In 1983, my husband and I were in newspaper class together. It was a riot. We became friends and went on a few dates. Now it’s time for another anniversary.
Fast forward to 1988. It was a rainy Friday. We got married in a small ceremony, headed to his parents’ house for a “small” reception and then hit the road. We nearly missed the turn into our very unique hotel for the weekend at Canon Beach.
On the way home on Monday, I got a speeding ticket. Yep. Nothing makes a trip more memorable than ending it with flashing lights.
Now it’s 31 years later and we’re back at the beach for our wedding anniversary.
Rather than the “day” being Friday, this year it is the “observed” Memorial Day. And the beach is 70 miles or so further south: Gleneden Beach rather than Canon Beach.
We’re heading to the condo we “own” so there’s no chance we’ll miss the turn-off. No matter how dark or rainy it might be after a LONG week of work.
These days, I might go by Lolly and he might let me call him Pop. We have two adult sons and two beautiful daughters. There are three lovable grand-pups and a feisty grand-kitty.
Best of all, there’s an angelic little darling named Shana. She’s the newest love of my life. On this 31st anniversary of my wedding, I’m celebrating my first Memorial Day as a grandmother – chosen Grandma name: Lolly.
We’re doing some research for a family gathering nearby next month. We’ll eat out with my sister who lives a few miles away, and Hubby will have his clam chowder.
What do you do to celebrate anniversaries? Any anniversary will do! Especially if it means CHOCOLATE.
Ten days from now, I will arrive on Hawaii’s Big Island.
There will be sunshine and palm trees. A volcano will spew lava every day.
Since I grew up in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens and survived the 1980 eruption, I’m excited about all that. It will be neat to see lava flow rather than the mud flow that decimated Washington all those years ago.
I’ve been to Hawaii before.
My first trip was to Honolulu in 1999. I went with a friend who had two aunts that lived on the island. We stayed in Waikiki. Very commercial, still we had a good time.
My second trip was for my 25th anniversary. Kind of.
Hubs and I went to Maui in October of 2013. I wrote some blogs from that visit.
Retirement is for the old. Or the rich. And let’s face it, I’m neither.
But when your investment advisor calls you to discuss your retirement portfolio, you start thinking about it.
If the lady selling pre-paid funeral packages calls you a few months later, it’s probably a second hint. You know, that maybe you SHOULD be thinking about retirement.
There’s plenty of press that says Americans better start planning to work until they’re 70. And why not if you’re healthy? And if you’re going to live until you’re in your 80s, that still gives you plenty of time to enjoy life.
If there is life after work.
I’m not so sure. My mother retired and a few years later she was struck by lymphoma. Five years later, we were weeping at her funeral.
There’s not a single guarantee that any of us will make it beyond today.
So why think about retirement?
Well, if you want to retire, you’ll need to make a plan.
What’s the Right Age?
According to the TIME MAGAZINE article I’m referencing, most Americans are planning to retire too early. Half of them retire between the ages of 61 and 65.
What’s the problem with this?
Well, you can’t claim social security benefits until the age of 66 (67 for those of us born after 1960). And you can forget about Medicare until after you’re 65.
My husband would like to retire sometime between 63 and 66. As an author, I don’t plan to ever retire, but I do hope to stop substitute teaching when my current license expires.
We’ll see if that dream comes true.
What’s After That?
My thought about retirement is: Why?
What are you going to do if you don’t go to work?
In my experience, people retire and their health fades. This is true about nearly half the people I know. They stop getting up in the morning and they don’t make any plans for their days.
This wasn’t the case for my mom. She enrolled in Master Gardeners and learned a new skill in an arena she loves. She worked with her husband making items to sell at bazaars. They traveled.
And then disease struck.
Poor health is one of the things that robs retirement of any of the expected joy of living.
It’s also the reason some people plan to retire on this side of sixty.
