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We all want to see our 90th birthday and celebrating with family makes it fun. I asked my Mom about lessons learned as I wanted to know the secrets so I too can make it to 90. My Mom is happy and friendly and generally does what she wants with who she wants to do it with. That being said, she still claims not to have any secrets to tell so I have none to share.
So, how does a newly minted 90-year-old party? We played some cards, went for walks and played shuffleboard. And just who do you think one most of the card games? You guessed it, the lady of the day!
We went to a fun restaurant in Bentonville called the Holler, where they allowed us to bring in our own birthday cake. We used two shuffleboard courts and had a fun time playing. Mom did well on the courts.
We did enjoy the Walton Arts Center and saw a very good performance by the symphony of Northwest Arkansas. We really appreciated the talented pianist Andrew Tyson playing Chopin with the symphony. One benefit to living in a retirement area is that they arranged a bus to transport us down to the symphony and back. That made the travel very nice for all of us.
Be nice to everyone. Take care of others and keep the house clean. The lake looks inviting, but it is cold in the winter!
We did not go bike riding on this trip. I flew through the Atlanta airport on the way home. It was great to see the city getting ready for the super bowl. I did enjoy the festive atmosphere and was sorry I could not stay for the game.
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.
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!
My father-in-law’s mantra: Every day is a good day.
He means it too!
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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?”
- 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.
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 Arkansas. Fayetteville 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep having fun!
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.
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.
Many assumptions are made about life after retirement. I know that I had a few assumptions on what people did or do in retirement. Many think of endless golf games and outside entertainment in Florida. In retirement I have played two golf games, admittedly, not very well. In comparison, I just played trumpet at my third wedding this year. I am excited to have played at more weddings than golf courses.
I love the thoughts from Roger Whitney, “Go, go years, slow go years and no go years.” In my retirement we are in the go, go years. Here is a recap of what we have been up in the last week—from a travel perspective.
Last week I was able to help out a friend who had received a retirement gift of baseball tickets and he and two others joined in at the Reds game. We even got to see a dramatic finish in the 10th inning (for the other team L). What a fun opportunity to stay out late and not worry about being late for the office the next day.
Kim and I went out to the local playhouse for a production of Shakespeare in Love. We really enjoyed the acting and the escape. We also did not worry about when we left or came back home.
Last weekend, we hopped on a plane for Rochester, Minnesota, to be a part of the wedding for Karen and Phil. I was pleased to play trumpet for their wedding. Our hosts for the weekend, Chris and Cindy, were also part of the music for the wedding. I really enjoyed our time with Karen and Phil as well as Chris and Cindy.
We did a tour of Rochester, including a visit to the Mayo properties in downtown Rochester as well as a quick visit to the Plummer house.
The area around Rochester (in the summer!) is really nice. Of course they have these things called “sky bridges” that connect the buildings downtown so the residents do not have to go outside in the winter.
We enjoyed the walking as well as the bike ride we did near Silver Lake. Minnesota is the “land of 10,000 lakes” and the county we were in is one of three counties that does not have a natural lake. Interesting trivia for the day.
Geese by the hundreds dwell on the Zumbro’s shoreline where it widens into Silver Lake. The geese are a scenic addition and responsible for the local restaurant’s name where we ate breakfast, the “Canadian Honker.” The food was good and the location was nice. The local story is that the power plant keeps the water in the Rochester part of the Zumbro River warm all year long and the geese never leave.
For fun, Kim and I rode a tandum bike. It was an interesting experience as we bike ride a lot at the same time, just not together on the same bike. I think we are, for now, keeping our individual road bikes.
A few lessons learned.
- Be helpful. The history of the Mayo Clinic is that it was founded by people that helped out.
- Be intentional about friends. Our friends Chris and Cindy “Friday with friends” event where they are intentional about getting together with friends each week.
- Always be yourself, unless you are Batman… We saw this sign at a men’s clothing store in downtown Rochester.
We also spent the prior Friday exploring the bike trails in Aurora, Indiana. We were pleased to find the trails. They are close to the house and provide a nice ride along the Ohio River. It is good to see the scenery from the other side of the river, looking into Kentucky.
There is a new person retiring all the time. Are you next? The gate agent on our flight to Rochester was retiring. As our incoming flight was delayed we had a few minutes to chat. She is off to Peru and then will be looking for some volunteer work.
We went to a local farm and enjoyed their fall festival, including a hayride and picking a pumpkin. The spiced cider was not yet ready for us, maybe next week! Happy fall to everyone.
Trip by the numbers:
States visited: Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. Does a stopover at the airport count as a visit? We did two stopovers in Chicago, so did we visit Illinois? I say, yes we did…Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. We were several nights in Minnesota, had a bike ride in Indiana and a play and a baseball game in Ohio.
