Retirement: Year 1

Retirement: Year 1
Hiking the Continental Divide Trail near Butte with Isaac on my first day of retirement

As of this week, I have already been retired for a full year. Time flies! This post is a look back at some of my favorite memories from my first year of not working and focusing on just enjoying life.

I was expecting to play more music than I did this year, but other things filled my time most days. C'est la vie. I still have a piano, a guitar, and a voice, so maybe I can find more time for that in the future.

One unexpected obsession in recent months was chess. I played a bit as a kid, mostly with my Dad, and then have barely touched the game since. But I've played hundreds of games online in the last month, and am starting to study openings and other aspects of the game in more detail than ever before. I'm learning a lot from experts like Levy Rozman and Igor Smirnov, and I'm looking forward to getting my ELO rating up to a 4-digit number soon.

Retirement hasn't been all fun and games, of course, and the least fun thing that happened in the last year was the passing of amazing Alice. What a girl. She had a great run, and I'm grateful she was around for the first six months of my retirement, when I had time for so many little walks with her around the neighborhood.

Other CDT Hikes

In addition to the one on my first day of retirement, I also took four other hikes along various parts of the Continental Divide Trail during my first year of retirement. All five of these hikes were stretches that I hadn't seen before, and I'm hoping to get to know all of the CDT near Butte eventually.

After Alice passed away on December 30, we decided to take a New Year's Day pack hike along the CDT near Pipestone Pass. Alice had some great New Year's Day hikes over the years, so this seemed a fitting way to honor her memory.

Tendoy Lake

This is a hike I had been wanting to do for a long time, and last summer I finally got there with Nancy and Isaac. It's a 6.5 mile out and back hike with about 1200 feet of elevation, and the drive to the trailhead is long and rough but our Tacoma made it. On the day we were there in mid-September, we saw one other person all day, a guy camping with his dog in a tent near the lake.

Jethro Tull in Belgium

In early September, Megan and I traveled to Ghent and Antwerp to see shows on the Jethro Tull tour to promote RökFlöte, the new album released in April 2023. I'm not planning to do much international travel in retirement, but this trip was planned well before I retired, so I snuck it in on a technicality.

McGuire Mountain

We've spent the night at many different Forest Service cabins in recent years, and our favorite is McGuire Lookout, up near the town of Eureka in northwest Montana. We first stayed there in September 2020 with Jamie, Alice, and Nancy (as covered here), and in September 2023 Isaac and I went back for a night. It was a magical time, arriving during a late afternoon thunderstorm and then awakening to fresh snow, and we never saw another person within 20 miles of the cabin.

Midwest Road Trip

A month after our McGuire Mountain adventure, Isaac and I took a road trip to visit friends and relatives in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, and South Dakota. Nancy stayed home to keep Alice company - in Alice's final years, she no longer cared for long road trips.

We had many great experiences on that trip, but I think my favorite was when we arrived at the Badlands just before dark and decided to take the 24-mile loop drive anyway, and had the place to ourselves. I've been to the Badlands many times, usually in the summer when it's crowded with tourists, and it was great to be there when it was our own private playground. We took walks right down the middle of the highway, and never saw another car pass.

We had planned to hike in the Black Hills the next day, but on the way to the trailhead we ran into a deer and had to limp home 500 miles that day with the smashed grill tied together with pieces of rope.

Home Improvement

When we bought an old house in Butte, we knew we were taking on a project, but the magnitude of that project was bigger than we had anticipated. We spent a lot of money on repairs and renovations the first few years, and now that I'm retired and don't have a paycheck, that work has shifted to me.

It's fun to learn new techniques, and after so many must-do projects I'm eager to dive into some of the things we've been waiting to get to, such as a bar for the parlor and converting one of the upstairs bedrooms into a library.

Highlands Lookout

I took several hikes up to Highlands Lookout in the last year. It's an old fire lookout tower at 9700 feet elevation in the Highland Mountains, and it's visible from our deck in Butte nearly 20 miles away.

I have a goal of hiking to the top of Table Mountain, the highest point in the Highlands and highest point in our county at 10,233 feet above sea level, and the simplest route to Table Mountain goes up past Highlands Lookout and then over Red Mountain and Monument Peak. I went to the top of Red Mountain with my friend Craig last summer, but haven't made it any farther. Yet. Maybe 2024 will be my year for that.


The most exciting experience of the last year was adding George to our pack. He helped all of us (especially Isaac) recover from the loss of Alice, and makes us laugh every day with his high-energy antics.

Palm Springs

In May of 2023, Mom suggested that the two of us attend the annual outdoor play Ramona at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre near Palm Springs. We had a year to plan the trip, and we were there to see the play on Cinco de Mayo this year with Mom's friends Doug and Sharon and their daughter Jana.

It was fun to re-live some of these experiences while putting this post together, and I'm looking forward to doing another post like this at the end of Year 2. Retirement is a blast!