Aboard ship for 59 days in the first 5 months…

On January 3, 2013 we’ll leave the US to embark on our first cruise. Over the next five months we’ll experience a total of seven cruises totaling 59 days at sea. Later, we’ll post more details about these upcoming cruises and house rentals.

First 5 months after leaving the US:

Cruises                                  #Days          Start Date        End Date
San Diego to Panama to Miami    15              01/03/13        01/18/13
Fort Lauderdale to Belize Cruise    8              01/21/13        01/29/13
Belize to Miami Cruise                  3              04/09/13        04/13/13
Miami to the Caribbean                7               04/13/13       04/20/13
Miami to Barcelona                     11              04/20/13        05/01/13
Barcelona to Mallorca                   3               05/01/13       05/04/13
Barcelona to Venice                    12              06/04/13        06/16/13
Total cruise days                        59
Homes included in above dates:
Placencia, Belize                         60              01/29/13         03/29/13
Ambergris Caye, Belize                 9               03/29/13        04/09/13
Majorca, Spain                           30               05/04/13        06/04/13
We’ll spend November and December, 2012 living in a lovely first floor condo overlooking the pool in Scottsdale Arizona, a commitment we’d made long before we decided to travel the world. That commitment created extra expense and inconvenience but we chose to honor our agreement.
We’ve decided to utilize these two months in Scottsdale to purchase and set up our new laptops (awaiting Windows 8 release soon), our new unlocked smart phones (being released into the market in November) and other technological devices that we’ll describe later upon purchase.

To take advantage of these two months we’ll prepare as much as we can of our 2012 taxes, forwarding everything to our accountant in Minnesota. We’ll get new passport photos taken (outdated after six months), apply for our second passports and visas, download 100 or more movies onto our portable external hard drive and get Tom’s new eyeglasses at Costco (great deal).

With the condo only 25 minutes from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, we’ve decided to follow our doctor’s orders and arrange appointment for Tom in gastroenterology for one last check (as recommended every few years) when one has IBS and Celiac Disease. Although he is symptom free due to our diet these two tests can confirm provide us with peace of mind; a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.

Tom’s sisters spend the winters in Arizona, about an hour’s drive and we’ll visit them. In the first half of November we’ll drive to Nevada to establish residency, apply for NV driver’s licenses and visit family, later to spend eight days at Christmas in a house we’ve rented in Henderson to be close to family and friends for one last time.

We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in Arizona. In Nevada, on December 20th we’ll have our teeth cleaned. We’ll observe the Mayan Calendar’s End of Time on December 21st (hopefully, not really the end!), Tom’s 60th birthday on December 23rd, and of course, Christmas, away from “home,” the first time as true vagabonds.

A year ago, we would have laughed aloud at the thought of leaving behind everyone we love and everything we own, except for a gaggle of suitcases and hearts full of memories. 

Here we are, packed to the gills, totes filled with memorabilia currently scattered about the house for our kids to store for us. Our paperwork and photos are scanned, our documents and spreadsheets bursting with pertinent data stored in Dropbox for safekeeping, accessible from anywhere in the world.

Yesterday I spent an entire hour scanning a lengthy booklet from our well known national bank on wire transfer procedures, accounts which we’ve set up in both of our names. I inquired as to whether this booklet was online to be downloaded. “No, not yet,” they say. “Gee…kind of behind the times,” I thought.

It’s this little tasks that fill up substantial portions of my everyday. As I sit here in my comfy chair, writing this today, I tapped my Android smart phone (on its last days) to take yet another peek at the handy app on my home screen, Retirement Countdown Free and today, it reads: “1 Month 18 Days.”

One month and eighteen days from today we close the door to our home one last time. We leave behind our loved ones, the lives that we’ve known, our three little dogs buried in the yard, the friends on the peninsula, the eagle swooping in the trees in the summer, the coyotes hovering hungrily in the winter and the gentle fluttering call of the loons.

On a lighter note, we joyfully leave behind six foot snow drifts often trapping us for days and, mountains of goose poop. Yes, mountains of goose poop!

Lost in the minutiae…

If we hadn’t had over six months to plan our travels for the next five to ten years, it would have seemed impossible, bogged down in the details. So far, I keep taking deep breaths moving closer each day, some days at a crawl, others days a marathon.

Unloading our home and everything we have accumulated in a lifetime, except for a few totes our kids will store, the six suitcases, two carry on bags, computer bags and handbags (Tom’s murse), could be overwhelming in a shorter time frame.  

Not only must we continually address the travel planning, the shots, the doctor appointments, the insurance policies, the retirement board, but also the mounting piles of paperwork to prepare, scan or shred.  

In the interim, we have “life” to live, dinners to cook, clothes to wash, flowers to water, everyday errands to run and most importantly, family to see as often as possible. Fit in time with friends, daily walks, answering email, Facebook lurking and time rapidly flies by, two months and eight days until we walk out the door, leaving Minnesota and everyone we love behind.

Oh, I’m not complaining. Actually, I love every moment. This in itself, is a joy filled time, complex with never ending challenge, hopeful solutions and tons of new information flooding my brain. I didn’t know “it” had room after the “information load” environment in which we live.  But, it does, grabbing every tidbit of new data flooding into it’s mushy cells.

Yesterday, we took most of our grandchildren to Train Day, a family picnic provided by Tom’s employer.  The little ones had a blast exploring the gigantic train engine, a bright red fire truck; bouncing on the huge blown up contraptions, eating overcooked hot dogs while hanging out with us, PapaChooChoo and GrandmaChooChoo, We had a memorable day.  

(BTW, I don’t post photos of our little grandchildren online.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, fearing online predators.  When they grow up, I will. Not now.)

Several months ago, I posted a note on my calendar (one of many) to apply for new debit cards. They’ll expire at the end of January after we’ve already left the country. Since debit cards cannot be forwarded, this would have caused undue stress.  Our goal, as always, is to prepare so much in advance that we don’t often have to “kick ourselves” for forgetting to do a task such as this.  

On our way to Train Day, we stopped at the bank to order the new debit cards. While the banker ordered the cards, a thought popped into my head: we must set up a wire-transfer account in both of our names, providing us with easy access to our accounts (via a phone call as opposed to email for security purposes). This was on my list for this upcoming October but why not get it done now?  Two more of the minutiae out of the way! 

Returning home, I immediately ran around the kitchen making the crusts for our low carb, gluten, grain and starch free pizza for Friday Night Pizza, our favorite dinner.  Later today, I will make homemade salsa and cornbread to bring to one of the last of a few parties we’ll attend tomorrow. (Recipes for all of these items are on my earlier posts.  Simply hit the search filter).

This weekend, we’re planning to put all of our empty suitcases in the back of Tom’s SUV to ensure they’ll fit, along with the two totes we’re bringing for my son Richard Lasica, a successful real estate agent in Henderson, to store for us in Henderson, Nevada.  If they don’t fit, which I suspect they will, we will price rent a small trailer to haul behind us or, bear the cost of shipping the totes.  More minutiae. It seems to grow rather than diminish!

We can’t wait to be sitting in a lawn chair overlooking the ocean in our little beach house in Placencia, Belize, starting on January 28, 2013 which is five months and seven days from today.  Oh, oh, while in Belize we’ll have to prepare our 2012 tax stuff for our accountant as soon as we receive (online, of course) the W2’s.  Yuck!  Minutiae!  You can run, but you can’t hide!