"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Officially retired!

The weekend was busy and very fun. Friday I joined John at Rockwell for the open house at work. They really do a nice job with decorations, cake and refreshments and a couple hours that lets people who are still working stop by. I am so glad that I went. Just like John I was able to see many who he worked with in the past that we have had very little chance to see over the last few years. Also I got to hear a barber shop quartet of fellow Rockwell Collins engineers seranade him with "Bye Bye my Rockwell Buddy", it was awesome. One of the quartet members is a fellow John has known for many years. Thanks to Dale Penner and his fellow quartet members.

Then it was on to the party! It was an absolutely beautiful day. Gabe and Mitch were there to help put it all together and grill the brats. We had so many friends come out to wish us well and several real surprises. John had two very special surprises. The first were two couples who came a very long way to share his day. Dixie and Dan Schmatz came all the way from Colorado and Judy and Al Boldra from Nebraska. They all remember him from the days he went by "Doc" and Doc was mighty pleased to see his old friends. So here is a photo with Doc and his friends.

John's brother from St. Louis and his Aunt Doris and her daughter Wendy also came to help us celebrate.

Janie & Mary
I also had a couple special guests. My very good friend Mary came from Minnesota, she has 3 busy girls at home and I was so excited to have her here. Mary, Trudy (my very close girlfriend here) and I spent a good deal of time over the weekend solving the worlds problems (not) and just laughing.
Janie & Trudy

A group of my former students also came and that meant a lot to me. Kari and her friend Joe came early on and then at the end of the evening Dana, Alicia, Allison, Michelle, Pam, and Jodi came too.

I wish I had a photo of each and everyone who came to wish us well. All these people have made our lives richer . We have been blessed in our lives and the time we have lived and worked in this area. Thank you all for joining us and sharing our joy in moving onto a new adventure in our lives.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The countdown is on!

Just two more days, or as a co-worker of John's put it, just two more wake-ups. Hard to believe we are this close. I've been working on getting ready for the party and its been a little stressful. So why did I think a party was a good idea??  I will enjoy getting to see friends before taking off and it will be good to have our boys around for the weekend. We are putting them to work at the grills for the party. John will have a little party at work on Friday too. After 35 years with Rockwell Collins, I think he deserves it. Well I'm off to do more prep. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

What we won't miss

So now that I have told you what we will miss it is time to flip the coin and tell you what we won't miss.

I think it almost goes without saying but we won't miss having to get up every morning to go to work. I am not an early morning person except when I need to be and it will be nice to get on my body's schedule instead of a work schedule. Now on days I have to get John to work (and until recently) the days I worked it was up by 5:30 and for John to bed around 9. I have trouble going to sleep that early so for me it was more like 10-11pm. When we have had long vacations it seems our bodies fell into an up at 8 and to bed around midnight schedule. I am looking forward to that. Ahh, just to not have to wake up to an alarm.

Local politics is another thing we won't miss. Cedar Rapids is a small city that can't decide if it wants to act like a small town or a big city and it just gets ugly out there. The last straw for us has been the flood recovery from our catastrophic flood in 2008. Funny thing is that year the city had a theme of "the year of the river" as they were trying to develop a river side development plan. Well it certainly was the year of the river and from what I can see the river was saying "BACK OFF". There was an opportunity to do just that and make green space for all to enjoy and not have to worry about another flood bailout but no only a fraction of the area was bought up and as time has gone by, more and more building permits have been issued. Sometimes I'm just amazed that we think we can conquer Mother Nature, time and time again she proves to us that she can overcome anything we put in her way.

