So I’ve been retired now for less than two months and I’m learning a lot about life in retirement. The first thing is that I know that the timing was right. This isn’t the first time I’ve retired, but this time I believe will be permanent!
Almost 14 years ago I retired from a life of education. After 30+ years of teaching everything from second grade to high school sophomores and being an elementary school administrator, I decided to hang it up. A month later, I began a part-time position with OPUBCO at what was then known as ConnectOK.com. I worked 20 hours a week coordinating Schoolnet, which was a group of area educators working together to provide online resources for schools. That job expanded over the years, Schoolnet ‘disbanded’ and I found myself back in a full-time position.
In 2006 I found myself retiring to help with a family business. After a few months of helping with the business and having more time than expected on my hands, I returned to OPUBCO to once again do projects and editing for NewsOK.com. With the continual expansion of online news and resources, I once again was useful and busier than ever. I enjoyed being the “oldest” of the online staff and probably used that status to excuse my lack of technical skill and understanding.
And now it is 2011, and I am truly retired! Knowing when the time is right to retire isn’t always based on age or reaching Social Security status. For me, it was a time when I was ready to move on to something different – and hopefully, a lot of travels to write about!
Though it doesn’t appear on lists of the Seven Wonders of the World, I have always thought of the Grand Canyon as one of those geographic wonders of the world. And we have seen it – from above while on a flight to California. I hope that a visit to see the Grand Canyon first-hand will be in our future, preferably on a train tour from Arizona. But for now, I was happy to settle for just getting closer.
While in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, we took a day to drive north to Sedona, which is 110 miles south of the Grand Canyon. A number of people had told me that Sedona is a “must-see” but I wasn’t really prepared for the natural beauty of that area.
Sedona itself has taken advantage of tourist traffic and is a quaint but modern community, filled with art galleries and small shops. Bed-and-breakfasts and other lodging are abundant and several resorts are nearby. I’d like to go back when we have more time and stay a day or two, just to browse through the galleries and shops and maybe hike just a little along some of the trails through the area.
For now, I will have to content myself with pictures and the knowledge that I have seen “the edge” of one of America’s wonders, which is a “wonder” itself!
Phoenix has been our destination many times, but the only sightseeing we’ve done there in the past was along the concourses of Sky Harbor International Airport. Phoenix is an intermediate step in hundreds of flights each day, and we’ve been among those temporary visitors on our way to various California destinations… until this year.
Making plans to attend the 2011 Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day, we mapped a drive along the northern route through Albuquerque and the southern route through El Paso. With weather reports for both routes sounding more and more questionable, at the last minute we decided to be wise and scheduled flights for the trip.
We had already made reservations at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, so once we picked up our rental car, we drove the few miles to the resort. The all-suite resort was very nice, with numerous buildings, pools and hot tubs, children’s recreation area, and several restaurants and an outstanding spa (where we enjoyed wonderful massages). Of course, we were expecting warm temperatures of the desert, but were met with record lows. Sure glad we had brought our coats and not our swimsuits!
While the purpose of the trip was the Fiesta Bowl, we also wanted to spend a special New Year’s Eve. The resort concierge gave us several ideas for entertainment, including the Fiesta Bowl Block Party and the Fiesta Bowl Invitational. While these sounded like great events, we opted for a quieter venue for a superb dinner. McCormick & Schmick’s was all we were hoping for – and complimentary champagne was included.
On New Year’s Day we watched bowl games on TV and then made our preparations to go to the game. Decked out in our OU gear, we drove to the University of Arizona stadium in plenty of time to observe the tailgaters and attend “College Football’s Biggest Party” with thousands of other fans.
Our original plans for this trip included another couple who were unable to go at the last minute due to a health issue. We learned from this unfortunate fact that paying a premium price for bowl game tickets may not be necessary. Our friend sent his tickets with us to sell, but at the Fiesta Bowl ticket resales can only (legally) occur in a specified area. That means that all of the people who have tickets to sell, whether fans like us or professional ticket sellers, must congregate in one area and attempt to get the best price. We felt very lucky when we were able to get one-third the face value for our friend’s tickets. And what we learned is that next time, we may take our chances and wait until we get to the game to buy tickets!
Of course, the best part of the trip was the Fiesta Bowl – OU beating UConn 48-20!!