Tag Archives: retirement

Now … for some good news

We live in an era of delays, shortages, dashed hopes and frustration … correct? Not entirely.

I want to share a bit of good news that just arrived in my email inbox. It comes from the manufacturer of the pickup truck we ordered in March.

My wife and I went shopping recently for a truck to replace Big Jake the Pickup we have owned for several years. We ended up buying a brand-new Ford Ranger pickup. Except they didn’t have a vehicle in stock at the dealer in McKinney. We ordered it from the factory. We chose the bells and whistles we wanted installed on the vehicle and placed the order.

Ford told us the vehicle would be scheduled for production the week of May 23. Today came the message that told us the production schedule had “changed.” I cringed. Then I opened the message. Ford decided to start assembling the vehicle next Monday, the week of May 16.

I mention this because of all the negativity to which we’ve been subjected. Inflation, supply-chain crises, shortages of parts … blah, blah, blah.

Our retirement journey is trudging on regardless of when our new vehicle arrives. It looks for all the world, though, as if it will arrive ahead of schedule.

Who knew?


Getting used to new wheels

Our shakedown cruise hauling a down-sized recreational vehicle has taught me some lessons.

We traded in our 29-foot fifth wheel for a shiny new 21-foot travel trailer. We like the new unit … a lot! Even while struggling just a bit with constrained space in the new trailer, we are committed to it and we believe our scaled-down retirement travel itinerary will suit our new wheeled “digs” just fine.

We hauled it to the Texas Hill Country and found out as we motored down some back-road highways that our truck pulls the travel trailer just as easily as it did the fifth wheel.

Oh, but get a load of this: We ran into a “road closed” blockade along Texas Highway 236 near Foot Hood. We had to back the trailer up and turn it around. We were able to do so with much greater ease than we would have been able to do with a much more cumbersome fifth wheel.

We have what they call a “one-butt kitchen” in our trailer. We have fewer square feet of storage space. We will need to figure out what goes with us on the road and what stays home. The good news for me is that I married to an expert in making these key decisions. Therefore, I will defer to her … mostly.

The even better news is that our retirement journey is still heading for the open road. Just not as lengthy a stretch of road, but we’ll still be venturing our way further into retirement.


Mother Neff would be proud

MOTHER NEFF STATE PARK, Texas — I have spoken glowingly about the Texas state parks system, its amenities and all the recreational opportunties they offer to retirees … such as my wife and me.

Today, I want to take a brief moment to speak about something you might find weird. Too bad. Here goes anyway.

We came to Mother Neff State Park in Coryell County for a brief outing in our new travel trailer. I had to use a restroom. What I saw when I entered was stunning.

The public restroom was immaculate. As in eat-off-the-floor clean, man.

You don’t need to see a picture of the place to get the idea. Just know that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is on the job keeping these public facilities suitable for, um … the public!

I took a moment to thank a park ranger who happened to be nearby. He accepted my thanks with gratitude.

Therefore, I want to proclaim that TP&W is worth the investment Texans are making.


Why can’t these people heed the message?

My wife and I settled about three years ago in a lovely subdivision in Princeton, Texas. Our house is comfortable, our neighbors are kind and friendly. We are living happily in retirement.

We don’t make many demands. However …

We posted a “No Solicitors” sign next to our front porch. It’s visible to anyone who walks to the front door.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but it begs a question that seems to have no answer: Why can’t solicitors heed the message on the sign?

They don’t heed them. The latest spike in unsolicited business seekers happens to be the pest-control folks. We had a young man come to our door this afternoon. He laughed off the message on the sign. My wife told him she doesn’t do business with anyone who ignores the sign and sent the young man on his way.

I won’t belabor the point. It’s just a source of frustration that is fleeting in the moment. It passes and we go on doing whatever it is we are doing when the doorbell rings and someone wants to sell us something we don’t want to buy.

There’s no cure for this kind of ignorance. I just learned long ago that when I see signage that warns me to avoid a potentially angry response that I should heed the warning … and stay away!


