Tag Archives: retirement

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.

Happy Trails, Part 190: The journey continues

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Earlier today I realized something that I should’ve known when I crossed that threshold.

It is that I have lived most of life in a place I never dreamed when I was much younger I would find myself in retirement. That is Texas.

I am now 71 years of age. We moved to Beaumont, Texas in the spring of 1984 when I was a mere pup of 34. We gravitated from Beaumont to Amarillo nearly 11 years later. Then we pulled up our deeply rooted stakes on the Caprock and ventured to Collin County with our No. 1 goal to be near our granddaughter.

I mention all of this because when my wife and I got married nearly 50 years ago we never imagined, never even discussed the notion of moving to a place so far away from Oregon, where I was born and where my wife essentially grew up and came of age.

Texas beckoned in late 1983 with a phone call from my former boss, who had relocated to Beaumont to become executive editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. He wanted to know if I would be interested in working there as an editorial writer. My first reaction was to laugh.

One thing led to another in the course of the next day or two and I decided that, yes, I would like to explore that opportunity. I flew to Beaumont from Portland and spent a couple of days visiting with my old friend and mentor.

I returned to Oregon. I told my wife that the job looked appealing. My friend called, offered me the job, I accepted his offer and then relocated. Our sons were still quite young, 11 and 10 years old. My family joined me that summer.

My wife and I considered Beaumont to be part of a “three- to five-year plan.” We would live there, I could develop some more experience and then try to peddle my skills to another employer … somewhere else! Maybe back “home” in Oregon.

It didn’t transpire that way. Another opportunity did present itself in Amarillo. I flew from Beaumont to Amarillo in late 1994, spent a day interviewing at the Globe-News, returned home to Beaumont. The publisher offered me the job … etc. You know how this played out.

We are now happily retired. I still get to write. I have my blog. I also work as a freelance reporter for a couple who owns a group of weekly newspapers in Collin County. I write for the Farmersville Times. It is a serious, unabashed blast. I have returned, in a way, to where it all began for me in the 1970s: covering city council, school board and writing the occasional feature.

It has been a marvelous journey. Retirement is everything it’s cracked up to be. The road ahead still beckons and to be honest, I am thrilled that our three- to five-year plan never panned out.

Happy Trails, Part 189: Recalling a glorious Christmas

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The structure you see here is the house my wife and I called home for more than two decades. I snapped this picture about four years ago, but the real story of this house commenced 24 years ago this week.

On Dec. 22, 1996, we closed on the purchase of this house. We had lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Amarillo for nearly two years. We decided it was time to sink our roots deeply into the Caprock. So we set out looking for some property on which we would build our house.

We found a lot in the far southwest corner of Amarillo. We had selected a floor plan that caught my wife’s attention. We met with the builder and in October 1996 his crews commenced work. Two months later, the house was finished.

We signed the papers. Then we moved in.

Why mention it here? Because our Christmas in 1996 turned out to be one of the more memorable holidays in our long and glorious life together.

We moved in three days before Christmas. We had boxes scattered in every room of our house. Our big stuff had been delivered: furniture, appliances, those kinds of things. Just seeing our belongings again after they had been stored away for nearly two years was in itself a Christmas blessing for us.

We opened boxes and found trinkets and assorted possessions we hadn’t seen while they were packed away and kept in storage. Every box we opened reacquainted us with our belongings.

Oh, what about a Christmas tree? Yes, we had one. It was a Norfolk pine that we had moved from Beaumont to Amarillo. It was a potted tree and was very much alive.

My wife found some Christmas lights and some ornaments among the boxes we opened. We strung the lights around the 4-foot tree along with a few ornaments. We then were able to place a few gifts around the base of the tree.

Christmas morning 1996 dawned like many others in our house. Our sons were there. We had a nice Christmas breakfast, opened our gifts and enjoyed ogling our new digs, which we had watched being built from the ground up.

It was home for a long time. Then came the moment we knew would occur when our granddaughter arrived in 2013. It was time to move closer to her in the Metroplex.

We made the move and bid goodbye to this special place that became all the more special because of a fabulous Christmas memory it provided for us.

Happy Trails, Part 188: Success at the end of an RV outing

 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Retirement has allowed me to count my blessings, which I do every day and occasionally boast when I score even the mildest of victories.

Here comes the boast.

My wife and I returned today from a 10-day sojourn through Far West Texas. It started in Abilene, where we caught up with a good friend and her husband; we moved on to Monahans and then to the Davis Mountains. We headed back northeast toward Princeton; we spent a night in Mason and then at Meridian State Park.

We arrived in front of our house around noon today. We emptied our RV, had a bite of lunch and then took our fifth wheel back to the storage lot where it “sleeps” between outings.

Then came the moment of triumph.

We rolled onto the parking lot, wheeled the RV around to line it up with our covered stall … and then backed it straight into the storage space — on the first pass! There was no back and forth, no second, third or fourth attempt to line it up.

Is that a big deal? Yeah! It is! It’s a big deal because I have not yet mastered the backup technique required at times when we haul our fifth wheel on an outing. Indeed, we had a back-in site at Davis Mountains State Park. It was awkwardly configured, so I had a bit of a struggle backing it into the site; but we got it parked.

I know that none of this rises to the level of monumental achievement. Except that in the grand scheme of the retirement journey on which my wife and I embarked, it does look significant from my standpoint.

We have had to learn a few lessons hauling our fifth wheel hither and yon. We have made some mistakes; a couple of them have been a bit costly.

Thus, when I score a “win” simply by being able to back our fifth wheel into a spot on a single pass I consider it worth a bit of self-congratulation.

I am hoping for more victories along our journey.

Oh, the Internet!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am receiving a real-time lesson on how dependent I have become to the Internet.

