Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 -> 2011

Once again New Year's eve is upon us. 2010 has been an exciting year. We are getting closer and closer to retirement. The reality of this will occur at the end of this week when my DW retires. Before I get into that, I want to tell you about a trip we took on Monday 12/27.

The internet is a great place to find information quickly. As I was researching about a group called NOMADS, I came across another RV traveler - Jim and Kit Bertelsen. I enjoyed reading about their NOMADS experience so I continued reading their blog. Their current gig is guarding the gate leading to a drilling operation near the town of Crystal City. I said to myself, "Self, we need to go visit the Bertelsens." So I emailed them to ask if they would be available to receive visitors on 12/27. They said sure so we took off for their location. The blue line in the map below shows our route. From our house to theirs was 198 miles - one way.

All I will say about the road trip is that Texas FM 624 from Orange Grove to Cotulla is 103 miles of nothing but miles. Lots of ranches and a few farms along that route. We did see several gate guarding RVers along the route. Because of the large number of drilling operations along this route, we also encountered many 18-wheelers hauling drilling stuff in and out of the sites. This explains why this is such a rough stretch or highway. No chance of sleeping at the wheel here since the road did a good job of tossing us around a bit.

We arrived at the Bertelsen's location shortly after 2 and stayed for a couple of hours. From the first handshake and hug to our departure, we never felt like strangers. Jim and Kit shared their experiences as RVers. The information we gleaned was well worth the travel time and bumpy route. Plus we got to meet another RV couple we can now call family. Say hello to Jim and Kit (That's DW and Gage our grandson to the left of the Bertelsens.)

We said "see ya later", and hit the road back to Corpus Christi.

Tuesday began the final week at work for DW. Carol has faithfully worked for many years in a variety of jobs in different fields. She is a people person who has had many opportunities to minister to people God has placed in her path. Beginning next year she begins working for free. We all know that retirement does not mean "not working", it means focusing on different objectives. In 2011, DW will begin the daunting task of downsizing our household. This is not just for her, but for us. We still have a lot of stuff that will not fit in our future home. So begins the process of getting rid of stuff, deciding what stays or goes; deciding to give it away or hold a garage sale. While I will continue working, I too will be working along side her.

Carol will finally have an opportunity to participate in some of the ladies activities at the Summit Church in Corpus Christi. She will have an opportunity to work on some craft projects that have been put on hold. And she will have an opportunity to spend some quality time with our grandson Gage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Next Puzzle Piece

DW has announced her retirement date 12/30/10. Yikes! That is just 38 days away. That we are one step closer to achieving our dream of traveling this great country. So what is she going to do while waiting for me? Well for starters, she will be in charge of our downsizing project. We have "stuff" that we will no longer need once we hit the road. I am certain that she will be an expert on using Craig's List.

While that is exciting news, it finally hit me that our income is going to drop. Then in less 12 additional months it will drop again when I retire. Somewhere in all of this we have a house to sell along with a Mustang convertible and Suburban, plus a lot of stuff to dump.  Then we have to purchase a truck and 5th wheel RV to live in and still end up debt free.  That is a tall order. So I did what I normally do, I got nervous.

I accidentally stumbled on to a cool RV Blog As I started reading this blog I discovered that Gary and Stephanie have been traveling with SOWERS (Servant On Wheels Ever Ready). I had considered this group but just was not sure how this would work out.  So I sent Stephanie a comment on the blog inquiring about their experience with this group.  A few days later I read her response just before I left my office. I was overcome with such a deep since of a God's presence that had a simple message for me. God spoke is a small voice that said "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."(Jer 29.11). Tears welled up in my eyes. How could I possible be nervous about embarking on a journey that God has prepared for me?

All I can say is, "Thank you Stephanie, for being a vessel that God would use to speak to me. I look forward to meeting you and Gary as we travel that road.".  For the rest of you, I encourage you to read about Gary and Stephanie on their blog. They have been doing this for 6 years now and have a fantastic story to tell.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Missing Link

God wants us to initiate His actions. Really? Yep, really. Read on.

God spoke to Joshua about crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 1). Not asking God how this will happen Joshua focused on the task at hand and led the priests and people to do exactly what God required. There were no discussions about how this was going to happen; only a statement that this is what we are going to do. Joshua did not question God, he encourage the priest and people. Joshua 3:14-16 tells the rest of the story. The waters of the Jordon River parted when the soles of the priest’s feet touched the water. God facilitated the action but not until Joshua took action first.

God had been speaking to me about retirement for some time now. I may not have been as eager or quick to respond as Joshua did; but I finally agreed with God and on May 15th I set a date.;(You can read about that here - Date Is Set In Jello). I had many questions but I was trusting God to provide answers. On July 9th, I received an email from the coordinator of customized training at Del Mar College. He asked if I would be interested in teaching a year long fundamental electronics course to a group of ATT employees. The modules include Math for Electronics, DC and AC Electronics, Solid State and Digital Fundamentals, Computer and Telecommunications. WOW, that’s interesting. How could I possible teach all of that? You would think a teacher should know something about the subjects they’re teaching.

