Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fleeing the Glacier National Park Fire

On our quest to visit all of the major US national parks, we set off last Saturday for Glacier National Park in Montana. Little did we know that more than 4,000 acres of forest would burn in the coming days. More about that later.

Bozeman, Montana

Our trip started in Colorado, and after a full day of driving, we landed in Bozeman, Montana, a funky little hip town. As we always do, we looked for a local brewery or pub. We found Montana Ale Works, a cool watering hole that offered up good eats and local brew.

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ranch

Our second day took us to an 80-acre Montana ranch to visit some early retiree friends, Bob and Robin Charlton, whom we met in 2011 after an article was written about them on the Yahoo finance site. Our first face-to-face meeting with Bob and Robin was just after we retired (2012).

We happened to be in Maine at the same time and met up at Arcadia National Park and shared a lobster dinner. Since then, we’ve kept in touch via email and visited them in Boulder early this summer.

As luck would happen, they were house sitting for friends who had a beautiful ranch in Montana. They graciously asked us if we could stop by and visit with them on our way to Glacier National Park.

Beautiful Montana Ranch

Beautiful Montana Ranch

The cabin was custom designed by their friends and is incredibly well done.

Custom designed cabin

Custom designed cabin

The cabin has beautiful mountain views, complete with horses.

Beautiful Montana views

Beautiful Montana views

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Friendly Horses

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Beautiful Blue Eyes

We spent our afternoon kicking back a few brews, chatting about retired life and enjoying each other’s company.

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Bob wrote a book called “How to Retire Early”, it’s a great book — I’ve purchased copies for our boys. Bob and Robin are about to embark on 2 full years of traveling — they chronicle their travels on their website (www.WhereWeBe.com).

Flathead Cherries

After spending a full day and night with the Charltons, it was time to head towards Glacier National Park. We kept hearing about “Flathead Cherries“. On the way to Glacier, we saw Flathead Lake and found out that there were lots of cherry groves around the lake.

Flat Head Lake

Flathead Lake

We stopped by a local cherry stand and purchased some. I’ve never eaten a cherry so sweet and juicy. If you are ever in the neighborhood, you have to try them!

Flathead Cherries

Flathead Cherries

Glacier National Park

Once we arrived to Glacier National Park, we entered the west entrance on the “Going to the Sun” road.  Our first stop was at Lake McDonald and dipped my toes into the cool and clear glacier waters.

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

As we made our way up to Logan pass, we stopped to take in several waterfalls. Although I missed getting a picture of it, a huge brown bear crossed the road about 50 yards behind our car during one of our stops.

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake Hike at Logan Pass

Our goal for the day was to hike to Hidden Lake. The 3.5 mile hike is not terribly difficult but offers some incredible views of mountain vistas, wildlife, waterfalls and ends at Hidden Lake.

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Views during our hike

As we were hiking up to Hidden Lake, a mountain goat came within about 5 feet of us. He could really care less about us, he was just moseying down the mountain without a care in the world.

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The reward for making this hike was Hidden Lake, a beautiful lake at the base of a mountain.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

On our return trip, we saw the same mountain goat eating vegetation along the way. How cool is to see wildlife in their natural habitat?

Natural habitat

Natural habitat

We finished our day by driving the rest of Going to the Sun road. Pictures hardly do it justice.

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

St. Mary Lake Tour and Hike

On the second day of our trip, we took a boat tour of St. Mary Lake, at the east end of the park. You take a 30 minute boat ride to a ranger guided hike that takes you up to St. Mary Falls.

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

The boat ride was surreal, a slow ride over 300 foot glacial water. The captain explained the biology and ecology of the glaciers and the ranger gave us insight into the forest and wildlife.

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Ranger Lead Hike

Ranger Lead Hike

The 2.5 hour hike wasn’t too strenuous, only about 300 feet of elevation change and it culminated in views of the silky St. Mary Falls. On our way back, we spotted a moose at the end of the St. Mary Lake.

