A Birthday Celebration

As I get older, I have been less thrilled with each passing birthday. Milestones like 50 were fun and a little embarrassing in the office, as you want to think of yourself as younger.

St louis in bloom

Spring day in St. Louis

Time marches on for all of us. I was happy to get a road trip into St. Louis to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday.

 

A birthday is always a good reason to travel. Visiting with family can be great fun and fulfilling. If I was working, we would have had to get approval for a day off or several to make a trip during the week. Of course, only a few at the dinner celebration for my father-in-law were gainfully employed. Being retired and “never having a day off” is no excuse for missing a celebration.

A few lessons learned:

This mug summed up the wisdom from the evening, all in good fun!

birthday mugMy  father-in-law’s mantra: Every day is a good day.

He means it too!

birthday chalk in st louis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other highlights:

We were able to borrow bikes and take a ride on grant’s trail. We have now ridden outside (also in January) on the in-law’s bikes more than on ours. I enjoyed getting close and personal with several of the Budweiser Clydesdales horses as we passed Grant’s Farm. The Anheuser-Busch Grant’s Farm is across the street from the National Park Service Grant’s Farm House. I did a little of the ride on the BMX bike trail at near the end of Grant’s trail.

 

 

Trip by the numbers:

Our bike ride was just over 16 miles and we walked for several miles around the area. It was rainy and we walked in-between the rain storms.

st louis bike for bmx course challange

Spring—Road Trip with a Graduation

One of the things I enjoy about retirement travel is being able to see family and friends without having to ask for time off. Of course, I shared with my wife more than 30 years ago that you cannot just take trips to visit family. We do have other travel planned.

I recently took two separate road trips to Columbia, South Carolina, one to get things some things moved and one to celebrate my daughter-in-law’s graduation with a Master of Arts in teaching from the University of South Carolina.  My daughter accompanied me on the first trip and my wife on the second.

In Columbia, we all enjoyed walking along the Congaree River. The trails are part of the Three Rivers Greenway Trail. We have walked on these trails many times. The flooding in Columbia in October of 2015 did shut down the Cayce / West Columbia Riverwalk that we enjoy so much. On our most recent walk, a portion of the trail still remains closed. We saw several art carvings along the path that were fun to find, including a group of turtles carved from a tree stump with a live salamander resting on top of them.

A fun side trip for us in South Carolina was a visit to a Revolutionary War battle site at Musgrove Mill.  The historic site was hosting a reenactment weekend. It was cool for us to see the costumes and interact with history. Several revolutionary sites are available off of highway 26. This one was easy and accessible.

My daughter, who traveled with me on trip one to Columbia, enjoyed a visit to the Biltmore Estate. The azaleas were in full bloom and the whole area was breathtaking. Visiting the house gave me the opportunity to share that buying too much house is an issue, as evidenced by the current owners needing to open the house to the public to keep it going.

We enjoyed live music inside the Biltmore house and the salute to the Titanic movie. In several rooms they had the clothing worn in the movie, from the same time period as this historic house on display in the rooms. It was like seeing the past come alive.

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Fun with Biltmore Hats

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Other highlights:

Tennessee is having fun with its rest areas. We noticed musical notes and a theme as we stopped in at a few stops on our journeys through the state. On the sidewalk, to emphasize their musical contributions, are musical notes.

Lessons learned:

  • Graduation and moving are all times to pause and reflect. Graduation and retirement have a lot in common. The message for graduates is you accomplished a lot here, now go somewhere and make a difference. A similar message applies when we retire. We made a difference in our work, now we need to go make a difference in our communities and with our relationships.
  • I read an interesting article about an NFL player retiring and living in a van. Joe Hawley’s story was a fascinating reminder about how you can create your own experience. His message is to live with less and experience more. You can follow his blog here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH-fGbXb-BCZ2d7c1LIXjdg

Activity statistics:

We did not ride bikes during the two trips to South Carolina. We did hike along the Congaree River as well as walk in the state park and around the Biltmore estate.

