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Couple’s 1975 travel adventure is fodder for new book

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Debbie and Marshall Hockett in their living room in Encinitas, with their original travel journal.
(Joe Tash)

For more than 40 years, a hardcover book with a red cover, filled with handwritten observations and details about a long-ago adventure, sat nearly forgotten on a shelf as the book’s owners, retired Superior Court Judge Marshall Hockett and his wife Debbie, pursued careers and raised a family.

Then one day Marshall had a conversation about travel with a court clerk, and the clerk suggested he should write a book.

“Something clicked and I said, ‘I think I did,’” said Marshall in a recent interview at the couple’s Encinitas home, which is decorated with keepsakes from their dozens of trips abroad over the years, as well as specimens from Marshall’s fossil collection.

Marshall dusted off the journal, which chronicled a year-long adventure in 1975, when the couple, then in their 20s, toured Europe and the Middle East, living in small hotels and a yellow Volkswagen camper van they had dubbed “the Banana.”

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When his friends gave positive reviews after reading the journal, Marshall decided to publish it under the title, “Tripping 1975, Falling in Love One Country at a Time.” The book contains stories from the couple’s year on the road, along with photos. One section is dedicated to a list of their expenditures for the entire trip, which totaled $13,402.25, not including the cost of the van, which they sold after their trip.

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Debbie and Marshall Hockett at the time of their trip in 1975.
(Courtesy)

Leading up to the trip, Marshall had saved $14,000 from his salary as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society, his first job out of law school. (Marshall and Debbie met in a courtroom where she was working as a court clerk.)

During their year of traveling, the couple visited Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Crete (where Marshall proposed). They also parked their van and flew to Israel and Egypt.

Camping proved to be a great way to meet people, who sometimes invited them to their homes, said the couple.

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“We met so many people,” said Marshall. Often an invitation to share a bottle of red wine led to a conversation or a new friendship.

The couple recalled only one argument during their trip, which occurred at a campground in Spain. Marshall was backing up the van into their campsite, when he heard a loud thump, and jumped out of the van to find he had run into a stone well. Debbie said she thought Marshall had seen the well, and Marshall retorted that Debbie was supposed to be guiding him.

“We laughed about it later,” Marshall said.

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The cover of “Tripping 1975, Falling in Love One Country at a Time.”
(Courtesy)

Social mores have also changed since the 1970s. During their trip, the couple wore fake wedding rings and told hoteliers they were married, when they actually tied the knot in Pasadena after their trip ended.

Things didn’t always go according to plan. One time, after returning from sightseeing in Paris, the couple discovered someone had unsuccessfully tried to hotwire their van and steal it.

Another time, they were staying with a childhood friend of Marshall’s in Ankara, Turkey, when Marshall happened upon a violent clash between political factions in the street. Marshall, who was with his Turkish friends at the time, was able to drive away, just as a tank fired its big gun. The image in his rearview mirror is etched in his memory.

“I looked back at this crazy mob. Everybody was running for their lives,” Marshall said.

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Among the highlights, said Debbie, was the time they spent in Paris.

“Paris is our favorite, the most romantic city ever,” she said.

The Hocketts have returned many times to Europe since their big trip, traveling to the Continent a total of 55 times, 26 of those trips with their son.

Marshall, now 72, and Debbie, 69, haven’t allowed their suitcases to collect dust. They recently returned from a trip to Hawaii, and in January, they will embark on a 180-day, round-the-world cruise aboard the Oceania Insignia.

The Hocketts held a book-launch event at the Coronado Library on Nov. 16. The book is available on Amazon.com.

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The Hocketts toured Europe in 1975 in a yellow Volkswagen camper van they had dubbed “the Banana.”
(Courtesy)


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