July 19, 2014

Checking In

I feel a little like I did as a youngster when I went away to summer camp for part of the summer. Mom and Dad expected me to check in occasionally by post card, reporting on my health and well being, and whether I was enjoying my time away from home.

It seems about time to let you know how Betty, Bailey, and I are doing as we make our way across the country. As I write this we are in Ogallala, Nebraska. We have traveled 1,260 miles in the 13 days since we left home. There has been only one problem worth reporting: a malfunction (or my mistake) caused the braking system that helps stop the car we are towing to lock up, ripping big chunks of rubber from one of the car's front tires. $364 later for two new tires and we continue on.

Frankly, it took most of the first week for us to establish a good rhythm and how to have both private and together time in the small space of a motorhome. But, somewhere around Richfield, Utah things for Betty and me seemed to just snap into place, Bailey settled into a routine, and the trip really began. 

The overwhelming reaction so far is amazement at the heat. It has been almost as hot as Scottsdale. We sometimes compare the temperature at home and where we are and find that we are hotter! Except for the first two days in Flagstaff, it has been in the 90's virtually everywhere. In fact, the expected high for tomorrow in this part of Nebraska is 100 degrees! We did have beautifully cool weather in Gypsum, Colorado for one night, and were actually cold at a rest stop near Vail...11,000 feet up in the Rockies does have its advantages! But, overall, it has been much warmer than we had anticipated. Luckily, the RV air conditioner works very well.

Zion National Park remains one of the wonders of the world. It is majestic and awe-inspiring. The rocks has assumed incredible shapes, the colors are spectacular, and the drive is one of the best in the country. Here are a few of Betty's photos:

Have you ever heard of Back Canyon National Park? I'd guess most haven't. About 50 miles south of Grand Junction, Colorado, it is every bit as dramatic as the Grand Canyon though on a smaller scale. The north and south rim are so close together the canyon walls are almost vertical in places. The river at the bottom is beautiful and powerful. During spring snow melt it can carry four ton boulders without a problem.....how about some more pictures to help you see the dramatic views:

One of the the prettiest drives we have  taken so far is Interstate 70 through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Climbing to over 11,000 feet the road weaves between steep cliffs, past roaring rivers full of folks in rafts, and towns that are only a few blocks wide...that's the only space available between the looming rock walls. We wisely unhooked the car and the RV but even so the motorhome struggled to maintain even 50 miles an hour to such an elevation. 

Our RV site for one night was in Gypsum, right alongside the Colorado River and surrounded by the Rockies. 

I must add that I-70 in eastern Colorado is in terrible shape. It shook us so badly two screws vibrated right out of the RV frame. The bad stretch lasted over 100 miles - I felt as if I had had driven twice that distance!

We are off to Grand Island, Nebraska, then Omaha, and points east. The next time I post I may write about a few hidden gems and serendipitous surprises we have experienced along the way.  As a teaser, we had a great time at a county fair that was happening next to our campsite, and found true beauty, both natural and man made, in the small town of Ogallala, Nebraska. 

Till next time......

July 8, 2014

And So It Begins

The extended RV trip that prompted the summer sabbatical from the blog's regular posting schedule is underway. We are in Flagstaff, a good place just a few hours from home, to finalize the route and first week or so of the trip. Wednesday morning we are on our way to the Zion National Park area.

I would be terribly remiss in not thanking all those who left such heartfelt comments after I announced the partial suspension of this blog, with a final decision coming upon our return in September. I knew Satisfying Retirement has a loyal group of readers, but the strength of its impact and importance of what we all discuss here was brought forcefully home to me by your words. While I am not prepared to say with all certainty I will restart regular postings in a few months, you have given me some strong reasons to do so.

Back to the trip, to say Betty and I were ready to go would be an understatement. Our clothes were in the RV closets over a week before we left. The refrigerator was turned on fours days before we rolled away from home. Bailey, our cocker spaniel, knew something was up; she refused to be more than a few feet from our side whenever we went out to the motorhome. No way was she going to miss the adventure.

After a few family dinners, swimming with the grandkids, seeing a movie, and setting up the date of our first Skype conversation, we began the shutdown of the house. Maybe I will devote a future post to the specific steps we took to close up our home for a few months - something some of you fellow travelers might find useful.

Because of the summer heat in Phoenix we couldn't load the things that 100+ degrees might damage, like food stuffs, and toiletries, until just before we left. With night time temperatures remaining in the mid to upper 80's Betty was worried about all sorts of things being ruined before we could escape to cooler climes. So, early Monday was the time to load up most of the RV, hook up the car behind us, double-check all the locks and security steps, and point ourselves north.

The weather is predicted to be unsettled with thunderstorms for the next several days. Within an hour of our arrival we experienced our first rain in over four months. 30 minutes later the temperature had dropped to 62 degrees, while Phoenix was around 105. Amazing what 120 miles and 7,500 feet in evaluation can do.

