A vacation is good for the soul. The pressures of your life are left behind and you experience things you never experienced before. Ah, bring on vacation, yet the best part of a vacation is getting home.
You ask me, “You’re retired. How can you go on vacation? Isn’t life for you just one vacation from another?”
Yes, I am retired from industry and from teaching, but I am busy and have commitments and schedules. I have my garden, my exercise routine, my bees and I write. All require committment and scheduling. The difference between being retired and working for a living is that I no longer let my employer set schedules and priorities. I am the one who set’s priorities and schedule according to my own priorities.
My wife’s brother has been recovering from some serious health problems. Since he is 75, my wife wanted to visit him one more time. This might be the last time to see him alive. We both have our summer time priorities so two and a half weeks ago, we headed out for California.
We are both former scouts and former camp counselors. Over the years, we have not only maintained our camping equipment, but have upgraded much of it. For example, we now sleep in a tent twice as large as the one we used to share with two children. We enjoy the out of doors and enjoy camping. Tent camping is also significantly less expensive than staying in a motel. With our “Senior Pass” we even get half off of the camp ground fee at national parks.
The night before we left, it rained. I emptied 0.49 inches of precipitation from my rain gauge, reported the number and we headed off to a camp site near Flagstaff, Arizona. As we drove through more rain, we anticipated having to set up camp in the rain and dealing with wet equipment. An hour before we got to our camp site, the rain stopped. The sandy soil was wet, but not muddy. It was a cold night, but we survived and headed out the next morning with everything dry except the tarp we had under the tent.
The second night, we camped on the shore of Lake Isabella in California. We found the camp ground, but could not find the camp site we had reserved. It did not matter. We were the only ones there. There was not even a ranger on duty so we simply picked a choice spot near the rest room.
We then drove to Yosemite National Park in California where we spent two nights. Yosemite is a bit crowded, even in late September. Nevertheless, we were comfortable and took the occasion to see parts of the park. I grew up in Wisconsin so I thought I had seen big trees, but the “small” sugar pines loomed taller than the red pines of Wisconsin. The redwoods loom even higher. Redwood trees up to three feet (0.9 m) in diameter were scattered among the other trees of the forest in which we camped. The first day there, we hiked down to a grove of the ancient trees. Here trees of about 2000 years in age, dwarfed everything else.
Our last morning in Yosemite, we packed the car and drove down to Yosemite Valley where the classical mountains, El Capitan and Half Dome, are. Then after lunch we headed west toward San Jose, California.
We spent a week with my wife’s brother and members of his family. We even spent a day visiting a college friend who lives an hour away.
We headed back straight east. which meant we would be in western Nevada when we wanted to stop for the night. There are few good camping locations in that part of Nevada, so we stayed in a motel that night.
After driving through the deserts and mountains of Nevada, we reached Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Again we stayed two nights so we could spend an entire day exploring this fantastic geological site. Erosion has cut into the layers of white, red, yellow and blue limestone to create looming multicolored cliffs and fantastic shapes.
We took a side trip to get a taste of Zion National Park south of Bryce Canyon. That side trip took longer than we expected so we got home at 10:30.
The garden and the bees survived with the help of a friend who watered some of the flowers. We did get a break from our self-imposed schedules. We also visited friends and relatives, but it is great to be back home.
Reynold Conger lives in New Mexico, USA with his wife. He writes as a retirement career. In addition to maintaining this blog, he has a web site, ReynoldConger.com that features his books.