First Year of Early Retirement (1) – Travel/Play & Arts/Creativity


It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since I made my FIRE escape from corporate life!  More than anything, people ask me “what are you doing with your time in early retirement”.  Several people have asked me to provide an update on my post last year, when I introduced my “Life Wheel” and talked about the activities I am hoping to spend more time on.

Since this is the one-year anniversary of announcing my resignation from MegaCorp last year, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what I’ve been doing since leaving work for the last time on April Fool’s Day last year.

I will post these over the next few weeks – tackling 2 corners of the Life Wheel each week. Today, I’ll start with Travel/Play and Arts/Creativity.  My goal wasn’t to accomplish EVERYTHING on the list in the first year.  You’ll see that I’ve completed a few things, made progress on a lot of them, but still have opportunity to pursue others:


Finish all 50 states – I only have two states to go to reach this bucket list accomplishment (Idaho & Wyoming).  My plan has been to go to Yellowstone which is right on the border of those two states.   We don’t have any travel plans firmly booked for the rest of the year, so maybe we will get after this sooner than later.  OPPORTUNITY

Reach 50 countries – This challenge requires getting to 22 more countries, as I am a little over half way (28) to 50 already.  That said, I’ve already hit a lot of the European countries that are pretty close together.  I’ll need to put together a list of 22 more countries to see if this is a realistic goal or not.  OPPORTUNITY

Learn about Asia – The biggest trip we took in 2016 – about three months after I retired – was to Tokyo & Kyoto.   I had been there on business before (also to China), but this was a real 12 day immersion for us as a family.  We learned a lot, but don’t have any immediate plans to do more travel in Asia at this time.  DONE

Live in another country for a month – I’m not sure how or when we would plan this, but I think it would be terrific to really plop oneself into another culture for an extended period of time.  I look with envy at blogs of people that early retire and travel the world living like a local.  OPPORTUNITY 

Sports car club road rally / track day – We bought a new sports car and I spent a lot of time doing “car stuff” last summer.  We went on two BMW Club road tours and a friend and I participated in a charity road rally that had a lot of high speed hijinx.  Along with car shows, these were a lot of fun and I’m sure to do more in 2017.  CONTINUING

Get a dog / little buddy – With our son leaving for college, we thought getting a little dog might be fun.   We talked about it for a while and got some input from other people with dogs and decided it was probably more work than we wanted, given we like to travel and be away from home a good deal.   There will be a time for this, but not just yet.  OPPORTUNITY 

Spend summer days on the water / boat club – This was one of the biggest surprises of the summer.  Although we belong to a boat club that gives us unlimited access to great watercraft on a beautiful National Scenic Waterway near our house, we didn’t use it all that much. We probably only got out about ten times – no different than when I was working.  There are so many things to do in the summer in Minnesota, we may not renew our membership in 2017.  DONE

Organize trips to Europe/Holy Land for Church – I like to plan trips and I thought this might a great way to combine a passion with purpose.  Also a chance to travel with others and build relationships.  In the meanwhile, someone on our church Ministry Team had the same idea and announced a trip to Germany to explore the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s start of the Reformation.  My wife and are thinking about going, and I did talk to our pastor about getting involved in leading future trips.  OPPORTUNITY

Other – We went to Cabo San Lucas this past January and are thinking of other 2017 trips right now.  We are thinking about a long weekend in Chicago this summer and a big trip to England/Scotland/Ireland in the fall. 


Go to afternoon $5 movies every other week – We love going to movies and certainly took in our fair share over the year.  We’re at exactly 26 movies so far – almost right on the mark for going every other week.  Very few of them (only 5) actually took advantage of $5 Bargain Tuesdays, however.  CONTINUING

Pick up photography again – I’ve been doing a lot more with pictures and photography, especially since the cold weather descended on Minnesota.  I’ve been organizing a lifetime of photos, creating awesome collages for a HD digital frame I bought, and snapping more and more with a couple of cameras, including a GoPro action camera (mine’s actually a knock off ‘faux-Pro’).  CONTINUING

Learn Photoshop / publishing – Other than a simple Adobe FixIt app that I use to touch up photos, I don’t really know how to use Photoshop.  I think this would be a lot of fun, but I haven’t yet looked into taking a class on it.  I’m sure there is something online.  Open to any suggestions.  OPPORTUNITY

Learn to play electric guitar – I picked up some ‘Learn to Play Guitar’ books and a DVD at a garage sale, but haven’t really spent much time with them.  I think it would be best for me to have a steady lesson to go to, but haven’t made time for it.  Winter would be the best time, but I’m too busy right now.  OPPORTUNITY museum group – There is a cool group in the Twin Cities that arranges behind the scenes trips to local museums, led by museum staff.  That sounded super interesting, but I haven’t joined up with them yet.  That said, we’ve gone to quite a few museums this year anyway – the classical art institute, modern art museum, the history center  and several other museums just in the last 60 days.  Traveling we’ve gone to another half dozen museums.  CONTINUING

