Tag Archives: Retirement travel

Before You Take the Retirement Leap – 10 Questions to Consider

We have a very dear friend who is six months to a year away from making the leap into retirement.  He has worked long, hard hours to make sure that he and his wife will be financially ready.  In his mind, I think he envisions retirement as just “stopping.”  But at the Voyage, we’ve learned that there is a lot more to consider:

  1. Do you have a plan?  You are about to enter your own “second act.”  Think of this as an opportunity to start over…to redesign your life to be any way you wish it could be!  An architect friend of ours recently published the book, “Life-A-Tecture: Build an Experience-Driven Life.”  It’s a great read, full of timely advice and lots of motivation.
  2. Do you really want to be just ‘done’?  Perhaps you want to consult, teach or work part-time.  Is there a different way to continue with only the best parts of your current job?
  3. What are you curious about? What is it that will get you up in the morning?  Do you have a passion, something you wish you could do, something you’ve always wanted to try or learn?  You know how when you are so busy with working and the day-to-day grind that you never have the time to xxx (fill in the blank here).  Well, you are about to get that time, so give it some thought!
  4. What is your hobby or interest?  Now is the time to start considering what you need to pursue that hobby.  Are there art classes nearby?  Do you need to finally purchase that kayak?
  5. Is there an opportunity for you to give back?  If you are like us, you have led a very blessed working career and have a lifetime of experience.  Now may be the time for you to volunteer, participate in a professional organization or give back to your community.
  6. Do you have a sense of adventure?  I’m pretty certain that no one who enters retirement does so thinking, “I know…I think I’ll sit here in my recliner in front of the TV every day until they haul my sorry behind away.”  You need to develop a sense of giddy freedom!
  7. How will you maintain your circle of friends?  This is a big one.  Because a primary source of our contacts come from a work environment, you need to keep and expand your relationships with intentionality.  We’ve found that professional organizations, clubs, coffee groups and even social media have been critical in keeping us from ever feeling lonely.
  8. Do you plan to travel?  There are lots of issues to consider with traveling, including destinations, traveling styles, and the ins-and-outs of traveling together. Time to start dreaming, discussing and planning!
  9. For those of you who are married, are you ready to be together 24/7?  This is a huge thing to consider!  It was probably the steepest learning curve we had when we started the Encore Voyage.  In “Life-A-Tecture” our friend has made this his #1 Rule:  “Marry the right person.  If you have not married the right person, you have got problems.  That person should be the love of your life and your best friend.” We have found his advice to be spot on, and share even more hints in Retirement Togetherness – 10 Steps for 24/7 Success.
  10. What are your DREAMS and GOALS?  Because you see, Retirement is NOT an END!  It is just a beginning of a new adventure.  A new Voyage, if you will.  To be really successful in retirement, you need to have some new and bigger plans for the future!

So how about it.  If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is about to retire, what (non-financial)  advice would that be?  I’m anxious to hear the things I’ve missed!

Lynn

 

 

 

 

While We’ve Been Gone – Let’s Catch Up

I’ve spent the last several days reading back blog posts in a reader list that I have lovingly titled “My blogging buds.”  There are lots of you that I have followed since I started this little endeavor, and as I said last week, blogging relationships are very real.  And just like when you haven’t spoken with someone in a while, I’ve learned that there have been some changes in the lives of my blogosphere friends – some good, some heartbreaking.  So I thought I’d take a minute to bring you up to speed on what’s been going on with us in the year I’ve been away from my blog.

The Encore

We’ve created quite a little encore business.  Hubs travels out-of-town for two short trips a month and returns to write related reports.  He’s only away from home for one night in all this.  The beauty of the gig is two-fold:  He earns airline points like a crazy man, and those projects allow us to take on smaller, more rewarding architectural contracts – the kind that make his heart sing.  I’m the administrative support of the operation, and have cultivated some administrative side hustles on my own.

Now we are learning to balance just the right amount of projects to keep our minds active and engaged, while maintaining the spirit of retirement.  It almost got away from us.  But we’re figuring it out.