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

Glacier National Park Fire

During our boat tour, the captain mentioned that the St. Mary Lake forest area had not had a major fire in about 100 years. We finished up our time at the park around 3 p.m. on July 21. Later that night, we saw on TV where a fire broke out at Glacier National Park, exactly in the spot where we had just hiked to St. Mary Lake and only about 30 minutes after we had left.

As of July 23, it has already burned over 4,000 acres and is still not contained. We also heard that they evacuated the restaurant and lodge that where we ate just before leaving the park.

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

We were incredibly fortunate to have viewed St. Mary Lake in it’s pristine grandeur. Our friends (Bob and Robin) were planning to camp there for a couple of weeks and I spoke them today, they were re-evaluating their plans because a lot of the park has been evacuated.

About the Millers

Steve and Lynn Miller retired early and now enjoy traveling and embracing new hobbies. In their spare time, they develop mobile apps. You can learn more here:

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Are there Lessons to be Learned after 3 Years of Early Retirement?

Time flies. It’s been 3 years since I said goodbye to the corporate life and a twice monthly paycheck. My wife and I had a dream. We wanted to retire by the time our kids went off to college so that we could travel and enjoy life while we were still young and energized.

So how did we do it? We built a software business with personal savings of $10,000 and sold it 10 years later. It wasn’t easy. It had its ups and downs. Months when we didn’t know how we would make payroll and flying high after landing a large account that could sustain us for months in the future.

In the end, we exceeded our own expectations. 3 years prior to our kids graduating high school, we got the call from a larger company that saw value in acquiring our product line. Shortly after, I said sayonara to the daily grind.

After 3 years of retirement, it’s time to reflect and share with you lessons I’ve learned.

1. Early Retirement Conjures Up Unexpected Emotions

Literally the month after we retired, we saw our boys off to college and began traveling. Starting in Canada, we visited the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edwards Island.

Prince Edwards Island

Prince Edwards Island (Canada)

We then made our way to the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu and the Bahamas. We saw extraordinary things. We watched a tortoise painstakingly dig a hole for her eggs.

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

We saw the handiwork of the Incas, appreciating the architecture and incredible surroundings of a civilization that’s now long gone.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (Peru)

And we watched professional divers descend into Dean’s Blue Hole not to come up again for 5 minutes.

Dean's Blue Hole (Bahamas)

Dean’s Blue Hole (Bahamas)

After returning from this incredible 3 month trip, something weird happened. We started settling into our retired life and I began to feel sad. Before I retired, my employees and peers needed me. They were constantly asking for advice, calling and texting for help and now the phone was silent.

I began to mope around and waste my days fretting about what was next in life. Had I made a huge mistake by retiring early?

2. Boredom is Self-Inflicted

After a few weeks of licking my wounds, I read about this phenomenon known as “retirement depression“. It is common for new retirees to go through this because they are left with lots of time to reminisce about the days when their schedules were full and others depended on them.

After a bit of self-reflection, I came to realize that these feelings were driven by boredom. After working really hard all those years to retire early, I needed to get out and enjoy hobbies that I never had time for before.

I found all kinds of new hobbies. I began golfing, working on photography, cycling, hiking, boating, fishing, and blogging. A few weeks later, I couldn’t figure out how I ever worked because my days were so full with things I enjoyed. Depression was fleeting, I was now enjoying life more than ever.

Challenged myself to cycle 50 miles

Challenged myself to cycle 50 miles

3. Traveling provides a World of Amazement

Since retiring, we’ve enjoyed some incredible travels. After our first 3 month trip, we spent an entire summer traveling the western United States. We started in the Grand Tetons and went on to visit California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. We capped that summer trip off with an Alaskan cruise.

Grand Tetons

Practicing Photography in the Grand Tetons (Wyoming)

Hot Springs in Yellowstone

Hot Springs in Yellowstone (Wyoming)

Bigger than life Sequoias in California

Bigger than life Sequoias (California)

Majestic Crater Lake (Oregon)

Majestic Crater Lake (Oregon)

Glaciers (Alaska)

Glaciers (Alaska)

Last Summer, we took our youngest (college aged) son to Europe. We built our itinerary around the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain and capped off the trip in the Italian Riviera. We also visited Paris and Portugal.