Start a community news website / social media feed – Frankly, one blog is more than I can manage right now, although I did become more engrossed in social media than ever in the last year (despite running social media teams as part of my job in my last two MegaCorps).  I recently signed up to be a participant in an 8-week “citizens academy” in our community that starts next month.  We’ll see where that leads me to getting involved.  OPPORTUNITY

Win a State Fair ribbon in creative activities – This one is out there a bit, but winning a ribbon in the State Fair has always been a bucket list item for me.  I’ve been eyeing some categories the last few years that look interesting – including photography & postcard collecting – but probably need to find out the rules and how you enter now.  OPPORTUNITY

Build Lego “City of Dreams” – My son and I have the most amazing Lego collection you’ve probably ever seen and are always adding to it.  I’ve had this idea to build a small-scale Lego skyline of famous buildings and monuments we’ve visited around the world, but haven’t made much progress on it.   You can buy an official Lego Architecture series, but it bugs me that none of the buildings are scaled the same.  I’ve made a couple rough attempts at it, and am seeing why it is so difficult to do.  CONTINUING

Other – I’ve been talking with our State Historical Society about a couple topics that would work well for future exhibits / presentations that I think I could play a role collaborating with them on.  I’ve already met a bunch of interesting people and created some outlines of projects that they are interested in.

Image Credit: ©


31 thoughts on “First Year of Early Retirement (1) – Travel/Play & Arts/Creativity

  1. So exciting to review your list, see what you’ve done, and the opportunites that remain! I’m one year out from FIRE, and have a list surprisingly similar to yours! One note, on the Photoshop item, check with Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire. He’s pretty good, and I’ve had some exchanges with him. He self taught himself on YouTube, and can probably send you some good links.

    Can’t wait to write my 1 year Anniversary post – you’re inspiring me as you walk your journey ahead of me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the nice comments! Yes – I have read Steve’s posts about learning photoshop, but I just haven’t made the time to get into yet. Not working can be busy 😉


  2. Looks pretty fulfilling and productive to me. Why can I get the move Office Spaces out of my head. “You’ve been missing a lot of work, I wouldn’t say I’ve been really MISSING it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely not missing it! You do miss the daily interaction you have with so many people. There are plenty of social opportunities, but they do require more planning.


  3. I love Minnesota in the summer! Except for the mosquitoes. I’m pretty sure when we retire we’ll be snowbirds. If I never experienced another MN winter, I would be happy. Although, I really can’t complain about this winter.

    In what country would you possibly do your month long stay?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question – if it was in the winter, probably somewhere in the Caribbean. I’ve read a lot about going to Belize recently. They really cater to American retirees, I’ve read.


  4. Great list and good overview. I think you’ve inspired me to come up with a similar type of goal and opportunity list for myself. Almost three years into my my retirement and I think I could use a bit more structure (i.e. actually write things down) outlining how I want to spend the years ahead. Bye, I really agree with your decision not to get a pet at this time. It’s much easier to just take off – and for longer periods of time – without worrying about their care. There will be plenty of time for that later.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great list! You’re smart to have well-defined ideas of how to spend your time.

    For photography, I use Photoshop Elements, which costs a fraction of full-on Photoshop. Scott Kelby ( has books and online resources to help you learn to do anything you want to do. Adobe Lightroom is popular, too.

    Oh, and if you’re in town 4/29, a number of PF bloggers are getting together in Mpls. Details here: Join us if you can!



    1. Cool tips on alt-versions of photoshop. I’ll join the thread on 4/29 get together. That sounds cool! Thanks!!


    1. Someday we’ll get a dog. When I’m too tired or traveled out. Then it will be nice to stay home with a little buddy.


  6. Wow! This post really sums up what you mean. Retirement is less about money and more about options of what you want to do with your life. I completely agree and seeing this post makes me believe it will all be worth it in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the update. Has it really been almost a year? Can’t wait to see your post when you complete all 50 states. Six months into retirement and I’m still finding my rhythm but definitely not missing work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My daily rhythm seems to change every season so far. I worried about the long cold winter in MN being prone to boredom, but there has been lots to do and we are almost to spring now! 🍀 Every season brings new things to do!


  8. Hey – I love this life wheel. Reminds me a lot of my “happiness spreadsheet”! Have you thought about Central and South America for hitting a bunch of countries? If I had to pick a country to live like a local for a month it would probably be Costa Rica — the people are friendly and the culture is very laid back, and the food is good as a bonus! Great post –R

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have never been to South America, but I would like to go. I also have heard fantastic things about Costa Rica and Belize. Both are on the LIST!


  9. Great list! As Janice said above, you have motivated me to actually WRITE my list down!
    PS – we just got a new Grand-dog…so that was the perfect compromise for us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A grand-dog! Yes, I could definitely sign up for that. Unfortunately our son is in college living in the dorms right now. Probably will have to wait a few years for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So very true. When you just want to do something, having the time to make it work is magical.


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