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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

To move or to stay

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sometimes in life one has to hit the "restart button" to get your head on straight. Grannie and I have been toying with possibly relocating to spend our remaining sunset years. In order to decide we have been checking it out.

Our son lives in the L.A. area of Southern California. We visited at the first of the year. Cold here and his neighbors complain if it gets down to 50 degrees there. Weather is a plus but the traffic there is a bit discouraging. Love being near grand kids but the price of rent is a mite steep and California is proud to extract every bit of tax possible.

Next place we looked was the Air Force Village West near Riverside. It was built on the site of former March Air Force Base, now a civilian/reserve base. That is a plus in my book, real live airplanes plus a significant air museum filled with retired warrior aircraft that I flew and loved. I could volunteer there every day just to keep the blood pumping. We have service-connected friends living in the Village. The housing is Southern California Western and first class. Buy in or rent. Thirty miles from our son all good. Then again, it is "tax me state" California plus the worst boss that I had in my career is retired there.

Next stop Scottsdale, Arizona, next door to Phoenix. There is where I have gone to flight simulator school for the past decade plus and I could have a job teaching pilots in the airplanes (electronic facsimiles bolted to the floor, no flight physical required) that I've known and love. But gee it knows how to be hot in the summer. No matter how "dry" the locals claim the heat is, it is still hot! Rent too is a bit high compared to here.

To further test the water we visited friends, former residents of McCook. They are happy in their nice, too big, houses. No lawn unless you count the carefully manicured rock and gravel yards. The main activity seems to be visiting each other, comparing their latest medical procedures and deciding where to eat out that evening. Nothing like hitting a large chain restaurant at five o'clock and being told you have an hour wait just to get in the door. Friends didn't mention the hot, again that is dry heat, but they seem long on the many local golf courses. Golf a sport that I got over long ago. Actually I am not knocking their lifestyle. It makes them happy and that is good. It just doesn't fit Grannie and me.

A big topic of conversation there was how great their medical community is. I spotted a huge hospital looking building sporting the "Mayo Clinic" logo. Recent memory reminds that they don't accept Medicaid -- hmmm.

John Steinbeck reflected back on his own retirement location decision in the novel "Travels with Charlie." He spoke of visiting far northeast U.S. residents who look with longing in their eyes for retirement in Florida especially at the annual approach of another long cold Maine winter. "The very name Florida carried the message of warmth and ease and comfort."

Steinbeck opines, "I've lived in good climate, and it bores the 'heck' out of me. I like weather rather than climate. In Cuernavaca, Mexico, where I once lived, and where climate is as near to perfect as is conceivable, I have found that when people leave there they usually go to Alaska. I'd like to see how long an Aroostook County man can stand Florida." (Aroostook potato country is in Maine but applies to my Nebraska also.) "The trouble is that with his savings moved and invested there, he can't very well go back. His dice are rolled and can't be picked up again. But I do wonder if a down-Easter, sitting on a nylon-and-aluminum chair out on a changelessly green lawn slapping mosquitoes in the evening of a Florida October -- I do wonder if the stab of memory doesn't strike him high in the stomach just below the ribs were it hurts. And in the humid ever-summer I dare his picturing mind not to go back to the shout of color, to the clean rasp of frosty air to the smell of pine wood burning and caressing warmth of kitchens. For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?"

Ah ha, there is no place like Nebraska!

Well, when we returned home, we looked each other in the eyes and asked "Where would you like to live the rest of your life?"

Without hesitation the answer from each our throats was "Right here!"

Yeah it gets too hot in summer, dry, too, sometimes, and it is habit to grumble about the cold of winter. If we wanted cold and humid we could go to Omaha, hot and humid too, for that matter.

A recent study (don't remember were I saw it) showed the medical facilities of rural Nebraska equal to anywhere. Our local hospital is staffed with especially friendly personnel. If one's condition is beyond the local capabilities there is 24/7 ground or air ambulance, staffed by the best, to take one to the next level of care. Crime is almost non-existent and taxes -- well compare what we pay with what is demanded in California. Nebraska is even talking about not taxing retirement pay and that would be about $3,500 per year in savings for this retired couple.

Besides that, it is home, started out that way and now we have come full circle, it is still home. We lived as far east, Cape Cod, south, the Rio Grande Valley, west, the San Joaquin Valley and north, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as one can in the States plus three times in Oklahoma smack dab in the center. So we had a chance to experience it all. Right here in Southwest Nebraska is the spot to stay. And note we didn't even take a vote of all you good people who also choose to live here to see if you wanted us to stay -- didn't dare.