A town that refuses to make it safe for bicycles and pedestrians.  It always amazed me how this city doesn't require sidewalks in residential areas. We have lived near three different elementary schools that if you went  more than three blocks in any direction there would be at least one and usually two, and at the last one all four directions, that the sidewalk would end. If you wanted your children to walk to school often it was in the street - that sound safe doesn't it?  As for bicycles, there is one bike trail through town and it is heavily used but to safely get to the trail you usually have to drive. There are very few bike lanes and the car traffic really doesn't care if your there they just want you to get out of their way. For the last few years John has tried to bike to work most days and I have to say I worried everyday about his safety. He would try to take the safest route to the bike trail and use it as far as he could. We have been is some very bike friendly cities like Anchorage AL, Vancouver BC, Fort Collins CO, and Madison WI, to name a few so we know what bike friendly looks like and this is not it.

Lastly, we will not miss the weather. We do love the change of seasons but Iowa seems to get the extremes. Hot and humid summers and in the winter cold and lots of ice. We actually like snow but most years here we would get more ice than snow. In Iowa usually the first thing you do in the morning is check the forecast. With retirement it will be nice to choose the climate, I know the weather will change no matter where we are but now if it snows we can stay put instead of digging ourselves out to go to work or worry about the ice on I380 to Iowa City for me. We are looking towards more temperate climates - we will have to see how that works out.

So here's to moving on and moving around to wherever the wind takes us. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oops forgot one!

I can't believe I forgot to put this on my what we will miss list.
The Linn County Parks! Squaw Creek and Morgan Creek Parks have been our home this summer. We have logged almost 130 nights in the 2 parks. Since we were still working, these two parks have been the most convenient but after checking out others including two state parks in the area I have to say they can't be beat. They are not FHU but do have electric and water.  They allow 14 out of every 21 nights in each park so every week or two we would switch parks. They each have a little different feel but we like both and change our minds all the time regarding which is best. If you are traveling in this area I would highly recommend them. Squaw creek is in the process of putting in 22 FHU sites. Will have to check those out next summer when we are back.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What we will miss

John and I have been talking lately about what we will miss and what we won't miss when we leave Cedar Rapids. I've decided to do this in two post. So first what we will miss....

People: it almost goes without saying, it is our friends and family that we will miss the most. After all these years (35 for John and about 30 for me) we have been blessed with many wonderful friends. I also have a brother and his wife, a nephew and his wife, and my oldest son in Cedar Rapids. So hands down these people are what have made our lives here so good and we will truly miss them.

Doctors and dentist. Even though we have been fairly healthy, they have been there when we needed them. Our primary care physician and  several specialists along the way. We have had excellent care. We still plan on seeing them each year for  our physicals and check ups but now we will have to do things differently if we get ill out on the road and that is a little scary. The goal is to stay so healthy that we only need them for preventive care but we also know how unpredictable life can be.

We will miss how familiar the city is. We know the city and can find what we need when we need it. rarely do we need a GPS here. I think the GPS will get a lot more use once we leave.

The Roughriders hockey team. Many of you don't know but for 8 years we housed hockey players for this developmental team. We have made close relationships with  several young men and gotten to watch them as they progressed through Division I college hockey and even into professional ranks. We also have made great friends with their families, relationships that will be with us for a lifetime. Also Coach Mark Carlson will be missed by us. He is a man that we admire and count ourselves lucky to have known. We will keep up with his teams on the internet but it won't be the same.

Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball will also be missed. Don't know anyone on these teams but we  have spent many a summer night watching this A minor league team (affiliate of the Angels). We enjoy a good game and one of the things on our list to do is to watch for other minor league teams and visit different stadiums in our travels. There is nothing like a brat, beer, warm summer night and baseball. In fact I think we may go see a game tonight!

Favorite restaurants will be missed. Hacienda Las Glorias has great food and the best margaritas we have ever had.  The Starlight lounge is the home of the Superburger, nothing fancy here but definitely the best greasy burger around. Tomasos Pizza, again the ambience is low rent but the pizza particularly the Mambo Combo is the best. Other favs are the Thai Moon, Zepplins, Granite City & Biaggis. There are others that have come and gone but these are our current favorites.

Lastly we will miss our co-workers. Though I don't think we will miss working that much we will miss the people that made it enjoyable.

