Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico

After our beautiful drive into the mountains around Taos ski area, we stayed in Taos town center.  The Town Plaza is cute, and of course there are lots of shops and restaurants.  If you like American Indian Art, a little Spanish art thrown in, and once in a while some Cowboy are, you’ll fall in love with shopping.  There is a lot of sterling silver earrings and necklaces.  But always remember just because it looks good out there, it might not fit in so well when you get home.  I find that I like the jewelry look so did indulge myself with a few pieces this trip.

While in Taos, do not miss the Taos Pueblo.  It is historically significant, something like you have never seen before, and just plain interesting.  You are on an Indian Pueblo where people are living their daily lives, so there are many restrictions, so be aware of what is OK and what is not, and photography is certainly not allowed.  Once you see the Pueblo, you will recognize it many paintings you see while shopping, it is a popular scene to paint.  The history is quite amazing.

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Around Taos and South to Albuquerque there are approximately 19 Pueblos, and you can visit each one.  Each Pueblo offers its own uniqueness, from as little as a visitor center selling their wares, to casinos and beautiful golf courses.  definitely should put on your list and visit a few.

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There are many missions along the way, and each with its own significance.  Most are off the main routes, so when you visit the missions, you’re also getting a scenic drive a long the way.  Also, just west of Taos is a really cool bridge that goes over a gorge, definitely worth the 8 mile drive out-of-town. 

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Arriving in Santa Fe, you realize it is a much bigger city.  There is the new section of town where the Shopping Mall and all the chain restaurants are at, but where you want to be is in the city center, the historic Santa Fe Town Plaza.  The old town area is about 3 times bigger than Taos.  The shops are not only on the Plaza, but down many side streets.  There are some nice local museums including some art museums you don’t want to miss.  There are some beautiful Churches and Missions around the Plaza, and the oldest house in the Country is located right off the Plaza.  A short drive away is Canyon Road and its about a mile long of Art Galleries.  There are all kinds of art, not just Indian or Cowboy art, but everything.  You could spend a day just walking up and down Canyon Road.  If you’re looking for a new painting, or a piece of art, you need to put this on your list before you buy.  But remember to bring your checkbook, this is not for the faint of heart.

I could consider Santa Fe a great place for a women’s weekend.  If shopping is your thing and you want everything contained in one area, what a great weekend get-away.  But if you’re looking for a special something that you and your husband want, then this is  a great couples escape also.  I didn’t see a lot of things that would keep children interested.  The weather was warm in July, but the mornings and evenings refreshing.  There was some rain, but nothing that ruined our days.

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These were just some of the sights along the way.  We drove along the Rio Grande River and saw tubers, looked like that would be fun.  After Santa Fe, we drove on to Albuquerque, another nice destination in our travels.  Until next time, happy travels to whatever destination you choose…….

 

Where Did the Year Go?

It’s been a long time since my last post.  Believe me it’s not because I have nothing to say, it’s because I can’t find the time to sit here and write about it.  I have had friends and family in my life through out the years, and I have done things such as travel, go to concerts, dinners, shopping, boating, and golfing.  Everything went in cycles, but what never changed was the 7 to 5 work grind, that was always first and foremost.  It had to be, there were bills to pay, and if I wanted to do any of the things I just mentioned you needed money, so off to work I went.  Along the way I saved, could I have saved more; of course.  Will what I have saved be enough, only time will tell, but I will say that the effort that went into controlling my spending and holding back on some of those “wants” that weren’t “needs” did pay off, and because of those times in my life I am happy to say that I have almost reached my first anniversary of retirement.    All my life I would say, “when I retire I want to do this”, or when I retire I would like to go here”, well I certainly haven’t even scratched the surface, but I’m sure moving in the right direction.

I had this certain expectation of what retirement was going to be.  I didn’t see myself sitting in my house watching TV all day, nope, I was going to be socializing and traveling, and doing activities.  I am so very happy to say that in the first year my expectations have been met and exceeded.  It started as a busy year relocating to our current home, which is located in an Adult Sun City Community.  After settling in we started meeting people and joining groups.  We got involved in game nights, dances, dinners, golfing, and exercising and now as we continue to expand our activities list I am now meeting new people in the community.  I’m still as excited about our community as I was when we first moved here.  It hasn’t slowed down and we are having as much or more fun than at first.

