Since this is my first full summer retired, maybe I’m noticing it more.  You know, the crowds of people, especially kids, everywhere you go.  Everyday is like a weekend.  Movie theaters, grocery stores, malls, parks, you name it, are all packed to the gills.  Don’t get me wrong, I love summer.  I love the warm temperatures, the stable weather and the fact my hands haven’t hurt from the cold in months.  Still, there is a trade-off.

Yesterday, I came face to face with the summer crowds.  I hiked into a lake to fish as was greeted by throngs of people and a family of especially rude ones.  You can read about it over at Fly Fish Nevada.  I should have known.  School starts soon in most places and lots of families are spending their last weeks of summer camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, etc.  They are trying to fit another few days of vacation in before its time to go back to school and work.

For those of us who are retired, however, summer will go on.  Here in Nevada I’ll be out fishing in a t-shirt until the end of October.  But it’s not just the weather that makes autumn so great, it’s the lack of people.  No more rowdy kids, rude people and crowds.  In a way, we get the world back from the masses.  We can enjoy our weekdays in relative peace and quiet.

In a few weeks that same lake will be all mine.  If I do see someone, they will probably be like me.  A fisherman or a hiker looking for some solitude, probably a retiree.  Movie theaters will be free of obnoxious kids, parks will once again be quiet and serene, grocery stores won’t be full of harried vacationers filling up their coolers for another few days trading one kind of rat race for another.  The thought makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I also get another benefit from this annual migration.  My kids go back to school!  Jen and I will have the house to ourselves for most of the day.  No shooting aliens in the living room at 8:00 am or trying to fall asleep while the boys try unsuccessfully to be quiet.  I can write in peace once again!

It wasn’t that long ago for me.  I remember the rushed vacations, the constant calculations on my annual leave balance (I actually had a spreadsheet), trying to figure out when I could take off work and for how long and often finding I couldn’t without sacrificing something else.  I looked forward to the day when I could just go and not worry.  The day I could go fishing, golfing, or whatever on a weekday and avoid the crowds.

I think I only really began missing the solitude of doing things when others were at work and school after I did it regularly.  Now I know what’s it’s like, I’m spoiled.  I can’t tolerate weekend or summer crowds, partly because I know I have an option.  I don’t have to spend the weekend with everyone and their brother.  I’m content to sit at home and wait out the storm, so to speak.

I was so looking forward to summer, and in many ways it has been great.  Just not in the ways I thought.  It’s been the quiet afternoons on the front porch, the nights out with my telescope, taking the boys fishing or golfing on weekdays when the crowds, for them anyway, are somewhat at bay.  We didn’t even take a vacation.  Why?  What am I trying to escape from?

Now I am awaiting the end of summer, or at least the traditional summer that ends on Labor Day.  Then, like a small mammal crawling out from its hole to see if the giant meteor really did kill all the dinosaurs, I will emerge.  For a few months the world will be mine.  Actually it will belong to all of us retirees.  Once again we will be able to enjoy things without the competition.

It’s funny how retirement changes your perspective.  It wasn’t that long ago I was one of those summer vacation people.  Now, the idea of traveling to a popular tourist destination in the middle of summer makes my skin crawl.  I’m thinking October or January would be just fine for a trip.  The fact prices at a lot of places are lower is a bonus too.  This is sounding better all the time.

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