Ft Jax Bike Enter restricted area

Picture from one of my favorite Columbia bike rides–around the live ammunition firing range!

 

Retirement Model?

Reinvent yourself. Try new things. Discover again what you wanted to do before you went to college. This is all the advice from retirement books that I have read. I recently took a chance to become a retirement model. A company I work with asked me to participate in a video shoot in San Francisco.

By way of background, part of the retirement benefits from my company was the opportunity to have a coach work through the decision to retire or to stay at the company. My company employed the services of BetterUp! As a result of a great coaching and learning on my part, I retired and am working to lead the life I want. I cannot say enough good things about this opportunity for coaching and how good my coach was for me. I shared that during the interview; I hope they are able to use the work that a few other clients and I shared with them as we discussed our experiences.

So, when I was asked to come out and share my coaching story, I jumped at it. I hope BetterUp! expands the number of people they can assist with coaching as a result of video shoot. I was interviewed about my experience and had several still shots taken of me, just like the other models that were at the video shoot that day.

 

Other highlights:

  • The photoshoot took one afternoon. In addition, I took my first Uber ride, good and easy, and visited with my youngest in San Jose, near San Francisco. It is always great to see family!
  • Playing disc golf in San Jose and eating at the Diner of Los Gatos. The diner was a throwback to earlier diners. The décor was fun and the food was good. Since I had played the disc golf course before, it was great to see that some rain makes everything on the course bloom and grow.

     

  • Taking a ride on the cable car. It was fun to take one ride, although the tickets for one way were $7.00. This is a great way to get around and still make other commitments. Their website does allow for some breaks if you know you will be taking more than one trip. Since on my last trip I did not ride the cable car, I thought I had better this time.

     

  • Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you are a bike rider, this is a treat. Several bike rental companies are located in San Francisco. My recommendation is taking a bike from Pier 41—Fisherman’s Warf. I used the Blazing Saddles bike rental and was pleased with the bike and the price. I have used this same company for several years. I am in good biking shape, so no issues on the bike ride. The bridge has lanes for bike traffic on one side and pedestrian traffic on the other. The first time we went, the lanes were combined and it was not as much fun crossing the bridge on a bike. Last year when we walked over the bridge, it was a better experience without all the bikes on the pedestrian side so I thought I would ride and it was a better experience without walkers.
  • While traveling to a famous location, you can always have desert for lunch, especially if you just biked across the Golden Gate Bridge!
  • The free walking tours from Union Square (at 10 AM daily) was a treat for me. I have been to the city several times and have not participated in a group quite like this. I enjoyed the Tony Bennet heart that he painted on Union Square, and that was just the beginning of the information our tour guide imparted. We walked along the Barbary Coast trail into China Town. What a great tour.
  • Visiting a new ball park is a treat for me. A no hitter from Oakland A’s at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum was a great introduction to the stadium. Of course I was rooting for the other team, but hey, a no hitter is fun to watch. I had a great time at the ballpark. The park looks a little faded; however, the experience was good. The train to the ballpark took about 20 minutes, much faster than driving to the stadium, not to mention it was only about $9 total for the one person round-trip ticket from my hotel in downtown San Francisco. The meeting with my BetterUp! coach in person at the ballpark was a benefit for me as well.

A few lessons learned.

  • On the way out of town, I saw some great glass work at the San Francisco airport, near the yoga room. It was nice to see the town with a “rose” colored view. Even though I have been to this airport many times, I had never noticed the colored glass window attraction. It made me think about the entire trip and how my world has expanded and grown since I retired. I now see things in a new light. You should try it! SFO--looking at airport through rose collered glasses
  • I am trying on a few new perspectives since coming to town. Being a model is hard work! The models I spoke with had interesting lives; they willingly shared some of their stories and how they got into the career. Not all are doing it full time. A lot of people are involved in making one person look good for the camera. I was surprised that most of the people at the photo shoot were supporting the activity and not models or actors. SFO view of hotel lobby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity statistics:

  • My personal bike ride across the bridge was over 12 miles. I also took the boat back to San Francisco and enjoyed the ride.
  • Although I walked several miles, I did not keep track of them and just enjoyed getting out, as it was still cold when I left home and when I returned. Sunny and mid-sixties was great for me!