At first I was scrambling to do all and get involved with everything.  Almost like a kid in a candy store, afraid they’re going to run out, so go for it all.  A year later, it’s not running out, but changing, expanding and getting better.  The end of August will be one year since I left my last career job.  I thought I was going to die, I was scared to death about money, being lonely and bored, and figuring I would be back to work full-time in under 6 months.  I can honestly say that if we stayed in our previous house this probably would have happened.  I didn’t have the base of friends that I have acquired here in less than a year.  We lived there 5 years and never developed friendships like we have in the short time we’re here.

I write this down because I am hoping that as you near retirement and if you consider yourself a somewhat sociable person and want to meet people of similar ages and likes, then please look at an Adult Community, they are not for old people.  I can tell you that I am getting healthier than I have ever been and have a chance to look better in my 60’s than I did in my 50’s.  Age is nothing, it’s your attitude and how you go about life.  All my adult life I was in a controlled environment, meaning someone else controlled the majority of my life, my employer.  Now I’m in control and I’m doing the things that I have been waiting 35 years to do, at my own pace and my own time.  Embrace your older years, it’s still time to grow and develop.  It’s time to learn and expand your knowledge and it’s time to share those also.

Work hard and long when you have to, and prepare for the later years in your life, because the best is still to come.  Enjoy your travels, it’s getting better and better…….

Next post is our trip to New Mexico!

It’s not our Parents Retirement

Remember when you were young, everyone looked old.  Someone in their 40’s was old, and 50’s they were just ancient.  I always remember my grandparents as old.  I’m sure they weren’t any older than I am now when this first thought came to me, but being young they were old.  There was no middle age, you were either young or your were old.  And anyone that wasn’t you or your brother’s age were old.

I’m glad to say, times have changed.  If this is old, it’s great!  After doing nothing much more than working, eating, watching TV, and a little socializing that was the extent of my world and my exercise.  I’m happy to report that this is not what retirement needs to be.  Of course you’re no longer working, so it’s what you fill that void with that makes life new and exciting.  Yes, I could be a retiree of the earlier years, when most activity was centered around the house, and family, but there is so much more to choose from today.  Families are spread out all over the Country and it’s up to you to make the most of these years.

As I have found out you can be as busy or even busier than when you worked, but what’s exciting about being busy, it’s the busy you make it.  Today my day started at 9AM and I didn’t sit down and relax until 4PM, it was great.  First there was golf lessons and practice, off to a ladies luncheon, back for 2 hours of line dancing, working in the yard, then finally calling it a day and a well deserved sit down and relax time.  There’s more than TV, more than computers, there are classes, lectures, luncheons, arts and crafts, volunteering, golf, tennis, bocce ball, dancing, card games, gardening,…… I could go on for an entire page.

What’s really fun about a day like today versus when I worked, I’m tired, completely bushed, but it feels good.  I have exercised, I have not sat on my butt all day.  I have been with people who enjoy the same things I do, and have had a great dose of my vitamin D being out in the sun. I’m glad to say that so far 11 months into retirement I couldn’t have expected anymore.  I’m very happy and so glad I decided to travel down this road now, and not wait a few years.  I’m traveling on happy trails and hope your are too.

 

I just realized that it has been a long time since I wrote my last blog.  When I started writing in August last year, it seems like I had time every day to sit down and write.  Actually I was looking to fill my time so writing here was helpful to fill that time.  It also was helpful in transitioning to this new life.  Today is Saturday, you can certainly ask me what the date is, but I sure don’t know.  I’m still OK with knowing if it’s a Monday or a Tuesday, etc…, but that’s only because of all the game nights and different things we do that the days of the week are not forgotten, but the date, that requires a calendar.  But if you ask me what we’re doing on the first Monday of the month, or the third Wednesday of the month, or the fourth Thursday evening, I can tell you.  I’ve learned to use that function on my Outlook calendar very well.