This 330 hour course is based on my entire working career. At age 19, I joined the Army unsure of what I wanted to do in my life.  After 3 years I completed a year long telecommunication course (very similar to what I will be teaching) and spent the next 6 years in telephone communication maintenance and operations. After the military, I spent 7 years in electronic technical support and completed my college degree. After college, I spent 13 years in software engineering. Then a major shift in careers led me into corporate education where I’ve spent the last 14 years as a professional educator. God has done an amazing thing here. He has qualified me for this teaching assignment by giving me 44 years of training and experience. Pretty cool!

So what is the missing link? Well, the big question on my retirement decision has always been, how can I do this? How can I afford to transition? This adjunct position answers that question. God is good!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Date

Back in May, I announced the date was set in jello. April 15th 2012 seems like a long way off. So, we've been thinking, maybe that is too far away. Why not move it up by 12 months or so? Why not set the date for April 15th 2011?

We have a pretty full job list of things we want to do around the house to make it more sellable in this dismal market. You know, things like update the kitchen, add curb appeal, refinish the authentic wood floor (no laminate in my house) and of course paint. I don't know how we can get all that done between now and 2012. Most of our energy is spent on day jobs. If we retire 12 month earlier, we can get everything done and hit the road earlier. Seems to make sense to me.

So, can we afford to retire? A better question would be why can't we afford to retire? This reminds me of a conversation my DW and I had in 1969. Then we asked, "Can we afford to have children?" We were told by some dear friends, if we waited until we could afford to have children, we never would. We now have two grown children and two grandchildren. So I am rethink the strategy on retirement. It is time to figure out how to make it work so we can retire early in 2011.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Plan

So what is the plan? The plan is to radically alter our current lifestyle. The plan includes getting rid of stuff (lots of stuff) and moving from an 1800 sq. ft fixed base house to a 400 sq. ft. home on wheels better know as an RV. “Are you crazy?” some may ask. “No, not at all,” is my reply. Radical, yes; crazy, no! How did this develop? Keep reading.
The idea was born in May 2007 while returning home from a family reunion in Giddings, TX. DW said, “You do know, dear, when we retire, I do not want to stay in Corpus Christi, I would like to live closer to family.” My reaction – STUNNED! My plan was to work until I was 70, settle quietly in our home in Corpus and just relax. As you can tell, we had not discussed our retirement planning very effectively. We were going two different directions. I had a lot to think about as we drove the 3½ hour trip back to Corpus Christi from Giddings, TX. As we traveled back home, our conversation turned more into open communication about retirement.
In 2007, we had family living in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Burton. Looking at a map of Texas, I determined the best place for retirement would be somewhere west of College Station-Bryan area. Zooming in on the map, we determined that Brenham would be a better place. It has all the feel of country living, and all the comforts of having stores (WalMart*, Home Depot, Starbucks) near by.
During the summer of 2007, we visited my brother, who just happens to live in Burton about 10 miles from Brenham. We drove around in Brenham, visited the Chamber of Commerce, looked at Blinn College, and Blue Bell Ice Creamery. I think we found our spot. We spoke to my brother when he said, “Why not just come out to Sonrise Meadows Farms; We have room out here where you could build a home.” HMM, that is something to think about.
Back in Corpus Christi we meet a couple at church (Bud/Maggie) who had been full time RVing for several years. After visiting Corpus Christi a few times, they decided to stop traveling as much and settle down here. As we got to know them, the seed for full time traveling was planted.
DW has a cool sister who gets what she calls “scathingly brilliant ideas”. She called DW and asked, have you ever heard of workamping? After DW talked to her sister, DW and I talked about it - the seed was watered. Being the nerd in the family, I Googled “workamping” and got several thousand hits. Scouring those hits, I found HitchItch RV Travel Adventures and Journals. This is a cool site that features those who have chosen the full time RVing lifestyle. Reading through the listings, I must have booked marked about a hundred or more websites of folks who are full time RVer’s. From that list, I found Howard and Linda Payne's website, RV Dreams. After reading just about all of their blog entries, the seed took root.
It just so happened that Howard and Linda were at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge near Freeport, TX. I knew where that is – and it is very close to Corpus Christi.  Gee, I wonder if DW and I could go visit them. We finally connected and set a date - January 2008. After meeting them, the seed sprouted.
More to come.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Date is Set (in Jello)

Well, the time has arrived to publicly announce we are retiring from the duties that call us to our duty stations M-F, 8-5. We will transform our wage slave lifestyle to one of total recklessness and full abandonment. All we know at this point is the timer has been set and the clock is ticking.

The date you ask? OK. April 15, 2012. Why that date? Do you really have to ask? For 46 years, we have worked for the IRS. At least that is what it has felt like. We work and they take our $$. So, it seems fitting to celebrate breaking free on the date all wage slaves love to hate. Actually, the date is fluid at this point - floating somewhere between Jan 1, 2012 and April 15, 2012.

As we continue downsizing and ridding ourselves of stuff, we will update this blog with our thoughts, questions and deep ponderings. Come along for the ride. I hope you enjoy the musing.