For most, retirement is a phase of life, a chapter near the end of the book, a distinct change in lifestyle. Social security age requirements may influence the target (retire at 62 or wait until full benefits kick in, or somewhere in between), or the status of one's 401K or retirement savings plan, or perhaps one's health condition. Any way you get there, hopefully you can enjoy it.
My father passed away from a stroke at age 55, and he had had huge retirement plans that he never fulfilled. My wife's mother became ill just about when her father retired, and he put aside their retirement travel plans. When he passed away, she was still too weak to travel. That inspired both of us to retire and hit the road running as soon as possible, I did postpone my exit as a manager a few months until I could help train my replacement, but was still 62 and Nadyne 63 when we pulled the trigger, selling our house and moving into our fifth wheel.
We had planned our escape for five years and could hardly believe when it finally arrived. Downsizing was far more difficult than we expected (as you can read about here), and leaving friends behind was equally disheartening. Social security only pays so much and we have resisted using savings, so Nadyne is still working about 40 hours per month and I am writing, along with getting a few book sales each month, so that we can be more comfortable in our travel.
Since retiring and moving to the highways and byways of America, we have had good times and bad, the bad mostly having to do with our RV repairs, losing Lucy, our beloved dog of 12 years, and COVID restrictions. However, the sights we've seen, the experiences we've shared, the awe of nature, the splendor of the night sky, the interesting differences in landscape and community among the different sections of the country, all of these have made our lifestyle much more than satisfying. As an added bonus, we've been able to visit, in person, our six kids, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and ten siblings and their families, scattered across the country. This would not have been possible if we weren't able to retire and travel freely like we do.
I did not experience a culture shock when I stopped getting up at 4:45am on weekdays. Instead, I began to "sleep in" until 7am and stay up as long as I like. Sometimes I even stay in bed until 8:30! Before the pandemic, we were able to experience the local night life and regional restaurant favorites wherever we happen to be and I have now sung karaoke in about 20 states. We are anxiously awaiting for this entertainment to become available (safely) to us again. I now have photo galleries posted from 35 states and our two cruises (Alaska and the Caribbean), much of which has been taken since we hit the road. We return to Colorado every summer to catch up with friends and do the doctor and dentist routines, and to tour one of our favorite states.
And then there are the myriad of friendships we've made, some due to our membership and activities in RVillage (now 300,000 RV members strong), and some are people we meet along our journeys. The RV community is an usual bunch in that members have much more in common that not. Almost everyone has stories about a black tank experience or a particularly bizarre campground, and they can't wait to share experiences with people who haven't heard them yet. We see a few of our RV friends in multiple locations, which is always fun. One couple has crossed our path in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and in Ohio, and another in California, Florida and Oregon.
None of this would have been possible without our retiring while we still had our health. Sadly, like both of our fathers, some never get the chance. I highly recommend it!
I received several comments from friends, fans and followers about retirement, a popular topic. Here are a few of those (some have been edited or paraphrased):
A32Deuce- I retired at 59 in 2008 and haven't looks back. Get to do what we enjoy -- we bought our RV in 2012 and started to travel more. Time is short, so enjoy it while you can. I started planning to retire in 1968 to go out at the age of 55.
Hank and Shirleen- We retired after our 2nd careers in 2007. We had an RV for five years already. We took off for Alaska in May and have never looked back or were afraid we made a mistake. We stayed up there for three months. We are now on the road for 4-6 months every summer. We belong to two RV clubs and are gone two weeks out of every month all winter (in Texas). We still have our sticks and bricks (!) but we love our RV lifestyle. We have met sooo many new friends doing this and will keep on as long as we can!
Outofsightadventures- I retired last year and being a type-A personality all the way, nobody we know thought a) that I would retire and b) that I would make it past six months without running back to corporate America. Pfffft! I haven’t looked back once and definitely don’t miss it... at all. Livin’ the dream!