The end of May will be nine months since I worked full-time and almost 7 months that we have lived in Sun City Georgetown.  If there are any people who read this and are thinking of retiring in the near future or are already retired and looking for something new, I will suggest go on-line and look for Adult communities.  They are all over the U.S. and not just Sun Cities.  Lennar has some 55+ communities, and Pulte of course has Del Webb and you don’t have to move South or away from your kids because I wouldn’t be surprised if there is not one near you.    If you are a social person, like group activities, like to golf or play tennis, into crafts, pickelball, game nights, socials, and live music events, this is the place to be.  Our previous neighborhoods were multi-generational and very seldom did you get together with your neighbors.  Everyone was too busy running here or there, working, shopping, cleaning, etc…..So even when they were home they didn’t have time to visit except occasionally.

If anyone ever watched Desperate Housewives with all the drama going on, I will say that Drama does exist.  I can happily say that is all that is similar to Wisteria Lane.  No murders, no crime, but when you have many older people with time on their hands, I will be honest and say there is drama.  Is it so horrible that it negates the good stuff, absolutely not.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the negative.  There are the ones that want to be the leaders, there are the ones that form their little groups, there will always be someone who doesn’t get along with someone, that’s just the way of the world.  But although some of this exists, it is so mild and does not affect the overall mood and fun of the neighborhood.  What it does do is bring up some funny stuff and if you can laugh about it and move on, then that’s OK.  You know we have lesser years now than we did before on this earth, so the petty stuff, who cares.

I know living on this street that I could call anyone, anytime and ask for help and they would be there.  It’s nice knowing that if you had to your neighbors would be here for you.  In today’s world that is a really great thing.  There are no screaming kids, no toys left in the yards, no swing sets and no 4 or 5 cars sitting out.  Are there rules here, of course there are rules, but those are what makes the neighborhoods look as nice as they do and for us one of the reasons we moved here.  We don’t mind rules, as long as they are practical and for everyone.  I know for some the rules thing is offensive, but overall I believe in rules and believe if not over done can be good for everyone.

It’s now summer in Texas.  Going to be in the mid-90’s all week.  Some people have already left for the summer and others will be leaving over the next month.  We hear that June – September is rather slow here as many people go on long vacations or to their home up North, so we’ll have to see what happens over the next few months.  I can tell you thru the end of May it has not slowed down.  I am not one to sit and watch TV, or read a book for a long period of time so being here and being active is right up my alley.

I am going to say one last thing about aging.  I know I’m one of the younger ones here in Sun City, being in my 50’s.  I have a new outlook of what I want to be when I’m 65 or 70.  I have heard the saying that “the 60’s are the new 40’s” and I truly, absolutely and completely  believe that.  I have a new goal in life to be as fit and in shape as many of the 70 year olds.  Many run circles around me and are in much better shape.  I have never seen so many ladies that I would never have guessed they are as old as they are, and no they have not had surgery.   I have a few years to get working on this, and I sure am.  So for today this is it, I’m motivated and going to work out.  The road I’m traveling today is the work out road………

 

Where Does the Time Go?

I remember when I was a kid summer vacations seemed endless, it took forever to get to Christmas and it was a whole year before you next birthday.  Nothing ever got here soon enough.  I remember being in the car and saying “when are we going to get there”, or asking “when is Christmas going to be here”, it seemed the world and time was moving much slower.  Of course we all know it wasn’t but it sure seemed like it.  Then we got older, started families, and then we never had enough time, and it went to, Oh my God, its Christmas already, or it’s birthday time again.  We started measuring time with the age of our kids.  The kids are grown and we’ve been on our own for a while now.  We can’t believe how quickly the grandkids are getting older, but I don’t seem to relate to their aging as I did the kids.  Maybe being long distance has something to do with that.  But I don’t need kids, or grandkids to tell me that time is flying by again.

