Tuesday, September 29, 2015

66 and Sleeping like a dog...

Literally...the view from and of my sleeping facilities for the night. Beautiful, cozy and shared with one of my favorite travel companions, Mack, on the road to Colorado.

As one of my previous posts indicated, recently retired and feeling a strong need to see my sis in Colorado, Mack and I started out going north from our home base of Holton, over the bridge (Mackinaw) and through the UP, around the lower tip of Lake Superior and westward ho! Although our destination was the northeastern tip of Colorado, my secondary goal (photographing something...anything ) propelled my drive through the Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the way down.

Our successful maiden voyage in the almost new auto, a Ford, Hybrid CMax Sel,  averaging about 40 mpg, combined with the comfy and inexpensive sleeping arrangements, guaranteed it would not be our last.

Paradoxically, if you know me at all, you'd swear I was a 4-star minimum, hotel kind of gal. And quite honestly, I was until the realities of retirement hit me. EEKK...no every other week payday? (And I blamed it on the influx of bedbugs in hotel rooms.)

While I've been planning for it, prepared and anxiously awaiting it, retirement does STILL come as a huge shock. Here it is...I finally have time for my passions...travel and art, but... I have more time. I have less money. I have a career. I have no regular payday (well I really do...retirement and social security) but not from my freelance business. I obsess about the unimportant details encountered in daily living but have time to appreciate life. I have time to write and do art but diminished motivation (have always had to squeeze it in...and with laser-like focus accomplished a lot in a small window of time.)

So...life changes...adjustments are made...and new goals established. What's next? A road trip? I think I'll try either a color tour or a drive by of lighthouses in Michigan...on the cheap, in the car with Mack. My next art project? A pastel painting of poppies.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Driving through though the Dakotas

Verterans of War Memorial Cemetery visited on 9/11 - South Dakota

View from our sleeping quarters night three

Another view from our sleeping quarters (back of car) in a small campground

Landscape in South Dakota

Buffalo Chip campground outside Sturgis, South Dakota

The images I can capture are a huge reason I love to drive through the Dakotas. The landscape, clouds and beauty of the farmland beckon me and my camera every few years.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt Park Northern Unit - North Dakota

Expansive view of the Badlands coming into Medora, North Dakota

Mack checking out the Badlands

Prairie Dogs in the North Unit of the Park

Overlook coming into the Theodore National Park, Medora, North Dakota

Although we did little more than a 'drive-by' of this National Park, it's someplace I'd like to come back to and explore in more detail. With a dog in tow, there are restrictions to accessing the trails...we couldn't leave the paved roads...so we drove through the 36 mile paved road scenic drive and still got hundreds of shots and a good sense of the landscape. At some point, I hope to make this and many of the National Parks my destination for more than a few hours.

My husband and I took this same drive a few years ago, and although I recognized it after getting into the drive, I'm not sorry I did it a second time...and will definitely do the drive again. $20 to get into (there is a $10 senior pass but she didn't ask and I didn't tell) and it was well worth the money.

The small town of Medora (a destination in and of itself) holds the gateway to this drive and is a bustling little cattle town. Roosevelt called his years in the Badlands (not to be confused with the South Dakota Badlands National Park) "the romance of his life" and I can see why!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Panic Attacks and the Road Trip to Colorado

Roadside Cemetery - Imagine the stories

Juxtapositions again

Lake Superior beauty

Mack and I enjoying the solitude at Lake Superior
From Munising we started our journey AND a new day traveling along Lake Superior. I'd label this leg of our trip as scenic solitude...there were a few travelers and most seemed to be older, perhaps retired, and truly enjoying the journey as were Mack and I.

If you haven't traveled by yourself and/or with a canine companion, I'd highly recommend the adventure. There is a tremendous amount of time to think, plan, consider, and map out not only your journey, but the remainder of your life, if you wish. There were times that I felt more alone than I would normally like, but much of the time was spent quietly contemplating the beauty of my home country. Every scene produced either a photograph or a possibility for a painting, or both.

Purposefully NOT listening to the news OR even the weather for the entire drive was relaxing and left a lot of time for introspection. And although I checked in nightly to ensure my family knew my location and that we were safe and uploaded pics to Facebook so they could follow our progress, the news, politics or weather was not on our agenda. I had time to think about where I have been (both literally and figuratively) and where I am going.

