My Two Cents will be going on its annual winter hiatus starting tomorrow. My wife and I are heading to Florida to spend time with my parents and to enjoy the sun and warm weather. While this annual journey started out as an adventure, it's becoming more like a test run for retirement. Thanks to the Dave Ramsey plan, we are on pace to retire well before 65. But what appears to be a challenge for those that retire early is what do you do with all of that extra time? Next week, I'll get to find out.
There are plenty of people in the community where my folks are that basically do nothing. One of the tee boxes on the golf course backs right up to a house where EVERY time I have played there, the guy is sitting in his screened-in lanai and is watching TV. It doesn't matter if I'm playing early in the morning or getting in a late afternoon round, I can count on that guy sitting in front of the boob tube.
Maybe that guy worked a job that required a lot of physical labor when he was younger and for him, this is a long-awaited and well-deserved rest. But there is no way that could be me--no matter how old I get. There are a lot of folks down there for whom the highlight of the day is going down to the mailboxes because they are going to run into the same people who go at the same time every day. That's where they "catch up" on all of the stuff that happened while they were sitting in the house all day.
These trips also help me to dispel the theory that I'm "going to get sick of golf" if I played every day. I am yet to come back from these weeks of nearly daily play saying "Wow, I'm glad I don't get to play golf again today!" Usually I'm thinking, "Man, it might be another month before I can play--I wish I would have hit a few on the range before we drove to the airport!" Playing the same course in your community could get boring--but they have traveling leagues and reciprocal agreements that allow you to play a number of other places in the area. Plus, Florida only has about two dozen courses on the annual list of Best In America--which are open all year round.
By the end of the week, you even find yourself driving like the snowbirds and retirees. You no longer look behind you when backing out of parking spots at the grocery store of the clubhouse. You don't even see the people walking along the side of the road as your passenger side mirror nearly hits them in the hips. You find yourself braking as you approach green lights because you never know when it might turn yellow. And you drive for miles with your right turn signal on--just in case.
One thing I notice as I get older, I start looking forward to these trips earlier and earlier--and it gets harder and harder every time to come back.