That is how I saw it.

Dick Trail

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You are making the right choice. A deep part of my soul misses the prairie lands, the loess hills, the wild migrating birds, the fields of home, the green meanders of the 'crick' every day of my life. But to my sorrow, "You can't go home again." I'm too old, too liberal, always the stranger. But you ARE home, so going home again is not the existential challenge it would be for me.

I should come for a visit. Soon.

-- Posted by Virginia B Trail on Tue, Feb 5, 2013, at 2:58 PM

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

---T. S. Eliot

-- Posted by Virginia B Trail on Tue, Feb 5, 2013, at 3:37 PM

I found it hard to leave Co. last Dec 2012, but my kids thought it best to be closer to them after losing my significant other. After being "home" for a year now, am getting accustomed to not having alot of places to go for dinner. Maybe you and Ann should open Red Lobster? haha. One thing the traffic is terrific here.

Your old friend,

Gwen Patton

-- Posted by rosemamo on Fri, Feb 8, 2013, at 10:51 PM

Dick, I love the comparisons you gave to the different places. I always knew that this wonderful place in Southwest Nebraska was the perfect place for us! We can always travel somewhere and test the waters, but Home is still just that! Enjoy Cuz

Pat Forch RN

-- Posted by pforch1 on Sat, Feb 9, 2013, at 10:06 AM

I lived in CA for many years, the traffic is terrible but since I am retired I don't have to worry about it. You complained about the taxes, the property tax is CA is half of what it is here, they don't charge sales taxes on food or RX. The utilities is probably 1/4 or less of what it is here and the crime rate for the area I lived in was a whole lot less than McCook. Fly the Grandkids to McCook, it will be cheaper.

-- Posted by geewhiz on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 5:36 PM

Oh Dick and other Cornhuskers, don't be misled. McCook and Nebr. is not the paradise it use to be. Crime in our town is terrible, taxes are high, neighbors are not friendly like they use to be and last of all the utilities are sky high. I have a friend that lives in San Jose CA and he told me his utilites, gas and elect. were $67 in Dec. and $96 in Jan. His personal property tax is less than half of ours so be careful, the pastures are not always greener on the other side of the road.

-- Posted by salamat on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 5:40 PM


I just got Home, from Home, February 1 ..... I was in Nebraska for a week in January. Got there from Fairbanks, by way of the bone yard at Davis Monahan. As soon as I got into your favorite Airport, (Ben Nelson) on the heavily loaded 1900D; 2PAX me and another guy. I headed straight over to Red Willow Aviation to see if Griff was there. Imagine my surprise to find out he was in Arizona (where I had just come from) While there I also asked if you where around but didn't see you. I spent many enjoyable hours visiting across Red Willow County Covering my old haunts. What the hell happened to all the pheasants? Made it to Curtis to visit my brother's old friend and hunting buddy. Drove to Odell to visit the last of my relatives living in Nebraska. I thought about calling you up to meet you but couldn't get up the gumption to do it, maybe next time. My how Nebraska has changed and not changed since I left there in August of 1978. When I left McCook, on one of the many Great Lakes 1900D's. I was all alone in the big Beechcraft I felt like, Warren Buffett in my own personal turbo Prop. I Stopped by Helena Montana on the 2nd to the last leg of my trip. To visit with my 89 year old WW II veteran, Battle of the Bulge, Bronze Star Uncle. He is not doing real well and it may be the last time I see him in this life. Sigh... But at any rate, it was good to see Nebraska again, and I missed out on some rain and -50 weather here at home (Fairbanks). Next weekend I'm going to drive to Nenana and Snowmachine (VERB, for riding a snowmobile) (that's what we callem up here in the Frozen North) 55 miles to the cabin I built on a lake (by mostly flying out lumber tied on the floats of my 145HP C-170B). The Plane is down with a bum generator and I haven't fixed it or I would be flying out on Skis. I will spend a week out there all by myself enjoying peace and solitude. My point in all this is that I will always have a bunch of Nebraska in me from my first 18 years of life there, but Alaska is where I have been for the last 35 years and it is where you will find me.

The Neblaska Kid

-- Posted by greb on Thu, Feb 14, 2013, at 9:33 PM

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Dick Trail
The Way I Saw It