The Voyages

In the last year, we’ve been fortunate to take some very cool trips, from St. Louis to Seattle to Hawaii.  We’ve also discovered that we love packing a picnic lunch, getting the dog in the back seat of the truck, and taking off to explore the beauty of Idaho.  Hubs loves to wander US Forest Service roads, and our new motto is, “I wonder where that goes!”  I’ll share the voyages in more detail in upcoming posts.  And you know those, “How Many States Have You Visited?” maps that show up on Facebook?  Well, we’ve decided to start over, only counting those states we’ve visited together!  We’ve only been to 16 together ~ we’ve got lots more to experience!

Idaho River

The Nest

Remember when we decided to sell our property, and instead we completed the Retirement Remodel, making our current home function the way we love?  Well, we’re preparing to embark on “Phase 2,” during which we will add an art studio and shop for hubs.  It’s funny, because this morning, as I was reading Pat’s post over at Retirement Transitions, she pointed out that her idea of de-cluttering was quite different from her husband’s.  And while I realize that a shop will only encourage MY hubs to acquire even more “tools,” it is his love of classic cars that wins out.  We’re all about designing a place for him to pursue his passions (both art and cars) from this place where we will spend our retirement years.

Planning

Our wanderlust continues to be strong.  I’m always planning one or two trips in the future.  Remember those mileage points?  Now I’m trying to figure out where we would like to escape, should “Snowmageddon” hit our city again this year as it did last year.  Don’t want to go anywhere too “floody, earthquakey, firey, or hurricaney!”  I’m open to suggestions!

Reading

We are both pretty voracious readers, and I have nearly completed my Good Reads Challenge of 40 books this year.  I particularly enjoyed:

Hey, I’ve got a good idea – why don’t you find me over on Good Reads (Lynn Jeffers) and then I can see what you’re reading! (Don’t be alarmed by the shorter, straightened hair…it was a moment!)

Creating

I have undertaken a rather huge quilting project.  A teacher friend had the parts and pieces of a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, which had been started by her grandmother as a wedding gift.  Unfortunately, her grandmother passed away before it was completed.  My friend asked for my help.  So I am currently hand piecing and hand quilting fabrics from this 1930’s quilt.  Her grandma pieced and quilted everything by hand.  To do less would fail to honor the quilt…

The Ordinary

As fall is upon us, I find that I’m in a bit of a “cocooning” spirit.  I’ve been canning peaches and pears, and will work on applesauce over the weekend – I love the smell of cinnamon and cloves in the house.  The Roxy girl continues to delight us, even if she is occasionally naughty.

Cute Roxy

We are thankful everyday that we have the opportunity to share this voyage.  So that’s about it…we’re sort of caught up.  And now my mind is reeling with future posts and additional goodies to share.  Stay tuned!

Lynn

 

The Thunderbird Lodge at Lake Tahoe

While visiting the north shore of Lake Tahoe, we had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Thunderbird Lodge.  This property was built in 1936 as the private residence of George Whittell.  George Whittell originally purchased 40,000 acres on the east shore of Lake Tahoe and possessed 26 miles of its shoreline.  It seems that George was quite a colorful character, and developed a love of wild animals, booze, poker and women.  He built a separate enclosure for his pet Sumatran elephant, Mingo, and kept a full grown lion, Bill, as a pet.

Thunderbird Living Room

Living area in Thunderbird Lodge

His Thunderbird Lodge home is fascinating to tour, primarily because of its situation among enormous granite boulders on the property, along with its 600-foot underground tunnel which connects his boathouse to the residence.

Thunderbird giant boulders

Giant granite boulders surround the lodge

During the home’s construction, Whittell hired Native American boys to construct a series of intricate stone paths, which later became known as “the Dragon’s Tail.”

Dragons Tail

Dragon’s Tail Walk

Thunderbird Beach

Private beach, surrounded by huge boulders.

Whittell summered at Thunderbird, and while there commissioned the building of Lake Tahoe’s most recognizable speedboat, The Thunderbird.  It’s mahogany hull and huge twin V-12 engines are currently in restoration in Incline Village, and will be returned to the Lodge in the near future.