A teacher I worked with for ten years retired before her 60th birthday because she had the means. She’s still substituting at the school, but most of the time she’s involved in home improvement projects, riding one of her horses and spending time with family and friends.
She decided when a friend of hers received a horrible medical diagnosis, that she wasn’t going to wait. She wanted to live, not just work all her life for someone else.
I admire her. Her mother is 90. Will my friend’s financial resources support her if she lives that long?
Our Early Plan
This month, we borrowed an RV and traveled over to LaPine, Oregon. It’s the place my husband has scoped out that seems to have inexpensive land. His plan: Get an RV and travel a week here and there but keep a home base. When we’re done traveling, sell the RV and settle into a 2,000 square foot house (paid for) that’s close enough so the kids and grandkids can (and will) visit, but is also located in an area with enough outdoor activities to keep us active. My plan: Be debt-free. Yeah, that’s about it.
I’m all for traveling in an RV. I think I would enjoy it as long as it became “my home.” Because I’m a home body. I love my bed more than any other place to sleep in the world.
But my idea if travel in an RV involves being on the road for a month or more at a time. I want to explore every state in the US and drive coast-to-coast through Canada. You’re not going to do that in a week and see anything.
I’ve always envisioned myself being part of my grandkids’ lives, though. When my Gram moved away, I was heartbroken. My best childhood memories involve visits to her house.
Can I be a grandmother if I live hundreds of miles from my grandkids?
What do you think is the prime age for retirement? What do you hope to do when you’re retired?
Some things are worth a 500-mile drive in a weekend (and I’m not a fan of road trips). In this case, it was the same friend for another weekend.
My best friend from high school had to drive a similar distance and it didn’t make her bat an eyelash. She’s one of those people who loves to drive, and I’m happy to let her when we’re together.
A couple years ago, we went to Richland, Washington. That year, we had another high school friend with us. I blogged about it here.
We’ve since been to Seattle and Leavenworth.
I’m sensing a theme here: the state of Washington. As it happens, Washington is “middle ground” for us. She lives in Idaho and I’m in Oregon. Check your map and you’ll see what I mean by “middle ground.”
Unbreakable bonds are forged on cinder tracks. Okay, that didn’t sound as prophetic and epic as I hoped. It’s safe to say, Laurel and I became friends after a hurdle tried to take me out at the knees.
For many years, we were inseparable. But people grow up. At times, I feared we might be growing apart, but that’s not what happened at all.
Each time we saw each other, time fell away and we took up right where we left off. Except we were older and wiser (more gray-haired and wrinkled anyway).
When she went through an ugly divorce (yes, there are other kinds, but ugly seems to be the norm), I was a concerned yet distant ear. Most of the communiques came through email, but the weekend the divorce became final, we started our tradition.
And it started with hiking on Mt. Hood. Then it headed to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
It hasn’t happened every year, and what started as an autumnal tradition has migrated to springtime.
It involves late nights, good food and lots of laughter. In fact, we’ve considered trademarking the hysterical laughter method of ab-tightening.
The original point of these getaways was to offer a retreat from regular life with someone who accepted you at face value. It might be a time of therapy-by-venting or relaxation through escapism.
As for destinations, there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to the selection. Not even in the beginning.
In recent years, we’ve chose destinations centrally located that we could drive to. This keeps the cost down, although I’d wager we could find another discounted airfare to a city further afield…if we wanted to be flexible and let it happen more spur-of-the-moment.
Richland, Washington is no tourist destination. Not one I’d pay money to attend anyway.
But it happens to be nearly halfway between the two cities of our residence. And it has pretty decent weather most of the year.
The hope for sunshine is what made me reject her suggestion we relocate this year’s meeting to a place much closer to me. A place in the once-scenic (and now burn victimized) Columbia River Gorge.
She’s bringing her brochures and planning to convince me it’s a decent location for the next meet-up. And since I’ve never “bathed” in natural hot springs, she can probably talk me into it without too much trouble.
