Jan 31, 2013

Life in 2010 (a blast from the past)

I wrote this blog post 3 years ago. I love going back to these old posts. It is like visiting a close friend that I have forgotten about for a while.  I hope you like this one. If you are a follower, maybe you can tell me how I am doing. This was my New Years Resolution post. Actually nothing has changed all that much in the last 3 years!
Note: I would really appreciate it if you would click on the Follow button on the top lefthand side of this page and become a follower.  In my world of blogging this is important.  You can think of it as a New Years gift for Retire in Style. If you are a fellow blogger you can click on the Blogloving icon in the sidebar and join.  I will do the same for you.

Facts of Life and the Christmas Letter
A freelance writer by the name of Chuck Palahiuk said, "...No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something."  I think we all have that feeling this time of year.  As we age, time travels at an ever quickening pace until we stop living.  Try as we will to take it all in, we are haunted by the idea that a precious moment has escaped our attention.

That is the way I feel this time of year.  We have a friends that sends a Christmas letter detailing ALL the things they have done, the people they know and their wonderful accomplishments.  I admire their enthusiasm for life and motivation to live every day to the fullest.  But when I finish reading the letter I feel a sense of loss...where was I when they traveled across Canada and fished for salmon?  What was I doing?

Then I realize that each of us fills our days with the things we LOVE and the people we enjoying being around.  It is not all a high of extreme joy but a calm feeling of contentment and joy.  I am grateful for our lives and rejoice in other people's choices.  I also realize that most people would not want to live my life anymore than I would want to live theirs!  It is all good. I did not travel across Canada but I thought about doing great things...that is what worked for me.

Advanced Style Blog
Blog about Life gets Rewards in 2010

Good things happened for me in my blog world.  I may have forgotten to mention that Retire in Style was featured on a list of blogs by retired people by a NYC blog called Advanced Style.  A friend told me that Retire in Style was mentioned on a radio show in December as a blog about our "Golden Years".  An article by this writer was featured on Hub Pages and a link to this blog was selected for mention on Redgage.  So the year 2010 has been a good year as far as my writing life is concerned.  I feel very gratified to have received some attention. 

Brycen and big brother Brayden
The Life of Baby Brycen
In the early days of February our Grandson Brycen was born with major breathing problems and we very nearly lost our precious baby.  He is 11 months now and just started walking yesterday.   He has the reddest hair you have ever seen...I am totally gobsmacked by this character of a child.  But then I have always been gobsmacked when it came to my grandchildren.  I love them all with a fierceness that passes all reason.  Each child, grandchild, daughter/son-in-law seems to be a gift just for my husband and I and we lay claim to their lives, accomplishments and beauty.  After 50 years of marriage, we still are amazed at the good that has come into our lives.  There you have it.
Very cool grandchildren! 50th at the Beach

Life in 2011
Last year I resolved to quit sleeping so much...sleep is a good thing but I was carrying to way, way to far.  I remain a heavy, long sleeper but at least I am more aware of how long I sleep.  I learned a long time ago that resolutions generally become a life quest not a years goal.

So for 2011 I have resolved to behave myself in a more ladylike manner.  Yes, I truly think I can actually do this.  My husband needs a big break and I personally need to show the world that my mother raised a gentle woman...who knows I may even read a self improvement book or two...or at least a book of good manners.  I really don't take myself very seriously so it should be fun.  Stay tuned to see how it goes.  I am sure there will be stories to be shared!

That is it...I will be back soon so let's talk then.  Have a wonderful day!

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Jan 30, 2013

Pews Survey: Our Middle-aged Children are Stressed. Just shoot me now!

Pew Research came out with a survey that even got some time on the news this morning. The big story was that a whole new generation is stressed. They have to take care of each other and it is very hard. The people stuck between their adult children and aging parents are feeling like they are being sandwiched both financially and emotionally. It sounds very familiar to me and I am 71. In other words this is not new news for me. But I do get it. Really I do. 

According to the Pew Research "... about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child."
I think that this is the reality and if we listen to the news it is all so sad and awful. But is that right? If it is, let me say it again...just shoot me now! I am "the aging parent" part of the equation. Even though my husband and I are financially independent, the fact remains that we are parents of 3 children that are sighing (maybe) and wondering when they are going to get a break. Will they retire to a life of caring for us or have their children boomeranged back into their house? I can see how they feel...because I have been there.