Thunderbird Poker Table

This poker room had a door through which he could sneak away when he wanted privacy!

While Whittell’s original plan was to build a resort and condominium complex, along with a ski resort, his later lifestyle altered those plans.  He became more and more reclusive and his privacy was highly valued.  Ultimately, he sold off vast pieces of his property to the Nevada State Parks Department and other agencies.  After his death, Wall Street maven Jack Dreyfus purchased the remaining estate and ultimately sold most of it to the U.S Forest service.

It is the result of George Whittell’s reclusive nature that the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe remains largely undeveloped today.  Hubs and I were fascinated by the careful siting of the original home, and the use of materials to marry the residence to its site.  If you happen to visit the Lake Tahoe area, it’s worth it to take a tour of this historical home.

Lynn

The Other Tahoe

Hubs and I have traveled to a conference last week at Lake Tahoe.  Not the Lake Tahoe that everyone thinks about when they say they are going to Tahoe.  That would be the community of South Lake Tahoe that sits right on the Nevada-California border.

This conference was at the north shore of Lake Tahoe at Incline Village.  While it is still as exorbitant and expensive as the other Tahoe, it does not have quite the level of commercialism that reigns supreme on the south shore.

Tahoe Beach

While we were there, the weather fluctuated from sunny and calm, to downright windy, and even included some snow flurries.  When it’s windy like that, the lake looks more like the ocean than an inland lake at 6200 feet.

Tahoe Waves

Our stay brought us to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village, NV.  We were greeted by these three bears and a glass of champagne.  What could be bad about that?

Tahoe Bears

And the resort has all of the high end amenities you’d expect of a Four Diamond Resort.  Heated pools and hot tubs, fancy schmancy spa, fire pit, gift shop and sports shop, and several restaurants and cafes where I spent too much money and ate too much. And because you are in Nevada, you can also indulge in games of chance in a well-appointed casino, um, and have a cocktail or two (or three) in one of several lounge areas.

Tahoe from Window

I’d have to say that if you are going to hang out with a spouse at a conference, overall, this was not a bad place at which to do it!

 

Lynn

Beautiful Basseterre, St. Kitts

When you explore St. Kitts, especially if you arrive via cruise ship, the first thing you encounter is the monkey peddlers.  Here’s the warning:  They will want to take your picture (Their monkeys, your camera).  Not a bad thing, a guy’s gotta make a living, right…but if you want to hold a monkey, as I did, be sure to negotiate your terms in advance!

Monkey Head

As you wander into town, away from the cruise terminal, you will come across Independence Park.  Notice the old stone buildings, where slaves were once held prior to being sold in the slave trade.  And if you are lucky, like we were, beautiful bougainvillea will be in bloom.

Bougainvillea St. Kitts

Across from the park sits the Immaculate Conception Co Cathedral Catholic Church. This cool and stately church, flanked by palms at the front entrance, welcomes all travelers and is beautiful in its simplicity.

St. Kitts Cathedral

Also on the park is the Gallery Café, a gem not to be missed. Enjoy the art, but be sure to wander all the way to the back, for a brunch snack and a little rest in the quaint garden seating area.

IMG_8225

If you get an opportunity, hire someone to take you up to Romney Manor (originally owned by Thomas Jefferson’s great, great, great grandfather) and now the site of Caribelle Batik. If you are a fabric hound, as I am, watching these talented women draw in hot wax is not to be missed!

Caribelle Batik

We barely scratched the surface of St. Kitts.  After meeting some of her warm, friendly people, I can only hope that we get the opportunity to return someday!

Batik photo credit: Caribelle Batik, St. Kitts

A Gem in St. Kitts

Gallery Cafe

While exploring the heart of St. Kitts, the hubs and I were fortunate to discover this little beauty.  Always attracted by the pastel colors of the Caribbean buildings, add the two words “gallery” and “cafe”, and I’m so there.

