Tag Archives: retirement

Hoping for perpetual Wi-Fi on these journeys

COPPER BREAKS STATE PARK, Texas — I was sweatin’ bullets last night, man. You see, I have this streak going that I want to maintain and I feared that a lack of adequate Internet connection at our RV site was going to derail the streak.

High Plains Blogger has managed to post something for 715 consecutive days. We pulled into our RV site near sundown at this wonderful state park, but once we got settled, I found that my cell phone service isn’t the best, which might have deprived me of the ability to post a missive on my blog.

Never fear. It comes and goes, but it mostly stays.

That brings me to my point. Our retirement journey is taking us hither and yon across the country. We want — and intend fully — for it to continue for well past the immediate or moderate future.

One of the aspects of RV park-site shopping, though, will have to include Wi-Fi availability. That also must include cell phone availability. Why the linkage? If I cannot connect to a viable Wi-Fi network, I can use my handy-dandy smart phone to provide me with the “hot spot” I need to connect to the Internet.

However, if I don’t have enough cell phone strength, the hot spot is rendered useless. (My tech-savvy sons will enjoy my relative “fluency” in this kind of techno-speak.)

So, to keep the blog going — for better or worse, depending on who’s reading this stuff — I need to stay connected to the big ol’ wide world of Internet telecommunications.

My wife and I do enjoy parking our RV in more rural settings. However, we aren’t yet into what they call “primitive camping.” We like the amenities associated with most RV parks: water and electricity and sewer service when it’s possible. I consider one of those amenities to include Wi-Fi service.

I am retired, for sure. I am not surrendering to old age. If my noggin is still functioning and if I can still strength sentences together, I’ll keep this blogging thing going for as long as I am able.

For those of you who say you enjoy these musings, I’ll do my best. For those of you who say you dislike them, but can’t stop reading them … too bad.

Happy Trails, Part 125: Great RV neighbors

COPPER BREAKS STATE PARK, Texas — I had intended for this blog post to be a high-minded tribute to the Texas Parks & Wildlife department’s state park system.

Specifically, I intended to write about how easy it is to back into TP&W park sites. I would pull our 28-foot fifth wheel up to the site, straighten the truck/RV assembly out and back it all in. Slick, man! No sweat!

For some reason I don’t yet know, it didn’t work out that way.

I want instead to devote most of this post to the neighborliness of RVers. I’ve experienced their friendliness and willingness to offer a hand. This time an angel named Jim stepped up and said, “Hey, do y’all need help backing in?”

We answered simultaneously, “Yes!”

We offered him the keys to the truck. He took ‘em and back the rig into our spot.

We learned that Jim and wife, Brenda, have been traveling for two years full time in their RV. They’re originally from Hereford, Texas, just about 30 miles southwest of Amarillo. They’ve been just about everywhere in this country, Jim said.

He also told us he began backing up semi trucks when he was 13 years of age. His father hauled cattle in these big rigs, Jim said, so he got indoctrinated early. “Yep, that’s Hereford, all right,” I said with a weary chuckle.

I do not intend to speak ill of TP&W and its system of state parks. Indeed, the agency does make its back-in RV sites quite accessible – even more for brain-dead RVers such as yours truly. My wife and I are huge fans of the Texas parks system and we visit them whenever we can when we’re traveling in-state. Copper Breaks is a lovely site just south of Quanah in Hardeman County.

Maybe I’ll do better the next time I have to back our RV into a site. Not this time. I’ll chalk it up to, oh, a long day on the road. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I was tired. That works as an excuse.

Now that we’re here, we intend to relax for a few days. We can do that now that we’re retired.

Happy Trails, Part 125: Still liking sound of ‘we’re retired’

You no doubt have said the same thing when your life status changes dramatically.

When my wife and I were married more than 47 years ago, we giggled like children when we referred to each other as “my wife” and “my husband.” I quit smoking cold turkey nearly 39 years ago and I found myself referring to myself as a “former smoker”; now I’m merely a “non-smoker.”

These days my wife and I are retired. Neither of us works for a living. We spend a lot of time just, oh, relaxing and hanging out. I spend a good deal of my own time writing this blog, which is quite obvious to those who read High Plains Blogger.

However, I have not yet gotten over the giddiness at referring to myself as “retired.” It’s been a few years now. I officially joined the “retired” community when I turned 66 and started collecting my monthly Social Security benefit. I’m now 68 (with the 69th birthday looming just ahead), but I haven’t fallen into the retirement is second nature mode.

