People in our neighborhood have gotten used to the fact that we’re gone a lot. When we first moved here it was because we worked all day and often traveled on the weekends. Recently we’ve been off on one adventure or another. A couple of our neighbors say they can tell when we’re home because our window shades are open. I guess that’s a reliable indicator, although I’ve thought about leaving them open just to fool ’em! It is nice to have someone keeping an eye on things, although that has its limits.
One of the most asked questions when we talk to our neighbors is “where are you off to next?” When we got back from our recent trip to Ohio and Virginia we didn’t have anything on the books. But within a few weeks of our return we got to planning, and we now have (I think) 5 trips in various stages of planning. Kathy says she has finally found her calling – planning vacations! For us!
One day we were sitting on our porch talking about our upcoming plans and I said, ” you know, when we were younger, one thing would lead to another and we’d end up with a baby. Now, one thing leads to another and we end up with a vacation! Life is good!
May 25 marked the first anniversary of our retirement. And boy, what a year it’s been! What we most wanted to do in retirement was to travel, and I’d say we did a pretty good job of it. Looking back over my Lightroom catalog provides a visual history of our adventures, starting with an amazing trip to Italy, shorter trips to the NC mountains and NC coast, a road trip to Ohio and Virginia and a month at the beach in Hilton Head. And that was just in 2018! So far in 2019 we have been away 61 days out of 151. We’ve taken two cruises (29 days at sea, including two back-to-back 7 day cruises and a 15 day cruise through the Panama Canal), made a road trip to Florida, another to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and we just finished another Ohio-Virginia road trip. But we’re home for a while, I think. Frankly, we’re a little tired! The next scheduled trip is a trip to the beach in August, although there is a pretty good chance that something will come along in the interim!
One of our neighbors asked us the other day if we were trying to spend all of our retirement money in the first year! We’re not, of course, but we obviously have done more than our financial advisor might prefer (sorry, Steve!). But travel is what we do – we don’t have other expensive hobbies, our kids are self-supporting, and we have very reasonable monthly expenses. We are very aware of how fortunate we are to have started the savings habit early and to live (mostly) within our means for the last 39 years (our 39th wedding anniversary is in October).
Here are some of the things we have learned and experienced in our first year of retirement:
Expected (good & bad)
LOTS of time to do whatever we want.
We really like being able to come and go as we please, without having to check vacation schedules and “request” time off from a boss.
We especially like not having to stick to a week-to-week or weekend routine.
We love to cook, and having time to shop for good ingredients and be creative in the kitchen has been fun. As a result, we rarely go out to eat any more.
Less going out to eat has meant that we’ve both lost weight and saved money (to spend on travel!)
We manage to get in a good walk just about every day, continuing a habit we had established at work.
Unexpected (good & bad)
Lots of time means it is easy to get lazy.
We didn’t expect to miss work, and we really don’t. At first, we missed the people and were really good about checking in. We still miss the people, but the farther away we get the less often we seem to make contact.
It’s hard to keep track of what day it is!
We’re even more laid back and relaxed than we thought we would be!
We’ve gotten a lot more reading done, although we read more at home and less on the road. It used to be that we needed to go on vacation to read! Now our vacations are busier and we’re more relaxed at home with more time to read.
We can go for days without getting in the car. Other than going to the grocery store or visiting the kids we rarely leave the neighborhood. We need to make a point of getting Kathy behind the wheel periodically so she won’t forget how!
Our monthly expenses have gone down, due mostly to not eating out as much and not using as much gas, but also due to just not buying stuff.
Without an alarm every morning, our sleep schedules have diverged. I like getting up early in the morning and don’t mind going to bed early. Kathy is just the opposite and our schedules can some days be a couple of hours different.
So what’s in store for the next year? We’re telling ourselves that we need to do a better job spacing things out. The first 5 months of this year have seen a lot of travel, partly because of the last-minute addition of the Panama Canal cruise but also because of the January road trip immediately followed by the two cruises. We’re anxious to continue checking off states as we try to get to all 50, so there will undoubtedly be a few more road trips. I wouldn’t be surprised to find us on another cruise or two, and there will most certainly be visits to the mountains and the beach.
US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
So watch this space! I’ll do my best to keep posting articles and photos – when I have time!
