Hawthorne, Nevada and Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 10)

We spent a few days driving across the desert from California, through Nevada and into Utah. Along the way, we spent the night in Hawthorne, Nevada. While in Hawthorne, we toured the town’s main attraction, the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum. 

From Hawthorne, we traveled east through the desert to Elko, Nevada where we spent the night. The next morning, we drove another two hours east of Elko to arrive at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

The massive Bonneville Salt Flats stretched to the horizon. The occasional mountain ridge in the distance provided some sense of scale in an otherwise featureless terrain. We spent a couple of hours driving around the salt flats and taking in the views. We even let the kids take a turn at the wheel since there was no one around for miles. 

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Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 9)

We departed from Bakersfield, California in the morning and headed north to spend the day exploring Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. The main attraction in these two parks are the massive Sequoia trees dotting the rugged mountainous terrain. The star, the General Sherman Tree, lived up to its claim of being the largest tree in the world. 

After leaving Sequoia/Kings Canyon, we headed back down the mountain to Fresno, California where we enjoyed a couple of days of mostly peaceful rest and relaxation (drive by shooting notwithstanding). 

Then we headed back up the mountain to visit Yosemite National Park. The interior of the park proved hectic and overcrowded. But once we escaped to the lesser visited parts of the park, we got to appreciate the natural beauty that Yosemite is known for. We enjoyed a tranquil lakeside picnic dinner along the Tioga Mountain Pass Road before heading back down the east side of the mountain into the desert flatlands of Nevada.

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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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October 2021 Early Retirement Update – Spooky Time Edition

Fall is in full swing here and I’m loving it! We enjoyed a fun October and look forward to more of the same in November as Thanksgiving approaches. Throughout the month we spent lots of time lounging outside, going on long bike rides, and plugging away at our travel planning for 2022. 

We ended the month with some trick-or-treating. It’s nice to see all the old holiday traditions coming back to life after a rough 2020! 

Financially, last month was a great month. Net worth spiked upwards by $77,000 to end the month at $2,764,000. Income during the month totaled $3,049, which was only $2 more than the $3,047 we spent during October. 

Let’s jump into the details from last month.

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