Curtain Call on My Motorcycling

Big Red’s place in the garage is now empty

Yesterday my Honda Gold Wing, dubbed Big Red, left for greener pastures. We gave it to a cousin, Winston, who wanted to fix it up and ride it. I had let it set in the garage for over two years, gradually deciding to give up riding. Now I have only the license plate and the space in the garage. Continue reading

Zen and the Art of Long Marriages

Last weekend we attended a dinner to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of friends. Two other long-term couples we knew also attended, and there were family and other friends as well. We four couples connected through our wives, all of whom were classmates and friends in nursing school many years ago. Our first toast was to long marriages, especially to that of our hosts. What makes them work, we asked? Continue reading

Making Retirement—the Eclipse

Restaurant worker watches the eclipse.

Should we stay home to see the eclipse, where we’d see 99.1% of the sun covered, or should we head north to the zone of totality, which was only 40 or so miles away?  We ordered glasses from Amazon, which arrived in two days—a package of five pairs. I had my eye on a special lens filter for the camera, but by the time I decided to order it, none were available at reasonable prices. Continue reading

Radical Retirement for the Kids

Retire early and fly away

Last time we saw Christy Shen and her husband, Bryce, living one version of a radical retirement: they retired in 2014 (Christy was 31 years old) after only a few years of work. Each year while working they saved more than half of their earnings. Can anyone do that, or were they just lucky to invest when returns were high? Continue reading

Christy Shen Retired at 31: Is She Crazy?

Christy and her husband, Bryce, retired in 2014 at age 31; they had about $1.16 million saved, which includes about 4 years of living expenses ($160 thousand–my estimate). Can two people make the money last in Toronto, Canada, where they live? What if they have kids? Continue reading

Money as Omen and Memory

At the Ranger School, our public phone was more modern, but this one reminds me of 1963.

Old phone reminds me of the phone we had at the Ranger School in 1963, though ours had coin receptacles and a rotary dial.

Last winter, my younger brother, Bill, showed me a notebook I left at home over 50 years ago. It had two pages of expense entries from the summer of 1962, after graduating from high school, and from 1963, when I attended the New York State Ranger School, a forestry technician school in the western Adirondack Mountains of New York. Money spent: I wanted to see what the entries might tell. Continue reading

The American West: Traditional and Trendy, with Photos

A dramatic comparison of federal land ownership in the West versus other regions.

A dramatic comparison of federal land ownership in the West versus other regions.

The Atlantic magazine recently published a piece about the West entitled  The Graying of Rural America, which argues that, “As cities attract young people, rural America has become older, whiter, and less populated.”

The authors focus on Fossil, Oregon, the county seat of Wheeler County, which they describe as slowly dying. According to The Atlantic, the town began “bleeding jobs” after a lumber mill closed in 1978. Young people leave for educations and jobs in larger cities, and old people become trapped. They exist mostly on investment earnings or government checks like Social Security. Continue reading

Nature’s Drama: Photos Along the Pacific Coast

Sea lions lounge on rocks along the Oregon coast

Sea lions lounge on rocks along the Oregon coast

If the interior West exudes space, solitude, and silence, the Pacific Coast offers drama: isolated beaches, quaint towns, high cliffs, shifting mist and rain, and a coastline littered with large rock formations. We visited the Pacific Coast in early June, before the travel season peaked and, luckily, when the weather was good. Continue reading

Harsh, Open, and Compelling: Photos of the West

Front range of the Rockies, south of Denver. Residential and commercial property crowd into the front range.

Front Range of the Rockies, south of Denver. Residential and commercial property crowd into the Front Range.

On the pages of many outdoor or hunting magazines, photos of the West show mostly places in the Rocky Mountains. As a boy in western New York, I spent hours reading those magazines and came to believe that the West and the Rockies were one in the same. I was 24 years old when I made my first trip west. At that time, I taught high school math, and when school ended in June, I packed some essentials on a motorcycle and headed out. Among other things, I learned that the West was more than the Rockies. Continue reading