I quit my full-time job 8 months ago.  I can’t believe that 8 months have come and gone.  We moved here to Sun City over 5 months ago.   This I can not believe either.  Now we say, “already another birthday”, where did the year go?   We were busy with selling a house, buying a house, moving, getting settled in, painting, landscaping, and learning to have fun again.  I didn’t realize that my life had been so consumed with work that I forgot what it was like to really have fun.  Not having to worry about work stuff, getting up at 6am whether you wanted to or not, working weekends and evenings.  Life was not fun.  For the few weekends or evenings that we did go out I realize now that I had missed out on so much of life.

I look back and think I should have done some things differently, but I didn’t, and at least I’m lucky enough now to have the time to do those things I missed out on.  I’m going to Ladies luncheons, playing Mah Jongg with the ladies in the afternoon, attending weeknight parties, joining in game nights.  They might seem like little things, but I’ve come to realize that it’s sometimes the little things in life that are the most fun.  You can’t always plan or afford a world cruise, or vacation for 4 or 5 weeks at a time, or attend expensive functions, but you don’t need that.  You can find fun things to do right in your own neighborhood.  That’s one thing that Sun City has offered us and we are enjoying.

So now that I took my 10 minute break, we’re off to another neighborhood party tonight.  You won’t believe it but its called “howling at the moon”, I need not say anymore.  So remember whatever road you are traveling down, remember to be friendly, be sociable and smile.  Take that 5 minutes to talk with someone, you never know where it might lead to.  Happy traveling……..

A Great Family Day in Small Town Texas

Last weekend we had a really great day. We attended the Bluebonnet Festival in Burnett, TX.
As I have stated in previous posts there are many great small Texas towns that have some really nice festivals during the year, and Spring in Texas is the perfect time to attend these.
The weather is usually great this time of year and although the activities certainly can’t compare to a large city like Dallas or Houston, for small towns they put on a really good show.

We went to the Bluebonnet Airsho on Saturday and it was a really good afternoon. The stunt planes were very good, they had a B17 on display, they did a small reenactment, and some good displays of flying. There were no Blue Angels and no fancy military jets, but just good old fashion fun. We brought our chairs and for 3 hours we were entertained. The activity was continuous and it kept you interested.

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Once we finished the air show we drove about a mile down the road back to the historic square for a great arts and crafts fair, food and 2 stages for entertainment. It was our frist time to this festival and I would reccomend anyone who is looking for something to do mid-April next year, make sure you watch for this festival and plan on attending. They had a nice carnival section for the kids. Again, keep in mind this is a small town, but I would give this festival a solid 9 on the rating scale measuring this against other towns simliar in size. I hope if you plan to attend next year, sure hope you have a fun day.  Hope one of the roads you travel down takes you this direction…….

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A Day’s Adventure

Back on the Texas road of adventures. If you have enough money and lucky enough to have the time and someone to travel with, seeing the U.S. or the World is exciting. But not everyone can take multiple weeks off to travel half way around the world. Many more only have the opportunity to visit sights that are closer to home. For those who enjoy a weekend get-away or are looking to put a vacation together another fun day to add to your trip if visiting central Texas is a visit to Fredericksburg, TX. You certainly can stay in town and visit these sights from there, but we made a day trip from our home and we stopped and visited many places en route to Fredericksburg. There is much to do and a variety for everyone.

Rt 290 is where the wine trail starts. If you like wine and want a relaxing day, you can spend the entire day traveling from one winery to the next. Every time we travel from Johnson City to Fredericksburg it seems a new wine tasting room is opening up. Even if you don’t drink much wine you should stop at least at one or two just to try some Texas wines. We happened to be visiting the area the 3rd weekend of the month so we went to Fredericksburg Trade Days. This is one of the biggest “market” days in the area. Most towns in this area have a certain weekend day of the month that they have a market days and usually it is on Saturday. But Fredericksburg calls their event “Trade Days” and it is for 3 days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It costs a few dollars to park but the entrance to the Trade Days is free. There is all kinds of stuff there. Probably not that much fun for kids but the Mom’s and probably even some Dads will really like this.