Same friend next year, who knows where? Same time? Possibly. We tend to be creatures of habit.
Have you ever had a girls’ getaway (or a guys’ getaway)? What did you do? What was its purpose?
It’s been a mild winter. And except for the excess of gray days, I’m dealing with it rather than dreaming about escaping to a land of blue skies, tank tops and all natural Vitamin D. Still, there are travel plans in my winter.
This time, it’s a “work” trip. I’m attending my first ever writer’s retreat, and it just happens to be in Destin, Florida. (I know, how sad to travel to Florida in February).
A couple days before my departure, Old Man Winter decides to make a visit to the Pacific Northwest. That nice guy dumped several inches of snow on the ground after teasing us with the idea several times during January and February. This storm will blow over before my flights are affected.
Or an Arctic system will drop on top of the mass of moisture, depositing more snow on my front lawn.
My husband drove through sideways snowfall to take me to the airport. It wasn’t bad enough to cancel or delay my flight, was it?
I arrived in San Francisco (I’m taking a circuitous route to the Emerald Coast, one of the things I don’t love about traveling) early. Excellent. Plenty of time to find breakfast and lunch to take on the next flight.
There’s a funny story here about a misplaced spoon for consuming the yogurt parfait I purchased for breakfast. Punch line: I found the plastic utensil in my purse after I’d finished eating the yogurt.
Everything’s on time as we travelers board the plane heading to Houston (this is the longest flight on my trip). “All systems are go,” says the pilot (okay, he didn’t say that but that’s what he meant).
Then we sit at the gate. Alas, the plane backs up. This false hope is followed by a brief respite a few feet away from the gate.
“Our runway assignment is changed,” the pilot informs us. (Yes, he actually said that.)
He taxis the 737 away from the gates. San Francisco Bay comes into view (I didn’t realize it was so large until we flew over it earlier) to the right of the plane. My window seat offers me an impressive view of flocks of waterbirds living large in the eddies along the edge of the runways.
Blue skies mean nothing. There are gusting winds in San Francisco, forcing the Air Travel Know-alls to require all flights into SFO to use the same runway as those departing.
For once I didn’t envision a mid-air crash. I have places to be.
At some point (about 40 minutes after the stated departure time), the plane picks up speed and we’re in the air.
I won’t bore you with the mundane details.
Suffice it to say that this flight landed at Houston about 30 minutes before my final flight was supposed to depart.
It landed in Terminal C. My next flight is on a small express shuttle, and those depart from Terminal B.
I’ve never been to Houston. I have no idea how near (or far) these terminals are. My husband is texting me with details about some Sky Tram, but I see no signs for it. I do see arrows pointing to Terminal B.
So I walk. Make that a power walk (which is about 1 mph faster than my normal walk, 4 mph. Let’s face it some people don’t even jog at 5 mph, so I’m rushing through the airport, dodging slow travelers, and trying not to bowl over those people who wander like sleepwalkers.)
When I make it to the B Terminal, they haven’t announced my flight. Whew!
My shoulder throbs from the pressure of my laptop bag. My feet flame like the friction of walking ignited them.
The flight is announced. We head down stairs into another tunnel of gates. Then we stand in our respective boarding group lines for close to 30 minutes.
Waiting on a crew.
I ran through the airport for this? I’m panicking about missing my shuttle to the retreat and the CREW OF ONE meant to serve us a drink and hand us a pack of ten mini pretzels hasn’t arrived?
There are a few bags that haven’t made it either. Other people’s connecting flights arrived late. As a woman on my previous flight informed me, “If you have checked luggage, they won’t leave without it.”
Eventually, I made it to my destination. I didn’t miss the shuttle. There were four other women waiting to catch it too.
But all this heart-pounding had me thinking about my love-hate relationship with travel. What do I love about it? What do I not like?
