We both retired in January of 2017 after 50 years of nursing for Sandy and 40 years of Emergency Medicine for Jim. Sandy had two retirement parties as she retired in March of 2016 and then returned to per diem work for a few months until Jim walked out of work for the last time at 7am on January 11. Jim’s party consisted of champagne in the parking lot with two of his favorite night nurses. Jim loved his job but had no respect for (mis)management. Three days later we were on a flight to Paris for Jim’s retirement celebration with four friends, a trip that we will write about soon. On returning from Paris Jim received seven weeks of radiation for prostate cancer which ended on March 24. On March 25 we moved out of our beloved home on the public garden in Boston and started what has turned into a three year peregrination. At that time we were writing about our travels and sending emails with pictures to about 120 friends, relatives and acquaintances. We did not start posting blogs until the end of 2017. Since we are finding ourselves with a little time on our hands it seems the perfect opportunity to revisit and post the first year of retirement, starting with a road trip that we took from Boston to Asheville North Carolina for Jim’s 50th high school reunion. We have cut and pasted our original emails with only a little editing and a lot of pictures.
Road trip, day 1: Boston to Cooperstown New York, 200 miles. March 26, 2017.
We are on the move again. (must be referencing our recent retirement trip to Paris) Our home on Beacon Street has been rented out until the end of June and we moved out on Saturday the 25th, locking the door at 10:45pm and going to our daughter’s home in Melrose where we have a large room crammed with our life as we will know it for the next six months. (Little did we know it would be over three years) We loaded the Mini with our needs for the next month and left Melrose on a cold rainy Monday morning. Our first stop was on the Lincoln/Concord line to see our brother-in-law John who is in a rehab there. (Sadly we took no pictures as this was the last time that we saw John as he died in mid April) We then headed out rte. 2, stopping next at Walden Pond. It was too gray, cold and rainy to visit the pond so we tried the beautiful new visitor’s center but only the gift shop was open. We then stayed on rte. 2 to the New York border. What a beautiful drive, even on a cold very cloudy day with driving rain at times. It is called the Mohawk trail as it very closely follows a Native American trade route from Athol to Williamstown. It follows the Deerfield and Millers rivers and crosses the Connecticut river on the beautiful French King Bridge. We stopped for coffee and a sandwich at the Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters which is a very quaint coffee shop with an extensive choice of coffee’s and good bakery and simple dining selections. We then explored downtown Shelburne Falls which has a beautiful, noisy waterfall in the center of a very cute town and the Bridge of Flowers which hosts an annual 10K run that Sandy has been wanting to do for years. The Mohawk Trail heads up from there to its highest elevation of 2272 feet at Whitcomb summit. The trees were covered in ice and the 65 mile view from the top was about 65 feet. It was truly breathtakingly beautiful and amazing. On the New York side, we followed the Taconic trail to Troy and on to Cooperstown on the southern tip of Otsego lake. We were the only guests at the Inn of Cooperstown, a three floor Federal style building just off of Main Street.
This trip may not be exotic or sexy but this day 1 provided us as much beauty and joy as we have ever experienced on any of our other trips.
Road trip, day 2: Cooperstown to Watkins Glen, 125 miles.
We wake up early, eager for a run around Cooperstown including a bit of the shore of Lake Otsego. Jim asks Sandy to get his bag of shoes from the Mini as all he has is a pair of high topped, leather, waterproof Converse All Stars which are a real pain to get off and on. She comes back after about five minutes saying that the shoes are not in the car. It takes Jim two hours and a picture of the bag of shoes still in Melrose to finally accept the fact that he left all of his driving and running shoes behind and he is stuck with the leather, high-topped, waterproof Converse All Stars. Sandy left her running shoes in the closet of our home in Boston and we stopped in Troy New York yesterday to purchase new shoes for her. We go out running with Sandy in her new shoes and Jim in his leather, high-topped, waterproof Converse All Stars. The run along the waters edge was complicated by six inches of melting snow. Thank goodness for the waterproof shoes. We ran by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and by the Abner Doubleday baseball field. We returned to the museum after breakfast and spent an hour longer than either of us wanted but were rewarded by seeing Jeffrey Bagwell who is one of five 2017 inductee’s into the Hall of Fame.
We headed out for Watkins Glen, sticking entirely to back roads. We discovered that Google maps GPS can take you on the most direct route, utilizing the smallest back roads. We had the Mini’s GPS and Google competing and Google won every time. We stopped in Ithaca to pick up some new running shoes for Jim, getting to drive through some beautiful sections of town immediately adjacent to Cornell. We drove the final 25 miles to Watkins Glen in a very dense fog bank with visibilities as low as 150 meters at times. The visibility was much better in Watkins Glen itself which is located at the southern tip of Seneca Lake. We were expecting another cutesy town like Cooperstown, but instead found a somewhat uninteresting podunk town. After finding all of the B & B’s to be closed for the season or out of business we settled on the Watkins Glen Village Motel for $84/night, possibly the cheapest lodging we have ever stayed at. We have truly accepted retirement lifestyle, fixed income and the financial restrictions that it dictates and have also endured two days of truly horrendous spring weather conditions and actually enjoyed them.
Road trip day 3, Watkins Glen New York to Erie Pennsylvania. 198 miles.
Up at 6:30 for a brief, less than 2 mile run along the southern tip of Seneca Lake which is the largest of the glacial finger lakes of New York. The town of Watkins Glen was not any more exciting on a sunny morning than it had been on a foggy evening. We did find a local bakery/coffee shop which baked everything in house. There were a few locals having coffee & sweets. The owner completely ignored us outsiders standing at the counter obviously wanting coffee while she chatted with a local who came in after us. It must have taken at least five minutes before she even acknowledged us. We decided to get out of this backwater town ASAP. We did stop by the Watkins Glen International which is a world famous road racing course. We really wanted to get the Mini on the course but there was no one there and we couldn’t get around the concrete barriers. We did walk into the course and go into some of the grandstands.
The racetrack was completely deserted and we never saw another person on the grounds. After seeing all that Watkins Glen had to offer we headed for Erie, PA following google’s fastest route instructions which brought us to a dirt/mud road which was closed “for the season” and blocked off. We took the alternative road which made google very cranky and she abandoned us altogether. We are on this dirt road in the middle of east awfulgosh NY and we keep seeing yellow signs saying “Caution, heavy pedestrian traffic 6am-9pm”. We saw at least 10 of these signs and not one other living person. It was quite eerie, giving us the feeling of being in a Steven King movie. It is a beautiful sunny day and we finally venture out onto our first Interstate highway. Our first detour off of the highway takes us into the small town of Jamestown. This is the birthplace of Lucille Ball and two famous ROGERS. Roger Tory Peterson and Roger Goodell, who knew?
We arrive in Erie to find that it makes Watkins Glen New York look good. Almost everything was closed in this industrial seedy town with majestic and massive Lake Erie being its most redeeming asset. We went to the Maritime Museum only to find it closed, but Ed, a museum volunteer recommended that we visit Presque Isle. This is an impressive peninsula with a lot of history about the war of 1812 and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
Since we couldn’t find any decent restaurant choices we settled for a Sheraton Hotel Bayview Grill before retiring to our $51 Redroof Inn on Interstate 90.