Another stop along the way is Wildseed Farms. In the Spring you can’t miss it. The fields are full of all types of wildflowers and the color is spectacular. They have a nursery where they sell plants, a cute store that sells knick knacks and on some days they have music in the afternoon. A nice rest stop along the way. There is also a place that sells pottery, so if traveling by car and you have room, definitely worth a stop. There is also LBJ’s ranch along the route, stop by and visit, always good to get a refresher history lesson.

 

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Along the way we stopped at a store, that I haven’t seen before. It was so cool! They had all kinds of wagons for sale – like the wagons from the  old Western movies. It was an interesting store to walk around and look at some of the unique items they have. Here are some photos of those wagons.  This Longhorn was eye level, very big!

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When you finally reach Fredericksburg there is a very good museum “Pacific War Museum” that is if you have a family member that is a history buff, this museum should not be missed. You can spend a 1/2 day in this museum.  I see many a family split up, the men go the museum and the ladies go shopping. And that is what Fredericksburg is also about – shopping! They have blocks and blocks of shops. You could spend a day just visiting all the shops and hope that your wallet won’t be empty at the end of it.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, there are other things to do in the area, and many festivals during the year, depending on when your visit is scheduled. There are good restaurants so you can have dinner before you head home. If you haven’t been this direction for awhile, or looking for something new, I think you would enjoy the day, and also not having to deal with city traffic. If this is a road you decide to go down, have a great time on your travels…….

Visiting the Rodeo in Austin

 

We have been busy with visitors the last few weeks and have been on the go.  I have many photos and fun things to do if you have a chance to visit Austin, TX.  Austin is a great weekend destination, a stop during your vacation or a destination onto itself.  This will take a few blogs but each day I’ll try to update you on one of the activities.  Today’s photos are from the Austin Rodeo.

The rodeo is not a year round activity but approximately the middle two weeks of March.  If you plan on being in this area during the month of March, then I would certainly consider looking this up and plan on having a fun evening.  My best description of Austin’s rodeo is that it’s in a good location, out of city traffic, and the grounds themselves is like the size of a County Fair.  They have a stage outside for musical entertainment, about every 2 hours there was a new act.  Plenty of “Fair” food, and some shows periodically thru the day.  Of course there was the amusement park rides, but we passed on that section.  They had pig races, a “roper” who was very good, a western shootout, and a dog show in the afternoon.  The day we went to the Rodeo, the Rodeo started at 7PM.

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It had all the standard Rodeo things – roping, barrel racing, bronc riding and bull riding.  We went on a Monday evening so the stadium was only about half full, but it was still fun and enjoyable.  I forgot to mention they also have animal judging, cows, pigs, etc… just like at County and State Fairs.  So here are some photos.  I will mention that some might be a little fuzzy as these are the “action” shots.  If you haven’t been to a Rodeo, I think it’s a good American past time and you should try it at least once – have fun!

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I think all ages would enjoy this activity.  It’s not an all day activity, but if you can arrive a few hours before the rodeo starts you can take in the shows, possibly see some judging, have a fun dinner, then attend the rodeo.  Also, after each rodeo event there is Live music to enjoy.  So when next March rolls around and you’re going to be here, take a look at their website, and book your tickets.  Hope you enjoy.

 

OK, I had to do it – I’m working Part Time

I first need to say, I did not go back to work part-time because I had nothing to do, because I have said multiple times that living here in Sun City there is so much to do, you can be busy 12 hours a day.    I went back to work because of me.  Although I enjoy visiting with the neighbors, playing games, working out, doing line dancing, and starting to play golf, I felt I needed something else.  I am not a competitive person when it comes to sports and I can say I’m not the most athletic. I am not an artsy person and have really never done crafts except ceramics years ago.  I have mentioned that I don’t have a hobby.  I enjoy reading, but that is one thing I have always found time for, no matter how much I worked.

It’s almost impossible to put into words, but I was sitting and pondering our new life and thinking about our future years and I thought as much as I enjoy all these activities and I enjoy the freedom of not having to be somewhere at a scheduled time, I also realized that I can’t see myself doing these activities for the next 30 years (I’m thinking positive).  Because work was such a part of my life I realized that this was my hobby, my identity.  I like the mental workout, the completion of tasks and seeing my accomplishments.  But since I have been home I also realized I like my later starting mornings, and I like being available for activities when they come along.  So I had a dilemma.  I needed to find a part-time job.  I did realize that full-time was just going to be too much, but a part-time job would still allow me to participate in all that I have been doing since moving here, yet giving me a dose of “my hobby”.

