Walks – Retirement in Paradise

Walks - 3 Pelicans in flightOne of the nice things about living near and being able to walk at the beach is the variety of sights.

There are almost always surfers to see. In southern California we also have school surfing teams. Some mornings you can see the middle school and high school teams practicing at the city or state beaches. After practice a quick shower, and, at least for the middle schoolers, a trip in mom or dad’s car home or to school. There are completion meets between schools and overall regional meets sanctioned by the NSSA – National Scholastic Surfing Association. Football, baseball, field hockey and surfing, ahh, southern California. Walks - NSSA at HB

Walks - Cyril the Pelican on PierThere are also plenty of critters who like to live at the coast. We have a large number of squirrels in addition to the pelicans and other birds. Several times a week you can see dolphins and seals from the cliffs and pier, and, occasionally, a whale.Walks - Beach Critter

People watching is a constant. Twice in the last few years Walks - HB Police on PierI’ve been passed by Orange County Sheriff training platoons jogging to a military cadence. We have beach police on their ATVs and people looking for the space shuttle. Out to sea the Coast Guard practices for ocean rescues.Walks - Endeavour Fly-by

I’ve almost always got my camera slung over my shoulder on my walks. Some days I take scores of pictures, hoping that a few are worth saving and some days the camera never leaves my shoulder. 

When I began walking on the beach in the 70s, after moving to Orange County, I’d carry my Pentax Spotmatic, take pictures and hope some of them would be good enough to enlarge. Film and developing were expensive for a beginning teacher. Thanks to the advent of digital technology, I no longer have to limit my picture taking. A 16 gigabyte card holds a couple of thousand pictures and I can do my processing on the computer; I can crop and adjust color to my heart’s content and then have only those I like printed. 

Walks - Coast Guard ExerciseI import the pictures I like into an album in iPhoto and, through iTunes, show them on the television in our living room when I play my music. When we have guests and sit in the living room we don’t have a large blank TV screen in the room, we have our family pictures quietly appearing and disappearing in the background – better atmosphere than a black screen or football game.


Walking, then and now.

When I was young, I’d often take long walks through the streets of Arcadia and Temple City. It didn’t matter where; I just liked to walk.

Skipper, a cocker/lab mix

I moved to Anaheim after I began teaching in Orange and began jogging along the Santa Ana River Trail; I discovered I could see more in the same amount of time that I had been walking. I’d also keep a change of clothes in my classroom closet, jog to work, teach, change back and jog home a couple of times a week. I continued to jog (but not to work) after I moved to Riverside and then to the beach in the early 80s. The only walking I was doing was when I’d drive to the beach on weekends.

But jogging began to take its toll. My knees and ankles could not take the pounding of five, eight and twelve-mile runs; I had to take aspirin before and after my excursions. It got to the point in the late 80s that I needed an aspirin a mile – so I stopped jogging and walked or rode my bicycle. No pain.

Beach Critter
I wish I had a surfboard.

These days I take my wife to work, park at the beach and walk for a couple of hours. Since I generally walk at the same time every day, I see a lot of the same people day after day. Retirees like myself, mothers with young children, dog walkers, skaters and cyclists, surfers and fishermen.

I put my iPod in my pocket and my camera strap on my shoulder and head toward the pier and the cliffs. Music, a sunny day, people, dogs, squirrels, dolphins, seals, pigeons, gulls, pelicans and sharks, there are always sights to see and, sometimes, to photograph.


Retirement at last (or too soon?)

My first official day of retirement was June 15, 2012.

I spent one year in kindergarten, eight years in elementary school, four years in high school, four years to get my BA/teaching credential and twenty years later I got my MA. I taught junior high/middle school (Industrial Arts, History, English, Computers, Yearbook) for forty years.


My 40th year in junior high
My 40th year in junior high

My life no longer answers to bells (except for my wife’s alarm clock). No more thirty minute lunches; no more ten minute bathroom breaks. No more “potty duty”. Heaven. Brooks and Red, in the Shawshank Redemption, had difficulty adjusting to their newfound freedom when they were paroled; I have had no difficulty adjusting to mine.

For the first time in fifty plus years my life is no longer governed by the schedule set by Education.

I get to have coffee, take a walk along the beach, have some more coffee and breakfast, read the papers and do my crossword and Sudoku puzzles. Heaven.

Friends ask how I like retirement. I tell them that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be – it’s a lot better.

My wife still teaches and I still work high school games during football season (public address announcer), but there is no longer any pressure or tension. No testing, no discipline, no homework, no parents, no administrators (or lesson plans and color-coded seating charts). Ahhh.

When I retired, I told my wife that I wasn’t going to do anything for a year (this blog is as close to work as I get) and then decide whether I wanted to get another job. Maybe, substitute teaching. I don’t think so. This freedom is enjoyable and addictive; there is no dearth of activities; there is no boredom; there is no yearning for something meaningful to do. I like this.

Or, maybe, I do have a “job” – causing jealousy and envy in others.