Our RV campsite is in the middle of the Davis Mountains of Far West Texas. Cell phone reception is gone, pfftt … nothing, man! That doesn’t bother me so much.

What drives me batty is my (lack of ) Internet connection. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which runs the magnificent state park where we are holed up, has Wi-Fi service, but it’s lousy. I cannot sign onto the TP&W site. I can, however, sign onto Word Press, which is the platform that contains this entry. When I am finished I will post it to Word Press, but not onto the other social media platforms I use to distribute this blog.

Therefore, this entry will go to relatively few folks who normally would read these words.

I am expressing a frustration.

We’re able to go into town, where the cell service is a zillion times better. Thus, so is the Internet service.

I’ll just have to wait until our next foray into Fort Davis to reconnect with what we used to refer to in Vietnam as “The World.”

Bear with me. Please.

Happy Trails, Part 187: Yep, they were tough

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

ABILENE, Texas — Our retirement journey brought us to a community that is proud as the dickens of its cowboy/Wild West heritage.

Show the city shows it off with a museum called Frontier Texas. We visited it and came away with a keen appreciation of just how tough the folks were who settled in this region. Not only that, we came away understanding a little better the nature of the Native Americans who were here long before the Anglos arrived.

What did we learn? Let’s see …

We learned about a woman who married four or five times after each of her husbands met untimely and gruesome deaths at the hands of outlaws and of Native Americans. I found myself wondering: Why did she keep seeking love when she had encountered such tragedy? Oh, and her daughter and granddaughter died prematurely and violently, too!

Then there were the bison that were hunted to near extinction by “buffalo hunters,” which is how the museum identified them. “Buffalo killers” would have been a much more apt description.

There is a brief reference to the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon between the Army and the Comanche warriors. The museum mentions that the Army captured 1,400 Comanche horses and then “slaughtered” them. It doesn’t tell you that the soldiers stampeded the animals off the canyon rim.

I have long resisted trying to imagine whether I could live in that era. We cannot control the time we come into this world. I was born in 1949 and I am glad I entered the world at that time. Had I been born, say, in 1849, well, I would have coped with life in that time.

Still, as I look back at the folks who lived in this part of Texas and coped with life and death, I come away amazed and astonished at the grit and courage they exhibited.

It’s just yet another discovery we have made on our journey through retirement. I am quite certain there are many more to find in this big ol’ world.

Duty overtakes blogging

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

For those of you who might be waiting for a full-scale, full-throated, front-on return of this blog, I am making an announcement.

It will return in full and frequent force just as soon as I clean up our house.

You see, household duty has pulled High Plains Blogger away from the usual frequent fare of commentary on this and that. I have climbing up and down ladders, step ladders and step stools for the past few days as we paint the interior of our home.

We just completed the first phase. We’re going to take break, collect our thoughts and decide what color we want to plaster on the remainder of our walls.

Now I get to return to something I love doing, which is offering commentary on issues of the day.

Hmm. Let’s see. I think we have a few topics to discuss.

Puppy Tales, Part 87: Earning his spurs

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

TYLER STATE PARK, Texas — You know by now that Toby the Puppy is nearly perfect … if not actually perfect.

One of the aspects of his perfection is that he barks only for a reason. He doesn’t just yip and yap at nothing or nobody. Hardly. He barks when people approach our RV, or our house when we’re at home. He knows when one of us is away from the house and when we return that he doesn’t need to bark; Toby the Puppy simply assumes it’s either his Mother or me.

OK, that all laid out there, here’s a tale of how he put his bigger than expected bark to good use.

We were parked at Tyler State Park. We noticed a raccoon walking through our area. We watched as the ‘coon walked up to an RV a few spaces away from ours. This all happened just before dusk.

Then the sun went down and, without warning — and it was startling to hear — Toby the Puppy went absolutely ballistic. He barked, he snarled, he made noises that we had never heard him make. He was looking out the door of our RV into the dark.

I grabbed a flashlight and looked everywhere in our camp site at what might have caused Toby to go berserk. I found nothing. Then it occurred to me: Toby the Puppy scared that raccoon away!

I cannot prove that the raccoon ventured into our site that evening. I am left only with circumstantial evidence. We saw with our own eyes the raccoon snooping around our neighbor’s rig. Then it got dark and our pooch began snarling at a mystery object outside.

Two plus two does equal four, yes?

There you have it. Toby the Puppy has earned his keep as a supreme watchdog.

Puppy Tales, Part 86: Reading lips? Really?

By JOHN KANELIS

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

TYLER STATE PARK, Texas — Spare me the derisive laughter when I reveal the latest wonderment involving Toby the Puppy.

I was sitting in our recreational vehicle; the air conditioner was blasting cool air throughout the RV. It was making a lot of noise.

Toby was lying on the floor next to the bed in our bedroom. He and I made eye contact. Then I turned to my wife and I whispered to her: Do you think we should take Puppy for a walk?

As the Almighty is my witness, the moment I said the word “walk,” Toby jumped up and ran toward us. His tail was wagging. He wanted to go on a walk through the Tyler State Park campground.

My wife offered a potentially plausible explanation for what we both witnessed, which was that Toby is blessed with exceptional hearing. I won’t accept her rational thinking … just yet.

I want to make it abundantly clear that I spoke to my wife in that moment in a voice that couldn’t possibly be heard above the roar of the A/C. Yet our puppy responded immediately after watching me say the operative word.

Not long after Toby the Puppy joined our family, my wife and I learned to avoid saying certain words in his presence unless we were prepared to act on what we had just said. In other words we didn’t say the word “walk” unless we intended to it in the moment.

It’s a good think we could act on it when I mouthed the word “walk.”

I will take greater care from this day forward.