The truth is that we are part of a family. We take care of each other and try to avoid being a rock around anyone's neck. For goodness sakes people, we need to begin to take a look at life as it really is. There is nothing new about being sandwiched or caring for each other or even having adult children that need our help either financially or emotionally. That is part of life. Sometimes things get worse and sometimes they get better.

I just wish that we could find a way to see all of this differently. Maybe we could rejoice in what we have. Maybe we could be happy that we are allowed the chance to be with our children and parents. Perhaps we need to take a good hard look at living on what we have, not on what we would have if we didn't have any family or responsibility or if the economy was better. 

Things are what they are. We make money, we may lose part of it, we may need to move so we can have a better job, our parents may get ill, our children may flounder. Stuff happens. I have always thought that life was not about the journey at all...it was about how we valued the journey. It is our choice to be stressed, happy, or even a victim. I am always on the side of working hard, living with what I have and being joyful. I can honestly pull it off most of the time. That is a very good thing!

It's just a thought!

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Jan 28, 2013

Life in the Winter Desert....Tucson, Arizona

It looks so warm but I am wearing a sweater, corduroys and shoes with sock!
Tubac Arizona (iPhone with Zoom Photo App)
Local Tucsonians claim they can tell where people are from by the clothes you wear. If they are a frozen north visitor, they will wear sandals and short pants...period.  In fact, being the optimistic sun seeker that they are, they probably will not even bring a pair of warm slacks or a sweater/coat. After all, this is Arizona right?

Well, here's the deal. It is winter in Arizona too. I know. I could not get it through my head for the longest time. I just didn't want the pecan trees to lose their leaves and the flowers to frost or freeze. It was just un-American and wrong. I left the state of Oregon to come to a place that is warm and when it wasn't I was disappointed. Then a light came on. Oh, it is winter here too. We can be outside and do just about anything we want on most days. But, it is winter so we need to dress like we are semi-smart. When we do we are very comfortable. Actually, it is just perfect!

As the years have gone by, I find myself acting like a local. I get cold when it is 60 and look around for warmer clothes. We like to turn on our little fake fireplace and put lots of covers on the bed. We revel in the cold and appreciate the warm. When the temperatures dropped to under 30 degree a week ago, we just hunkered down. I cooked great food and we enjoyed a good book. I think we must be getting the drill down. We are officially expert snowbirds!

Come on down...the weather really is fine...I promise!


For your information here are the averages for Tucson:
Tucson Weather

Tucson Weather infographic

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Jan 25, 2013

When the Good Samaritan Leaves!

The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880) shows ...
The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880) shows the Good Samaritan taking the injured man to the inn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My friend just arrived home from Hawaii. She is suffering the late arrival of her soul right now but she will be fine in a few days.

In case you are not familiar with the feeling that you left part of yourself behind when you are traveling, I can't explain it. I suffer from it every time we take a vacation. If I went to Hawaii, I would definitely leave something behind and I am not sure that it would ever come back to live in my body.

But that is not what I want to talk about today. I need to talk about going that extra mile when you help someone in need.

My friend fell while she was on vacation and two good Samaritans found her in the middle of a road near a golf course.  They picked her up and walked her to the golf course club house where she passed out in the restroom.  An ambulance came and she spent 4+ days in the hospital, part of that in intensive care.  She does not remember anything about the incident and the Samaritans disappeared as mysteriously as they had arrived.

Now the detective work begins.  She has medical issues that need to be addressed but because the people that talked to her right after the fall are gone, she probably will never know what she said to them. Did she tell them what had happened?

I was a little puzzled about why it was so important to her until she explained that the answers would help her deal with her recovery. Did she fall, hit her head and cause bleeding in the head or did she have a small stroke?

So there is a lesson here.  I know we are all afraid of law suits or appearing to be proud of an act of kindness but that is not the issue here.  It is the information that needs to be left behind so the person that has fallen or been assaulted can piece together their recovery.

It is just a thought!

