable amount of rainbows.”
When they returned home in February 2018, Debbie’s
employer rehired her. She is a supervisor of care managers at
the Jewish Social Service Agency in Rockville. Larry took a new
job as a consultant at the University of Maryland Center for
Transition and Career Innovation for Youth with Disabilities.;
Where to next?;Larry smiles. “We’re in the negotiation
phase,” he says.
Larry and Debbie Abramson took
a 13-month tour of 28 countries
across ;ve continents; one stop
was the Taj Mahal in India (right).