A quick getaway to North Dakota

I’m not one to take a lot of pictures. Most of the time, I’m too involved in the moment to stop and take pictures. That is…unless we specifically stop to take pictures.

Hubs and I went to North Dakota over the weekend to see Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It’s a spectacular place, especially the North Unit. The town of Medora is charming and we enjoyed our stay at the Rough Riders Hotel. If you want the full experience, go between June 1st and Labor Day when all restaurants and attractions are open for the season. It would have been nice to see the Medora Musical and have some additional restaurant options for breakfast besides the hotel.

We also explored Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota along I-94 to Bismarck. We drove a section of the Old Red Old Ten Trail. It was fun to see Salem Sue (the cow), the Enchanted Highway (bird sculptures made from scrap metal) and explore some of the other attractions along the way. The local visitors bureaus need to update businesses highlighted in the advertising that’s handed out. We found several businesses permanently closed. My best advice is to call ahead before venturing in that direction.

I quilt shop hopped in Bismarck, Minot and Dickinson. Not one place I visited was a traditional quilt shop. One was a Bernina/Handiquilter dealership that was part of a family gardening/homesteading supply place. Another was located in someone’s home. She’s primarily online with walk-in customers by appointment. (I’d be in trouble if I lived nearby because she carries all of my favorite fabric lines!) The shop in Bismarck is what I’m finding more common in my area – a sewing machine dealership (Baby Lock in this case) with an extensive fabric selection to reach garment sewing, bag-making and quilting folks. I really appreciated the staff letting me sew on the Baby Lock Allegro and offering suggestions for 3 specific machines that might be a better fit for me.

Our trip home took longer than expected due to an issue with the plane that should have been addressed during the post flight inspection the night before. We were delayed leaving Bismarck by 90 minutes, which meant we missed our connecting flight in Minneapolis. Fortunately, we were able to get home on a later flight, but we’d paid for Comfort seats on our original flight and traveled home in the very back of the plane. Hopefully, Delta will give some sort of credit adjustment to make things right.

This trip was exactly what we both needed. The college-age daughter of some long-time friends stayed at the house with Sadie while we were gone. She was able to get the packages in that were delivered while we were away and put the trash out. It was a win-win for everyone involved. Sadie likes the pet sitter much better than doggie day care if she can’t go to Camp Grandma & Poppy when we travel.

It’s past time to get back to living. Time to hit the road!

Retirement – it’s now been a year for me!

This time last year, I notified my boss I would not be returning for the following school year. Several folks told me I was crazy to walk away from a job I enjoyed, was good at and paid decently well. I tuned out those voices, listened to my gut and took the leap of faith into early retirement. Scary, yes, but absolutely worth it!

Today, I celebrated the retirement of a former colleague at the local Mexican restaurant. It was wonderful to see some of my favorite folks from my old school. Their fellowship was much needed.

The conversation eventually turned to life in retirement. There is definitely life after teaching. Retirement is essentially what you make of it. Money is a concern, but you figure out a way to manage things and thrive in the process. If not, you can always return to work. It’s your choice,

Things I’ve learned this past year:

It usually takes 12-18 months for new retirees to feel comfortable in their “retired” status.

You do not need as much money as you think to retire. Convenience can be costly. Our monthly spend has definitely dropped since retirement.

A sense of purpose is essential for one’s overall well-being. What’s your one thing?

Building connections and community (a/k/a finding your tribe) as an early retiree takes time and patience. It’s a challenge to find folks with similar interests who are close to the same age as you AND retired.

There’s a reason financial advisors advocate for 2-3 years of cash reserves when retiring – especially during a down economy.

Returning to work does not mean you are a retirement “fail.”

What’s ahead for me?
A relaxing summer that I was too anxious to fully enjoy last year! Cookouts with friends, a family reunion, Braves baseball, outdoor concerts, hikes, and picnics in the park. Add in two quilty adventures, one beach trip, Quilt Camp at SQTM in June and a CraftLAB camp in late July. We close out summer and usher in fall with our bucket list trip to Alaska in September.

Fall also means back to reality with hubby’s check-up and meeting with TRS one final time to make sure all of my ducks are in a row before I officially begin the process to apply for retirement benefits. Both of us look forward to when my pension checks begin and health insurance rates drop back to active employee/retiree rates.

Beyond this? I have no clue other than QuiltCon 2024 in February and a possible trip to Paducah in April.