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Jan 22, 2013

Some Assembly Required

Label:  Humor

There were 15 extra pieces.  They are not mentioned in the instruction and not pictured anywhere in the list of replacement pieces. Yet, there they were, waiting to be put somewhere. My father always loved the process of assembling a new shelf or tool.  His philosophy was if all else fails, read the directions. He always had extra pieces but then everything worked so it didn't matter.

We use the 40 pieces. 
We have no idea what these are for. They
stack up and are fun to
play with but they don't fit on the
shelf anywhere.

But the shelf stands up just fine without them!
However, in this case, my husband did read the directions and still there they were. He was even reduced to calling me to confirm that he had not made a mistake. It took an hour to put the shelf together and almost that long to decide he had not made a mistake. Some worker in China has put a lot of the extra pieces in various boxes. I hope they didn't get in trouble.

Goodness, that is a lot of wasted parts.  I suppose that somewhere there are people opening boxes and wondering where the 15 missing pieces are.  Just imagine!


Jan 21, 2013


From the NYTs
I am a Pollyanna...I have said it before and I will say it again. It surprises me when things go wrong and many times I don't realize that things have gone wrong until a day or two later. When I heard this Alex Haley quote today during President Obamas inauguration, I could only applaud. "Find the good and praise it" is a thought worth saving not only in a plaque on the wall but in our hearts. I can only wish that when Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said this, he was giving us a glimmer of a new attitude that will carry us forward in the next 4 years.

I am celebrating tonight by watching the balls and watching our beautiful first lady in all her beauty.  We are a very lucky country.

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Jan 20, 2013

Tucson AZ: Revisiting My "Penny Pincher" Days

Spending the winter in an RV or in a small apt./park model for 3-6 months is a test of your survival skills. It is a bit like going on a very long camping trip. If you can imagine that, you can get the picture. If you have never been camping or anything close to it, you will have some adjusting to do.

Our space here is around 400 square feet. When we began doing this, we took the bare essentials with us but over the years we have managed to accumulate all the good stuff.  However, our bed is not comfortable and the furnace is on the fritz. Don't let it be said that we are not tough and creative. We know how to overcome most problems that we come face to face with.

Even if I were camping I would be rearranging the tent and making the table beautiful. That is just my nature. A beautiful table cloth can make the worst table look wonderful.

Doing Without or Making Do
Several years ago we bought a little fake fireplace that runs on a light bulb. We have it installed in a corner cabinet that sits under our TV. That little baby has kept us warm through the last cold spell. Honestly, we were just fine. We giggled because we remember huddling around the heat in our childhood.  It was really kind of fun.

The bed really does need to be replaced but we now have a memory foam pad that goes on the top. It is a bit like settling into a feather bed I think. The real problem is that we both roll toward the middle of the bed...just like the bed we were gifted when we were first married. That one has us giggling too. When we went camping we slept on a 2-3 inch foam mattress so this is a real upgrade for us.

Planter made out of a freight pallet. I found it
at the nursery. I loved it!
We might do this in Oregon. Pallets are general
free or very cheap.
Aesthetics on the Cheap
Yesterday we bought our plants for our winter stay. We always buy a few geraniums and herbs just to keep me happy.  We live on a corner here and it is worth the little expense just to have people stop and visit for a few minutes as I pull a weed or two.  But you need to know that I line my hanging flower baskets with brown  paper bags and put a plastic garbage bag filled with potting soil inside. It looks ok and is very cheap! I spend a little over $4.00 on potting soil and I am good to go. (Most of my pots or baskets are things others did not want.)

Because people leave or change their furniture, we have managed to accumulate all of our outdoor furniture for free. We spray painted a plastic table and two chairs in Arizona colors. They look very classy for only cost of a can of spray paint.  I have even given some away.  

Eating Out
Groupon is our source of restaurant coupons and our favorite restaurant, Taco Gyro, is very cheap. It was recommended by our neighbors from Mexico. We also like Zona 78 on Tanque Verde...the best and cheapest happy hour in Tucson for 3 years running has us going back over and over.