- Biking miles: 26, with the addition of Minnesota to our list of states for a bike ride.
- Hiking/Walking: 7 miles.
- Trumpet playing at Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
Our first path took us to the Boston Metro area for Gary and Jackie’s wedding in Worchester.
- The wedding and reception were held at Tuckerman Hall in Worchester.
- Kim and I enjoyed lunch prior to the afternoon wedding on Grove Street at the Fix Burger Bar. They had a great selection on the menu, and I had the Bison burger—very tasty. The resturants in the area were converted manufacturing centers. It appeared to be a happening place.
- The Bride and Groom own a part interest in a horse and asked me to
- I performed on the trumpet the call to post prior to the bride entering. The assembled all laughed, which was a good thing! It was fun and of course it was listed in the program and no one knew what it meant.
- On Sunday I also played trumpet at our church home in Massachusetts with the praise band. It was fun, and the musicians are very talented.
After the wedding weekend, it was time to visit with some of the people we missed seeing at the wedding. We would like to have seen more of the good people we know in New England but time was against us visiting everyone. We plan to come back and hope to see you on our next trip if we missed you this time around!
Our second path involved food and friends:
- My goal was to eat seafood and this party had lobster, clams and mussels. Labor Day clam bake—great food!
- I enjoyed the eating at the party.
- We even took home a home-grown pumpkin from our friend’s pumpkin patch!
Enjoying a clam bake with friends on a beautiful sunny day, fresh lobster is really a good time!
Dinner near Boston Harbor—again great seafood and more friends. Having dinner on Boston Harbor in the summer is a good time.
- Dinner in Marlborough, MA, our former home town in the Boston area. Good friends and good food.
- Lunches with friends around the metro Boston area as well!
Our third path in the Boston area was some local adventures.
When we lived near Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, we hiked this mountain each Father’s Day. We went up on Labor Day and were surprised at the number of bike riders going up the mountain.
Having lived in Marlborough, MA, and played in a band for the Assabet River Rail Trail opening, we just had to hike along the Assabet River Rail Trail. The City provides bike rentals on the trail but we just hiked along.
- We visited the Lowell National Historic Park and enjoyed our visit. This is the only National Park that I am aware of that gives out ear plugs as you go in to visit the exhibit. Yes, the textile machinery was loud and fascinating. Key hint to the visit—parking in Lowell (and Boston…) is tricky, we were told, and I am passing on to you that you can park for free behind the visitor’s center (see map) and have your parking validated.
To obtain a real sense of American history, a trip to Boston is a must. Having lived in the Boston area for several years and abiding by the philosophy to always be a tourist in your home town, we have seen many of the attractions in Boston and surrounding areas. We have walked the Freedom Trail more than once, taken the duck tour and have been to Fenway Park and other local sporting venues. We recommend all of these.
We were planning a bike ride downtown, but unfortunately it was raining on the day we had planned to ride so we traveled home, stopping at Cooperstown on the way. The Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) was our last path on the way back home.
- We were able to spend four hours (not enough time) to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. My first idea was to see the Basketball, Baseball, Football and Rock & Roll Halls, but we settled on one for several hours. We had a great time and do not regret the choice.
- Mid-September is the start of the off-season for visits, so we had no issues parking.
- This was our first time at the Baseball HOF in almost 20 years. We were impressed with the use of video and interaction with the staff and the visitors.
- We relived several exciting moments of baseball history and will plan to come back sooner than 20 years.
A few lessons learned.
- People wanted to kidnap Kim to ensure we would move back to the area. We know that we need to visit more often—my last visit was a few years ago and Kim had not been back for over 9 years.
- One couple we ate dinner with shared that as they visit areas with friends and family, they spend the night in their friends’ and family’s houses. Sharing a meal is not enough time to get past general “Facebook” updates, but it is a great place to start.
- We need intentionality around visiting and catching up with friends and family. Local retired friends shared that going out is one way to keep active and to continue encouraging others.
The trees are already turning colors and the colors look good. We missed all of the trees!
We drove to Worchester (near Boston) around Lake Erie and through New York on Route 90, or as we say, the Mass Pike.
- All new this year is the absence of toll boths on the Pike; they use the New York EZ pass, or will bill your licence plate.
- You do receive a discount by signing up in advance in Massachuttes.
- New York still has the EZ pass lanes as well as cash lanes.
Trip by the numbers:
- Driving: 2,233 miles.
- Hiking/Walking 10.2 miles.
It is true; I am now retired and have begun traveling.
My first travel begins with celebrations.
