Visions of FIR (no E for early)

Reading at the camp site. One of my favourite things.

DH = dear husband

Anniversary glamping

DH and I went camping over the weekend – hence the late post. (Sorry.) For a few years now, we’ve been celebrating our anniversary with a semi glamping (glamorous camping) experience. Nothing fancy about the tent or the sleeping bags, but lots of fancy food. If you’ve ever gone camping, you know that just about any food is extra delicious when prepared and eaten in the great outdoors. So  imagine our salmon fillets Friday night and our beef tenderloin Saturday night. Mmmmm….

Camping nostalgia

Camping is one of those things I associate with family life. I camped with my parents and four siblings as a child, and I started to camp again after I had become a mom. Our three children are far apart in age – covering just over a decade – so for many, many years, we spent two weeks every summer at the camp ground. And it was always my favourite part of the year.

When part-time work and social life took over for our youngest a few years ago, our camping trips came to a stop. There’s a nostalgia about those days for our daughters, and almost every year we make a day trip to the lake. But our family camping days are in the past.

DH and our 3 daughters (& dog) silhouetted with canoe and lawn chairs during a day trip this summer.

Camping for our anniversary

3 years ago, DH said he wanted to celebrate our anniversary by going to the resort where we had spent our brief honeymoon. We’d gone for an overnight trip for our anniversaries of 2010 and 2011, but after we’d started our journey out of debt in 2012, we couldn’t justify the expense of the get-away. “Get away”, however,  is exactly what DH wanted to do. He runs a home business, and it’s hard for him to separate completely from work while he’s in the house. So he argued for the expensive resort stay. In our old days of bad financial management, I would have supported DH’s wish. But those days were behind us, so I didn’t.

And that’s why DH came up with the idea of camping. It would be a get-away, but at a fraction of the resort cost. We went, loved it, and a new tradition was born.

Camping without children

This past weekend was uncharacteristically gorgeous for mid-September. Our anniversary is actually October 2, but we choose what looks like the best weekend in September for our trip – and this was it. DH went ahead Thursday and set up the camp site, and he came back for me Friday afternoon. For 48 hours, it was sunshine, canoe paddling, swimming, reading, camp fires – and delicious food.

For some reason, I really loved this year’s trip. Perhaps it was because we didn’t go last year – a year of cold, rainy September weekends – and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until we went this time. I had a sort of “Ah-ha!” recognition that I truly love camping. Even without children.

Visions of FIR (Financial Independence/Retirement)

At one point, as we sat by the fire, DH said that in 2 years, I could be retired. In 2 years, we could go camping for a week or two in September if we wanted to. I told him that I wanted to learn how to do wilderness canoe camping – as he used to do in his single years. He said he knew of a lake where we could start to get me used to it. And we’ve decided that we’ll go in September of 2019.

At one point, a couple – maybe 5-10 years our senior – passed by our site on their Harley Davidson motorcycle, towing all of their camping paraphernalia behind them. I knew that DH, who has long dreamt of owning a Harley, was seeing the two of us on that motorcycle. “Do you think we could tow all of our camping equipment with a motorcycle like that?” I asked him. He said we could. “If you promise to drive slowly, you can drive me on a motorcycle some day,” I told him. DH lit up.

The lake was cold, but not too cold for a swim. Back when I was 13 and 14 years old, I swam competitively, and I still have the ability to swim well. As I free-styled across the beach front Saturday and Sunday, I remembered how much better it was to swim in lake water than pool water. “I want to do a triathlon,” I thought. “I’ll start training for real after I retire.” You heard it here first. My first triathlon in 2020? Stay tuned.

Looking forward

I’m so glad that we’re able to look forward to the future with a happy anticipation. I can tell you that when we were at the worst of our financial stress – when DH’s career was in limbo and we were maxed out in debt, and the relationship stresses seemed hopeless  – we were not looking forward to anything. We were either overwhelmed with the task of putting one foot in front of the other – or we were looking for escape.

It’s not like that now. We don’t want to escape. We want to press into the future – because it’s looking bright.

What are your visions of FIR – or FIRE? Your comments are welcome.


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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Happy early anniversary! “I camped with my parents and four siblings as a child” – I’m the youngest of five children and that’s how we spent our summer vacations too. We have not taken as many camping trips as a family as I did as a kid, but when we have we have always enjoyed it. I think disconnecting from technology for a bit is still the most appealing part of it.Tell DH riding a Harley is as fun as it sounds. I sold mine once our kids were born.