We dance in the park for a minimal fee and our friends are our main source of entertainment.  I know people that spend a lot of time being tourist or going to shows. They have a lot of fun on very little money. We have a National Park Lifetime Pass so we can come and go for free in the Saguaro National Park that is very near us. I never get enough of that place.

It is kind of fun to live simply and cheaply for a few months each year.  It leaves us with more money for golf. (We alway use EZLinks for tee times.) Life is good!

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Jan 18, 2013

Happiness Won 3 to 1 in 2011! What about today?

I published this article in 2011. I found it today while looking for another link.  It was a flash from the past and I could only think that things have changed in the last few years in such a drastic way. Those people that were turning 50 when the economic crisis hit 4 years ago are probably not feeling quite as depressed.  Maybe they have adjusted or maybe things were not a gloomy as the news and economist had them thinking. The truth was we did not know what would happen and the unknown is always disturbing. I just thought you might be interested in this.  Sometimes it is good to take a look back.

Grumpy Retirees: Harvard Reports Happiness Wins 3 to 1  (Retire In Style Blog 9/29/11)

Look around the room when a group of your friends are gathered together.  Would you say that out of 10 friends at least 7.5 of them are happy with their retirement?  Do those 7.5 get up in the morning  full of ideas and make every day a good one?  And what about the rest; do they act like grumpy old people?  

A poll done done by NPR in collaboration with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health, revealed that 1 in 4 retirees find that retirement is not as good as they expected. 
This poll was conducted in order to capture first-hand the perspective of those
who will shape the nature of retirement moving forward: people over age 50, including not only people who have retired, but also people who plan to retire (“pre-retirees”) and those who do not plan to do so. 
In an article published by the Harvard School of Public Health summarizing the poll they stated:
"Findings show that a large majority of retirees say life in retirement is the same (44%) or better (29%) than it was during the five years before they retired. Many retirees say their stress is less, their relationships with loved ones are better, their diet is improved and the amount of time they spend doing favorite activities is increased—yet 25 percent of retirees say life is worse."(Poll: Retirement and Health Summary. NPR, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health)
There are two ways of looking at this--three are happy and that is good. But why are 25% of retirees unhappy with their lives?

In an article published on Blog Critics yesterday the possibility that  25% were unhappy before they retired was sited as a possibility.  I just wonder if that might not be true.  Not everyone gets up in good spirits.  They probably are not morning people.

But the poll revealed a lot more than just the "happy issue".  In my mind it raised the question about the mind set of those people over 50.  It seems that they do not think that the retirement they had dreamed about was going to happen as soon as they had hoped and some even thought it would never happen.  Issues with health care and affordable insurance and monthly income have them worried.  And 25% of those already retired are discontented in one way or another.

I can only compare this attitude to the one that people take when selling their house in this market.  They cannot get past the value of their house now as compared to what it was worth 4-5 years ago.  I hear them saying "I am not going to come down that much...I am so far down from where I was I just can't see that MY house is worth that little."  They cannot face the reality of our recession economy.  

Retirement is not the end of the journey. It is just a cross roads. You can turn this way or that depending on the choices you make.  Asking yourself if you are happy doing what you are doing is only smart no matter the economy.  But in the end the retiree will be the one deciding what to make of the years to come.  For those of us that were raised by depression parents, the image of parents working to live and enjoying life in simple ways, the answer is very clear.  We know that money is not the answer to happiness.  The financial part is a matter of making do with what you have.  But happiness happens inside your mind.  They are probably not related as much as we think. 

In an article published by Bob Lowery on his blog called Satisfying Retirement, he talked about living on less--a lot less.  Bob knows what he is talking about because he has done it for many years.  He teaches retirees how to live on less.  People give up cars, pay off the mortgage by downsizing and carry no credit card debt.  Coupons and online shopping help cut the cost for necessities and make the non-essentials more affordable.  He touts living off the grid with no cable TV.  The list goes on and on.  He thinks life is good and he quoted one person as saying, "I have less money than when I worked but I enjoy my life even more."

So could it be that some people over 50 are grumpy and full of gloom and doom because they are now and have always been dissatisfied with what they have?  Have they been yearning for the grass on the other side of the fence?  Couldn't it be that their lives are actually wonderful in so many ways and they just can't see the good side of it all?  But most importantly what would it take to keep that 25% happy?  Maybe there would never be enough.  It is just a thought. 


