One of the conversational topics explored as we’ve traveled to different places over the past few years is the question: Could we retire here?

It’s usually a pretty fun topic. What sort of house could we buy? What would the weather be like? Is there good medical care nearby? Is it too crowded, or too isolated? Are there good libraries that we would have easy access to? Importantly, are there dog-centric benefits?

Of course, we’re still young and know how to have fun, so retirement is some far off pipe dream.

Well, maybe not. The Beloved and I have entered that 10-15 year “countdown” to a pretty reasonable retirement age — though honestly, if it ended up being less than 10 years, that’d be just fine — and that’s soon enough to begin to commit some more serious thought and financial planning now. I’ve begun to think of this period as our “pretirement”.

So, one of the places that has percolated pretty high in our minds is the town of Cambria CA. We’d first gone there in 2009 during a road trip along Big Sur and most recently this past summer when I said I wanted to go back for my birthday. This time, in the wake of the Beloved’s big annual symposium, we decided to head there in winter.

Making herself at home

Making herself at home

We rented the same house that we did back in the summer. Penny must have had a good time then, because when we turned down the little street to get to the house she started dancing in the backseat and ran right up to the door when we released her from the car. She pretty quickly got right back up into her favorite window seat, so she could watch the people and dogs that walked by — and, of course, the squirrels in the trees.



As for us, we took it pretty easy. We spent a lot of time reading and again headed out with Penny to the wonderful Fiscalini Ranch for several walks among the trees and out into the sweeping meadows. Here in California, this is the time of year when things green up, and the grass was growing and mushrooms were sprouting in many shady spots. The whole place was still just as magical and I don’t think Penny minded at all.



Pretty happy

Pretty happy

1 UP

1 UP

On another crisp, clear day, we drove down to Morro Bay State Beach again. This time, though, we could see Morro Rock (back in the summer it was occluded in fog). Penny didn’t seem all that impressed and was all about chasing the sea birds.

I'll get you this time

I’ll get you this time

Pointer and Rock

Pointer and Rock

That was until she met her new friend Nigel (a pointer/lab mix). They did a LOT of running and chasing. So much so, that we got the very rare “I’m done” signal from a certain pointer.

Penny & Nigel

Penny & Nigel

Okay -- I just need a break

Okay — I just need a break

All of the days weren’t sunny, though — we were brushed by a winter storm on a day we chose to hike the whole length of the town and back — getting a feel for some of the other neighborhoods and enjoying the views from Moonstone Beach. The blustery day was beautiful in its own way.

Cambria coast on blustery day

Cambria coast on blustery day

Happy Family

Happy Family

We also took a trip up and over the pass to the east and Paso Robles and San Miquel, but I’ll save that for another post.

Pooped pup

Pooped pup

All in all, our week was a great and relaxing and did nothing to dislodge Cambria from the top of the Pretirement standings!


35 thoughts on “Pretirement

  1. Truly amazing photos and I know photos rarely do a place justice. It must be magical there. I think Penny would be ecstatic so long as she’s with you two.

  2. Sounds fun. That’s kinda of why we moved from Luxembourg to Arran. The spot was already picked, so we thought we’d see if we could make it happen sooner. Five years in and we’re still struggling. A Scottish island is fine if you’re self employed and doing all right, but if you’re not, you can’t just quit and get a job, cos there are very few. Course, planning for retirement, you won’t have that problem! Enjoy the planning!

  3. Looks like you guys had a great time in a beautiful place. I have to tell you, Steve, that Penny is one gorgeous dog! I’m in love with the grassy hill with her pointing. Man, she’s pretty! Love all the photos and hope it works out, if that’s where you decide you want to go.

    • Marcia — she’s a fine looking dog, isn’t she? I’m always impressed with how gracefully she moves. Sometimes we say, “Where did we ever get such a fancy dog?” — the good thing is though that she doesn’t know she’s fancy. She’s just goofy.

      • She is, indeed, Steve. I love watching dog shows on tv, and admiring all the different breeds developed over the years. The first Westminster Dog Show champion was a pointer. Your Penny is not only beautifully marked, she has an elegance of line that is very appealing. And I love the exuberant way she celebrates her life! The shots of her galloping around in joy make me feel good all over. I couldn’t even focus on the scenery for enjoying her so much. Thanks for sharing! (And goofy is good, btw. With two dachshunds in my life, I can tell you we get plenty of it around here, much to the dismay of our cats.) Love her tucked in under her blankie at the end of the day, too, dreaming her doggie dreams of running on the beach.

  4. Such great pictures! If I was going to do another dog-gone good contest, I think one of these beauties would win. Great, great Penny captures.
    I am glad you guys had such a nice time on the getaway. Cambria seems to agree with everyone pictured.

  5. I’m smiling at the gorgeous scenery and the over-the-moon happy doggie! Looks like a perfect spot for the whole family :)

    fun conversation to have, isn’t it? We have similar ones but since we’re not moving from here, the conversation is around what do we want our “forever” or “next” house to have — not that we’ll get all features — but having a brand new house in Houston and then a 40+ year old house here, it’s fun to think through the possibilities :)


  6. I have several friends who retired but shortly afterwards went back to work part-time. They said for a short time, it was fun to sleep in on weekdays, watch bad TV during the day, and eat dinner on the patio late at night. After several months of it however, they all reported that it drove them nuts. Now two of them have gone back to teaching, one is a cashier at a bookstore, and another leads walking tours around the more touristy parts of the city. The lesson there, I guess, is that leisure is fine when you don’t have to do it all the time. The same goes for work.

    Then again, if I could spend my days walking with Penny along a misty beach, I might enjoy retirement sans part-time labor.

    • HG — It’s funny, but we’ve talked about the same thing. That we would love being “off” for a while (though we don’t know what a “while” would end up being) but that we’d probably look for *something* to do after that — whether it’s a part-time job or some sort of volunteering effort.

  7. Sounds divine. We play the “could we retire here?” game, too, which is pretty silly for us, since we are both roughly 25 years away from retiring, and that’s with some luck- having kids pretty much nixed the idea of early retirement for us!

  8. What a beautiful, sparkling beach (what sort of bird was Penny chasing?) ! I generally get confused with the order of beaches the farther north the California coast goes; how close is Cambria to Pacific Grove (sea otters!!!), or Santa Cruz (sea lions!)? The first is my choice, the second is Boyfriend’s choice for a retirement location.

    • aubrey — those birds are called godwits. They have long beaks for poking into the wet sand for morsels. They’re one of my favorite shorebirds. And apparently, one of Penny’s too!

      Cambria is at the very southern end of Big Sur — and there were otters and seals there too we saw this time, which we totally appreciated. In fact, that pic of the three of us has a sign that says “do not pick up seals”. I suppose people need to be told. Pacific Grove/Santa Cruz and those other areas around Monterey are all essentially the northern edge of Big Sur. Cambria’s about 100 miles south of Pacific Grove.

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