On the afternoon of February 8th, our early retirement officially began. For those just catching up, we aren’t retiring from all work for the rest of our lives. But we are done with our full time careers—at least that’s the plan. I’m working part-time remote while Jason is currently joyfully unemployed. Long term, we plan to pursue seasonal work opportunities. We’ve worked toward this dream for fifteen years and it is finally a reality. The last weeks and days leading up to that final day were a blur. They were surreal. They were a whirlwind of emotions for both of us. We couldn’t believe we finally made it.
Our plan was to begin our RV travels immediately. We live in the “banana belt” of the Inland Northwest where the average daytime high in February is mid-upper 40’s and snow is rare. February is when the birds return, trees start to bud out, and bulbs start to color the ground. A couple close to home trips to test out our lithium battery upgrade and acclimate our cats to RV life seemed guaranteed. After all, we had nothing but time and could wait out a couple colder than usual days. We had several river front locations picked out and were prepared to make the best of some early spring days. Mother Nature had her own plans for February 2019.
Our first Monday morning after retirement, we awoke to snow blanketing the banana belt. An hour to the north, in the town we had commuted to for so many years, they were buried. Schools and universities closed for the day. DOT shut down several local highways for “multiple blocking accidents”. Coworkers reported not being able to make it up the driveway at work. We sat there with an extra cup of coffee looking up at the snow covered hill we had driven so many times…and we laughed. We literally laughed. We were so glad to be done commuting in winter weather. We wouldn’t have laughed so hard if we knew that first snow was just the beginning.
Over the next three weeks, we were hit by round after round of snow. While we fared better than up on the Palouse where we used to work, even our banana belt saw day after day of snow. And surprisingly, we received nearly as much snow as our northern neighbors—that never happens! While we were so grateful to be done with our commute, we were itching to start our travels. Instead of highs in the mid-upper 40’s (average February temperatures), most days were mid-30’s or lower. Last year we saw days as warm as 60. This year, I could barely get our cold weather Under Armour off us long enough to wash it.
One by one, we set records. First it was snowiest February on record. Then it was snowiest month on record. As we transitioned from February into March, we began breaking temperature records with record lows and number of days with below normal temperatures. On the bright side, hopefully this will mean a reprieve from the bad wildfire’s we’ve had the past several years.
Despite our record weather, there was much to be grateful for and it was easy to focus on the bright side. We were done with commuting 2+ hours per day and working the Monday through Friday grind—the unrelenting working man’s cycle. We were enjoying extra time with family, planning upcoming travels, and the pursuit of new hobbies. I was able to put in additional hours at work (all remotely) and make some extra money. And thanks to an exceptionally well maintained city levy system, we were able to go for 5-7 mile walks along the Snake River in between storms.
It is now just ten days until spring and the long range forecast is finally starting to look promising. We made it out for a local hike yesterday. It was strenuous work going six miles in a foot of snow, but sun and temperatures in the low 30’s never felt so good. More snow is in the forecast this week, but that appears to be the last of it. I think we can now safely say, let the adventures begin!