FYI:  I do realize that poverty and life circumstances can make life simply unbearable for many people.  It is my belief that we cannot abandon humans that have run into situations beyond their control.  It is people like me with adequate income and good health that I speak to.  

Thank you for reading.

A similar article: Article first published as Poll Shows Many Retirees Happy, But What About the Rest? on Blogcritics.

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Jan 17, 2013

A Time to Be Alone...learning about myself!

I remember reading post Bob Lowry over at Satisfying Retirement wrote about how he defined himself after being retired for a number of years. Honestly, getting rid of the titles or even the beliefs we carried in our younger life does leave a void of sorts. When we realize that we are left almost naked in the sunlight as the cloak of our vocation slips away, we must learn to love a new suit of clothes.

So how do you define yourself? If you were to make a list of 5 things that define you what would they be? I would have to tell you that "wife" would be the first thing on my list. I don't know if that is good but that is the way it is.

My husband and I have been living this third stage of our life for so long now that I don't even remember what it was like before. We have spent so much time together we think the same and even tell the same stories. I will think of an incident and I my husband will talk about it before my words form. If I am stuck, he is there to help me remember. It could be that we share a brain!

As result of this phenomena, I am beginning to think that I need to be alone more. I used to guard our time together like a mother lion guards her cubs. Now I need to do the very opposite. My poor husband will be so confused if I tell him! Happy...but confused.

52 Wedding Anniversary
Today, for example, we were enjoying our morning coffee at around 8:00 a.m. when the phone rang...I will be by to pick you up at 9:00 a.m. Be ready! his golfing buddy said. Up he jumped and out the door he scurried! The cat wandered around crying and I sat with my coffee wondering what to do with my day. This is not good people. I am an independent strong woman and I am wondering what to do with 5 hours alone?  Really...this-is-not-good!

Could it be that I have forgotten who I am? It is worth exploring because being "alone" for a while is not a bad thing, not when you are with the other person ALL of the time!

As for the cat...I don't know what to do about him.  Any suggestions?

Just a thought!

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Jan 16, 2013

Holy Mackerel Asthma in China and the Cat Has the Flu Too

We are in Arizona for three months. Being gone from home can be very hard. I miss my family a lot. But on the other hand, at least back in the old days, the "out of sight, out of mind" made it easier. We knew less about what was going on with the family and friends back then. I was a new grandmother when we first started traveling so I hadn't learned to trust my children with my grandchildren yet. Even though I know more now, I also trust my children to know 10x as much as I do. It has all balanced out somehow.

So when my daughter-in-law in Oregon wrote on her Facebook page that our granddaughter had the stomach flu and so did the cat I could only shake my head. The cat???? Really? But that was not all. One of her friends had the same experience a couple of weeks ago. I sent text short message to my son this morning and he replied with a picture of the baby granddaughter merrily bouncing up and down in a springy thing. That was good! I didn't ask about the cat.

Facebook is my source of information these days. My son in Shanghai told about the pollution levels in Beijing the other day. It was a lot worse than it was in Shanghai and trust me, Shanghai has air than will perm your hair.  His wife had a "holy mackerel" asthma attack while she was packing to leave for Beijing. I suggested she buy a mask...all the Chinese people wear them when the air is so suspect...but they really are ugly, ugly, ugly masks. I very much doubt she will take my suggestion. I know I wouldn't.

Like Gilda Radner said,  "it is always something". By the time I get in the picture, the "holy mackerel" is all over and the DIL is home from Beijing. The baby is better and the cat has recovered or run away. I suppose the point is that worry really is a waste of my emotional life. Those people in control are taking care. In fact, what I see as worry actually does not exist in my world when I am so far from home.

Just a thought!


+Galen Pearl, You will appreciate this thought I think...it does not exist in my world.
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Jan 15, 2013

Please send me bail! The cactus police about to arrested me!

I loved this botanical print of the Cereus from
Our Saguaro before it tipped over!
I fear that the cacti police will be showing up at anytime.  It seems that I (meaning my husband and I...I am not taking all the blame) have managed to kill more cactus that is allowable. We could be in trouble...there are laws I am told.