Things I love about traveling:
Seeing new places
Escaping rain to find sunshine
An excuse to eat trail mix
Trying new food
Experiencing new cultures
A list of hateful travel possibilities:
Crowds of people
Screaming babies and small children
Chatty seat mates
Don’t judge me for these short lists. I really do enjoy traveling. But I’m not a huge fan of traveling by myself.
This is why I’m married to Mr. World Traveler (aka Mr. Wonderful) because he always takes care of the headache-inducing aspects of travel. And if that isn’t wonderful, I don’t know what is. Do you like to travel? What’s your favorite mode of travel? What don’t you like about that mode?
It’s that time of year. No, not the one where we stress ourselves by chasing our tail to parties and shopping for gifts. Vacation time!
This year, my husband and I are heading to the South to visit family…and experience the joys of the holiday season in Branson, Missouri. Maybe while I’m gone, some angels will drop by my house and wrap all the gifts and spruce up the decorations.
I know I’ve been pretty quiet the past month, and it’s probably that December will be another “one post per week” time her at Sharon Lee Hughson, Author’s blog. I’ll try to jump online while I’m away (for ten days) and give you a sample of my trip to “Nashville of the Ozarks.” But I’m not making any promises.
To whet your appetite for the trip, here’s a brief itinerary:
Saturday: Squeeze in any last minute “must see” action
Sunday: Return to OKC and fly home
No, that’s not all we’re going to do. But if you’ve read any of my other posts on vacation (like this one or this one), then you know I’m NOT a fan of booking every day with activities.
In short, that’s a key to stress for me…and I vacate to relax. (Notice what I did there? Using my new definition in a sentence. Oh, yeah. Oxford will be adding that definition to their dictionary soon.)
Christmas is first about Christ and second about the twinkling lights. While we’re in Branson, we also plan to check out the glory of the lights. Lights in the square and in one (two or even all three) of the drive through light shows they have in Nashville of the Ozarks.
Have you been to Branson? What would you suggest is a “must see”?
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Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take a week off from your job and only have positive memories? That’s what a vacation is supposed to be, right? Even if your company says all Paid Time Offis the same, you never equate vacation days to sick leave.
Unless you’re my husband.
I love the man, truly I do. You’ve heard me extol his virtues. He’s nicknamed Mr. Wonderful because he is indeed amazing.
However, he gets sick at the most inopportune moments.
Like his twenty-first birthday – beforehe had anything alcoholic to drink.
Or maybe when you’re in the car driving for five hours.
Even when you’re experiencing Sea World for the first time, the man is likely to get a turbulent tummy or woozy skull.
How about spending two days of a seven-day vacation flat on his back with flu-like symptoms? Sounds fun, right? Add to that the cherry of another day of inability to leave the room, and you have our Indio vacation.
Our friends suggested that perhaps hubby’s body was finally at rest enough to rebel for the constant travel of the past few months.
Maybe they exposed him to the flu-like virus that had plagued their local schools.
Airplanes are a hotbed of germiness, what with only recirculated air to breathe for hours on end.
We’ll never know why my spouse took sick on the vacation when his body could have used actual sick days if it had waited five more days.
It’s probably the fault of his employer. After all, they consider anything Paid Time Off-be it vacation or sick leave.
Sick Leave away from Home
Our Worldmark ownership provides us a home away from home. We’re not renting those condominiums we stay it, we own them. Sort of.
So, being sick at Worldmark Indio should have been tantamount to suffering illness at home. Right?
We didn’t have any medicine with us. The mini-market at the resort provided single doses of cold and flu meds for $2. And even though it was obvious he was burning with fever, I had no thermometer with which to measure the severity.
Even the water tasted wrong. Everyone knows you need to drink gallons of it when you’re sick. Flush out the virus and all that.
As much as we loved this resort, it wasn’t the place to experience severe illness.
Nurse or Playmate?
I was on vacation, too. Who did that leave to take care of the sick man?
“Go to the park,” my feverish husband whispered. The crud stole his voice along with his vitality. “I’m going to sleep all day. I’ll be fine.”
