Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Best Places to Retire

Posted by: Rick

This is kind of interesting:

Best Places to Retire

Considering that the cabin is in Colorado and about 6 miles from Wyoming (where we will do the bulk of our shopping, banking, etc.)

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Posted by: Lynne

Shedding!? No, not the dogs or cat, but shedding stuff. Going through a household of things that haven't been used or looked at since we moved here nine years ago is not an easy task. Sorting, packing, throwing things away, etc. It's not much fun but it has to be done. I must admit that bits of it are rewarding:

1) I have a big box full of Berner things that I am donating to various Bernese Mountain Dog fundraisers. On April 2 I will meet with someone coming from Maine and heading down to Pat Long's area. We are meeting not far from my house. I like the thought that I've got some really good things in there that should raise good money for them.

2) I sorted through my stash of knitting yarn and found a bunch that has never been used, the skeins never touched, that I don't want anymore. I called my local knitting store and they said to contact an assisted living or elder care home. So I contacted the Chelsea here in town (a lovely place!) and they were thrilled to accept the donation, so I dropped it off yesterday. Now I can imagine my yarn helping someone with arthritic hands through knitting therapy.

3) Today a took a marionette that I bought in Germany some 30-odd years ago when we lived there to our town library. She is wooden and dressed in a striped housedress and white eyelet apon. She has a mobcap on her head. I've always thought the expression on her face was rather creepy to tell you the truth. She's just been sitting in a box since before we moved to New Jersey. I figured that they might like to have it for their story hour. Oh my goodness! The librarian who presides over the children's part of the library was totally enamored of my little hausfrau. She was so excited — she just kept hugging her and telling me all the things she would be great for during story hour, one of which I thought was perfect: Mother Goose!  She was truly grateful and seemed to hardly believe her good luck. I felt so good about her having a good home where she can be useful. (I just hope the kids don't find her as scary as I did.)

All these things that I donated will go on to give their own particular piece of joy to someone. And for that I am so glad.

Shedding can be a good thing!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our New Expedition

Posted by: Rick

Ford Expedition, that is.

For three years we'd been wanting to replace our Chevy Suburban (Big Red) with a newer truck. After all, Big Red was born in 2002, and had well over 100,000 miles on him (her?). If we were going to move to the cabin and subsequently pull an RV around the country, we knew we needed a new truck.

But, we could not find an adequate replacement. We had hoped to get a new Suburban because of our loyalty to Chevrolet and the great experience we'd had with a long string of Suburbans and Tahoes over the years. But, Chevrolet had completely screwed up the cargo area several years ago. We need a large cargo area where the seats can either be removed (like in Big Red), or folded flat. Flat and level. Turns out, while you could get the cargo area in new Suburbans relatively flat, the surface was certainly not level. This is not good at all for the dogs because they'd slide to the back of the their crates. I can't imagine it works for other cargo either including groceries and other supplies. Stuff would just slide to the back of the truck. Really dumb.

I guess since 2002, the Suburban was no longer considered a working truck but rather a soccer mom / big family transport vehicle and the size and weight and 4WD was all just show.

We heard rumors that the 2015 model would fix the cargo area fiasco. So, we waited. 

It didn't.

So, we looked around at Toyota (Sequoia), Nissan (Armada), and Ford (Expedition). The Toyota was ruled out, even though it had an adequate cargo area design because it seems very big and not very responsive. After all, this would be the car Lynne often used for shopping and running errands up till the time we move. We ruled out the Ford because of the way the second row seats folded. We liked the Armada and were on the verge of buying one when we discovered that the Ford Expedition second row seats did fold flat and level! And, after a couple of test drives at Leo Kaytes Ford in Warwick, New York, we were sold.

However, Lynne had the brilliant idea to trade in our Subaru Tribeca (Becky) instead of Big Red. That way, we could use Big Red as our "beater" truck at the cabin. I was planning to buy an old used Jeep Wrangler to use for 4WD, fishing, and to put a plow on it for winter. But, if we kept Big Red, he (she?) could fill that role and we would not need to buy a vehicle. Brilliant.

So, we said goodbye to Becky (she was an annoying car, but to be fair, a very reliable one) and bought a 2015 Ford Expedition. With all the bells and whistles.

Next challenge. We like to line the cargo area with a canvas liner to protect the carpeting and seat backs. And, we've always bought our liners from Canvasback. But, they did not have what we needed. We needed a liner that would protect the entire cargo area with the 3rd seat folded down. (We never used the 3rd row seat in the Suburban and likely won't in this truck either.) And, with the 2nd row seats either up or down. I talked with the people at Canvasback and they were willing to make a custom liner. I did the measurements, drew up a proposed pattern, and sent it to them. For $159 they made a beautiful custom liner. Now that it is installed, I'd make one change to the pattern (and I've told them this in case I need to replace this some day), making it easier to raise and lower the 2nd row seats.