 When we moved into our park model we had a Saguaro that was very old.  It sat directly in front of our window. Summer before last the monsoons came and tipped the beauty over onto the street.  It would have crushed our little doll house if it had fallen the other way. In the end it didn't matter...the Saguaro Cactus is a protected plant. I worried that someone would blame us. Did we water it too much?

Night Blooming Cacti From Find My Banana Bread Man
We felt really bad so a neighbor gave us a night blooming cactus that he had nurtured for many years. He wanted the pot for another plant so all we had to do was dislodge it and plant it in the ground. The very next season it turned so cold it froze to its core and we had to throw it away.

One of the two remaining specimen that we actually treasured was our Barrel Cactus. It was so fat that it had decided to take a nap in the flower bed. When we came back this January it was a rotten mass and the park will have to take it away too.
Barrel Cactus
I know...I am not the first to tell you that it is very cold here...we have had temperatures down to 19 and the temperature tonight will be warmer...25 degrees. The water pipe froze that connected my washing machine in the shed. Cactus and water pipes are just not designed for this cold weather. We have covered the lemon and Mandarin trees plus one remaining cactus that I cannot identify. The cactus business really is outside my expertise. Even though we have been doing this for many years, we just cannot seem to get it right!  Darn!

I am beginning to worry. There are people that protect these plants and I was even told that if I ever messed with the Saguaro in the front of our park model, I would be in baaaaaaddddd trouble. Yikes! The cactus police are at my door.  Please send money...I may have to go to cactus jail...in Arizona. That is not a good thing.


+Kathleen McCoy loved her post on her cactus protection plan. She knows what to do!

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Jan 14, 2013

Travel Experts and Me: Put the Travel Book Away

Tortoise Tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake...
Tortoise Tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Viet Nam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You know I have gotten into it with the Frugal Traveler from the New York Times. He called me an amateur and burned me so bad. The reaction of most people was that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Maybe so but it still stung! 

However, I do still read the Frugal Traveler in the NYTs. After all he is the expert on cheap travel. He gets paid to travel so he knows stuff that you may want to know. The other day he was talking about a travel website called TripAdvisor. People I know that also travel for a living use TripAdvisor. It is just a down and dirty, get real kind of web location. They have had 75 million reviews and opinions over the years so they are a well established authority. The beauty of the website is all of those comments from people that have actually visited the places they talk about. It really is very helpful.

When we went to Vietmam a year ago, TripAdvisor was the website that helped us get from Shanghai to Hanoi and then on a night train to Sapa. Following their advice is a good thing. So is reading Fordor's or Lonely Planet.

But in the end, what I enjoyed the very most was the things we did without a guide book in our hands. It was a though I was the first person to visit Vietnam. The Tortoise Tower you see above was located in a lake very near our little Hanoi Gecko Hotel. I have a picture of it somewhere in my files. The picture you see above was taken with my camera in Sa Pa and edited with the SnapSeed application on my iPad. I was looking out the window of the Sa Pa Rooms hotel second story over the roof tops.

Several years ago my husband and I were in Kowloon for a few days. We were just fresh off the boat and did not have all our technology with us. All we had was the sun and the seat of our pants. We wanted to walk to the water and I insisted that we needed to go to our right and not our left.  It turned out that right was wrong. That was when I discovered that confusion is the universal language. A Chinese man recognized that we were lost and helped us read an English Language map...in Chinese and got us turned around. We ate at a small restaurant and ventured in stores like the tourist we were. It was so much fun and really not anything we would have ever found in a travel book. I liked that day a lot.

Frugal Traveler talked about how the guide books and websites can be invaluable. But, in the end, he also said that putting the books down and turning off the computer is a good thing. Walk out the door and take a right turn at the corner. Just start walking. You may end up in some very interesting and unusual place. (Be sure to read the articles below...don't be afraid to venture out.) Think of the stories you will have to tell. Travel is about bragging rights anyway.


Using TripAdvisor? Some Advice by Seth Krugel

Traveling Hopefully and Fearlessly, Retire In Style Blog
Retirement Travel, Retire In Style Blog

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