Someone might ask my wife and me about, oh, our schedule. We both chuckle and say, “Oh, we’re retired now!” I am still taking a bit of enjoyment out of saying it. We might get a response from a much-younger acquaintance that goes like this: “Maybe one day I’ll get to retire.” My response is usually the same: “Oh, don’t worry. When that day comes you’ll look back and say, ‘What the heck just happened? Where did the time go?'” It’s the same retort I offer to young parents of infants and toddlers. “Time just is flying by,” they tell me, to which I respond, “We ought to have this conversation 30 years from now.”

Perhaps one day I’ll cross that threshold when the word “retired” doesn’t give me such a kick. I don’t want it to arrive too soon.

Puppy Tales, Part 57: Who needs travel training?

I laughed out loud when I heard this tidbit from a pet-training expert.

He talked about a dog he had given to a couple that was looking for a dog to replace their previous “baby” that had died. The training expert talked about how he gets dogs accustomed to travel by letting them sleep in their kennels prior to sending them to their new “pet parents.”

Why did I laugh? Toby the Puppy was born to travel. He remains in constant travel mode. There was no need — none at all, zero, zilch — to “train” Toby how to travel.

He’s a natural at it. I long thought my mother-in-law was the world’s greatest road warrior. She surrendered her unofficial “crown” the moment Toby the Puppy joined our family.

We ask him: Do you want to go for a ride? His response is that he whirls around like he Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. Yep, he’s ready for a ride. He stays ready. He was born ready.

When we travel with our fifth wheel, Toby is good to go the moment he settles into his bed, which my wife and I place on the console between the two front seats. He might circle once or twice before settling down for his road-trip nap.

Did we have to “train” our puppy to do this? Hah! Hardly. He puts his mother and me to shame with his travel endurance. It comes naturally.

Happy Trails, Part 122: No ‘organized activities,’ please

You know already that my wife and I have returned to our “roots,” if you want to call it that.

We started our life together 47 years ago in a two-bedroom apartment in southeast Portland, Ore. We have returned to an apartment lifestyle in Fairview, Texas. We sold our house in Amarillo and decided — after relatively little discussion — to hang on to our dough and use it to travel; the idea of assuming a mortgage at our age didn’t appeal to us.

And that brings me to the point of this blog post.

While we were shopping for an apartment to call “home,” we entertained the idea of living in one of those “active adult communities,” you know, the places that restrict residence to those who are at least 55 years of age.

We visited some complexes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We chatted with enthusiastic young marketing professionals who sought to impress us with all the “benefits” of living in such a community.

Perhaps you know what they are: quiet surroundings, well-kept property, easy access to amenities.

Then came this one: group activities. You know, tours, shopping sprees, various and sundry outings with our peers.

My wife and I would look at each other fairly routinely when we heard about all of that; we would nod, thank the marketing whiz for his or her time and be on our way.

It then dawned on both of us at about the same time: We might be old, but we don’t want to be treated like two old people. I am about to turn 69 years of age; my wife is, shall we say, a little younger than I am. We remain in good health. We want to enjoy our recreational vehicle. We intend to make ample use of it now that we have all this time time on our hands.

I don’t feel like a fuddy-duddy. Neither does my wife.

There might come a day when we need to relocate once more to one of those “communities” that feature group activities and, all that blah, blah, blah. We both are acutely aware that time isn’t necessarily our ally.

Just not yet.

Puppy Tales, Part 56: Memory never fails him

Toby the Puppy’s memory is like a steel trap. A vise. He never forgets. Anything.

We returned home to Fairview today after spending more than two weeks on the road. We hauled our fifth wheel north and west: through Denver, through Wyoming, to West Yellowstone, Mont., then to Grand Coulee, Wash.

Then we came back home.

More than two weeks on the road, man!

What does Toby do the instant we walked into our digs in Fairview? He ran straight for where he stashed one of his toys and dropped at his Mommy’s feet. He wanted her to throw it. Now! It was time to play fetch/catch.

Holy cow! I was stunned. Our puppy was home. He knew immediately where to find the item he knew was to be tossed, so he can fetch it and bring it back.

All the activity we saw on our marvelous sojourn out west was ancient history in Toby’s mind.

He was ready to resume the fun of being home.

Man, I am worn out. It will have to wait until the morning.

