Retirement On The Road, Part 1

My Parent’s Retirement

Dad and Sammy
Dad and Sammy

My dad retired in 1994 after a 40+ year career in electronics and aerospace engineering. Even though he retired from his job with Lockheed Martin at 63, he continued to do his same job as a consultant for a few years.

After about two years of this, he retired altogether and he and my mom have been stay-at-home retirees ever since. They taken a few trips around the country to see friends and family, but largely they built a new routine that now centers around medical appointments and a few hobbies.

My Beautiful Mom
My Beautiful Mom

My mom was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom while we were at home. She managed the house, cooked nearly every night for 50 years, and carted my brother, sister, and I all over Texas and Southern California until we each qualified for our driving licenses and obtained independent transportation.

As I look at their situation, which includes a pension, health care benefits, and savings, I’m struck by how different my own retirement will be.

My Version of Retirement

My own version of retirement could’t be more different. Since I don’t feel like I will ever retire in the classic sense of the word, I will continue to write, earn, consult, and travel until I die. To no longer be artistically productive is something I can’t imagine. At 57, I have no desire to stop working as I do now.

Because I’m an independent consultant and writer and no longer report to a single location each day, I work mainly from wherever I am. Right now it’s at home two blocks from the ocean near Santa Cruz, California but it could just as easily be on the road in Death Valley, Santa Fe, or Seattle, as long as solid Internet access is accessible and the supply of good coffee is present.

My desire to maintain personal and professional productivity isn’t related to my financial need, well not totally anyway. I mean, I do need to eat and I don’t have as much socked away as I’d have liked. But more that that, my need to be productive is in my DNA. Instead of clipping coupons and dining out at the country club, I’ll be a eating my simple, vegetarian meals beside a fire or inside my little RV while remaining a productive, contributing member in my field for as long as I’m able.

Mobility Will Be Key

My retirement won’t be spent in one place. Instead, I see myself obtaining a small RV, perhaps a Gulf Stream Vista Cruise Class B, like the model shown below, a motorcycle trailer, and of course, bring along my motorcycles.

Class B Sprinter Gulf Stream

Being of a solitary nature, a retirement that’s both mobile and contained in relatively close quarters suits me just fine. Leaning minimalist in my preferred soundings only makes this type of retirement environment the best option for me. I see the RV a means to an end: a place to relax and sleep as well as protection from bad weather. It also has towing capabilities to bring a long the really fun vehicles. 🙂

Being mobile in my golden years means that I’ll be able to visit my children on the East Coast and not have to stay in hotels, or take up their guest rooms, although I’m sure that’s exactly what they’re designed for. It also means that I’ll be able to maintain a certain amount of independence over my schedule and not be dependent on others.

It goes without saying that I’ll also have a bike or two around and KendonUSA makes the Single Ride-Up SRL Stand-Up™ Motorcycle Trailer that could easily be towed behind my Gulf Stream. They have a cool video of this trailer in operation here. Of course, If I have two bikes, I’ll need this one.

Easy load-in and maneuverability
Easy load-in and maneuverability

Motorcycling Is Essential

I can get by on two wheels for most of my life just fine. Having a motorcycle at my disposal makes daily trips to an office setting, grocery stores, even CostCo runs a breeze.

I can pack about $150 worth of groceries into my BMW R1150GS’s two system side cases and the top case. Even with my son living with me full-time, I rarely spent $300 for two weeks of food and staples.

There’s a certain romance (in the literary sense) to being out on the road with all your worldlies packed on your bike. It’s just you and your motorcycle against the world and all it can throw at you.

But I'm getting up there and I'm no fool, either. 

I can see driving to Yellowstone Park, for example, and booking a week’s stay at a KOA Campground, then taking a few day’s ride around southern Montana. Likewise, a similar style of existence could exist when visiting my daughter and her family in Ohio or my son and his in South Carolina.

I can also see having a KLR 650 or KTM 690 along for rail riding, not that I’m a big off-road kind of guy; in fact I haven’t ridden off road since my younger years. But still, a big BMW is great for highway touring, but a KLR or KTM would be great for buzzing around local cities in search of groceries, supplies, or finally learning to ride off road with Brent in Southern Utah. (His recent review of his chosen dual sport bike, the intrepid Kawasaki KLR 650, is here.)

Building a Phenomenal Life

Like many of my generation, I got married too young. I was immature and naive. I entered into a lot of long-term debt and repeated this series of unfortunate events after my first divorce when I embarked upon another. After the second marriage ended, I knew I had to teach my children another way to create a life that’s fulfilling regardless of their marital status.

The advice I gave to my children when they were entering adulthood was this:

"First, build a phenomenal life that works. Only then consider adding someone to it. If you take the time to create a fulfilling life first,  adding someone to it will only make it more wonderful."

I think this advice is still good and a lot of us high-mileage types that find ourselves on the edge of the treadmill wanting to step off. In fact, a therapist told me when I first became a single, custodial parent 12 years ago that I needed to prepare for the day when my youngest son would move out on his own.

Jay, guitarist and bassist.

And……now that day is here. Jay now lives with his mother in Santa Cruz most of the time and I find myself with a lot more discretionary time. In the intervening years of our solo-journey through life, he’s become a musician and band mate to a good group of guys.

Little by little, day by day he's grown away from his dependency on me and more into his own life.
Sir Buddy, Lord Protector of the Realm

About five years ago I started building a phenomenal life for myself. I reentered motorcycling, I got a dog, I started working on my own terms as a technical  proposal consultant to large construction and engineering firms. I started dating.

Three of those four have been successful. 🙄

This is no one’s fault by mine. I’m very settled into a single life and marriage or permanent relationships just don’t seem to work for me.  It’s enough of a challenge just putting up with myself.

Regardless of my preference for a solitary lifestyle, getting ready for my ‘retirement’ has been enjoyable and I can only imagine that riding into it will be even more so.

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