Al Frew – Vagabond to Beach Bum

 How do we know when we want to retire?  What do we want to do – a whole lot of things or little bits of nothing?  After all those years with the Red Cross and a 24/7 ‘life on the road’, it was bound to be a big change.  Yet – we are not always as ready for it as we think.  I considered my first attempt at retirement to be a ‘bust’.  Oh yes – like many people, I had all kinds of plans to set up my own consulting business.  But it turned out to be more complicated than expected.  So I ended up managing a ‘Super Cuts’ hair styling salon –what was I thinking?  Did I want to return to a 24/7 life again?  It took a while to realize it but one morning I woke up and decided it was time for a new chapter in my life.

Once that decision was made, so many things happened so quickly it was hard to keep up with everything.  The condo in San Mateo, California sold after only 4 days on the market and escrow closed 21 days later.  And it was a challenge to move after 20 years in one place but it is fun to ‘let things go’ and make a fresh start.

One of my dreams had been to travel to new places.  So the next 6 months was spent doing just that and loving every minute.  In addition to longer visits with family, there were explorations with long term friends in different parts of the country.  Even more important were overseas trips to Europe and the Far East.  It was wonderful to visit Abbey in Japan and not worry about time – you can see a lot more places when there is no time limit!  And it was possible – at last – to visit England and Scotland.  With my love of history, this was like a ‘dream come true’ – all those castles, museums, and historical places.  And the bonus was being able to look up my grandparent’s home in a village near Glasgow, Scotland!

Of course, no one can keep traveling forever – and it was time to find my new home in San Luis Obispo, California.  But there was no need to rush a decision; there was time to explore and decide the best place to live.  So the next 2 months were spent living in the village of Cayucos and exploring each of the 15 towns in the County.  Each of these communities has its own unique ‘personality’and it was fun learning what each had to offer.  That process also helped me refine what features were most important to me.

This second attempt at retirement is proving far more successful.  It is refreshing to live in a condominium complex with lots of students/faculty from local colleges.  This area has an outstanding climate and has plenty of warm weather; how great it is to be no more than 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean!  It is a great place to live with plenty of friendly people and lots of cultural activities.  And it is even easier to travel to new places – the Amtrak Station is only 10 miles away – and you can go wherever you want.  Last summer included a 7000 mile trip around the United States by Amtrak –one of many adventures for this new chapter in my life.

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