    We are still mulling our post-work plans. We really have a desire to move to the West coast, but the COL isn’t any better.

    • Thanks Brian : ) Disconnecting from technology is definitely a big side bonus of camping. DH read your comment before I had a chance to tell him about it. He loves the bit about riding a Harley being as fun as it sounds!

  • I never grew up camping so it was something I never have taken to too easily as an adult, even though I LOVE the idea of camping. Sounds like a really nice weekend. My vision is somewhat similar although the place will probably have running water. Still, hiking, kayaking, SUP, or just sitting by the water sounds mighty nice!

    • There are all sorts of different levels of camping. You might like a trailer more than a tent (though I don’t see you as an RV’er). Or maybe a cottage rental is for you. I know from your trips that you love hiking and being by the water – all over the world : )

  • Yes!

    I think my biggest motivator to become FI and work less is to be able to take advantage of the weather to camp and bike and hike, instead of hoping my scheduled time off coincides with nice weather.

    • Good point! There is too much luck involved when it comes to scheduling time off work. Just being able to grab the good days as they happen is a wonderful concept.

    • Thank you, Gary : ) Debt can really suck the life out of life – all aspects of it. It’s lovely to see what blooms when it’s gone.

  • Happy anniversary in advance – how many years? Doesn’t it feel wonderful to daydream about a bright future with no financial worries, only looking forward to enjoying your lives? Joe and I were at a travel show this weekend – we were daydreaming too. We have done a bit of camping – started late in my 50s – but I prefer an indoor bathroom and real bed at this stage of my life. Joe hangs on to the camping equipment in the hopes I will change my mind one of these years lol.

    • Oh, I hope you oblige Joe with at least one good camping trip. My brother-in-law and his wife have bought cots for their tent. We’re thinking of going that route. And many camping grounds have indoor bathrooms – just not right on the sites. Next year will be a big one for us (25). We’ll see if we choose camping or the resort for that one. Cool that you were at a travel show. Any travel plans as a result of it?

  • That sounds so nice. Hubby and I used to camp a lot. Then we lived next to a lake for a while and spent so much time there. I miss all of that. Thanks for the reminder Ruth. I love you and DH’s plans, especially the triathlon. You, my dear lady, are a rock star! 😀

    • Don’t call me a rock star yet. If I follow through and do that triathlon, then I will fully accept that title : ) Cool that you used to live by a lake. I wonder if it’s as special when you have it there all of the time? I would miss that too.

  • That’s terrific, Ruth. Happy anniversary., I haven’t been camping since I was a teen, but Jon used to do it a lot so it’s come up more often. And, since we have a scout, I’ll be going on our first campout anyway soon.

    Yesterday I spent an hour and a half in my kid’s school library shelving books. I used to work for a chain of used bookstores, and shelving and buying books were my 2 favorite things. I didn’t quite realize I would have happily done them for free. Now I get to (and free up TAs for more useful work with the kids.) It’s incredibly satisfying to go back to my favorite thing about my favorite job, but also great that I have the flexibility to just do that part.

    • Very few people would understand that satisfaction in shelving books, but I do! It really is a wake up moment to realize, “Hey! I love doing this!” Perhaps it’s not uncommon that it is in a revisiting of the activity that the realization is made. First time around we might not have the perspective to recognize it. I wish you all the best in your campout. Perhaps a lot more camping is in your near future?

  • This post warms my heart, because we share your love of camping, and also because I’m so glad to hear your hopeful view of the future and approaching retirement. We’re not sure how “E” we’ll FIR, but we hope there will be lots of camping involved! A neighbor who walks his dog by our house every day just commented on how warm the weather is and added, “Knowing you guys, I’ll bet you’re camping this weekend.” Yep, my husband is trying to squeeze in a night of local camping!

    • Thank you, Kalie. I believe that you and your husband will continue to love camping even when the kids have grown up. But that’s a long, long way off for you. I hope that you do manage to squeeze in that night of local camping : )

  • Happy Anniversary! I loved this post Ruth; your descriptive sentences make the reader feel as though we are right there along with you 🙂 Sounds like post-retirement life is going to be a good one!

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