Canvasback custom liner:

If you need a liner for the cargo area in your car or truck, get it from these guys. They are great! While I was at it, I replaced the old, dirty liner in the Suburban.

So, now we have two large 4WD SUVs. But, I must say that the Ecoboost V6 engine on the Ford is getting good gas mileage. And, it will do very well towing Lady Bug, and any subsequent RV we choose.

We've taken another step on our way to life at the cabin! Oh, and we've named the Expedition Lex and it is definitely a guy!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Posted by: Rick

It is interesting that you spend many years of your life accumulating things, then reach a time when you need to get rid of those same things. 

We are about to move from a 4 bedroom, 3-1/2 bathroom, 2500 (ish) square-foot house with a basement, into a 1000 square-foot, one room, log cabin with very little storage. And, the cabin is pretty well outfitted already with kitchen gear, clothing, furniture, etc. What are we going to do with all this stuff?!

We are going through the house, room by room, cleaning and sorting. We are putting everything we own into one of several categories:

  1. We need it at the cabin and will find some way to cram it in.
  2. We likely need it at the cabin, and will store it somewhere close (maybe Laramie) where we can get easy access.
  3. We want to keep it, perhaps for some future second home, so this also goes into storage.
  4. We don't want it and it has value and we'll give it away. Goodwill Industries is a candidate charity.
  5. We have a lot of vintage and antique items that we will try to sell to a local dealer.
  6. There are some things we can leave with the house, if compensated. New owners would likely need the tractor, generator, pool equipment, for example.
  7. There is a lot of stuff that just needs to be thrown away. Hate doing this, so it is a last resort.
  8. Everything else will go in an estate sale once the house is sold.

We've been told by our realtor that we need to "declutter" the house. A polite way of telling us we've got too much stuff, I think. So, our priority is on getting the house looking good for showing. That means working on everything that can be seen as you walk through the house. We'll work on the "hidden" things in cabinets and cupboards later. We've got the upstairs in pretty good shape with one bedroom that we used as a junk room still needing some care. The bathrooms and closets upstairs look pretty good. So, it is just in need of a deep cleaning next.

Downstairs, the living room is okay, but still needs some decluttering. The dining room is in good shape and we've whipped the office into a presentable state. The kitchen is not bad, but the garage needs work. We've boxed up and given away hundreds of books with many more to go. There is a local Friends of the Library charity that will take these.

Then, there is the basement. What a mess. But, it is too damned cold to try to tackle that right now. There are boxes and boxes of stuff we moved from Colorado, some of which have never been opened! There is the cheese making and wine making equipment. (I'll keep the cheese making gear.) Unused furniture, tools, dog showing paraphernalia, puzzles, record albums, (this list could go on a long time).

We meet with the realtor to sign a contract and kick off the selling process on Wednesday. We'll be asking him for recommendations for local storage facilities--we'll move stuff we want to keep out of the house as much as possible. We need to find a cleaning service or house cleaner that can help us get the house into showable shape and keep it that way. 

And, we have a few minor repairs to make and some painting to do. Shampoo carpets. And, we'll be good-to-go!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Phased Retirement

Posted by: Rick

That's what the HR people call it: "phased retirement". It is a process where a person, as they retire from a company, sticks around to help transition to and train a replacement, often on a part-time basis. It is a way of allowing the retiree to move out of a high-demand, intense and/or stressful job, and still contribute to the company while bringing new talent on-board. That's me. I'm working toward a phased retirement.

I've given the company notice about my desire to retire soon. I don't yet have a firm date, and can't really stop working until our house in New Jersey sells. So, the strategy is to list the house for sale starting in April. Assuming we'll have about 2 months between a contract and closing, we'll have enough time to set a retirement date and do all the things needed to stop work and retire to the cabin in Colorado. At work, knowing I'll be leaving sometime soon, my boss is going to move forward to replace me now. I'll "step aside" from my job, someone else will come in as my replacement, and we'll work side-by-side for a while. That way, I can phase out of work, working until the house closes. And, the new person can learn the job with me available as a coach and consultant.

It is a bit scary. I've been in this job for 9 years and loved it. It is the longest period I've ever had a single job assignment. I love the people, the products, and all the experiences I've had. But, it is time to move on to the next chapter in our lives. A chapter that will be captured in this blog.

And, Lynne and I have made big changes before. Within a year of getting married we moved to Germany for a little over two years. In the late 80s we moved to The Netherlands and after a few years there, we moved to France. We came back to the US in the mid 90s, and had a nice long run before moving to New Jersey in 2006. So, moving and change are not new to us and we are really excited about starting the next chapter.


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