So I went.
Off to Joshua Tree National Park in the back seat of my friends’ rental car.
I was the worst nurse in history.
Of course, I’m not much better when I stay around to offer up medicine, liquids and bites of food.
The second day, he didn’t even pretend to feel like taking a shower. This was my spa day. But his eighteen holes of golf weren’t going to happen.
I’m an evil person. I didn’t think about him tossing and turning, drenched in the soft sheets on our king-sized bed once while enjoying my pampering.
I did offer to make him lunch and brought him medicine. I’d rushed out to the pharmacy to stock up on cough and cold medicine before I went to the spa. I happily doled out the doses now, doubling up on the amount of cough medicine because his wracking cough hurt me.
Then I went to the pool with my book.
Now you know what sort of person I really am. The kind of person who attempts to stay on vacation when a twist of fate turns it into sick leave.
What would you have done? Stayed locked inside the condo when you chose the location so you could soak in the Vitamin D?
Consider this my official protest against PTO days that trick a vacation into becoming sick leave.
Let’s face it. I didn’t have a vacation in 2015, and after everything that befell me (mostly good), I deserve to have two in 2016. Come along with me on my second sunny vacation in three months.
I wrote a tad about how this vacation came about earlier.
In fact, my class reunion in July 2015 became the springboard for a jaunt to a resort we’ve been eyeing for ten years.
Indio, California is about twenty miles south of the famed Palm Springs, vacation home to numerous celebrities.
The town proper includes everything you might want for a vacation. We bought groceries at a WinCo located a couple miles from our home base. There was also a pharmacy and numerous restaurants in that shopping center.
A few miles in the other direction, we found the rest of our supplies at a WalMart Supercenter.
Worldmark Indio is a gigantic place. Fifteen buildings, three or four stories tall, house various condominiums. There are two large pools situated at either end of the lovely green space on the back side of these stucco monsters.
Thirty-six greens and fairways circle most of the resort. Palms whisper overhead. Birds offer up early-morning catcalls. Duck families enjoy the central pond network.
Since it was Easter, bunnies even hopped around the place. (Actually, I’m sure they live there full-time.)
Two basketball courts and a double tennis court offer outdoor recreational opportunities. A large recreation center houses billiards, Ping Pong, air hockey and a dozen video games-even classics like Centipede and Space Invaders.
The pool nearest our room (which included two hot tubs, wading pool and swimming pool, also featured a lazy river. This is a winding path of water with its own current. You plop onto the provided tubes and let the river do the rest.
Joshua Tree National Park
Obviously, there was plenty to do at the resort. Especially if you’re like me and think the best vacation involves a lounge chair and a good book.
However, a number of national parks are nearby, and one of them features forests of Joshua Trees.
Don’t know what a Joshua Tree is? Let me help you out.
And it’s Spring, so the desert flowers are blooming. On our outlined plan of action for the week, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park was a must for three out of four of us.
This is what the itinerary looked like:
Monday: Hang out at Resort
Tuesday: Joshua Tree
Wednesday: Spa and 18 holes of golf
Thursday: Palm Springs
Friday: Pool Day
I planned to hike a few trails in the park, so I dressed in tennis shoes. My friends warned that it would be ten to fifteen degrees cooler in the park, so I should dress warmly or bring warm clothes.
We left at 9AM and returned around 7PM. Here are the photographic highlights of the day:
The Living Desert I didn’t see
Come back on Thursday to hear the whole story, but the Thursday itinerary got an overhaul. Namely, only my friends went off to Palm Springs.
I’d been to The Living Desert-the local zoo-during our first trip to the area on our second honeymoon. I loved it and looked forward to a repeat.
After all, they had a baby giraffe now.
But I saw a real live desert on Tuesday and that was going to have to tide me over until my next trip this far south.