Retirement journey finds new path

The retirement journey on which my wife and I have been traveling today took a needed, but still curious, turn. We downsized in a fairly significant way, vacating our 29-foot fifth wheel RV and obtaining a 21-foot travel trailer.

We are relearning some tricks on how to travel with decidedly less space than we had before. It’s all good.

We purchased our fifth wheel in 2018 when it was new. It was the second such vehicle we owned; our first fifth wheel didn’t serve us well as it kept breaking. The second vehicle is a gem, but it had begun wearing out.

Why wouldn’t it? We took it to both coasts. To the Great Lakes. Through the western half of Canada. We have visited about 30 state parks in Texas. We put a whole lot of miles on it.

It was time to bid so long to our fifth wheel.

Today we took possession of our travel trailer. We hook it up to the rear bumper of our pickup. It will take a bit of adjustment to learn how to pull it. However, the years of experience we racked up with our previous RVs prepared us for the change that awaits.

We have no qualms about this new stage of our retirement journey.

The road remains wide open. We intend to explore as much of it as we can.


Retirement: getting easier

The thought occurs to me that the longer I am retired, the easier it becomes for me to say “I am retired.”

Yes, there was a time not long after my career in journalism came to an end that I was uncomfortable acknowledging my retired status. Granted, I didn’t actually officially “retire” until about three years after that day arrived, when I turned 66. I filed for Social Security, got my award and have been collecting it ever since.

But the idea of being “retired” was so totally foreign to my way of thinking that I actually struggled emotionally with acknowledging that status.

Full disclosure time: I am at this moment still “retired,” but I am working a couple of part-time jobs. I write for a weekly newspaper in Farmersville, Texas, and I cover water issues for KETR-FM radio based at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Both gigs are a lot of fun. I have in a way sort of come full circle. The Farmersville job allows me to cover city council stories and school board stories, along with the occasional soft feature. The KETR job allows me to dig into reporting on the construction of two reservoirs in Northeast Texas.

When I get asked, though, I say, “Oh, I’m retired.”

The words just fly out of my mouth. The evolution into retirement well might be an ongoing work in progress. Hey, no sweat. I’ve got the time.


Retirement journey takes us to hot spot

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My wife and I have been on the most remarkable journey a married couple can take.

We entered the world of full-fledged retirement not many years ago. We had lived for more than two decades in Amarillo, Texas. Then we packed up our belongings, sold our house and settled eventually in what once was a sleepy little burg just northeast of Dallas.

Princeton sits in Collin County. We moved to a city with a declared population of 6,807 residents, according to the 2010 census.

Well, I’ve got a flash for you. That sleepy little burg isn’t so sleepy these days. The 2020 census became known this week and Princeton saw its resident total triple in the past decade.

The population now stands at 18,338 residents. Near as I can tell, even that figure is likely out of date. You see, my wife and I reside in a residential development that continues to grow every single day.

New houses are sprouting up all around us. Cement trucks are pouring slabs to our west and south. Houses are being framed right on top of the newly dried cement. I have no clue what the population of Princeton is at this very moment; I only can conjecture that the census figure is a bit low.

I don’t recall ever in my life moving into what could be considered something of a residential hot spot. I keep hearing stories from Realtors and others in the business about how people selling houses end up being caught in the middle of bidding wars as people seek to move into Collin County, or to Denton County, or to Dallas County, or to Tarrant County.

It’s crazy, man!

It took very little time for us to settle into our new digs. We’re delighted to have gotten here when we did, as the price of homes springing up around are selling for prices that would have scared us away when we were preparing to purchase a home.

The Princeton city manager told me not long after we moved here that the city’s long-range growth plan projects a population of about 115,000 residents in the next three decades. I don’t know if we’ll be around to watch that happen.

What I am watching now, though, is sufficient to make my head spin.

Happy Trails, Part 193: We timed it well

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When we moved into our “retirement home” in February 2019, we were struck at first glance by all the construction that was occurring on our street, not to mention in the Collin County, Texas, community we now call home.