Well luck would have it, I had potential for 3 part-time jobs and I accepted and have started one of them.  In all my years I have never until a few weeks ago saw an Ad for a part-time purchasing person.  It was like a message from heaven, that I should open the paper at this right time, see this ad, contact them, get the interview and in 4 days get the job.  What is really great about this job is that I told them that I didn’t want to work more than 20 hours, and they seem to accept that.  I can work any day of the week and any time from 7 AM to 8 PM at night.  What are the odds of finding a job that will be so flexible, in my profession, close to home, and the hours I want to work.  I couldn’t have asked for a better match.  Now I’m not saying there aren’t some faults with the job, as we all know, nothing is perfect.  But the flexibility of this position is something that will make me try a little harder and hope that it works out.

So I’ll let you know how it goes.  I have some concerns that the hours could exceed 20 hrs a week, but hopefully we can work something out.  I know I’m going to like the extra spending money, which will not be much, but more than not working.  It sure is a reality check what you get paid for a part time job, I didn’t realize how spoiled I was.  It has been 3 days, and I’m going back tomorrow, so keep the faith and let’s hope this new road I’m traveling down all runs smoothly.  To your happy employment travels.

Good Friends and Good Food

It’s come and gone and all that planning and setup is all in the past. As I have mentioned previously our neighbors have been very welcoming and I felt that we should show our appreciation so we decided to have an Open House for the Neighbors. All Neighborhoods in Sun City are designated by a Neighborhood Number, we happen to be neighborhood 60. Relative to some neighborhoods ours is on the rather small size. It doesn’t matter the size, it’s the quality of the neighbors and I think we hit a winner. So out went all the invites and to my surprise the majority responded they would be attending.
We have some single men and ladies on our street and except for the singles not attending all the couples in our neighborhood responded. So once that was all added up we were up to 50 people. Yes, that does seem like a lot of people, but it’s amazing how you really don’t need that much space to accommodate 50 people. The actual day of the party we had a few that could not make it, but the total attending was 45 people, not a bad showing.   We have a rather large garage and on a scale of 1 to 10 for cleanliness ours is probably a 9. This is my husband’s domain and he sure does like a clean and organized garage. So it was an easy decision to include the garage as an option to include in the space we would use for the Open House. So after deciding that the bar would be setup in the garage and the food would all be setup in the kitchen we had a plan.

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What we quickly learned is that everyone in the neighborhood is more than willing to help out and share. We borrowed tables and chairs, and even 2 heaters, just in case we needed to get the chill out of the garage. It was a beautiful day so by the time of the party at 6:30 the garage warmed up quite nicely. And I will say when you get 45 more people in your home that body heat really warms up the place.   Also, when you have this many people it is extremely difficult to provide all the food, and very expensive. So we provided the drinks and everyone brought a dish to share, either an appetizer or dessert. My counters were full, but what was great is that by the end of the evening most dishes were either empty or near empty.

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So once all was bought, borrowed, setup, and food made we were ready for the start time. I truly appreciate the time awareness that the neighborhood has. When you say a party is from 6:30 to 9:30 people show up at 6:30 and the last person left at 9:30, now that’s a great thing. Besides we’re all getting older and don’t stay up late like we did when we were younger it’s nice that they respect the invite times.   I know we enjoyed the Open House and from the general feedback I believe all that attended had a good time to. It’s not what you cook or how it all looks, it comes down to the people attending and the fun that you all make together. I felt a part of the neighborhood before, but I feel even more involved and closer since our party. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, this is one party happy neighborhood. We’re enjoying our life here in Sun City and have absolutely no regrets regarding our decision to move here, or neighborhood has made this an easy transition. To our continued travels in and around Sun City and hope that your road choices are just as fun……..