2013 – A year of travels and self discovery
The end of the year always brings reflection, a habit I developed when running our business. For us, 2013 was the first full year of retirement, traveling and self discovery. With our year-end travels, we were not able to send out Christmas cards this year, so hopefully this will suffice in lieu of cards for friends that follow our blog. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!
After spending last Christmas 2012 with our boys (Cameron and Ryan), we started out 2013 by moving Cameron from Maine to Colorado. After a semester at the University of Maine, Cameron missed Colorado and wanted to spend his college years at CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado. That suited us, as Ryan was already enrolled there.
Ryan, Cameron and I flew to Maine, cleared out his dorm and made the 3 day trek from Maine to Colorado. We were packed into his Ford Mustang like sardines, sharing the backseat with half of his belongings. Not the most comfortable ride across country, but we spent a lot of quality time talking, joking and just having fun. We rotated driving duties, so we only had to drive about 2 hours at a time — a cool way to travel. Lynn met us in Colorado and we moved Cameron into his new apartment and he enrolled in college.
After returning to Florida, I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm dry days. Fishing in the bay was great, a friend (Tom Helderlie) and I caught lots of red fish. We had plenty of cold days that brought on the first bout of boredom since I retired so I decided to start working on a new software project, discussed in my March 2013 blog.
In February, Lynn and I talked about traveling again. We had an epiphany — what if we rented our condo to fund more travel. Getting the condo ready for the rental season was a bit of a chore, but by early March, it was fully rented for Spring break. So we hit the road again by visiting our boys in Colorado, then on to California. In California, we spent several days in Napa Valley, learning more about wines than ever before.
Red wines fermenting
Then we were off to Sequoia National Park, the home of some the biggest redwoods in the world. I was literally in awe of the size of these trees.
Sequoia National Park
Lynn and I had seen lots of Ansel Adams photography but had never visited one his most photographed subjects — Yosemite National Park. We took the chance to take some of our photos that could never rival his.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Before we left for California, a friend (Craig Bromley) mentioned that we had to visit Big Sur and the Sonoma coast. We tasted wine in Sonoma, visited Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, and spent a few days in San Francisco — what a cool town.
Point Reyes National Park
Iconic Golden Gate Bridge
We ended our trip by taking in a Criss Angel show in Las Vegas. That was my first trip Las Vegas, so we also took that time to visit the Hoover Dam.
After traveling for a little over a month, we returned to Florida. April and May in Florida is very nice. Warm days, cool waters, and almost no crowds. On nice days, I fished and golfed as much as I could.
Right outside our door in Florida
On cool or rainy days, I continued to work on my new software project (aMemoryJog). I wanted to have a solid business plan and software prototype before summer and I was able to accomplish that.
By the start of Summer, our condo was fully rented for the season so we jetted off on our next adventure. We decided to spend some time with our boys in Colorado, then visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. We saw more mountains, wildlife, lakes, streams, geysers, hot springs and mudpots than you can imagine (I almost said “than you can shake a stick at” but I visualized Lynn rolling her eyes as she read it).
Old Barn on Morman Row
We then made our way to Oregon — starting in central Oregon and stopping to see Crater Lake — simply spectacular. Then we headed to the coast (Cannon Beach) — we had spent a weekend here when our boys were really young, but this time we spent a week really exploring this area.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach
Our journey then took us to Washington. We started in Seabrook, Washington, a town fashioned after the movie “The Truman Show”. It is an idyllic town, reminding me of Seaside, Florida.
Lynn and I briefly lived in Seattle Washington when our kids were young but never spent a full summer there. Most of you know that Seattle is miserable during the winter, autumn and spring — it rains constantly. The summer, however, is another story. So we visited the Olympic National Park then headed for Seattle for a couple of weeks. It was spectacular. We discovered a new found appreciation for Seattle’s beauty.
Kestner Homestead Trail
Kestner Homestead Trail
We then journeyed to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. There we explored the city and saw Butchart Gardens — probably the most beautiful gardens we had seen. Victoria is a cool town with lots of history. We learned more about Canada than we ever did in school.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Leaving Victoria, we headed for a 3 week trip to Vancouver, British Columbia and Whistler. Vancouver is a really cool town, probably one of the coolest towns I’ve ever visited. It is trendy, has lots of great restaurants, is a waterfront community, and has tons of biking and hiking trails. The city looks similar to Hong Kong, with high rise apartments and condos on each block. Stanley Park is an incredible park — reminds me of Central Park in New York.
Vancouver BC Canada
Whistler BC Canada
It was also here that I started experimenting with meditation. It really helps calm the mind, I highly recommend it if you have not tried it. I also accomplished a challenging hike called “The Grind“. It is a 2,800 foot mountain climb that is nicknamed “Nature’s StairMaster“. I summited in just over 1.5 hours and found a new confidence by completing it. After finishing this hike, I pledged to train for a 50-mile bike ride upon our return to Florida.
Warning: Not for Wimps!
The final leg of our Summer trip took us to Alaska. We spent 2 weeks cruising Alaska and visiting Mount McKinley. We visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and then onto a land tour in Denali National Park. During this time, we visited breweries, took a helicopter ride up to mountain glacier, rode a dog sled across a glacier, and visited the iconic Glacier Bay — watching glaciers as they crashed into the sea.
Returning from over 3 months of Summer travel, we made our way back to Florida. This was mid-August and the weather was hot and humid. There were still crowds during some weeks and some weeks were quiet. It was a great time to catch up with our Florida friends, share dinners and play golf.
Rosemary Beach, Florida
At the same time, I decided to begin working on my next challenge — training for a half century bike ride (50 miles). After 6 weeks of training, I accomplished my goal and lost 1o pounds during the process. I also became passionate about bike riding and am still riding each week.
Training for a Half Century
October and November were more mild with some really beautiful days. We spent weekends watching Bama kick butt in the SEC (until Auburn humbled us) and with the usual ups and downs of watching Dallas Cowboys football. Our boys came to Florida for Fall break and we spent Thanksgiving with the Miller family. My brother and his wife graciously had the entire family over for an incredible meal. Thanks Chris and Danielle!
Also during this time, I committed myself to finishing the first phase of my new software project and before we left for our next set of travels, I had accomplished that goal and blogged about it in early December.
End of 2013
We are spending December and January in Colorado with our boys. In fact, we rented a place in Fort Collins so that we can spend more time there in 2014. It is surprising how much we missed Colorado since we moved almost 2 years ago. Upon returning, we’ve been eating in our favorite restaurants, biking the Fort Collins trails and learning our way around the city. We plan to get some ski days in during January.
Our journey to Colorado started rough. We decided to leave a day early because there was a huge snow storm coming to Arkansas and Oklahoma. On our first day, our car broke down in Birmingham, so we spent 2 days waiting for parts and getting it fixed. On the third day we made our way to Arkansas where it started sleeting. The next day was spent trudging through the snow storm, slowly making our way through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. White knuckle driving for a day, but we made it through the storm the next day and it was smooth sailing after that.
As I sit writing this blog, it is December 22. The snow is falling outside, it is cold, and the boys, Lynn and I will be having dinner together tonight followed by playing board games. What a wonderful life.