Archive for the ‘Retirement Activities’ Category

A Detailed Summary of My Retirement Activities

18 May

My Retirement Activity Summary

January 1, 1995 to July 18, 2011

I’m often asked what I am doing with myself now that I’m retired.  I am usually at a loss of words as there is no main focus on my activities.  I feel they are expecting answers like: I golf, I fish, I travel, etc..

I guess my mind tries to be accurate and descriptive as it seeks a clear concise answer.  To no avail.  My life isn’t that clear cut.  Nor is it very complicated.  So I usually come up with something like: “I’ve done numerous things.  I seem to undertake something, work at it for several months, a year or so, or over a few years.  Then I switch to something else of interest.”

My best answer though is: I don’t do what I don’t want to, and pick out those things that I want to do.  My life, though rather solitary is varied, challenging at times, sometimes very interesting, often weird like computer programming, but never boring.

By far one of the best things that retirement has blessed me with was five years of palling around with my father.  Now, that was worth the price of admission.  I count those times right up there with the best of them.

Also, it allows me time to spend with my kids and their families.  I’ve been able to appreciate just how wonderfully they have grown into human beings of great merit.  On the other hand, it gave me a glimpse of the many ways I could have prepared them better for life.  But in spite of that, they have risen to the occasion and are making a valuable contribution to our society.

But I digress.  The following kind of summarizes the major retirement activities that I’ve undertaken (by category, but not chronologically):

Here are my travel excursions:

Car trips:

To LA (area)  to visit the kids

J.C.’s graduation

J.C.’s hip operation

J.C.’s wedding

To Palm Springs with Adam

8 trips to visit one or both kids

To Kent, Washington to visit my sister and family–16 trips (2 with Dad)

To Powell, WY–5 trips (2 with kids)

To visit J.C. in Fircrest, WA, and Tacoma, WA–26 trips

To visit Adam in Beaverton–11 Trips

To Coast with Smiths–2 trips

To Leavenworth, WA with Smiths–1 trip

To Redmond, OR with Smiths–1 trip

To Coast with Dad

Train trips:

To LA–3 trips (1 with Adam)

To Vancouver, BC with Smiths–1 trip

To Laramie, WY–1 trip

To Portland, OR–3 trips

To Smiths–2 trips


To Phoenix, AZ to visit Adam

To Phoenix with Smiths

To DC to visit J.C.–3 trips

To LA to visit classmates (a wine tour)


To Alaska–2 times

To Mexico–2 times

To Hawaii–4 times

To Panama Canal-1 time

To Eastern Canada-1 time


I decided that when I retired I should find ways to give back to my community.  I applied for, and was accepted to serve on Marion County’s Budget Committee.  At the time, I never realized just how influential this committee is.  Unbeknownst to me, many people began their political careers on this committee.  Had I known that, I probably would not have volunteered for it. What a mistake that would have been.  After the first year, I was tapped to be its chairman.  This post I held for the remaining six years of my term.  I found myself being asked to serve on several other committees for the county.  Here are a few of them:

Marion County’s Strategic Policy Advisory Board

Marion County’s Facilities Planning Committee

The Juvenile Committee Team

The Juvenile Facilities Planning Committee

Strategic Planning for Marion County Government

Marion County Compensation Board (A group of citizens and business leaders which determines the proper pay for elected Marion County officials)

Selection Committee for retaining Marion County’s first national lobbyist

Title III Selection Committee (select projects for some federal funds)

Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council

Courthouse Square Task Force (to recommend how to deal with a poorly designed major building that is now classified dangerous)

I also represented Marion County on two environmental impact committees dealing with the major bridge crossing over the Willamette River in Salem.

Currently, I’m the Vice-chair of the Public Safety Coordinating Council.  This group is state mandated and consists of the sheriff, district attorney, directors for Juvenile, Health and Children and Families departments.  Several chiefs of police, mayors and city councilors, school district representatives and judges also serve on this committee.  Our job is to coordinate the activities of the law enforcement and related efforts in the county.

I spent three years or so as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for three children in “the system.”  My task was to make recommendations to the presiding judge on issues that involved these children, ranging from recommending programs for the mother, to foster home situations…just about anything that would help these kids have a better life.

I volunteered for a few traffic related programs for the city of Salem.  These included:

Manned (or should I say personed) a Radar Reader Board (you know,

those signs at the side of the road that tell you how fast you are traveling).

Vice-chair of the Salem Citizen’s Advisory Transportation Commission and member of the Salem Transportation Policy Board.

