My big news of 2016 was RETIREMENT! I have been doing a countdown for about 18 months, and on April 1, 2016, I finally turned in my badge and began Phase 3 of my life. My co-workers, family and friends threw several retirement parties and gave me wonderful gifts to celebrate the event. Since I was still a year from Medicare eligibility, I elected to take COBRA for health insurance. I was thrilled to discover I could continue the same great Blue Cross coverage for a very reasonable premium. I rolled my 401K into an IRA, took stock of my stock portfolio, calculated a budget, and entered the blissful life of no more alarm clocks and RV travel.
At the end of February, I flew to Orlando with Carrie, Nathan and Andrew, to visit Universal Studios and Walt Disney World for a week. We had a blast at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Happiest Place on Earth and it was a great way to break up the final few months of work, which were dragging way too slowly.
Because I wasn’t working, I was able to attend the L.I.F.E. Annual Golf Tournament in early April, and help out as a volunteer. They raised many thousands of dollars to benefit the facility and programs for the special needs community.
In mid April, I took my RV up to the Prescott Forest area near Cottonwood to camp for a few days with Dale. We rode his motorcycle into Jerome and toured the mining museum. We did some walking, some relaxing and some visiting with fellow RVers. At the end of the month, I took Nathan and Andrew on an overnight RV trip to Roosevelt Lake. They were excited to travel and sleep in the motor home, and we had a fun time.
Brian, Carrie and the kids took me to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden for Mother’s Day. We wandered among the beautiful grounds and sculptures and enjoyed a picnic lunch.
May took me back to Disneyland for my last pre-summer visit. We saw the premiere performance of Frozen at the Hyperion, which replaced the long running Aladdin. It was fantastic, and we really enjoyed it.
I made another sojourn in my RV in May, joining Dale on the Mogollon Rim for a few days. Then Minnie and I moved to Blue Ridge Campground, and enjoyed some back road four wheeling through the woods, seeing many places that Richard takes care of for the US Forest Service.
I had some landscaping upgrades done in late June, grading the front yard to make it easier to get my motor home in and out, and also reduced the area of grass in an effort to reduce my water consumption and improve the appearance of the back yard.
As soon as the landscaping was done, I pulled my Minnie out and headed north and northwest for seven wonderful weeks of RVing. I visited several National Parks, some family and friends, and learned the ropes of traveling alone.
A surprising election gave us an unexpected new President, and the next four years could bring many changes to our nation. Hopefully, we can all find some common ground to become Stronger Together and Make America Great.
In November, our special girl Lauren celebrated her 16th birthday, and Brian and Carrie held a Sweet Sixteen Birthday Bash for her. We had lots of family join us, many who came from thousands of miles away, and we celebrated, laughed, talked, danced, ate and shed a few tears as we watched Brian have a Daddy/Daughter dance with his girl.
Of course the Christmas season couldn’t pass without a holiday visit to Disneyland, so I made another trip in late November. It’s a festive way to get into the spirit of the season, and a lot of fun as well.
I had planned to drive my RV up to Boise in early December to see Megan’s final performance (and Steven’s second) in Idaho Regional Ballet’s The Nutcracker. But the weather forecast forced me to change my plans just before I left and I drove my car instead. Ken’s parents and his sister and niece also came to see the show. We had a wonderful family time, and thoroughly enjoyed the ballet.
I was back at home for Christmas, and as usual, I spent the morning with Mom, Dale, and Daryl’s family for breakfast, and then we went to Brian & Carrie’s for Christmas dinner, presents and games.
Most of my brothers came by my house to ring in the New Year. We toasted one another as the ball on Times Square dropped at midnight eastern time, and broke up the party shortly after that. I was in bed by the time 2017 arrived in Arizona.
That wraps up a special and momentous year and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings. I’m glad you are all a part of it. May you be blessed with love and joy.