SFO ending shot bike

 

Waiting for Spring

As winter is now breaking up and spring, in late April, is finally here, I thought I would update you on my travel. We decided to visit our local Arboretum looking for signs of spring. We visited weekly starting at the end of March.

After our first visit, it snowed three days later.

After our second visit, it snowed three days later. Where we live, it snowed a few times on us in April, and we had freeze warning as recently as April 28.

Finally, on our third visit, the flowering trees we were looking for were out. We enjoyed visiting the Arboretum.  Over the course of a month the trees did bloom in stages and several flowers started to appear.  A visit to your local arboretum or city garden is well worth the effort; we will be back more this year for walks to see what is coming up next.

I did have some fun and see the Cincinnati Reds play baseball on one of the most perfect nights during the season—over 60 degrees and no humidity. It is great to get out with a friend during spring and enjoy a game. The ball park is a great night out and because the local team is not doing too well, tickets are available.

Being retired does not mean you cannot work some to stay active in the winter.  I decided it would be fun to assist others with preparing taxes. I joined a national firm to train and work part-time in the tax field. This does not sound like traveling. However, being retired and training for an event like the tax season is like going to a different country. A recently retired friend who was a tax partner looked at me funny when I told him my plan. It was still a good experience. Now that spring is here, I am happy that tax season is over.

As a first year employee, I learned a lot of valuable information, including how to better prepare my own taxes.

  1. Everyone has to file taxes. Of course not everyone came into my office.
    • A wide variety of people did come in, from all walks of life. I worked with homeless people (let me run out to my car and get that form…), people just out of jail, just about to give birth (one woman less than 2 days), just married, just divorced, in the process of getting married and of course, in the process of divorcing. I also serviced first time filers, and longtime filers.
    • I was able to find tax breaks people did not know about as well as remind some about their responsibilities. The company policies and software made it easy to find the best possible tax outcome.
  2. Having a variety of mentors and working in a team is invaluable to assisting others.
    • Every day I learned a new thing to do or watch out for. The tax season has predictable rhythms, and those with experience were able to teach the lessons when needed. I received a lot of assistance from my team and mentors. Thank you!
    • Training on the tax code was a large task and a small part of the job. The software did some of the work; we still had a lot of thinking and knowledge to draw on when we were completing a return. Learning how to properly handle situations, what and when to say things was something my team helped teach me.
  3. Listening is the most important skill in working with the public.
    • Our training did emphasize the point of listening, and the Internal Revenue Code points out that we must know our clients. It is easy to enter data and not listen. The best part of the work was listening to clients tell their story about their tax year.
    • When we are assisting with a tax return, we are the face of the company. Of course some who came in may think we are the tax collectors, we are not! We were trained well on questions to ask and how to ask them. My team and mentors assisted with this as well. I learned a lot of cool stories about how people get along in life and most are doing very well for themselves.

I was not idle during the long winter months as I was able to swim over 1.2 miles a week and play racquet ball and teach spinning classes.

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A Fun Visit to NW Arkansas

North West Arkansas is home to Wal-Mart and my mom, who recently turned 89. It was a pleasure to visit her in Arkansas for that special occasion. My mom was thrilled that my daughter joined me on the trip.

In Bentonville, we visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. My daughter was fascinated with the two-story spider sculpture at the entrance. I appreciated the models we saw that had productive use of sea shells, answering one of my questions from Florida, “What do we do with the shells?”

AR What to do with shells

One option for shells from the beach and assorted items

  • The museum has a fun collection of American art including some sculptures like the man waiting for his wife and the spider that my daughter liked so much.
  • The Frank Lloyd Wright house was great to see as we have limited opportunities to be in one of his creations. The museum took this house apart in New Jersey and reassembled it in Arkansas.

AR Frank Lloyd wright house

Thank you to Wal-Mart for sponsoring general admission to Crystal Bridges—it was free!