During our visit to Puerto Quepos, Costa Rica, we took an aerial tram tour and nature walk through a tropical rain forest. I had been taking photos of this ginger blossom when I noticed a hummingbird flying nearby. Just as I fired off a series of shots of the ginger the hummer flew into my frame! I got off a burst of just a few shots before he flew away. While this is the best one, it certainly isn’t “perfect” enough to win any nature photo contests but it works for me.
Kathy & I recently returned from a 15-night cruise through the Panama Canal on the Pacific Princess. It was a terrific cruise, and at only 600 +/- passengers this ship was a welcome relief from the 6000+ passenger behemoth we sailed on in February. But like bottles of wine we’ve never had a bad cruise, so there are always great things to experience regardless!
The highlight of our cruise, which took us from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Los Angeles, CA, was of course a full transit of the Panama Canal. These photos are just a sample of the ones I took during this event. I will add more photos and commentary as I get through the 3000+ photos I took! But we’re leaving soon for another quick trip and I’m planning to leave the computer at home, so they will need to wait until we get back.
Tabasco sauce is one of those condiments that I think everyone has heard of, and that many people always keep on hand. I’m not particularly a big fan, instead preferring sauces with more flavor and less heat such as Cholula (Mexico) and Pickapeppa (Jamaica, mon). But when it comes to pepper sauce, I’ve got a bottle and suspect a lot of readers do too.
When I realized that the Tabasco plant and museum, located in Avery Island, was just a few miles from where we stayed in Lafayette, Louisiana, going there was a no-brainer. Adjacent to the grounds of the Tabasco plant is Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre botanical garden and bird sanctuary created by the father of Tabasco, Edward Avery “Ned” McIlhenny. Jungle Gardens is a separate story and a separate post.
I learned a few things about Tabasco during our visit. I hadn’t fully realized the time, effort and craft that goes into making hot sauce. And I didn’t realize that there were so many varieties! We got to try a number of them in the store after our tour, although I stopped myself before my taste buds got damaged!
All in all, the Tabasco story is an important part of Louisiana heritage, and I’m glad we had a chance to pay a visit!
I’m a little late to the April Fool’s party so I don’t have anything funny. But wanted to post that we are safely at home now and enjoying the spoils of our own house – quiet music, comfortable chairs and our own place! We loved the travel but are happy to be back to home base. It won’t last long, but we’ll enjoy it while we can!
One of the things Kathy & I are really loving about this retirement thing is the ability to pretty much come and go as we please. No, we didn’t win the lottery jackpot so we are kind of limited to what we do and how long we go, but it is no longer dictated by an arbitrary vacation allowance.
We were driving near the airport shortly after we returned from our cruise, when I asked Kathy if she wanted to just go get on a plane to “somewhere.” We didn’t have our passports with us, otherwise we might have done it, but that didn’t stop her from saying “why not?”
I suppose we’ll eventually get tired of the coming and going, but so far all we seem to have is itchy feet! And for us the cure for that is to pack up a suitcase and go somewhere.
I’ve had in my mind for a while that I wanted to check out the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi and Tennessee. So in a few days we’re going to head out on a little road trip. We’ll be hitting a few highlights only – this won’t be an in-depth trip of any kind – through Alabama to Louisiana before heading back up to Natchez and up the Parkway to Nashville. No ‘Nawlins’ or ‘Opryland’ for us this time – that will need to wait for a more focused trip. In the mean time I think we’ll have plenty to see and we are looking forward to seeing it!
I’ve been finishing up some of the photos from our first trip this year, the one to Captiva and Sanibel Islands, Florida. These are a few more from the mangrove swamp at Ding Darling NWR. Not all of these are of mangroves per se, but you get the idea.
I felt like these needed to be in black & white. Partly because of the weird color of the water due to the brackishness (is that a word?) of the marshland water but also because of the patterns themselves.
One of my many personal projects is to look for and photograph bits and pieces of the architecture on cruise ships. For that purpose I hardly go anywhere without my little point & shoot camera. It isn’t as intimidating as a regular camera and doesn’t look a lot different than a phone, which everyone is used to seeing.
There are things to see everywhere on board, just like on land. Sometimes it is simply a shadow or a reflection, and occasionally it is just a piece of glass or metal that has an interesting shape. Symphony of the Seas was no exception.