Running with the bulls (Pamplona, Spain)

Running with the bulls (Pamplona, Spain)

Italian Riviera

Italian Riviera

As much as we’ve traveled, you would think we had seen it all. Not true, every new place we visit amazes us with something we’ve never encountered before.

4. You can still Fuel your Entrepreneurial Spirit after Retirement

Even though I retired early, I truly loved building my last company. It never really felt like work — it was fun, intellectually stimulating and invigorating. You don’t have to give up that feeling when you retire. You can choose to challenge yourself by starting a new business, a blog or working on pet projects.

I’ve recently done just that. I wanted to learn more about mobile app development so I started a project to develop an iPhone app. Since I love to travel, I built an app to provide peace of mind when traveling. It tracks things that are easy to forget (passwords, passport numbers, banking information, software licenses, etc.). I called the app aMemoryJog because it does just that – it securely tracks things that are easy to forget.
Learn More: http://www.aMemoryJog.com

Developing this app was not about making money. It was about doing something that stimulates me intellectually and provides an outlet for my entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m working on my next app. It will be called Count Us Down and will allow you to count down the days to your next big event (like a vacation or even retirement).
Learn More: http://www.CountUsDown.com.

iPhone Apps for Travel

5. Volunteering yields a Great Sense of Satisfaction

My wife motivated me to begin volunteering. She has volunteered for many years and genuinely enjoys helping others. Based on her example, I started volunteering last year with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). HFH builds homes for low income families and each family must contribute a significant number of hours helping to build their home or help build one for another family.

I belong to the Walton County Florida chapter and last year we renovated 1 home for a family and built 2 homes from scratch. Not only is volunteering incredibly satisfying, you get to know the family you are building for and you understand the how important it is for them.

Habitat for Humanity Volunteer work

Habitat for Humanity Volunteer work

Conclusion

Retirement is just another phase of life. Don’t over analyze it. Embrace new hobbies, travel to new places, experience other cultures, stimulate your intellect and enjoy life — you’ve earned it!

About the Author

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog,subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

Steve uses Personal Capital to manage all of his finances and investments because it is free and very robust. If you would like to download a free copy of Personal Capital, you can do that here.

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Where can you find Old Relics Surrounded by Modern Buildings?

Fort Collins, Colorado is a cool city. It has plenty of stores and shopping, great bike paths, lots of hiking areas, and a hipstery vibe. However, I think one of the coolest things about Fort Collins is that the city was built around a farming town. As you traverse the streets of the city, you will see old buildings that were left standing as new, more modern buildings encircle them.

Here are just a few examples of this.

Old Barns

This old barn is right next to a bank, eateries (Pancake House and Fuzzy’s) and a cycling shop.

Old Barn

Old Barn

Old Barn

Old Barn

As you drive around Fort Collins, you will see farmland with working barns.

Modern Barn

Modern Barn

Work Sheds

These work sheds are located just behind a bicycle shop.

Work sheds

Work sheds

Work Sheds

Work Sheds

Old Farm Houses

This old farm house has now been converted into a State Farm office.

Old Farm House

Old Farm House

This homestead has not been used for years.

Old Homestead

Old Homestead

Old Homestead

Old Homestead

Old Farm House

Old Farm House

I’ll leave you with one last picture, we caught this double rainbow after an afternoon shower.

Pot of Gold?

Pot of Gold?

Brought to you by Flip Flop Software

Here are a couple of apps you may be interested in:

  • Count Us Down – It’s fun to count down the days to big events like vacations, weddings, births, concerts, and sporting events. The really cool thing about the Count Us Down app is that you can share those big events with friends and family and you can count down together.
  • aMemoryJog – Organize all of your passwords and other easy-to-forget information with the aMemoryJog app. aMemoryJog works on the web and on your iPhone and seamlessly syncs together.

CountUsDownANDaMemoryJog