North of Bentonville is the retirement community of Bella Vista. We took a walk to visit the VFW memorial where we have a brick for my grandfather and my dad’s military service. While walking around Lake Bella Vista, we saw a rare site:  a black swan. I was reminded of the book about improbable events. Our improbable event was a 2 mile hike with my 89 year old mom.

We managed a trip to the Walton Art Center, south of Bentonville, near the home of the University of ArkansasFayetteville is a nice place to visit. We enjoyed the pedestrian street traffic on Friday night as several of the U of Arkansas students were wearing realistic Star Wars outfits, including light sabers. Too bad we were not quick enough to get a picture.

Other highlights:

It was cold in North West Arkansas. Next year (for 90) we will plan to go to Disney as my brother lives near Orlando.

Here are my Mom’s tips looking back on 89 years:

  1. Have things to look forward to doing. We went to the symphony. Like many of us when we get older, she does not like driving in the dark. She had tickets for all of us on a bus that a group regularly takes to the symphony. It adds to the social, as well as the cultural, experience. AR Symphony program day 1
  2. Be a blessing to others. Several people told me about the wonderful things my mom had done in their life. It was great to hear and made me proud of my mom. She was not resting; she went out to take care of a friend who is much older and cannot do too much.
  3. Keep moving. We went to Crystal Bridges, and although we did not walk fast, we went through the museum and grounds. We walked her neighborhood several times, seeing an armadillo and several neighbors doing the same thing we were–getting out and being active.
  4. Keep having fun!

AR happy birthday Mom

Peer pressure is alive and well after high school and follows even 89 year olds. When asked about living in the same house for the last 30 years and when she might move to a smaller place, her response was all about her friends—fellow  widows living by themselves and doing well. I am happy to report she is doing well in her large house and she is hiring out for some of the things she can no longer do.

AR Monday day from deck

View from the porch

Trip by the numbers: We went on several walks/hikes with Mom, a total of more than 4 miles. No bike rides, even though we had a few nice days.

AR lake bella visita bikes

Too cool for a bike ride. We like the sculpture!

A Cool Walk on the Beach

Our trip to Florida proved that there is nothing quite like a Florida sunset even when it is cold outside. Watching the sun set is something we rarely do at home. With the weather near a not “Florida like” 30+ degrees (0 C) we were joined in viewing the sunset by several other tourists, most of whom did not get out of their hotel or condo during the day. Of course for us, no matter how many times you witness the sun going down over the water, it’s always a magical experience. We managed to get out every night while we were in Florida to see the sun set over the water. Sometimes it was with a glass of wine and friends. Other times it was just a few of us brave souls watching the sun set in the west.

When it is cold, it sounds good to book flights to Florida. We imagined ourselves spending a week at the beach the first week of January, using plenty of sunscreen while walking on the beach and taking some bike rides nearby. When we looked at the local forecast and saw the highs at home would be cold, we congratulated ourselves on our planning, until we looked at the lows for the panhandle of Florida, in the high 20’s (-2 C). Okay, a few days it did warm up to almost 50 degrees (about 13 C), and it was generally 30 degrees warmer where we were staying in Florida than it was back home.  We managed to walk for at least an hour every morning before lounging around and eating breakfast. Warm coffee was great after a cool walk on the beach. I even put my bare toes in the cool sand, although not for too long.

FL Beach walk river

We did enjoy the sunrise in the early mornings.  We did all the things on a trip to Seagrove Beach, Florida, we anticipated; we just had on more layers and never got to wear the shorts we packed. A good day on the beach was better than shoveling snow at home.

We saw several shells and some wild life while walking along the beach. The sand pipers were fun to watch scurrying along the beach. A sea cucumber and the crab were interesting to see—although it was too cold for them on the beach. We saw the sea turtle signs although we did not see any signs of the turtles. Please let me know your suggestions for the sea shell collection we took home with us. The beach was a beautiful white sandy beach that reminded us of snow. Of course, the cold weather may have influenced our thoughts.

