Tag Archives: Retirement travel

Kauai – 8 Great Things to See and Do

Hubs and I just returned from eight days on the lovely island of Kauai, Hawaii.  Our visit towards the end of February gave us temperatures in the mid-70’s with a couple of warm, rainy days.  Kauai is known as the “garden island,” so travelers should be prepared for a little rain.

First, just for fun…It was pointed out to me that the east side of Kauai, when viewed from above, looks a bit like Chewbacca!

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Now on to the important stuff.  We stayed up on the north shore, in a condo (VRBO) in Princeville.  While there, be sure to visit:

The Kilauea Lighthouse

This landmark represents the northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Islands.  The unbelievable turquoise waters below the lighthouse point are worth the trip.

 

 

 

The Dolphin Restaurant, Fish Market and Sushi Lounge

Before I went to Kauai, I wasn’t a big fan of fish.  Well, if there is any place on earth to change that opinion, it was at the Dolphin.  The Dolphin boasts the freshest fish in Hawaii, and the servers were well versed in the characteristics of each type of fish.  These folks are also pros at impeccable preparation.  The Dolphin operates on a first come, first served basis, but there is a lovely garden where you can enjoy a cocktail and appetizers.  The menu has non-fish entrees, but trust me…try the fish!

Dolphin restaurant interior

 

Sunshine Helicopters

If you are staying on the north side of the Island, Sunshine Helicopters offers tours which take off from the Princeville airport.  Of all the places to take a helicopter tour, Kauai is the place.  Because much of this rugged island is inaccessible by road, a helicopter tour gives a unique perspective, along with fun narration from the pilot.

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Waimea Canyon by helicopter

A word of caution:  We allowed the concierge at the resort to book our flight, and found out upon returning that we’d have saved $200 had we booked it online ourselves.  (But wait…we’d have saved $190.00 if we’d attended the Wyndham timeshare spiel….hmm – learn from our mistake!)

Blue Dolphin Kauai Snorkel Tour

We took a tour over to the Na Pali coast on the island, via Blue Dolphin Tours.  Not only was the coast absolutely stunning, but the captain and crew aboard this large catamaran were over the top hospitable, offering breakfast, juices, sodas, lunch, and after snorkeling, the bar opened.  A wonderful day!

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Poipu, Koloa and the Spouting Horn

Be certain to follow highway 520 to the southernmost part of island. En route, you will pass through the Tree Tunnel, made of eucalyptus trees.  Old Koloa Town, the island’s first sugar plantation town, is charming and worth the stop.  Continuing on to Po’ipu, you will find Po’pu Beach Park and Brennecke’s Beach Broiler.  Enjoy one of the best Mai Tais ever built and some ridiculously yummy food!

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The Spouting Horn Beach Park is worth a visit.  The horn is made from a lava shelf, where water from waves is forced through an opening, squirting water out a blowhole.  This particular blowhole is different from others, because air rushes through another hole, making a moaning sound.  Some say it’s a dragon…

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What Kauai trip would be complete without a beautiful, beach sunset.  The stunning Kekaha Beach Park is part of a 15 mile stretch of white sand beach.  While this is not a beach for swimming because it is unprotected from the ocean and has strong rip-tides, it is a lovely spot for sunbathing or beach combing – or in our case, watching the sunset:

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We’re home now, and our Kauai trip did just what was intended.  Get us out of the snowy north until spring was at least visible.  My forsythia is starting to bloom outside my window.  Guess it worked.

Lynn

Packing for the Voyage – Our Best Tips

I am a packing BOSS!  Now, I understand that there are about a million and one bloggers who have created packing lists, so I’m not really going to do that.  And right up front, I want to assure you that nobody is paying me anything to write this stuff.  (I haven’t even yet figured out HOW to get anyone to pay me anything for blogging – but that’s another story.)

I did want to share that as hubs and I have been doing more wandering on the Voyage, I have been studying up, and here is one thing I have seen over and over again:

Checked Luggage = Lost Luggage!