Montana comes to its senses

INTERSTATE 90, Mont. — I don’t come to Montana too often. My first time in the Big Sky State was in the summer of 1973 when my wife and I traveled with our then-infant son to the Great Lakes and back to Portland, Ore.

Back then, Montana was famous — or infamous — as a place where the state set no limits on speed. You could drive as fast as you wanted, as long as you considered it “prudent.”

It was sort of a Mountain West autobahn in Montana. My wife and I traveled to Germany in September 2016 and were treated with how folks drive really fast. I didn’t rent a car during our stay in Bavaria; we left the driving to our friends who played host to us. Vehicles would zoom past us and our friend, Martin, would laugh it off: “Oh, that’s nothing, man.”

The autobahn days are now over in Montana, I am happy to report. We’ve driving a good stretch over Montana in recent days.

The posted speed limit throughout the state on rural highways in 80 mph. That’s still a bit too fast to suit my taste. We hauled our fifth wheel recreational vehicle behind our pickup and set the cruise control at 60 mph. That’s fast enough for us, thank you very much.

Still, I am heartened to know that Montanans have a speed limit to obey … presumably to curb the peddle-to-the-metal mentality that well might have been instilled in them by a history of adhering only to what they believe is a “prudent” speed.

In and out of service to post items for blog

COULEE CITY, Wash. — I knew it would happen … eventually.

We travel to hither and yon and we land in a spot where Internet service is, at best, spotty. Therefore, I am unable to post regularly on High Plains Blogger.

It’s driving me a bit batty. Blogging is what I do these days. So much to say. Feeling pressured by my own self to get my thoughts out there.

We’ll be returning to “civilization” soon. We’ll have more regular access to whatever waves enable folks like me to post musings on blogs.

Bear with me if you’re at all interested in what I might have to say. To those who aren’t interested in the least, well, enjoy your break.

Wondering about the ‘Big Sky’ label

INTERSTATE 90, Mont. — I couldn’t stop thinking about the “Big Sky Country” label that someone long ago hung on Montana.

The sky is ample, I suppose. But as we drove from Missoula through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Wash., I was struck by the sight of all those tall mountains throughout out trek — especially those that towered next to the highway in Montana.

The mountains soared seemingly forever into the sky, rising maybe 9,000 or 10,000 feet above sea level.

The thought occurred to me: Those magnificent mountains impede the volume of sky one would see if we were traveling along more, um, flat terrain.

Thus, the “big sky” isn’t quite so, um, big … you know?

I’ve long noted that the Texas Panhandle, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before our move this spring to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, is the real big sky country. The sun is in the sky forever. It sets well past 9 p.m. during the peak of the summer.

It’s huge, man!

The Montana sky — when it isn’t covered in smoke, as it as today — is pretty enough. It just isn’t nearly as big as the High Plains sky I grew accustomed to seeing daily for more than two decades.

OK, maybe the Montana sky finds its bigness farther east, where it lacks mountains to jut skyward into the big sky.

But I find it hard to imagine how its size could compare with the sky with that envelops the vast landscape I used to call “home.”

Feeling an enhanced sense of outrage over this crime

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — I am nearly overcome with a level of outrage over a crime that all by itself should elicit this kind of response.

But we’ve been parked in our RV just outside of Denver and the local news media are reporting a hideous crime involving a man accused of killing his pregnant wife and their two young daughters.

Chris Watts reportedly has confessed to killing his wife Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant with the couple’s third child; he also allegedly strangled his two daughters.

We’ll be leaving this community very soon, heading north and eventually west. However, the images we’ve watched the past two days on Denver-area news TV of the beautiful victims and the man accused of killing them are going to stay with me for a long time.

Forensic psychologists already have begun dissecting Chris Watts’s body language as he has told the media and police to find his then-missing wife and children. They noted the way he stood, arms crossed, with no apparent outward emotion. The observation reminds me of how the Union County, S.C., sheriff began to suspect Susan Smith was culpable in that heinous murder of her two sons when they drowned in a car that had been pushed into the water. Smith “cried” but didn’t shed a tear.

So it is with Chris Watts.

The crime occurred in Frederick, which is northeast of Denver in Weld County. The media here are all over the story. I am getting the strong sense watching the reporters and anchors talking to viewers about what they know so far that they, too, are moved beyond measure while trying to understand how such a crime could occur.

I pray that justice will be delivered hard to the individual responsible for this dastardly deed.