- Although not a far drive…Thursday night June 29th, after “work” saw many of us “pre-retirees” gathered at 300 Magellan. It was a great get together and I was unable to buy myself a drink.
- A fun time was had by all, what a great send off!
- Some, who retired earlier in the year, and others, who retired a few years before, came out to wish us well.
- On Friday, our official last day at work, I grabbed my last free cup of coffee and turned in my badge and work computer. It was official; I was retired.
- After going home briefly, I left town for St. Louis for additional celebrations with my in-laws.
- Yes, I spent my first night of retirement celebrating with my in-laws who took me out to a great dinner in St. Louis.
Webster Groves had the start of their local 4th of July celebration on Saturday near the in-laws and we saw a few good bands at the bandstand on Saturday. A good celebration.
- On Monday, after traveling to Arkansas on Sunday, I went
out to eat and celebrate retirement with my mom and sister at the Marketplace Grill. It was fun and tasty. Especially the desert we shared with my mom!
- Happy July 4th America!
- It rained too much on Tuesday to go for a bike ride or to enjoy the planned outdoor band concert with fireworks.
- I did get to celebrate with my mom, sister and brother-In Law.
- On July 8th I played my trumpet at the wedding for Abby and Andrew in Louisville.
- I did forget my shirt and purchased (less than $5) a white dress shirt from Goodwill. Of course, Kim had to sew on a button for my newly purchased shirt.
- Dancing at the reception was fun and we were home prior to midnight on Saturday. The Frazier museum across from the Louisville Slugger factory is a great spot to visit.
The point of my travels back to St. Louis was to complete the Spinning® Instructor Certification class that was cancelled the month before on the biking, shooting and drinking trip.
- This month the class ran as scheduled from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM Saturday with 30 minutes for lunch and 2 one hour Spins® included. A great day.
- After the class, I did manage a swim in their Olympic pool.
- Received my certificate after passing the on-line exam once I got back in town.
- I guess I have to apply for a job now…
Since I was in St. Louis, I thought I would continue the celebration tour and visit my mom who is in Arkansas. She turned double snowmen this year and is doing great. On the way I stopped at Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri.
- I enjoyed seeing the Jesse James hideout and walking and exploring the caverns.
- The entire area was flooded earlier this year and water shut down the entire cavern for a week. Wow! Water is crazy.
The caverns are a great sight to see if you are driving along highway 44 near St. Louis—year around it is 58 degrees in the caverns. I wore a sweatshirt to keep warm. The tour moved us along and we walked for about 90 minutes underground.
I returned on Thursday night (July 6) in time to close on our long time residence in Kentucky and move to a new (right size) home nearby. All went well on Friday and we moved into our new home on Tuesday of the following week.
While on the road, I listened to a fun book on my drive: The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax .
- The unexpected part for me is that it had a great retirement question at the beginning of the story. A doctor asks Mrs. Pollifax: Isn’t there something you have always longed to do? Something you have never had the time or the freedom for until now?
- The doctor adds that it is terribly important for everyone at any age to live to his full potential, otherwise a kind of dry rot sets in. I thought that was great retirement advice.
- Spoiler alert, Mrs. Pollifax does have something she has always wanted to do, instead of living the sensible life she has created. Her response: when growing up she planned to become a spy!
- I recommend reading the book and pondering the questions she answered. I am still working on my answers.
As a part of the visit, I asked “How do you do this retirement thing?”
- My mom said she stays active. My sister, who lives within 2 miles of my mom, says she can never find her at home, so I know she takes the advice. She does a lot of volunteering and recommended that course of action for me.
- My brother-in law, who has been retired for a few years, said to find something to do that you love. He also noted that it changes. He began a business and is now making plans to give up the part time vocation in favor of other ventures.
- My sister works for a bike trail organization; she said she needed to work once her husband retired to stay active. The key for her is finding the balance of time at home and at work.
I did go for a 42.5 mile bike ride with my sister on Monday (July 3) on the Razorback Greenway and went for a mile swim on Tuesday as it was raining all day on the fourth of July. I left Wednesday and I think she was pleased to take a day off of the activity.
Trip by the numbers:
Travel days: Friday, June 30, through Thursday, July 6, and Saturday, July 8, all by car (1700 miles all in).
First sinkhole, noticed by me, on the way to St. Louis in Indiana at the Nancy Hanks Rest Area on highway 64.
- Biking miles: 95.8 miles, 4 rides, longest 42.5 miles.
- Swimming: 1.5 miles
- Trumpet playing at Webster Gardens with their brass group at the 8 AM service and at Abby and Andrew’s wedding.
- Disc Golf in Kentucky while moving. Too much rain on the trip to make it work while on the road.
States visited: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas.