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

Down East Maine in Winter

My wife and I recently took a short road trip through parts of Maine. Maine attracts visitors, mostly to the southern part of the coast and mostly in summer. The northern coast, northeast of Acadia National Park, attracts fewer visitors and is much less populated; this is the coastline of Down East Maine. In winter the roads are mostly empty, the coast is windy and solitude is available almost everywhere. Continue reading

Nature Is a State of Mind

Wide open landscapes in the West

Wide open landscapes in the West

In 2003, a year after I retired but when my wife was still working, I took Anna, our dog, and headed west to see some of the country I’d visited in times past. Anna and I camped most of the time, and one particular night I remember finding a small Bureau of Land Management campground on Antelope Reservoir in eastern Oregon. We could see a long way across the reservoir and surrounding desert landscape. I remember preparing dinner while Anna, sitting at the edge of the campsite, watched the landscape for signs of life. Continue reading

Interval Training in Long-Term Marriages

Driving in Mississippi

Driving in Mississippi

It’s raining and I’m sitting in a motel in Brookhaven, Mississippi, waiting for winter storm Remus to move through. Then I’ll continue driving, across the great river and northern Louisiana, then Texas and into southern New Mexico. I’m alone; my wife stayed home. For me, being alone is good. Continue reading

Ireland’s Landscapes: a Retirement Interlude

Gallery

This gallery contains 24 photos.

Ireland’s green landscapes have earned it the title, Emerald Isle. That one name hides the variety of green and its juxtapositions with the varying colors of the Atlantic, the greys of rock formations and stone castles, and the colors of … Continue reading

Danger: Motorcycling in the Coal Country of Virginia at Age 70

Young couple on a bike

Young couple on a bike

The road was sharply crowned, narrow and steep, and suddenly the Gold Wing starting misfiring, the light panel on the dashboard flashed wildly and then the engine just quit. The motorcycle stopped in the middle of the lane, and I was stuck, really stuck. The bike weighs about 1,000 pounds, and at 70 years old, I could not push it around to get it headed downhill. Continue reading