Maybe not this time, maybe not next time…but eventually.  And so I have learned how to use packing cubes and envelopes to enable us to travel anywhere for at least 10 days in a 22 inch carry-on suitcase and a backpack.  We’ll be leaving on Monday for Hawaii, and we’ll only be taking carry-on items.

Eagle Creek NYTPhoto Credit:  New York Times

It starts out by using the Eagle Creek Pack-It system.  Again, Eagle Creek has no idea I feel this way.  I wish they did, as I’d be a great sales rep!  Here’s one thing I’ve learned:

Clothing Wrinkles When It Moves

In a suitcase that is.  Eagle Creek Packing Cubes and the Envelope make it easy to compress a whole bunch of clothes into a very small space.  These are the pieces we’ll use.  With the envelope up top, you use a folding board and can compress at least 10 – 16 tops, skirts, dresses, shorts or pants into a six-inch thick bundle (seriously…I’ve done it!) the beautiful thing is, the clothing travels well, with minimal wrinkles.  Each evening, I hang tomorrow’s items, and by morning, they’re perfect.

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The medium packing cubes let me roll knit skirts, pajamas, and palazzo pants into a small compressed bundle.  Swimsuits and all that stuff will go in another cube.  The smallest cubes are perfect for underwear.  There is nothing better than having the hubs know exactly where to find his stuff, with no rooting around in a suitcase!  We use the tiniest cubes for electronic chargers, etc.

Each of us has TSA approved travel kits, which are always packed with the liquids that we need when traveling.  (In between trips, all I do is refill the shampoo bottle!)  It’s pretty much “grab and go.”

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And then there’s this little baby.  I call it my “anything you need kit.”  While I swore that I wouldn’t give you a packing list, you could probably fix your car with less than is in this little pouch.  It holds everything from superglue and Velcro to toothpicks and teabags.  It has a mini-lint roller, band-aids, eye drops, laundry detergent and wet wipes.  And a whole bunch of other tiny, but very useful things! It’s saved us on many occasions.

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How it all fits together is dependent upon whether or not we’re TSA Pre-checked.  Our electronic readers and tablets go in the backpacks so we can access them easily.  I always wear a large scarf or pashmina.  It can serve as a blanket on a cold airplane, can be a swimsuit cover-up, a shawl, or even a throw for a picnic.  (Ummmm….and I always put the heaviest stuff in hub’s backpack.)  There are always quart and gallon sized zip lock bags in my suitcase – perfect if you have a damp swimsuit or need to make an ice pack!  And lastly, copies of all important travel documents and information, including passports, emergency credit card numbers and prescriptions are stored safely in a cloud account (we use One Note) – so that we can access them from any computer.

So that’s how we roll.  Does anybody have any other great tips to share?  I’d love to hear!  And Eagle Creek, if you’re trying to get hold of me in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be on a beach in Hawaii!

Lynn

 

New Years Wandering – Idaho Style

Happy New Year, Voyagers!  I hope this New Year’s Eve and New Years Day found you warm, cozy and introspective!  As for the hubs and I, we were so lucky this year to be invited to the new cabin of some cherished friends.  On Saturday afternoon, we took off for the short trip to McCall, Idaho.  McCall is located just a couple of hours north of Boise on State Hwy 55.  The drive north travels along the Payette River Scenic Byway, which is lovely this time of year!

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Just 110 miles north of Boise on Payette Lake sits the resort town of McCall.  It’s a quaint summertime playground, which has its own appeal during the winter months.

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In the summertime, Payette Lake is a paradise for boats, jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards, hikers and tourists.

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In the wintertime, the area’s biggest draw is Brundage Mountain Ski Resort, just 10 minutes up the hill.  But during those non-skiing moments, McCall is a great place for other family friendly activities!

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As for us, we were toasty warm, enjoying the company of our friends, trying to decide on appropriate resolutions, and, you guessed it…drinking wine!  So how about you – where did you spend your New Year’s Eve?  Next year, you might want to consider McCall!

Lynn

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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