Retirement Talk for Boomers, Seniors and Retirees

                                                                                                                                            What to do with the Rest of Your Life?

Episode 116 Road Trip Part 9: Along the Route

Ruidoso sits in the mountains in central New Mexico. It is a small town of around eight thousand people. My friend Rube Tikka and his wife, Ellie, choose to relocate here at age 79. They moved here after 55 years in Alaska. They married 55 years ago in Detroit. He was 24 and she was 19. They boarded a train for Seattle where they jumped a steamer to Alaska. He enrolled in the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and took a degree in science four years later. They had six children and he taught science in Anchorage. They also had a commercial set-net site at Clam Gulch. He retired from teaching at age 48. Imagine! They lived in Alaska all those years, 55 years and when he was 78 they moved to Ruidoso, New Mexico. From the day they left for Alaska in 1954 till the day they moved to Ruidoso their life has been an adventure.

This is Retirement Talk.

On this road trip across America we are trying to include stops along the way to see friends and a few relatives. The trip to Ruidoso was to see our friends – the Tikkas. They love Ruidoso. It’s small. It’s beautiful. And it’s dramatic. They have always had a knack for living in places that possess real personality. This is Apache country. The Mescalero Apache lived in this area for hundreds of years and still do. This is high desert country. Pinion Pine dot the hillsides. Snow comes to the higher regions of the mountains and occasionally the valleys. Warm sun usually melts the snow in the lower areas quickly and daytime temperatures are comfortable. Texans come here for skiing in the winter and for cool temperatures in the summer. The town has a touristy feel to it. Gambling casinos draw optimistic customers years round. People like Ruidoso.

Travel has been important to my retired friends. They have biked on all of the continents. They’ve almost always used the bicycle as a means of travel and of exercise. They fly to Australia, South Africa, Germany, Finland, Argentina, Georgia, Michigan, or wherever and then take off on their bikes. They’ve lived a life that most retired folks could hardly imagine. We might all learn a bit from them. I know I have. He was a cross country ski coach in Alaska many years ago and enticed me to become his assistant. I learned a lot from him concerning skiing and living.

We stopped the next day at Carlsbad Caverns. I never wanted to visit them. I never thought of them. Tikka told me it would be well worth my while. We stopped. It was great! The only natural phenomenon that has had the same awe-inspiring effect on me has been the Grand Canyon. The Caverns are other-worldly. My advice: take the elevator and allow at least three hours.

Our next stop on our road trip was Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas. After driving across the entire state of Texas I can understand why this Park has special significance. It is a beautiful area in this large state. Since much of our own lives have been lived in Alaska and the mountainous Pacific Northwest we were a bit underwhelmed by the Park. It is hard to measure up to the mountainous grandeur of Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska.

Our next extended stop was in Austin. We had a home exchange arranged and it proved to be outstanding. It was downtown and in a very modern building with concierge and all that might accompany such first class accommodations. Our host was very generous with good will and good advice. We were two blocks from the world headquarter of the Whole Foods grocery chain. This story is Texas sized: huge, contemporary and up-scale. We enjoyed several lunches there and shopping for preparing dinners. We toured the capital building and discovered a great coffee shop, “Little City” just a couple of blocks from the capitol. We had been having trouble finding good coffee every since we left the coast but this one shop made a quality cup.

We biked around Lady Bird Lake which boasts a 10 mile loop. Nice site but a marginally maintained trail. We aren’t use to this inside a city. It just seemed to us that Austin needs to spend a bit more on trail construction. This trail could be world class with just a small tax increase. I know that isn’t a popular suggestion. But taxes are the price we pay for civilization and the heavy use of this trail suggests that it would be money well spent.

Our highlight of visiting Austin had to be the visit to the LBJ Library. It was gripping. I didn’t really understand why we even bothered with a visit, but people strongly suggested that we go. It was like stepping into a historical diorama. It brought back the 40’s, 50’s and most importantly the 60’s. For anyone who is retired today visiting the library will be very moving. Paintings, newspapers, films, documents, paraphernalia, recordings, and so much else brings the period to life.

San Antonio was our next stop.  I had to see the famed River Walk. It was worth a visit. The city has done magical things by creating this little beauty. It’s car free. It’s a great place for visitors and locals to gather and enjoy a stroll and get something good to eat. It must be one of the best places in the country to “people watch”. And yes, we did “remember the Alamo”. It was worth a visit. They guide who led a brief tour was excellent. He could tell a story.

We found ourselves on an Interstate headed for Louisiana and grateful for the high speed limit. Our next destination was New Orleans. I am recording this podcast in New Orleans and I must say. It is my favorite stop thus far: more later.

This is Retirement Talk.

PS Barack Obama was sworn in as President today. I have to mention that.