Yes we will miss this place and are blessed to have been here for awhile but we think we will enjoy other areas just as much and it is time to discover this wonderful country we are a part of.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reality hits

Well, it is less that 2 weeks until we are both done, party a little and then start our travels and the reality of all that is exciting but also a little crazy.  We are still finishing up doctor and dental appointments, getting ready for our party, getting the rig shaped up and now we find we need to put new tires on the truck. We have noticed a slow leak on the inside rear passenger side tire. We have a tire pressure monitoring system that we turn on periodically (especially before towing) to check the pressures of both the truck and 5th wheel tires and that is how we discovered this. After careful checking we could see where the tires are beginning to crack between the treads. They are over 4 years old and have almost 50,000 miles so it is just time. Just learned how to read on the tire the manufacturing date - never knew you could do that. So on top of an already crazy schedule we need to research and buy 6 new tires.
I am finding all of this a little overwhelming and have trouble shutting the brain down at night so I am not sleeping all that well these days. I also find myself getting a little more emotional. I am so excited for the future but saying goodbye is harder than I thought it would be. Gabe came for dinner on Sunday and I found myself getting all teary even then. There is a party Sunday with my coworkers and I think that will be a little emotional for me too. When I was planning and researching and it was in the distance it was easy but like I said reality has hit and it is definitely harder than I thought it would be. I've been trying to go out and read about the travels of other full timers just to keep my eye on the goal. 
And guess what ---oops no we didn't get a puppy. Our neighbors in the park this week have a new golden retriever puppy and there is nothing cuter to photograph than a puppy - so enjoy Kate the pup, we certainly did.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm Officially Done (until next summer)

This morning I put the grades in for the semester so now my commitment to Kirkwood is over until next summer.  I do love teaching so by teaching this class in the summer it is letting me ease out and we will consider it our work-camping for the summer.  It will help us economically so we feel it is a good fit. So I'm retired (kind of).

Took the truck in for an oil change and to find out why one tire seems to have a slow leak. Well wouldn't you know what we really need is new tires. Now this truck takes 6 tires - really big tires- and of course it will be more money than we have ever spent on tires but it is a necessity for our chosen lifestyle. They think they are original to the truck which makes them 4 years old with about 50,000 miles on them so it is just time. Of course it wasn't an expense we were planning on right now but it will all work out. Will probably wait until the week after John retires.

Guess what the weather is like outside??? Yes, rain again. In fact we just had a storm pass through that was suppose to be very strong so I came in to Panera's for coffee and brick walls. It passed and I don't think it was as bad as they predicted. I got caught in the downpour for about 5 minutes but made it safely here. Whew! Now I hope the trailer is still upright when I get home. I have to pick John up from work later so we can find out together. I think most of Iowa would like to see a few weeks without torential rains. Many communities are experiencing severe flooding and all the rivers are high. I'm use to seeing high rivers in the spring and in 2008 the year of the 500 year flood they were high until July but we are in the second week of August and they are still dangerously high.

Today 's photos were taken with my phone. There is a 4 way stop that had traffic backed up a ways so I was able to snap these while I waited. They are the leading edge of today's storm.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Flip and fold

I was doing laundry today and decided I need to share with you my new favorite tool. You would think after about 35 years or more of doing laundry there wouldn't be anything more I could learn about it but you be wrong. The worst part of this task for me is folding all those clothes and to be honest I am not very good at it, that is probably why I have always hated this task. Well one day last year I was watching an episode of "the big Bang" and Sheldon ( the king of all nerds with OCD) was doing his laundry using a tool that helps fold the clothes and when he was done he had this neat little perfectly folded stack of t-shirts.  Now some of you may have worked in retail clothing and experienced this tool there but that is one job I never had so didn't know this tool existed. Shortly after watching this episode I was shopping for things at the Container Store online for the 5th wheel and what did I find but a flip and fold. Well I just couldn't resist so I splurged and ordered one. Crazy as it seems it is one of my favorite things and now I don't dread the task of folding those clothes.  I took so photos today to show you how cool this is.