We biked and hiked in the nearby Point Washington State Park. We were very impressed by the trails and the different plants that we encountered. We were pleased to be wearing long pants when we rode through all of the saw tooth palmetto bushes. I was amazed at the deer moss that was like a carpet. On our hikes we found a grove of cypress trees .

Kim and I are experienced road bike riders. We were able to borrow mountain bikes and ride in the state forest for several days. It was different for us to be on the mountain bikes, and riding in the sand is very hard. The state forest practices controlled burns; the sand is deep when trucks have been through in recent days. I am not sure who can ride on the deep sand-filled paths. I could not ride parts of this trail as the sand was over a foot deep for the width of the trail.

We did discover what we thought was a tree from Dr. Seus–the long leaf pine tree.

We enjoyed the aviation in the panhandle with a nearby air force base. We did stop at the fascinating Air Force Armament Museum and enjoyed our tour inside as well as outside. They have heat and air conditioning inside the building. It is a good place to go when you cannot go out on the beach.

Lessons learned:

  • Being cold on the beach is better than not being on the beach at all.
  • Bike riding in deep sand is just as hard as a tall hill; new respect for mountain biking.
  • Air travel in January is tricky with snow covering places all up and down the east coast.
  • Beach access is a consideration when renting or buying near the beach.
  • A month or two near the beach is a great way to spend a month or two.

FL Glen and kim at sunset last nightTrip by the numbers:

Mountain biking:  41 miles, longest 15 miles.

Hiking,walking on the beach: 14 miles, longest 3.75 miles in the forest.

FL Glen on bike bridge 2

On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

One of our goals is to be a local tourist. When friends and family visit, we need to be able to show off where we live. We have also moved around the country and know that exploring the home town area is important to growing roots in the community.

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Lots of product stored for aging

Kentucky is home to several bourbon distilleries. One of our retirement travel goals is to begin to visit them along the trail that the Commonwealth of Kentucky has set. It will likely take us a while to get to all of them. We have friends who have biked on the bourbon trail, and Kentucky has an outline of some suggested bike routes. I am sure I have a friend or two who would ride some of the trail with me sometime next spring.

Bourbon distilleries are large and small in Kentucky, and the smaller makers are the craft distilleries. We started our tours with the craft trail, close to home. We have made one stop so far. Our first stop was the Boone County Distillery.  I cannot think of a better introduction into bourbon and the history than what we received from this group.

The tour was fun and informative. We did not make a reservation and were pleasantly surprised to be the only two on the tour. Larger groups proceeded and followed us on the tour. This is one of the benefits of being home when others are at school or working.

After our tour, we had the unique opportunity to see them uncork a barrel and strain the product. It was cool. Even better, we were treated to a taste from the barrel, which was slightly different from the finished product.

A few lessons learned. Being a local tourist is just as much an adventure as flying around the world. The people were very nice, informative and happy to make our visit meaningful. We are planning to visit more local attractions and will get to them soon.

 

Other items:

We were excited to see the redone Music Hall in Cincinnati. The symphony sounded great and the colors and updates were all very well done. We hope to go back soon to the symphony.

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We were able to watch a dog for a short time and appreciated the quiet moments to reflect when you just have to be outside walking a dog. It is a good reminder to reflect on all the good things in life and all that has gone so well for us. We are grateful for every day.

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No bike riding on this bourbon trail. I did teach a cycle class on the day of our tour. Always fun!

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Have to stay in shape when it is cold outside.

 

Black Friday Hiking

One of the joys of seeking experiences over stuff is we do not have to join the world in shopping on black Friday. For those that know us well, you know we never did go out on Friday morning for “Black Friday” deals. I usually went into work and wrote performance reviews celebrating a day lacking meetings and emails.

This “black Friday” we took in the local Middle Creek Park in Burlington, Kentucky. We enjoyed the hiking and the stepping away from all of the traffic that exists anywhere near a mall. The venue was quiet and we were part of a small group of hikers; we saw a few others out on the trails. The park has almost nine (8.49) miles of trails.

