Preparing for Another of Life’s Milestones

May 14, 2013

In a few months, my bride will retire from her job and I will change my status from “semi-retired” to “fully retired.” In the past I’ve written about “Rites of Passage” and this is one for which we’ve been preparing for many years, but it’s a bit more frightening than all the previous stages of my life.

In the first place, there are the retirement savings accounts. My oldest account was started more than thirty years ago. It saw me though a long period of unemployment when I had to borrow from it to pay my bills. I’ve managed to repay those loans and add to it. But in a few months, I will stop adding to it and, (GASP!) begin withdrawing from it.

At the same time, we will transfer my bride’s 401K to a dividend paying mutual fund and virtually end the growth of that account. Hopefully, the dividends we collect from our retirement accounts will supplement our Social Security payments so we won’t have to move in with our kids… for at least a little while.

Many people who retire, do little more than sit in front of the TV and wait for the final curtain. I doubt if my bride could ever do such a thing, which means she won’t let me do it either. That’s one of the reasons we bought our new toys.

Our new travel trailer.

Our new travel trailer.

Our new tow vehicle

Our new tow vehicle

Some retirees go out and buy a two seater sports car and drive off into the sunset – stopping at fancy hotels along the way. Lu and I prefer to travel more frugally, and also hope to be able to take a few grandkids along with us to some of our as-yet-to-be-planned destinations.

To give those grandkids and their parents something to think about… our potential destinations include Tybee Island, Georgia, various parts of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Yellowstone National Park, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, Texas, and a number of Canadian provinces.

In 1984, I dragged my first wife and our four children on a cross-country camping trip. That was done with a pop-up camping trailer and an 8-passenger van. We saved a lot of money by staying at camp grounds, but strained a lot of relationships by having to deal with a daily allotment of chores, dirt, flat tires, dead batteries, lost pieces of the trailer, and spartan meals. I think I’m the only one who absolutely loved the adventure, but, then again, it was my idea. I had to love it!

That 1984 trip was carefully planned almost down to the number of miles to be driven each day.

Now, we’re looking at a trip that has no definite destination and no detailed advanced planning. However, technology has advanced significantly over the last 29 years. We now have cell phones, GPS navigators, Wi-Fi computers, and 29 years of experience in the art of living. We also have a better financial picture and hope to keep that improved picture by keeping our travel expenses as low as possible.

Some of my readers may take that last statement to mean “We’re coming to visit you and expect you to house and feed us for some period of time.” I promise you that we won’t stay long. So don’t worry.

In 1984, I had to estimate how many bills would be delivered in our absence, and how much we would owe. I paid most of the bills in advance and wound up with credit balances on most of them. Today I can review my bills on line and pay most of them by simply making a few keystrokes on the computer. Hopefully, our bank account will not run out on us.

Needless to say, even with all the advancements in technology, our additional knowledge and wisdom that comes with age, and all the other assets in our possession, our future remains a vast unknown and leaving home is a somewhat scary proposition.

Fortunately, we have family, friends, and neighbors who we can count on to drive by the homestead from time to time to let us know that things are OK, but I’d hate to be in Timbuktu when we learn that a tree has fallen on the house. Perhaps that is why many RVers sell their homes and take to the road on a permanent basis.

Perhaps that will be our next significant rite of passage.


Another Busy Weekend

September 26, 2012

Looking back, my bride and I first got to know and like each other while camping. We both enjoy spending nights listening to the tree frogs, crickets, and other night creatures.

When we first married, one of our first joint purchases was a pop-up camping trailer. At the time we had a Ford F-150 pickup truck that was more than capable of pulling that trailer anywhere we wanted to go. But then the cost of gasoline began to skyrocket. (Obama said that skyrocketing is necessary!)

We decided to sell the truck and buy a fuel-efficient Toyota Yaris. The car is five years old and we’re still getting around 40 miles to the gallon. However, we had to sell the F-150 to pay for the Yaris. Without the tow vehicle, it soon became necessary to sell the pop-up. We did.

A couple of years ago we replaced a Mitsubishi Diamante with a Ford Ranger. That little baby truck is a 1997 model and had around 77,000 miles on it. We now have it up to over 90,000 and were concerned about its towing capacity.

But, we bought the 4,200 pound travel trailer anyway.

Our new travel trailer.

Since we had nothing better to do, we took four grandchildren along for the ride when we went to the dealer, Peco Campers, to pick it up.

Some of our future camping buddies.

Thanks to good friends, Ed and Carol Terry, we learned of a camping resort, Unicoi Springs Camping resort and are now proud members of the place.

Yesterday we hauled our new baby up to Cleveland, Georgia and left it at a storage place that is much closer to the resort. Eventually, we’ll be able to leave the trailer at Unicoi Springs and won’s have to haul it anywhere until Lu is fully retired and we hit the road to look for America!

In the meantime, while all of this was going on, I published the first two chapters of my family history book “Quakers, Politicians, and a Pirate (or two)” as an e-book.

It is available at Amazon.com for Kindles or Barnes & Noble for Nooks.