Living in the 5th wheel space is at such a premium and what I found is that with everything folded so uniformly it has made it easy to put things away in neat stacks that take up less room. That gives me a little more room for a few more shirts! When not in use the thing folds up and fits at the side of the closet.

I have one other discovery to share. Now that I am paying to do my laundry, the fewer the loads, the less I spend. A friend of mine told me about Color Catchers (you can find these in most stores that carry laundry supplies) back when I was sending the boys off to school. Since college students don't like to sort clothes it is perfect for them and now for me too. I still sort my permanent press from the clothes that need to be washed in hotter water but you just throw one of these in and then you don't have to sort by colors. They really work!

So you can teach and old dog (at least this old dog) new tricks, at least about laundry.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The last lecture and it's getting noisy out there!

Wednesday I gave my last lecture for the year. I teach Oral Pathology to dental hygiene students. I love the subject but by the end of summer I am ready for it to end. My lecture is 2 hours once a week for 12 weeks and that's a lot of talking, some days by the end of the lecture I feel like I'm tripping over my tongue. This is a tough subject and we squeeze it into a short time. I'm coming back next summer to teach it again and the possibilty of teaching for a couple years is there, with some of the new technologies out there I may even be able to teach it from where I am. I think it would be a kick giving my lectures over the internet from whatever campground I was in. I'm not sure if that would really work with this course but it is fun to entertain the thought. Tuesday I give the final and then I am done until next summer - on to the next adventure!

It was absolutely beautiful last night. The humidity was down and the temperatures too! I actually turned off the air and slept with the windows open -YIPEE! John has been gone all week on one last business trip so I have been on my own. I told him on the phone last night, it's just not as much fun without him. I did make a fire last night but it was kind of lonely there. As I was sitting there I was listening to the cicada. This time of year they really get going. Some nights the buzz is incredibly loud. Sometimes John complains about it but for me it is truly the sound of summer. It will be intersesting to find out how many other places have that same buzz this time of year.

I did take the camera out on a hike yesterday through the arboretum. There are tons of butterflies lately and I thought I'd try to find and photograph a few. I went out a little too early so maybe tonight I'll head out closer to dusk, it just means making sure I get my bug spray on but the lighting is always so much better then.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Trailer Fire

It was moving day today. Moved from Squaw Creek back to Morgan Creek. Had been set up for about half an hour when I noticed the guy next door getting excited about something. Sat down at the table and realized what he was excited about was a trailer that had smoke coming out of it and he was telling his wife to cal 911. Grabed my camera and headed out. Here is what it looked like.

The smoke was coming out the roof and the vent on the side. Now the whole campground is standing watching for the smoke thinking flames could come shooting out any minute and anxiously awaiting the fire department. Well 5 min later the smoke seems to be letting up luckily because no sirens could be heard. Twenty minutes later the fire truck pulls in but now just a little smoke obviously more of a smoldering fire. Good thing it wasn't an all out flames etc. fire. The whole campground could have gone down before they got there.

This concerns me because we are only about 2 miles from Cedar Rapids NW fire station. However the park is in the county and a Palo address so that's how the call got routed. So instead of a truck coming from 2 miles away the volunteer fire department of Atkins, about 10 miles away showed up. I am sure there are some local and county politics involved in how those calls are routed and that sad for those of us who could have been affected by this fire.

Back to the trailer. The owner had parked just half hour before and left to get groceries. The good thing there is no one was in the trailer, the bad part was he returned to a ruined trailer. Turns out it was the refrigerator.  We know there are recalls out on a lot of rv fridges so it is a reminder to us all to check on that. So that was the excitement in the park on Sunday.

Last weekend we had a beautiful Saturday night and the sunset at was spectacular. I'll sign off with a few photos.