Anyone who allows the street dog to snooze in the middle of the gallery floor is alright in my book. And Leah Cameron-Blake is just that type of person, and her Gallery Cafe is oh, so special. Open Mon. – Saturday, 10:00 – 4:00, the sign says:  Sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later. (What’s not to love about that!) The lovely art offerings left me trying to figure out how to get them into my suitcase or ship some home.  But when we ventured a little deeper inside, we discovered a cozy cafe counter, and a cool inviting outdoor seating area.

Gallery Cafe 2

On top of that was our freshly made caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche, the pastry crust of which was so flaky and tender, it crumbled under my fork.  And when Ms. Cameron-Blake brought out about a half dozen grapefruits and freshly squeezed them, hubs was in heaven, and, it was then that we knew this place was one of those hidden gems we seek when we travel.

Gallery Cafe Yummies

I asked her permission to link to her Facebook page, but no one paid me for this endorsement.  I just like to share the discoveries that delight us!

Adventures from the Camino

I recently posted this over on Encore Wanderings, but as I read through it again, felt how strongly it applies to the Encore Voyage and retirement in general…or, well, meaningful living in general!

A while ago, I had lunch with a good friend who recently returned from completing the nearly 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain.  In the course of the afternoon she shared her many experiences from the Camino.  She told of blisters and pouring rain, of sleeping in rooms filled with snoring strangers, of not speaking the language yet learning how to order a beer.  She told us about carrying stones from home, representing her burdens, and her opportunity to lay down those burdens at a cross along the way.  She shared the struggle of a middle aged woman walking 8-12 miles per day, up and down hills, over the Pyrenees Mountains.  She shared photos of centuries old churches, of stunning scenery and of quaint villages.
My friend was walking on behalf of those with autoimmune diseases, and carried with her a list of prayers which she burned at Finisterre (The ‘End of the World’). She started out with a true purpose in her heart – that she would walk the entire Way of St. James as a spiritual pilgrimage.
But what she learned along the way, and shared with the rest of us, struck a particularly meaningful chord:

  1.  The Camino will provide– This saying is frequently heard on the Camino de Santiago. Along the trail, pilgrims find they always have enough. The true blessing is in discovering how little is really needed.  When you carry everything you own on your back for six weeks, you quickly figure out what’s important.  It’s not all of the “stuff” we accumulate in our normal daily lives. So how much “stuff” are we carrying that we truly don’t need?
  2.  The relationships are the important thing – Along the Camino, my friend met travelers from all around the world.  They shared meals and wine, stories and hardships.  What she learned is that we are all the same – people everywhere work hard, play hard, have health issues, daily struggles, and families they love…and she will forever treasure those relationships formed in their commonality. Perhaps we should all pay more attention to investing in those soul-enhancing relationships!
  3. The sense of accomplishment –Once you have walked nearly 500 miles in all types of weather and terrain, there is very little you can’t do!  I found myself thinking about the things in my life that give me that sense of accomplishment.  Maybe the message is that we should all have something to strive for, something that challenges us in some way.  It doesn’t have to be a trek through a foreign country.  But the world is full of new things to create, do and try and we owe it to ourselves to stretch our potential!
  4. The strength of the human body –I asked my friend how she felt walking up the steps at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  She told me that she felt complete joy, and was amazed with what her body could do!  She started the first day of her journey gasping for air as she climbed steep hills.  She finished the Camino feeling more fit than ever before. The human body and spirit have incredible resiliency when tested.
  5.  “One Day, One Adventure” –As she neared the end of her journey, a fellow pilgrim shared this motto with my friend.  It could mean that we should live in the present, not wishing for the future or pining for the past.  It could be the acknowledgment that we have limited time on this earth, and that we should make every moment count.

Camino 4

As our afternoon drew to a close, I found that I was deeply touched by how my friend’s insights from the Camino apply to our Encore Voyage.  Our longings for a minimalist way of life were proven valid by the few items she carried in her pack.  Her accomplishment of that 500-mile journey, with its resulting fitness and friendships, confirms for me the things that are truly important in our retirement.  One Day…One Adventure for me means living