Friday, March 13, 2015

What I've Been Up To Besides Riding

Since I retired from the job, I have had the opportunity to expand my other activities quite a bit.  I won't say it has been easy to make the transition from working to retired, but I am working on perfecting the endeavor.

I find myself in three general modes that I have identified so far:
  1. Times when I can't think of anything to do, or want to get started on.
  2. Times when I feel that there is so much I can do and I want to do it all at once.
  3. Times when I still feel the pressure to get chores and tasks done -- like I did when I was working.  
Odd, all of them, but especially the last of the three. I gotta ditch that feeling.  I have time now to do justice to almost any task.  Pretty soon, I'll get into the swing of this thing. Maybe I need to pace myself better. 

I will say that I have had to keep a more comprehensive calendar of events than I used to. 

Before, I worked, and I came home.  Occasionally, I would have an evening or weekend activity that had to be remembered and required an entry on the docket.  Now, every day is different, so I have to study those little squares carefully to make sure I don't miss something. 

For one thing, the piano playing continues apace.  There seems to be a dearth of piano pounders who still play music from the first three quarters of the 20th century, and who play the old hymns.  ...and the old ladies at the places I play like to give hugs and sometimes kisses, too.  (I have to watch for their lipstick smudges, lest my wife become jealous.) 

I have also come to be of some help to my loving wife, like starting supper before she gets home from her work.  She has given me her secrets for making simple, but tasty, oven meals, and I have used them extensively.  Salmon and chicken breast are two of the best.  (No, I don't wear a frilly apron when I cook.  I do have certain standards.) 

I will admit that I had developed the beginning of a pot belly in the last couple of years, that affliction so common in middle-aged men.

I have always been skinny, and a belly isn't becoming to most guys, especially not to me.

So I cut down on the calories and have started being more active than I had been.  Certainly chores like trimming bushes and trees, and hauling off the detritus, cleaning gutters and sprucing up the house take more calories that sitting behind a desk a good part of the day. 

One other way I have bumped up the activity is by doing more hiking.  Not just the three miles or so around the neighborhood I had been walking every other day, but honest-to-goodness hiking.  One place to do this where the terrain is easy is the nearby Swamp Rabbit Trail.  Several maps of the trail are here

It mostly follows the former right of way of the Carolina, Knoxville and Western Railroad, nicknamed Swamp Rabbit years ago because it follows a swampy part of the Reedy River where there live swamp rabbits indigenous to the area. 

"Swamp Rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus)" by glenn_e_wilson - Swamp Rabbit. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

The grading that would have to be done was minimized by following the river, thus making the right of way preparation less costly. 

Obligatory history/geography lesson:

The railroad was intended to link Augusta Georgia, through Greenville South Carolina, with the rich coal fields of Knoxville Tennessee.  Alas, there were financial troubles and lawsuits, so only 23 miles of the planned route were completed.  The northern end was at River Falls in northern Greenville County, on the Saluda River; in the same neck of the woods I reported riding in back in May of 2009.  Most of the railroad route is detailed on the Abandoned Rails website
A Western-themed park called Echo Valley operated for a brief period in the late 1960, near Cleveland South Carolina, and it had a railroad that used some of the old Swamp Rabbit right of way.  One website called Random Connections, written by local fellow Tom, describes the park and remnants of it (Posting 1, Posting 2, Posting 3).  The park's location was about here on the map, near where US-276 and SC-11 come together north of Slater-Marietta.   

Today, the 18.7-mile Rails-to-Trails Swamp Rabbit Trail has the same gentle grades suitable for railroad operation -- and that makes it an easy traverse on foot or bike.

So far, I have walked about 12 miles of the trail between south Greenville and Travelers Rest.  I have done this in several out-and-back chunks.  I hope to up the mileage of each hike soon. 

I also accompanied a couple of guides from the Spartanburg County Parks Department on the northernmost five miles of the Enoree Passage of the Palmetto Trail, from Sedalia Campground to Macedonia Lake. 

And there are plenty of other parks and waterfalls in the mountains to keep my hiking boots dirty for years. 

I may get out my old road bike and spruce it up, too. 

I have not ridden for a few years, but I might like to ride the length of the Swamp Rabbit some day.  Problem is, I need someone to take me to one end and pick me up at the other.  My sweet wife may volunteer if I ask her nicely. 

What do you think?  Any tips and pointers on how to make a go of retirement? 


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