Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Retired!!!

At home in Fort Worth...

It was not a particularly poignant moment when I shut off my FAA computer for the last time and handed in my ID badge and door access card.  There were few co-workers left in the office late on this Friday before Labor Day (it WAS a government office, after all), so the parting gestures were finished quickly, and I strode out the door into the scorching August heat.  Still it had not struck me as particularly momentous that I was officially retired, not only from a great job with the FAA but from my entire aviation career of 45 years. As I turned the car onto Freeport Parkway and headed home, I thought how great it is that I will no longer have to dodge the buckled pavement of that street, whose repairs had been ignored by the city of Irving for years.  That was it…no dramatic chords from Beethoven’s Fifth in my head, no sense of regret, no sense of loss...just a sneer at the rough spots in the roadway that I would not encounter again. 

My thoughts immediately turned happily to Phannie (Phaeton), the big gray motorhome I would be retrieving shortly from the Cummins/Onan service center in Fort Worth.  They had finished the yearly service on the genny, during which they had also replaced the fuel pump. The diesel engine that runs the generator had developed a problem of suddenly shutting down for no apparent reason and needing priming to restart.  After checking everything else, it was decided that a new fuel pump would be the answer, and they proved to be right. The genny ran perfectly all the way home.

My long countdown to retirement was made easier by planning for a long RV trip immediately afterward. For years I had pored over hundreds of posts by RV bloggers describing their idyllic lives on the road and the wonderful places they’ve been, and I was more than ready to join them. It was with that anticipation that I had planned a month-long tour of the mountain west that would include a stop in Colorado Springs to visit Ed and Marilyn and ending up in Yellowstone. It was not to be, however. Ed wrote me a nice note apologizing for needing to leave their mountain retreat earlier than planned, but that turned out not to be the issue in canceling that outing.  On a recent trip to Houston to visit our “kids” (as we call our daughter Mindy, her husband Tyler and our grandson Mason), we noticed a leak in Phannie’s black tank. The leak was apparently not located at the bottom of the tank, for it would not appear until after a couple of days’ use. Now if you are an RVer, you know that any kind of leak from a black tank is not something that you can ignore. We dealt with it by dumping the tank daily, but that is not the desirable method of managing a black tank.

I decided that the best thing to do would be to take Phannie back where she was born, at the Tiffin factory in Red Bay, Alabama.  Bob Tiffin has built a huge repair facility there, and we also wanted to see if Phannie was subject to a recent wet bay floor recall by the factory. Since we had a number of other small issues to be looked after at the same time, we decided this would be a good time to head to Red Bay and experience this legendary gathering of Tiffin motorhome owners taking advantage of the highly respected factory repair shop.  We knew, of course, that a wait is usually involved in Camp Red Bay, as the factory RV campground is known, but we thought we could make some side trips in the interim or afterward.  We’ll get underway in a few days and see how it goes.


As it turns out, I don’t really care where we go on our first trip in retirement. It will be so nice not to have to be so time-conscious as we were while I was working. For the first time, we will have the luxury of moving around when and where we choose, spending extra time at some places if we wish. That will be something to be savored, for sure.

17 comments:

  1. I was ready to send you an e-mail congratulating you on your first day of retirement, then I saw that you had posted this blog. I'll be sending you an itinerary for our travels in the hope that we may cross paths as we head toward Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
    We send you and Sandy lots of love and cyber hugs. Hope to see you on the road somewhere.
    Ed & Marilyn

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  2. Congratulations.
    This way, that way. It doesn't matter, as you've said.
    The trick (is that's the word) will be to try and not rush around trying to "see it all". You're not on vacation anymore.
    Camp Red Bay should be interesting. Hopefully the wait isn't too long, but like you said, there's stuff to see in the area.
    Happy Motoring!

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  3. Wonderful! Our trips in the last year and a half haven't been as long, because we always had to return to the work on the house. Now it is done, except for a few minor fixes, and we ware living in our motor home on our own land. The house is finally on the market, and hopefully soon we will be free to travel.

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  4. Congratulations, and I sure do feel your excitement at the adventures you anticipate ahead. Enjoy each and every day, and be sure to post plenty of pictures and reports for those of use who are still several months away from retirement but doing the preliminary planning for our LONG RETIREMENT TRIP. Have fun and safe travels.

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  5. Congrats and while I would admit there are better first locations than Red Bay you will at least be at the best place for your needed repairs... best of luck!

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  6. How exciting. It took awhile for it to really sink in for me that I no longer had to fight rush hour traffic or worry about upper management and what the buzz word of the day was. But by then we were headed out on our adventure and we've never looked back. Retirement is the best ever.

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  7. So happy for you! Congratulations and safe and happy traveles.

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  8. Congratulations on leaving without internal fanfare. I process the feathers right off any transition I make.

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  9. butterbean carpenterAugust 31, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Howdy Sandy & Mike,
    One thing that can be said for Red Bay, Aladamnbama is that the humididity will be there waiting for y'all...

    The Old Fat Man(Barney) is in Decatur, AL; might read a few of his recent blogs, if you haven't kept up with him @ Old Fat Man Retired blog !!! He's looking for someone to 'swak' golf-balls with !!! Be a good chance to try out your new hip...

    Hope y'all have WONDERFUL RETIREMENT AND MANY HAPPY DAYS of it !!!!

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  10. Congratulations! It will be fun reading your (future) posts about your travels.

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  11. Congratulations! Your long anticipated retirement date has finally arrived. We hope you enjoy this new path in your life as much as we have. Safe travels and looking forward reading all about your travels.

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  12. Hey!! Congratulations to YOU! That retirement day is always a big deal, even if you think it isn't. It is all about time, and as you said, doesn't really matter where you get to go. Looking forward to following along as you learn to live in the new mode.

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  13. Congratulations on your retirement. It'll make a big difference on any RV trip when you don't have a fixed 'end date'.

    We will be in Red Bay during the week of Sept 23, and then on to the TRVN rally in Pine Mountain, GA. This is a large gathering of Tiffin owners. I assume you have been on the TRVN network, and you can search for the rally. Here is a short cut:

    http://www.tiffinrvnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=124&t=50603

    Good luck on 'getting used to' your retirement days, and safe travels.

    Richard and Patsy King
    Victoria, TX

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  14. Congrats on your retirement! Hope you enjoy each and every day from now on seeing new places and having new adventures.

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  15. Congrats on the retirement. Hope to see you down the road soon.

    Bob and Janet Lehenbauer

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  16. Congrats on the retirement. Hope to see you down the road soon.

    Bob and Janet Lehenbauer

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