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- I retired at age 55 as we had met our retirement savings goal. Although I have enjoyed my job, once the goal had been obtained I didn’t see the point of working any longer. First thing I did was to go back to community college and take all the courses I never had time to take the first time around. I took about two classes a semester for nine years until we went full-time RVing, accumulating about 132 credit hours. I enjoyed sparring with the instructors (as I was often the oldest, wisest, most experienced person in the room). I always did my homework and unfortunately, raised the bar for the entire classroom (mostly 19-year-olds). I was also able to teach around 500 people in traditional methods of preparing whole, real food. Both of these activities really gave me purpose and meaning. But now it’s all about traveling and adventure, which I enjoy just as much.
Tom and Trish- I retired 1.5 years ago at age 64. I'm enjoying it and wish I had done it earlier. My wife plans on retiring in three years when she's 62. We moved from Durham, North Carolina, to the Tennessee Cumberland Plateau. Our new home is in the country but close to town. We built an RV Port and fenced in the nearly one-acre lot. I thought I would have more leisure time, but no, my wife bought me a fixer upper cabin on a lake. My time is split between our main property and the cabin. I've lost 20 pounds after leaving my desk job and much healthier, but, sadly, there's not enough time to enjoy RVing yet. I did sort of talk my wife into our first snowbirding trip to Alabama and Florida this fall and winter by making reservations. She still works (from home). I offered to head south early and set up camp; she'll join me a bit later.
Sharon M.- I took early retirement at 60 to start breeding horses, something I'd wanted to do since I was old enough to say "horsie". I'm still managing to do that, though I've had to downsize from the big warmbloods to mostly ponies... and a lot fewer numbers as well.
Nadyne H.- I'm only semi-retired as I still work for a couple of clients. I hope to someday be able to fully retire... I would love the absence of work stress, deadlines and concern about Internet running my life.
Mary Lou C.- I am disabled, so not really retired. I was running a service dog school and I truly loved it. But, between financial and health problems, I had to close it. Currently I am making masks and accessories. S ome of my previous students are reaching out to me because of their inability to use of the off-the-shelf masks. So, I am now enjoying a fun and rewarding hobby and looking forward to a true retirement!
Kat C. Hds- I was in the Aircraft Industry for years as a Buyer and MRP Controller Supervisor. I tired of the constant stress and overworking. In my late 40's, I took a voluntary lay-off, moved in with my sister while I went back to school full time. I got licensed in Massage Therapy and opened my own Day Spa. Going on 14 years now and couldn't be happier. I'm working less hours, hired independent contractors to allow me to manage the spa and take only the clients I want. Best decision ever. I'm not retired, but moving closer to my goal of only managing and at some point hiring a manager, then I will retire.
The Four Seasons was an American rock and pop band that became internationally successful in the 60's and 70's... Just kidding. This is about the earth and its changing seasons.
Most people know that the four seasons -- spring, summer, autumn and winter -- exist on earth as a result of its tilt on its axis, compared to its orbit around the sun. Knowing that the orbit is not perfectly round might cause one to think that summer happens when the earth is closest to the sun and winter when it's farthest away, but that is not the case. Because of the tilt, part of the earth is getting more energy from the sun in summer and less in winter. In spring and autumn the amount of energy becomes more-or-less equal around the globe. Also, because of the tilt, the northern and southern hemispheres enjoy opposite seasons from the other (the US experiences summer while it is winter in Australia, and vice-versa).
But nature is not content to simply make the temperatures shift from one season to the next. The earth's climate revolves around the changes in solar energy, and each geologic region has its own peculiarities. Some are universal, such as snow and ice in winter, autumn changing of colors of leaves as the deciduous trees make less and less chlorophyll, flowers blooming in the spring and summer, and monsoons and hurricanes appear as the heat of summer warms the atmosphere and oceans.
Humans have adapted well to the seasons, especially in agriculture. This has enhanced hopes and expectations as each season begins to wane and make way for the next. Spring is for planting, and fall is forever harvest time. Summer is for work and play, while winter is for hunkering down and hibernation.
I have had the opportunity to live in a variety of locations around the country throughout my life, from the two seasons of California (summer and fall) to the two seasons of Western New York (winter and August 12th, or winter and construction, depending on who you ask), but also the four seasons in Washington State and Kansas. Even those areas that seem to skip seasons truthfully don't. You just have to be paying more attention.
