Mount Rushmore, Badlands , and Air Force Museum – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 13)

On the final leg of our six week summer road trip, we spent six days driving the 2,200 miles east from Gardiner, Montana back home to Raleigh, North Carolina. Along the way, we visited Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the National Museum of the US Air Force.

Mount Rushmore was a quick stop where we checked out the massive carved stone heads of four former United States Presidents. 

We spent a lot more time touring the Badlands National Park. The colorful rolling hills dotting the landscape were a sight to behold! 

After leaving the Badlands and getting some sleep, we headed east and took a break in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the Falls Park in downtown. The Big Sioux River bisects the city and produces a series of small waterfalls or rapids as it cascades over the rocks in the riverbed. 

Our final destination of the road trip was the National Museum of the US Air Force. We spent several hours wandering among the massive jets and other military aircraft, missiles, and smaller planes from the last century of aviation history. Whether you’re an aviation junkie or just like cool stuff, this museum has a lot to see for everyone. 

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April 2022 Early Retirement Update

Another busy month comes to a close! We spent Spring Break on a cruise. Upon returning to Raleigh, the older kids prepared to take their Advanced Placement exams. And now, we are getting ready to go on another cruise! 

After we get back from our next cruise, we’ll have about a month before we leave home for our two month summer trip through Europe. I need a vacation from vacations (ha ha)!

While we were at home in April, we were able to enjoy the nice mild spring weather. We had some friends over a few times and had a big family get-together for Easter. 

Financially, April was a mixed month with heavy stock market declines but very low spending. Our net worth declined by $139,000 to end the month at $2,667,000. Income during the month totaled $3,666 while expenses were a mere $1,321 during April.

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March 2022 Early Retirement Update

The first quarter of 2022 is in the history books, and spring is here! We’ve had a busy spring so far. We’re cranking up our summer travel planning. And we booked not one, not two, but three new cruises during March! It’s starting to feel a lot more normal-ish these days.

In the meantime, the mild springtime weather means more time outdoors relaxing and enjoying nature. Hopefully the nice weather hangs around before summer heat moves in! 

Financially, March was a great month for us. Our net worth shot up by $87,000 to end the month at $2,806,000. Income during the month totaled $9,124 while expenses were $5,356 during March.  

Let’s jump into the details from last month.

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January 2022 Early Retirement Update – Snowy Winter Edition

Welcome to my first monthly update of 2022! It’s been a busy month for us. We had a nice snowy weekend during January which is rare for us here in Raleigh. The snow was just deep enough to offer some decent sledding. Then it melted the next day and it was bright and sunny and back to business as usual. 

During January and the first few days of February, we finalized our big two month summer trip through Croatia, Slovenia, and Hungary. Here’s to hoping that we are able to commence on this adventure successfully once the time comes!

Financially, January was a mixed month for us. Our net worth dropped by $71,000 to end the month at $2,759,000. Income during the month totaled $4,378 while expenses were a mere $1,193 during January. 

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A City Trip to Los Angeles, California – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 8)

From Las Vegas, we headed west and visited Los Angeles and the surrounding area. It was a whirlwind visit lasting just two days, but we saw a lot. 

The first day we visited Little Cambodia in Long Beach where we enjoyed Cambodian donuts. Then we headed on to our hotel where we watched the Fourth of July Fireworks over the city of Los Angeles. 

The next day we visited Chinatown and got some banh mi sandwiches. We headed up the Hollywood Hills to see the Hollywood sign and enjoy a picnic lunch. Then we headed west out of town toward the ocean, stopping by Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills on the way.

The drive along the Pacific Coast Highway was clogged with traffic so we enjoyed the view of the ocean for a while then got out of town and went to our next destination in Bakersfield, California.

Los Angeles looks like a fun city with a lot to do, so maybe we’ll go back at some point! 

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December 2021 Early Retirement Update – New Year’s Edition

Another year all wrapped up neatly with a bow on it! Where does the time go?

We had a great 2021, both financially and personally. We managed to squeeze in a bunch of travel in spite of global difficulties. And we were able to relax at home a ton as well. Another glorious year of early retirement! 

For those wondering, we were able to embark on our Christmas cruise successfully. After two years of being landlocked and skipping international travel, we finally got back to the crystal clear Caribbean waters and enjoyed a warm week floating around the islands.  

Financially, December was an incredibly bountiful month for us. Net worth jumped $115,000 to end the month at $2,830,000. Income during the month totaled $21,970 while expenses were a mere $3,312 during December.

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A Week in Las Vegas, Nevada – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 7)

After a busy three weeks on the road, we enjoyed a leisurely one week stopover in Las Vegas, Nevada. While we were there, we visited a dozen casinos and watched many free shows and performances presented by the casinos. 

None of us gambled at the casinos, but we did spend a little cash at some of the shops in Las Vegas. We also visited several restaurants since we had plenty of downtime during our one week stay. 

And after over three thousand miles of driving, I needed to take the minivan van in for an oil change and tire rotation. 

Overall, our stay in Las Vegas was great. We relaxed, took in the glitzy experience of the Las Vegas Strip, and got some good food! 

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November 2021 Early Retirement Update – Turkey Time Edition

Another fun and busy month of early retired life is in the books! During the past month, we hosted a big Thanksgiving celebration at our house. Since the weather was nice in November, we spent a lot of time outdoors. 

I really stretched my DIY muscles in November too. I got out the power tools and replaced some trim on the porch and the shed, then painted all the new trim along with repainting the crawl space door, mailbox, and bathroom ceiling. 

In less than two weeks, we are looking forward to escaping the ever-colder temperatures with a cruise to the Caribbean during Christmas. It’ll happen. I think. Fingers crossed.

Financially, last month was a “rebuilding month” for us. Net worth dropped by $49,000 to end the month at $2,715,000. Income during the month totaled $2,822 while expenses were $4,361 during November.

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Arizona: Glen Canyon Dam, the Grand Canyon, and Hoover Dam – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 6)

We spent two nights in Page, Arizona. While in Page, we visited the Glen Canyon Dam, a nearby lakeside rocky area known as The Chains, and the Horseshoe Bend overlook of the Colorado river. 

After leaving Page, we traveled south and then west to the Grand Canyon National Park. We visited at least a dozen overlooks on the Canyon Rim drive and took in the stunning size of the canyon below. At the end of the day, we headed to our overnight stop at the Gateway Hotel in Williams, Arizona.

The next day, we drove along historic Route 66 on the way to the Hoover Dam. At the dam, we visited the bridge overlook of the Hoover Dam. Then we visited the dam itself. After a scorching hot day at the Hoover Dam, we headed west to Las Vegas, Nevada where we would stay for a week of rest and relaxation. 

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Utah: Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 5)

Our family of five visited Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park in Utah in the summer of 2021. The most impressive part of Bryce Canyon was the strange looking hoodoos, or stone pillars that protrude from the hillsides and valley floors throughout the park. The vibrant orange coloring added to the amazingly unique scenery. 

Once we got to Zion National Park, we continued to be amazed at the sheer stone cliff faces and smooth rock inclines. The most popular section of the park in the center proved to be very crowded, so our experience wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been. Overall, it’s a very pretty scenic National Park, but one best visited off season once the crowds and high heat dissipate.

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