We are set to play lots of games, read the two dozen books we brought, hike through the woods, picnic by some lakes, photograph everything, and explore this great country.

Off to a great start!

Again, thank you for the support and look for another update somewhere along the road.

June 19, 2014

An Anniversary and Some Important Changes

Four years ago this month I began writing Satisfying Retirement. It has been one of the most rewarding periods of my life. I had no idea when I hit the publish button for the first time in June, 2010 what lay ahead.

I have been able to write about a subject I have come to know pretty well. I have been able to help others on this amazing journey. I have written two books, both of which continue to sell several copies a month. I have made friends who have enriched my life and will continue to do so. 

Writing this blog has helped me strengthen my marriage and my faith. It has allowed me to scratch my writing itch in a way that has been both fun and satisfying. I have been privileged to be allowed into your home or office, on your laptop, tablet, or cell phone to share my thoughts and learn from yours. Regular readers have become a family that I deeply appreciate and respect.

My best estimate is I have written just shy of 500,000 words in these past four years, or a little less than contained in the novel War and Peace. Well over 1.2 million page views indicate someone is actually reading that output. I haven't counted but I imagine I have covered well over a hundred different subjects or approaches to those issues and concerns that all of us retirees, and soon to be retirees, face.

Betty and I leave early next month on an RV trip that is planned to last until mid September. We are excited to see all the fabulous sights down the road, and meet all the fascinating people with whom we will cross paths. We are also interested in our reaction to being gone from home for that long. Will we like extended RV trips? Or, are we better suited to several shorter trips that don't take us on a 4,500 mile journey? By the time we return we'll have an answer.

Because we want to focus on the journey and each other, I have decided to stop blogging for now, at least in terms of regular postings. Being on a fixed schedule, with the "requirement" to produce fresh posts every few days would detract from our ability to really get all the enjoyment and insight from this trip that we can. The post I ran two weeks ago about the Cycles of Life caused me to do some serious thinking about this blog at this season of my life, while the post of last week on the American Dream further stirred the pot. I guess I see this break as a type of needed mental sabbatical to reassess what I am doing and writing about.

What I am likely to do is write an occasional post, with Betty's pictures, after we have had a particularly memorable segment of the trip or learned something new that you might enjoy. I have no idea how often that will occur, but I would imagine a few times a month seems likely.

The blog will remain right here so all past posts will be available. If you have signed up for e-mail notification, when I have a new post you will be notified. Or, you can just click over every once in awhile to see if there is something you might enjoy.

Also, at this time I am ending the updating of the Satisfying Retirement Facebook Page and my involvement with Twitter. They have been used for promotion of this blog, but without regular updates they no longer serve a purpose. I do plan on staying involved with Google+ and  my personal Facebook page for the time being, but on a more infrequent basis until our return. Pinterest interests me and may become a new outlet for our photos.

I invite you to come back a few times this summer to see where we've been and leave a comment or two. But, if you move on I fully understand. There are plenty of excellent retirement-oriented blogs that post frequently. 

My  return to blogging this fall is still an open question. I am feeling the need for some substantial changes in my life and I don't have any idea what that will look like. It may involve restarting this blog, tackling a completely different subject, or leaving the blogging world behind. I seriously have no idea.

But, what will never change is my appreciation for your support, love, and participation for the past four years. It has meant the world to me. Thank you. Have a great summer and enjoy the greatest time of your life: a satisfying retirement.

Thanks for everything!

June 16, 2014

Follow Along!

Betty and I leave in a few weeks for our summer RV trip. I've received enough emails wondering if we will be going through a particular town or area that I decided to post these maps. 

The first is for the trip to Wisconsin. I haven't noted every stop or all the places we will be visiting in Wisconsin but you can see the general shape of the journey. It will take us 24 days to get from Scottsdale to Egg Harbor.

After spending three weeks in Wisconsin the trip back has been left much less detailed. We have a general idea of how we'd like to make our way home, but we have no firm plan. We have no reservations or need to be home on a particular date. We will let our moods dictate the final route. The Badlands and Mt. Rushmore are the only "must sees."  I expect the trip home will take about a month.

Betty has made several built in bookcases, medicine cabinets, and extra storage places in the RV. So, we are just about set. It will be quite an adventure and something completely different for our satisfying retirement.

As a sort of warm up trip, we spent the last few days in Flagstaff with the whole family. We took the RV and rented a small cabin at the campground for my oldest daughter's family. We celebrated (a very much delayed) Betty's birthday, our wedding anniversary, both of our daughters' birthdays, a granddaughter's birthday, and  a satisfying life in general. 

We also enjoyed temperatures almost 30 degrees cooler than at home. At this time of year, that is no small blessing!