Middle Creek park sign post

No cell phone reception and watch out during hunting season–which when we looked it up was when we were out. No hunting in the park, just the neighboring area.

The excitement of hiking in the fall is that no insects are out to ruin your day. It was only 50 degrees out so we were wearing long pants. The other benefit is that no prickly bushes were scratching our legs as we hiked up and down the hills. On the other hand, we are noisy as we walk through the leaves that have almost all fallen, scaring away the local wildlife and sometimes obscuring the path.

The trail we hiked was a multi-use trail for horses and people. Horses must use the trail as we saw evidence of their hoof prints and, fortunately, no other evidence. The ground was muddy in places. The hiking up and down the hills was just right. We enjoyed the glimpse of the Ohio River that is afforded at the top of the trail.

Middle Creek park view of Ohio River

View of the Ohio River from the park

One of the retirement benefits is taking off when the weather is nice and visiting local parks. We are sure that many others had the day off.  

 

The lesson learned from this travel is that near or far, a good time is often determined by our own attitude. We set out for an adventure, and even though this one was closer to home, it was a get away from town and any normal routine that we have established in retirement.

Another lesson learned during the last few weeks was emphasizing the importance of family and friends. We have traveled to a few funerals and attended some locally. It is great to get together with the family and remember a life. It is even better at Thanksgiving and other times to get together and just be together. Making memories together is part of the journey; we are looking to continue to celebrate that journey on our travels.

We hiked about 3.5 miles on this adventure.

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Our minimum outdoor bike riding temperature is 55 degrees or a little cooler if the day is warming up. I taught an indoor bike cycle class instead of taking a bike outside.

 

The Enchanted State Park

Our weekend to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio began on Thursday. It is great to get away when everyone else is still working. Keep up the good work if you are among that group…

It was raining when we woke up on Friday morning. And then it rained until about 9:30 in the morning. At that point in time the porch in our cabin was a good place to be, but a hike in the woods sounded better. It was cool and misty when we started out for our hike from Old Man’s Cave parking area. If you have not been to this enchanting part of the park, access is free; it is well worth the trip. The GPS had a little trouble finding the park. As we found out, once we arrived, even a cool, rainy Friday, several people had no trouble finding the location, including us.

At the beginning of our hike, on the way to Old Man’s Cave, we first walked down to the Hocking River. The views looked like we were in a Disney movie and we half expected to find a troll or a gnome coming out from under one of the stone bridges.

After we hiked through the Old Man’s Cave, we took a longer hike out to Cedar Falls. We really enjoyed the quiet on the hike; the water was flowing due to the morning rain and sounded great. We could see the “just past peak” colors peaking out of the hemlock evergreen trees. The hemlock tree has “whispy” leaves and they are not thick. As a result, our views on the hike were better than they could have been if the park had cedar trees instead of hemlocks. We are planning on coming back during the week next year in October to see the colors at their peak. Past peak the colors were really good.

We did make it to cedar falls. Apparently the early settlers mistook (like me) the hemlock for cedar trees. The falls were nice to visit on our hike, and we were glad we hiked the trail. The trail on the way back warned of being strenuous. We now understand that the hike up away from the falls, on the several steps, was tiring and being on the cliffs looking down did show us how high we had climbed. It was not bad; the only part that strained was the initial climb out from the falls.

We enjoyed finding a suspension bridge on the hike. It was fun for us to take a break and cross it more than once. The path led to Ash Cave, another popular spot in the park. Apparently Ash Cave was the site for public gatherings for years as it has good acoustics.

We enjoyed hiking through the tunnels and over the stone bridges. We found many waterfalls and pretty sites along the way.

 

We enjoyed our during-the-week adventure. We are going to look for more of them in the future. This park did not have a lodge and closed at 5 PM during the week. We were able to get directions from a fellow traveler on how to access our cabin and how to get around. It is always good to ask for help from an expert. We recommend the park as an enchanted trip.

Hocking hills cedar falls

We did not bike this trip. We did hike over 8 miles in the park and could easily have hiked more.

bike in garage

Bikes left in the garage for the weekend

 

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