So here we go . . . highlights of my first year in early retirement!
- I spent my first week of retirement RV'ing along the Monterey coastline with my youngest daughter, Megan, and dear friends Tom and Arleen. Enjoyed running, hiking and kayaking in Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, Moss Landing and Santa Cruz. (Mind you, I took our trailer up all by myself as my husband had to remain home and working!)
|Alene and I hiking in Garrapata State Park along the central coast between Monterey and Big Sur. Sadly, Garrapata is now closed, due to the ongoing California budget crisis.|
- Full blown identity crisis! It felt like going through a mini mourning process, which I guess is exactly what it was. Goodbye job, hello new me, whoever that was! Thankfully it lifted after about five days.
- Returned to the Bay Area to run San Francisco's legendary Bay to Breakers 12K race with my daughter Megan. What a total blast! Just a rocking party from start to finish, plus a few nude runner dudes thrown in for a little local flavor at no additional cost.
- Started piano lessons at the bargain rate of $10 per class through our local community center. My first assignment was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. After 20 weeks of lessons I'm up to a simplified version of Beethoven's Fur Elise.
- Learned how to make jam. I found some wonderful low-sugar versions in Sunset magazine and made every single one, much to the delight of my family and friends - all gracious recipients of my first "crop."
|My proud, first efforts!|
- Ran the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon with my daughter, Kelli. I burst into tears as we finished, overwhelmed with both exhaustion and the emotion of sharing something so special with my daughter.
- Celebrated my husband's 55th birthday, and our 29th anniversary, by taking in Garth Brooks at the Encore hotel in Las Vegas. These tickets were purchased well before my retirement, and are probably the last time we will blow a wad of cash on crazy expensive theater tickets. It was fun while it lasted, but early retirement's better!
|Kelli and I, completely exhausted but elated, after crossing the finish line at the 26.2 mile marker.|
|In our seats at the Encore, excited'y waiting for Garth to come onstage.|
- Traveled to Washington DC with my husband, who needed to be there on business. My first time in the city and I walked it, literally, from one end to the other, starting in Georgetown and ending at the Capital. I visited five Smithsonian museums, saw all of the wonderful monuments, sailed up the Potomac to Mt. Vernon, and took a "Sites of Washington DC" photography tour. I also enjoyed being able to stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on somebody else's dime!
|In front of the White House|
- Spent 4th of July weekend in Big Bear, camping lakeside in our RV with our older daughter, Kelli, and some good friends. Enjoyed hiking along a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail and 4th of July fireworks over Big Bear Lake.
- Enrolled in Spanish language classes through Adult Education.
- Enrolled in tennis lessons through our local community center.
- Hiked all 10,064 feet of Mt. Baldy in the San Bernardino mountains with my hiking club.
- Spent an amazing 16 days hiking over 102 miles through the Alpine passes of Switzerland with my husband and another couple. We gained and lost countless thousands of feet in elevation over the 16 days of hiking, suffered through two bouts of altitude sickness (first me, then Mike) drank countless pints of Swiss beer, ate countless ounces of Swiss chocolate, consumed countless pounds of cheese and salami (our daily lunchtime routine, general eaten while looking at some incredible vista) and still came home about five pounds lighter each. An absolutely amazing trip that surpassed our every expectation, and then some!
|Day one of our Swiss Alps trip, backpacks loaded and ready to go!|
- Signed up for extended learning classes at our local university through OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Began attending lectures on topics ranging from the study of early religion, to the origins and function of the human brain.
- Spent a late summer weekend RV'ing at Crystal Cove Moro State Beach, along the Newport coastline.
|Need I say more about why we enjoy RV'ing at Crystal Cove Moro State Beach?|
- Football season! Attended several games over the 2011-2012 season at the Rosebowl in Pasadena, where the UCLA Bruins play. There's nothing like the energy of the crowd at a college football game!
- Enjoyed apple picking, fresh apple cidar and hot apple pie at Los Rios Rancho in Oak Glen
- Spent a weekend RV'ing in Calico with our camping club, enjoying the ghost town's Halloween-themed festivities.
- Learned how to make risotto. Wondered why I'd waited so long after tasting my first yummy efforts!
- Hiked to Ontario Peak, 8,693 elevation, and got hit with altitude sickness on the way down. Walking like a drunken sailor by the time we got back to the cars I was so out of it. I'd do it again though!
|At the top of Ontario Peak with my hiking club. I'm in the back on the far left, in shadow.|
- Took our RV to San Diego over the Veteran's Day weekend. Enjoyed the San Diego Air & Space Museum, ballroom dancing at Champion Dance Studio (owned by none other than Mary Murphy of So You Think You Can Dance) and the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla during our visit.
|Enjoying life at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla during our San Diego RV'ing weekend.|
- Spent Thanksgiving in Texas with my dad, doing all things Texan - enjoying ribs & beer, shooting pool, and of course, pistol range firing!
|When in Texas . . I was so-so, hitting the target about 50% of the time. Pretty fun though I have to admit!|
- Ran the South Pasadena Tiger Run 10K with my husband and daughter Kelli, and had a blast in spite of two butt-kicking hills!
- Joined the Interfaith Council of Orange County. I'm passionate about the need to be more understanding and tolerant of each other's religious differences, and this organization is dedicated to doing just that.
- Adopted a family for Christmas through our local Salvation Army
- Scaled back Christmas significantly in an effort to bring more meaning to the holiday season. Had our most meaningful holiday celebration to date as a result, and plan to keep our focus on celebrating family and friends, rather than giving presents, going forward.
- Spent Martin Luther King weekend RV'ing in Malibu with friends, enjoying hiking, fish and chips, and dolphin sightings.
- Became vegetarian in an effort to lead healthier, more energetic lives.
- Bought our beautiful new little hard sided folding trailer . . . a key component of our early retirement travel plans in the years ahead.
- Learned how to dance Country Two Step and decided we loved it!
- Enjoyed a wonderful, luxurious two week cruise to Hawaii on Cunard's beautiful Queen Victoria. Highlights were seeing whale leaping everywhere in Maui, and getting to ballroom dance with Mike every night of the entire cruise. And we came home the same weight we were when we left!
|Overlooking the lush interior valleys of Kauai, Hawaii|
- Our new trailer arrives.
- Mike submits his retirement notice.
- Spent our first weekend at the beach in our new trailer, working out the kinks and getting to know the in's and out's of our new rig. Made a few mistakes, figured everything out eventually, and came home confident we were going to have years of enjoyment in our new trailer.
- Spent a massive amount of time planning out our early retirement RV'ing trips for the next two years, beginning with a 12 day trip up the Southern California coastline next month.
- Made the decision to cancel both cable and our land line phone, which should lead to a less technology driven life, and save us over $1,200 a year.
- Learned to make fresh, stuffed ravioli pasta . . . after a faulty start or two!
|The trick, as I learned after my first batch fell apart, is to knead the holy heck out of the dough before you roll it. Minimum of 10 minutes, more if you have the stamina.|
As lengthy as this post is (sorry!), it really only covers the highlights. There was so much more to my first year in early retirement than the items I've been able to share in this post. Most importantly, I had to learn who I am without my job. It took some doing, but I no longer feel the need to justify to anyone my decision to retire at age 48. I'm comfortable with both my decision and myself.
And I suspect that even after such a wonderful year I've just scratched the surface of what's out there waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Having Mike join me next month is going to be fantastic. I can hardly wait to get started on the next chapter . . . Early Retirement Journey for Two!