I am a licensed amateur radio operator (HAM Radio), but am saving any meaningful activity with this hobby until I retire, retire.  However, I have volunteered for special events, such as the Special Olympics, and other disaster related programs (Red Cross, etc.).  I also put on some volunteering testing sessions for ham radio licensing.  But, most of this work was done very early in my retirement.

Finally, supporting my rather introverted lifestyle, I’ve undertaken several activities that provide stimulation for my body, mind and spirit.  Usually, I’d study the topic at hand and then try to master it (at least somewhat).  I far from mastered any of them, but I had fun trying.  My interest in them may have lasted a few months or perhaps a year or two.  Whenever I had reached a preset goal or was convinced I was at a significant benchmark, I would move on to something else.  So here goes:

O.J. Simpson Trial:  I’ve always wanted to write a mystery.  I thought that after I retired I would sit in on a few trials to see what goes on.  The O.J. trial started right after I retired, so I “sat in” on as much of it as I could.  It was fascinating and the debates from the pros on the day-to-day action was more than I had hoped for.  I didn’t see every minute of the trial, but I did watch a significant portion of it.  AND, no, I don’t think the prosecution presented the case effectively, so I would go along with the verdict of Not Guilty.  I really don’t know if he did it or not, just that the facts as presented left me with considerable doubt.

Braille:  I’ve always feared going blind, though I had no rational reason to think so.  I got a book designed to help parents learn the skill.  I got good enough to read it fairly well, but I don’t remember much of it now.

Gardening:  Doesn’t every retiree do this?  I took a class and quickly discovered that I wasn’t into gardening.  I hired a gardener.

Auctions:  Interesting, but I really didn’t need anything so I’ll stick to the old fashioned way of buying stuff.

Motorcycling:  Another activity that I always wanted to do.  From the age of nine or so I dreamed of owning a motorcycle.  For a short while part of the organization that I ran at ODOT was a motorcycle education program.  So, after I retired, I signed up and somehow got licensed.  I would never have done that as long as I had kids to support.  It is a dangerous sport, but a fun one.  During the next few years I owned a couple of motorcycles and rode them frequently.  My back and kidneys weren’t suited for riding but I did accomplish all the goals I set for myself, except for riding through Yellowstone Park.  Even though I never took a fall, one day I just decided that my riding days were over….and they were.

Miscellaneous Classes:  I took some classes in nutrition, use of the internet, and webpage design, even yoga.  I learned just how little I knew about such things.

Consulting:  I did some consulting for ODOT.  I advised them on the update of the  Highway Plan, some work on the history of Interstate 5, and various other projects.  ODOT hired me to be its project manager of the by-pass of Newberg and Dundee.  That was indeed interesting as years before I had been involved in that same project.  At that time the locals decided they didn’t want one.  It’s a shame because they could have had it and they would not be experiencing the traffic problems they now have.  After my temp appointment with ODOT, I joined URS, a consulting firm working on that project.  I dropped out when that firm made some changes in personnel and the work went to another firm.  The work wasn’t full time, but it kept me fairly busy.  One of my goals when I retired was to never have to say “I’m busier now than when I worked.”  It’s nice to have control of your time…at least most of the time.

Writing about my career:  I was asked to write about my career with ODOT.  That was really a fun project.  It brought back many memories…most all of them good.  I was reminded that there were probably only a half dozen days in all that time (33 1/2 years) when I really didn’t want to go to work that day (sick days excluded, and there weren’t too many of them.  I retired with 2400 hours of sick leave on the books).  I loved that job and feel sorry for those that don’t like theirs.

Apple Pies:  I had a neighbor that would drop off some kind of goodie from time to time.  I thought I’d learn how to make and bake apple pies.  Maybe I could pay her back sometime.  That project created a weight problem for me so as soon as I got the technique down a bit, I quit making them.

Fishing:  My favorite fishing hole was fairly close by.  I liked the serenity provided by the tranquil surroundings, but I was a catch and release type of fisherman and I didn’t like hurting the little things (and most were little).

Wood carving:  I liked the way I did it.  It really wasn’t carving.  More like sculpting.  I’d get some topographical maps of mountains and use the contours to guide my roto tool in an effort to replicate a likeness of the mountain.

Painting:  I transitioned into painting, i.e., putting something on canvas (or in my case some sort of paper).  That was fun and I spent a lot of time at it.  I amassed quite a supply of paints, brushes and the like.  Never very good, but I did enjoy it for a year or two.

Drawing:  This too I liked.  Actually, if I didn’t like anything I didn’t stick with it very long.  In fact, I almost never started anything unless I was pretty sure I’d like it.