This also allowed time for old demons to visit..and that they did. Panic attack prone when feeling alone, there were a couple of times (no actually several times) that I had to remind myself to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment. My favorite side-roads/trips were quiet, traffic free, full of potential paintings and photographs, but also a little nerve racking as I fought the panic down.

And I won...no panicking and a camera and mind full of ideas for future projects and paintings.

Stay tuned for the next leg of our journey!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Road Trip_September 2015

Mackinaw Bridge
Well, I fully intended to blog daily on my road trip...even made sure I had either internet access or phone contact through-out the journey, but alas...this went the way of many of my good intentions...on the back burner.

Mack and our sleeping arrangements for a couple of nights
And here I am, home after a couple of weeks on the road and trying to remember what I was thinking, seeing,  and doing, to tell the story.

Day 1 was spent traversing the Michigan landscape. Mack and I left later in the am and drove up and across the bridge and finally stopped to sleep at a campground in Munising in the U.P.  I contemplated getting a hotel room, but decided we had gone to all the work of getting an air mattress, covers, Mackblankets and window coverings that we should definitely use them and we did. And I slept like a dog (so did Mack, but then he always does.)

This day reminds me why I chose Michigan to live...lush greenery, beautiful blue water, and manageable traffic. The campground felt safe and secluded. And I'm really glad I have this state as my home base. I'll share more tomorrow as we head out of Michigan and into Wisconsin and beyond.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On the road again...

Oregon coastline from one of last year's road trips
Well almost...getting ready for a road trip! The most exciting of times...it's just a short trip (to see my sis in Colorado) but for someone who LOVES all road trips, it will be an adventure.

Just getting ready is an adventure...you see I'm a little neurotic and overthink most everything that's thinkable...and getting ready for this trip is no exception. I started overthinking my ability to take road trips after I retire a while back and it resulted in a couple of good things...

First...I've bought a hybrid to help me conserve fuel and dollars. Secondly, I've upped my membership in AAA to help handle any unforseen car difficulties on the road as well as better map where I am going, staying and eating. Finally, I've made sure my cell phone has the best coverage and can serve as a hotspot to help me keep in touch, work and play, no matter where I am. And of course, the neurosis in me had to double insure accessibility and information, so I extended my free contract (from car dealership) for Sirius' travel option. :)

Almost ready to go now...still debating with myself whether or not to buy an air mattress for the back of my wagon, how far north I want to go before I turn south, which dog I'm going to take for company and protection in the wilds, should I bring my watercolors or my pastels or both, oh my goodness...the list goes on and on.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

66 and counting...Slater by Design's view on retirement and beyond

After fifteen years teaching graphic design at a community college, I've decided to retire and move on. It has been the best fifteen years of my career life thus far, but hopefully not the last best.

Coming to public education as a late career is perhaps the reason it was never boring, only sometimes frustrating but ALWAYS invigorating. It was a difficult decision to move on...leaving something you love is never easy, but as I've said previously...when it's time, it's time. In retrospect, what I loved about this particular career should lead me into a direction for my next...right? So what was it that was so satisfying in an environment that professionals are leaving by droves?

Teaching at a community college ticked off a couple of my major 'wants' list in a career...

First and foremost, was the ability to interact with a diverse group of people and have an impact on who they were and where they were going in their careers. I absolutely never tired of these students. There were some who made me wonder about my ability to teach anything, there were others who made me feel like superwoman and that I could teach everything, and there were still others that will be friends for life...and made me feel both!

Secondly was the ability to control my own environment (within reason) and schedule. Although our community college may be unique in this respect, there was NO micro-management of the details surrounding our disciplines (our at least not graphic design.) Working with the previous full-time instructor and mentor for the first year, I was allowed to develop the design curriculum, write the syllabi, teach the classes, hire the adjuncts, work within a specified budget, and take responsibility for the growth or decline of the program. I'm happy to say that it grew and is still has great potential for more growth under the new instructor.

Finally, this career allowed me (no, in fact forced me) to stay relevant in a quickly changing, technology driven career.

The only thing I would add to my next career...well actually a couple of things...I would like to get rich :) and travel. Yes, I know, I know...all the platitudes about what money can and can't buy...a more pragmatic me knows that I already have the richest of riches...kids, grandkids, dogs, good health, home and security...the dreamer in me still wants to buy an island in the Gulf and hang my personally created masterpieces in major art museums all over the world.

I'll keep you posted on my progress...

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