Contrast is a big reason that the changing seasons enhance the human experience. The warmth of spring and summer can be fully appreciated once one has survived the colder fall and winter. The rains of spring follow the snow or ice of winter. The heat of summer replaces the chill of spring. The cooler breezes and autumn storms follow the dry heat of summer.
As one would expect, everyone seems to have their own favorite and disliked seasons. Growing up in heat or cold doesn't necessarily make one like them more or less. It really is an individual taste. But, the universal themes of hope and anticipation accompany nearly every change of season. In my case, however, dread of winter was always my autumn emotion.
I received a variety of comments from friends, fans and followers on this topic. Here are a few of those (some have been edited or paraphrased):
Abraham F.- Arizona's season's are almost bearable -- Hot, Stupid Hot, and What the Heck Am I Still Doing Here?
Donna H.- I think we look forward to the "change" in each season! It gives you renewed hope and something to look forward to!!
Jennifer C.- So many different things you can do in every different season that you can’t do in another... I think my favorite is spring, with flowers blooming, the smell of fresh cut grass and no mosquitoes, who aren’t out yet.
Peggy H.- I live in California. There are two seasons here. Hot and very hot, with occasional spells of rain and temperatures hovering around 60°. I got nothin'.
BLSMSS- The four seasons make me happy to see the beauty it brings. Fall brings the beauty of colorful leaves. Here in New York, driving the roads means seeing all the colors the trees produce. Winter is the glistening of sparkles from the ice and snow, just like a prism. Spring brings all the beautiful flowers in all radiant colors as well as the beautiful butterflies. In summer, the trees are so full, the waters are filled from thaw, and people are out enjoying life. Like Jack's pictures, nature’s beauty is what makes me smile throughout the seasons.
Nadyne H.- I love three of the four seasons. I dislike summer if it is higher than 80 degrees and/or 50% humidity. I don't even mind winter! Fall is my favorite season because it signals the end of summer and there's a nice chill in the air. I love the fall leaves, primarily in the east and northwest, with all their bright, beautiful colors. I have to admit that as much as I love Colorado, fall is a disappointment -- autumn in Colorado is all about yellow, only yellow. After living in New York and experiencing fall there, nothing will ever live up to it again I'm afraid.
Canadian Hellie- Summer is play time for all ages and harvest time for gardeners and farmers. Fall is the most beautiful with all of Mother Nature's beautiful array of colors. This could be my favourite time due to the beauty, the warm days and cooler nights. Winter is calming and the nights are much brighter with to the moon's rays bouncing off the snow. It used to be a playland for me too; but not so much anymore. Spring is awesome, it's renewal time, the hope for farm crops and vegetable gardens that are planted and the hint of summer to follow. I love all the seasons and sometimes I wonder if the winter season will never end; but it does. Sometimes it seems as though we jump from winter into summer and miss spring completely.
Buddy and Cathy- We like all four seasons but I like the spring best because that is when God wakes up all of the beautiful creation that he has allowed to sleep for a while.
Steve and Aileen P.- Budy and Kathy's are our sentiments exactly!! We were watching the meteor shower tonight! The wonders of His creation!!
Candy and the Dogs- I love the rythm it sets. Each changing season marks the passage of time in a flow that makes it easier to cement memories. Whether it’s Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall each period has a unique edge that sets the tone. Renewal, rebirth, rejoicing or reflection -- all are easily marked as time passes with the changing seasons.
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- I think the best thing about season change is the variety -- spring flowers, blue skies in the summer, and the crispness of the air in the fall. I grew up in Southern California but lived as an adult on the East Coast for eight years. What I enjoyed most about that was people prepared in the Fall for the Spring -- basically it told me that people were hopeful. If they wanted a nice Spring they had to do some things in the Fall to get it.
Mary Y- Spring is my season. The intense colors of flowers and spring greens. It is all about a new beginning, a chance to start anew.
I'll finish with a quote from American writer Rebecca Solnit, who said, "For millions of years, this world has been a great gift to nearly everything living on it, a planet whose atmosphere, temperature, air, water, seasons, and weather were precisely calibrated to allow us - the big us, including forests and oceans, species large and small - to flourish."
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.