Flying:  I became a licensed pilot in the mid-seventies.  One of my ODOT responsibilities was developing an aviation plan for the state.  I thought it would be helpful to know how to use the system so I took lessons and got licensed.  With the birth of my children my free time wasn’t so free any longer and I wasn’t able to fly enough to feel proficient.  I was a fair weather pilot…I held a blue handkerchief up to the sky and if the colors matched, I’d fly.  So, I gave it up.  Then in 2001 I decided to give it another whirl.  I did a few hours of flying with an instructor to get up to speed.  I was scheduled to take my final check ride, but something happened on the way to the airport.  You see, the day was September 11.  Well, it was a month or so before the airways opened up to me.  I didn’t like the idea of having an F-15 pull up beside me because I flew over a dam or something that I shouldn’t have so I decided my flying days were over.  It was fun while it lasted.

Piano:  I thought I’d take a shot at learning to play the piano.  I grew up around a lot of musical talent so my sites were set pretty high.  I practiced at it for a year and was not at all satisfied, in anyway, with my progress.  I finally figured out that I had inherited the musical ability of my dad and not my mother.

Stock Market:  I knew nothing, or at least very little about investing in stocks.  I did some studying and dipped my toe in the water.  I set a limit to what I was prepared to lose and after a year or two I had reached that limit.  In spite of doing good research, using the internet for doing that research and buying and selling stocks and options I walked away somewhat poorer, but much wiser.  Leaving such things to the pros is my current approach.

I was a fair to middling bridge player in college.  Even was on the University of Wyoming’s bridge team once.  By that I mean I got a call from some university official that was trying to round up a bridge team to play another university.  Their Bridge Team was going to be in town shortly.  I said okay, hence I was on the team.  So I thought I’d take some lessons offered at a seniors center.  I did.  Wow, had the bidding rules ever changed.  I played a few sets and quickly learned that my bridge playing days were over.

Spanish:  I think Spanish is a language that one should know these days.  I still feel that way, but, like playing the piano, that capability has passed me by.  I’ve learned it takes about 1,000 hours to accomplish that task.  I don’t think that few of hours would do the job for me.  On the other hand I put in far few hours than that, so I really wouldn’t know.

Real Estate:  Another investment possibility.  Another goodly amount of research and I was ready to go….primarily in buying and flipping.  I was about to set up a LLC to do my business when I kept reading about how some people were plunging ahead in this type of real estate buying and selling.  Like buying a house sight unseen and in distance towns yet.  I was reminded of a story I’d heard about Joseph Kennedy.  In the late ’20’s he was apparently in the stock market quite heavily.  When he got a stock tip from his shoe shine boy he figured it was time to get out of the market.  He did just before the big crash.  I figured it wasn’t a good time to start buying real estate.  For once, I’d made the right decision on investing.

Bible reading:  This was something that has stuck with me.  It wasn’t something that I just sat down to complete.  I’ve listened to the Bible on CD’s, bought and read several study Bibles, and I have some pretty good Bible software.  I try to start every day reading a chapter of the Bible.

Volksmarch:  Another activity I liked, but an old knee injury cropped up.  I love walking though, and Volksmarch gave me a desire to get a GPS.  Not that I got lost.  I just like an excuse to get a new toy now and then.  I do like to walk though and try to get a mile or so in every day–weather permitting.

Network Marketing:  Another effort to push my comfort level.  It did that alright.  It was an interesting exercise but alas this was not for me.  I did, however, learn a lot about personal development.  It was well worth the effort and resources I put toward it.  As usual, I placed an upper limit on how much I would invest in this program.  Having reached that, it was time to move on.

Writing:  I do like to write.  I’ve penned a couple of novels which were great fun to work on and which are good at collecting dust.  I’ll pull them up whenever I want to do more work on them.  I have one, “Ride the Winds of Change” listed as an ebook on  It is a fictional novel about the beginning of the Revolutionary War.  (I’m told there are several misspelling in it, but if there weren’t it wouldn’t be me.)

Social Media: Twitter, Facebook and Blogging are my latest efforts.  I’m not whole hog into them, but dabble as time and energy permits.  They will hold my attention until I conjure up something to go along with them or replace them.

I have a daily routine for keeping my heart pumping.  Three days a week I ride a recumbent bike for about half an hour or so.  Then I work with weights for twenty to thirty minutes.  On the other days of the week I ride the bike for about an hour.  Then, as I said earlier, I like to walk a mile or so every day, weather permitting.

So there you have it.  That’s pretty much what I’ve done with myself during my retirement years.  There is room for much more.  I’ll press forward as long as the good Lord sees a need for me to stick around.  My goal is to die young at a very old age.

Thanks for asking.



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