Two-plus years later our timing seems even more profound than it did when we signed the papers on our home in Princeton.

They haven’t yet released the 2020 census figures for Princeton, but our trick knees are telling us that the 2010 figure of 6,807 residents is going to grow by several thousand.

City Manager Derek Borg has said he believes we have nearly 20,000 residents living in our city. He ought to know, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Our subdivision remains a work in progress. They’re continuing to pour slabs and are erecting house frames to our west. The elementary school that opened in 2019 already has exceeded its capacity for students; I am wondering how Princeton Independent School District is going to deal with the steady in-flow of new students.

I’ll be candid about one point, which is that Princeton remains quite underserved in many areas despite the intense and rapid growth. We have no hotel space inside our city limits. Grocery shopping remains limited to one massive supermarket. Fine dining does not exist in the city, at least not yet. We do have an abundance of Mexican food joints, but given my continuing squeamishness about the pandemic, we aren’t eating out much these days.

Princeton City Hall is going to move at the end of the year from its location at U.S. Highway 380 and Second Avenue to a new municipal complex just east of Princeton High School farther east on U.S. 380. That’s going to be a huge accomplishment for the city and I look forward to its opening.

All of this is my way of suggesting that my wife and I have exhibited our impeccable timing. Yep, we’re here for the duration.

Happy Trails, Part 192: Relief from hassles

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

LOST HILLS, Calif. — It occurs to me that the more time I spend in our RV traveling the nation’s highways the less time I spend thinking — let alone commenting on — about the issues of the day.

This retirement journey of ours has taken us from coast to coast to coast across this vast nation; we have seen about half of Canada as well. We have put tens of thousands of miles on two RVs and on our pickup we have named Big Jake.

And all along the way I find myself thinking less and less about the bad and the good of government policy, of the politics that drive and the individuals — aka the idiots — who make the pertinent decisions.

It’s restful emotionally if not always physically.

What happens then, when we return from trips to hither and yon? I feel more energized when we settle back into our permanent home, the one attached to the good Earth.

At the moment, though, I am fixated mostly on how to find our way to our next destination and to those beyond. We’re going to see family and friends and we also intend to explore and gawk at nation’s splendor in the western half of the United States of America.

The blog commentary on the comings and goings of those in public life will take a bit of a breather.

But I don’t intend to surrender the opportunity to comment on issues when they present themselves.

It’s just that our retirement journey tends to pull my attention away from the people and policies that used to occupy so much of my waking moments back when I worked for a living.

Happy Trails, Part 191: Easy transition

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

One of the many pleasant surprises I have found on my retirement journey has been the ease of adapting to this new way of living and thinking.

It’s been a few years now since I decided to quit working full time. I turned 66 years old and then filed for Social Security benefits. I had been collecting a small newspaper pension for about a year, along with a 10 percent Veterans Administration disability benefit, which I started collecting in 1970, the year I separated from the Army.

One of the truisms I have been telling retirees who have taken the leap is that “separation anxiety from work is vastly overrated.” I learned that right away.

After spending nearly four decades battling deadlines, writing breaking news stories, editorials and persona columns for newspapers in two states, I thought there might be some anxiety associated with no longer having to fight those battles. Oh, brother, was that ever a misfire.

I have found much to my liking that I prefer at this stage of my life the joy of rolling out of the rack when I damn well feel like it. I enjoy being able to go where my wife and I choose to go in the middle of the week. I get a kick out of those who wish us a “good weekend,” knowing in my heart that every day is a weekend.

We relocated about three years to Collin County, Texas, to sink our roots deeply into turf near our granddaughter, who lives about 20 minutes away. We found a home that is perfect for just my bride and me. I am not what you could call “fully retired” at this moment. I sought a chance to work on a freelance basis for a husband and wife who own a group of community weekly newspapers. They hired me with the understanding that we would load up our fifth wheel and take off to explore this marvelous continent. “No problem,” they said.

The daily grind? It’s a thing of the increasingly distant past.

Moreover, I do not miss a single, solitary moment of it.