Retirement: Do Dreams Die There?

Retirement:  You’re Never Too Old

Do dreams die in retirement?  Retirement should be the gateway to new beginnings.  I recently turned sixty-four.  For me, sixty-five has always been the passage-of-rite to retirement much like sixteen was the passage-of-rite to independence when I acquired a driver’s license and could suddenly drive legally.  I always figured I’d be wealthy by the time I turned 65, and wouldn’t be concerned about having enough money to live comfortably for the remainder of my life.  At about 50, I began to worry ’cause, up to that point I didn’t have a clear retirement plan and was relying solely on the plan offered through my employer, a state agency where I had been employed the previous ten years, or so.  Well, there was also Social Security.  It was then I took serious stock of what life would be like after retirement.

The first thing I did was take advantage of our employer sponsored investment program.  We designate a certain amount to be deducted from our paycheck and used to purchase stock in mutual funds of our choice.  As it’s turned out that was a pretty wise thing to do as my investments have done well.  The only downside at this point is the meager amount, because of my financial responsibilities, I’ve been able to allocate for this purpose.  I knew by age fifty-five, this retirement planning was going to fall short and there was more I needed to do.  It became pretty obvious I was going to need to be able to earn some money to supplement everything else so there’d be enough to support my standard of living at its current level.  I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else and I also knew I did not want to continue in my current job past the time I would be eligible for full Social Security benefits.  That pretty much meant I was going to have to earn money working for myself.  So, what were my options.

Well, having learned the carpenter/construction business growing up and earning a living in the field as an adult for over ten years, being a handyman was one option.  I had a lot of tools already that would allow me to complete a goodly number of jobs.  But, you know what, I saw this as not much different from working for someone else and already I was aware of the pitfalls of working for the public.  What other option would I have?  I have always loved photography!  I took pictures as a child, sneaking my mother’s Kodak box camera out and using up her precious film.  She soon hid it from me.  By sixteen I began buying my own cameras and film.  In my early twenties, and soon after marriage, I got a job in a photography studio in OKC.  I learned weddings, some portraiture, and some darkroom skills.  My love for photography never stopped even though my growth and development in the art almost ceased as I became a father, changed to another career, and put aside my wants for the wants and needs of others.  However, in 1999, my father passed away and left me just enough money to buy a new camera, a Minolta 800si and a few other accessories.  Over the next several years, my financial picture improved and I was able to purchase a few more lenses, a flash, and some filters.  So, by the time I was at the point of considering options for earning money after retirement, pursuing becoming a fine art photographer was not out of the question.  I still had over a decade left in my current career until retirement and this would allow me to grow slowly and cheaply and to be earning some money before retirement.  So that’s just what I would do.  I would become a fine art photographer.  This was my new retirement plan.  So, you ask, “How’s it been going?”

Well, this may not have been such a good plan, yet.  Retirement may be a lot farther away than I had hoped!  There is one thing for sure, though; I am not giving up.  More on that next time.



Off-Road Trailer Shopping

Salvaged Parts, Roosevelt, OK
Off-Road Trailer Potential?

For quite a while I’ve been wanting an off-road trailer.  An off-road trailer, for me, is a trailer large enough to hold all my essential camping gear so I won’t have to load my 2013 Army Green FJ Cruiser to the hilt.  An FJ has 67 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded.  I’m looking for a trailer with 60 cubic feet capacity, or close to it; my photography and personal gear will still be loaded in FJ.  I’m not a rock-crawling enthusiast and won’t be doing any of that, but I do want to be able to go up-and-down anything defined as a “Trail Open to All” or a “Road Open to All”.  I want FJ to be able to get “there” and “back” and I want a trailer that follows like a shadow.

If money was no object, but it is, I’d have already ordered Schutt Industry’s “Xventure” in Toyota Army Green and been done.  Right now, this is a lot over my budget at $12,000 plus.  Another caveat is that the interior height of the bed is 18”.  That’s the absolute minimum clearance I have to have; I’d prefer 20” plus.  Another great option is the Adventure Trailers “Horizon”.  It’s interior bed height is 30”, more than adequate for my needs.  The only physical issue I have with this trailer is the lip I’d have to lift things to get over and into the bed when the tailgate is down.  I’m sixty-four and have a few boxes that are pretty heavy for me to lift anymore.  Lifting them onto a tailgate and then pushing them into the bed is not near as difficult as lifting them onto the tailgate and then assuming a less than idea position for lifting weight in order to lift them over the lip and into the bed.  I’m pretty sure this would lead to extra visits to my chiropractor, Dr. Rose and eventually further consultation with Dr. Brandon for treatment of L3 nerve root radiculopothy.

Below is a list of two off-road trailer reviews and below those are links to off-road trailer manufacturers.


Links to Manufacturers:

All in all, I’m having a difficult time finding a trailer that meets my needs/wants and also fits my pocketbook.  Toward that end, recently I was passing through Roosevelt, a very small town in western Oklahoma, now known for its salvage yards.  I noticed a lot alongside State Hwy 183, a lot filled to overflowing with salvaged pickup beds (see photo).  Almost all were without, tailgates, axles, lights and lenses.  Most were in very good condition, otherwise.  I’m wondering to myself it it would be worthwhile to acquire one, and have my own off-road trailer built using one of these for the bed?  I’m not able to build the chassis myself so I wonder if I’d save any money, or not?  I’m also wondering what I’d have as far a looks go when it’s finished?

I welcome all comments and ideas.  Please comment if you have any good thoughts and/or suggestions.