If you love dry sunny days, you should plan a trip to Indio (or Palm Springs or Palm Desert). I highly recommend using the traditional Spring Break timing for this trip. (In fact, a teacher I work with has been going there for a decade during Spring Break.)
The desert was in bloom, giving color to the brown canvas. Breezes cooled the high temperatures of 90 degrees to feel like a balmy, Hawaiian 75.
In fact, my husband enjoyed the location so much, he’s trying to convince our kids to take a family vacation there with us next year.
A sunny vacation is my ideal. What about you? What’s your ideal vacation getaway?
Nothing like two tourists pretending to be tour guides. Seriously, doesn’t the Bible say something about the blind leading the blind and both of them falling in the ditch?
The good news is that no one ended up in the ditch on the recent jaunt north to Seattle. In fact, thanks to modern technology, we didn’t even get lost. Not in the dark. Not when streets were closed in the direction we were heading.
My cousin was visiting for the dreaded family reunion I wrote about last week. His new wife hadn’t been to the West Coast in many years. She wanted to see three things: Mt. Hood, the Pacific Ocean and Seattle.
Like the good hostess I am, I delivered her wishes. (What does that look mean, Darrin?)
I’ve been to Seattle exactly three times in my life (after this trip). Both times it was an overnight venture to attend a company Christmas party. I worked in the Portland office of a brokerage and the main office was in Seattle.
I ate breakfast in the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle (only because the salesman I worked with was buying – otherwise OUCH). We had a fancy dinner at Canlis.
Seattle has an interesting culture. The marketplace along the waterfront (it abuts the Puget Sound) has been included in popular novels and movies.
I walked its streets after dark and didn’t feel threatened. Of course, I was in the ten blocks between the Space Needle and the Hilton hotel. And I had two men with me.
Where in Seattle
We arrived on Sunday night. After we checked into the hotel, the handy GPS mapping app told us we could walk to the Space Needle in 23 minutes.
So we did. It may have taken more than 23 minutes. We had to stop along the way for selfies. There were a few closed sidewalks, causing us to weave across the street like headless chickens.
And there was a crush of people going up the Space Needle.
Fortunately, we’d purchased our tickets online so we didn’t have to wait in the Disney-esque line of tourists.
Have you noticed that everywhere you go they take pictures of you? “Care to have a free photograph taken?” was the line used during the Space Needle trip.
No charge to take it, sure. If we wanted to leave with a copy in our hands? A different price tag applied.
It takes 41 seconds to get to the viewing deck of the needle in the elevator. The elevator man told us this.
The views as the sun sank on the horizon improved as the city lit beneath us. It was worth the walk, wait and money.
Afterward we headed to a nearby pizza place and ate a wonderful Greek salad and delicious pizza. It was handcrafted and the sauce was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy.
On Monday morning, our handy mapping app informed us it was an eleven minute walk to Pikes Place Market. So off we went.
First, we headed onto the waterfront for a ride on the Seattle Wheel (think London Eye). Nice views and some good photo ops here.
We wandered through some shops, burning time. My cousin’s wife had heard Ivar’s had the best seafood in Seattle, and it was located near the wheel.
Truthfully, I’ve had better fish and chips on the Oregon coast. Since our server got sidetracked, we got free dessert. Chocolate cake and cheesecake – both get As.
It was an uphill trek to the alley where we witnessed a disgusting landmark – the Gum Wall. My artistic side appreciated the finesse with which some people had left their mark there. The rest of me? Shivered in revulsion at the thought of all that chewed gum in one location.
We spent time at the fish market. It’s here that whole fish are tossed around when they’re purchased. It’s pretty entertaining. Those guys have to be showmen – as well as strong enough to heft a sizable sturgeon.
More shop browsing. A casual walk back to our hotel, where we’d left our car safely ensconced in the $42 overnight parking garage (gotta love those downtown parking rates).
Have you been to Seattle? What sites would you recommend for our next round of tourist-as-tour-guide?