After retirement, then what? |

After retirement, then what?

by Ron Walker

From the time I let go of my mommy’s hand, and entered kindergarten, my life changed. From then on, someone was always telling me what to do, and how to do it. Not until I retired many years later, did I call my life my own. And boy was that scary.

I liked being in show business, it was fun. I got to eat in gourmet restaurants and sign the check, and who doesn’t like getting a regular pay check every week? “So now what?” I asked myself. I needn’t have asked. Our house sold the day I put a for sale sign in the front yard. A month later, Orllyene and I jumped in the front seat of a 24-foot Ryder moving van, and headed home to Las Vegas. When we got there, we were in for a big surprise.

During the 15 years we’d been gone, Las Vegas had become gargantuan, impersonal and seemed like it had gotten a lot hotter. It was time to relocate. But to where? On a trip to Reno, Orllyene saw a squiggly blue road on the map, so when we got to Schurz, we changed course. With our first glimpse of Smith Valley, we knew this is where we now wanted to live. We’d lived in cities all our lives and now it was time to put down roots in the high desert. Happily our offer was accepted, but when we took our first steps onto our vast 5-acre spread, Orllyene cried, “What have I gotten us into?” Fortunately, we stuck it out, built a beautiful home, and have no intentions of leaving.

After planting nearly 300 trees, it was time to broaden our horizons. Fact: I love living in my own home, and I love to travel. Solution: motor home. Orllyene and I visited showroom after showroom. Georgie Boy, a great rig, but with a goofy name, became our favorite. “Sweetheart, I called the G.B. manufacturer, and they said a dealer in Appleton, Wisc., has a 32-foot coach with a teal colored interior that we can get at a big discount. What do you think?” I asked, and she acquiesced.

A week later, I got on a Greyhound bus, and spent two days and two nights of nonstop socializing. Everyone had a story to tell. I met a whole new kind of traveler, and I’d do it again in a minute.

When I first saw our new motor home, I was stunned. It was huge. When you sit behind the steering wheel in a motor home, you are much higher than cars. And you don’t drive a motor home, you move it from place to place. Driving Georgie Boy was just as thrilling as when I drove a car for the first time as a teenager. “King of the Road,” became my theme song.

As I scooted along I-90, farms, villages, and open plains endlessly floated by. Feeling adventurous, I turned south on a back road in Nebraska. I pulled over and watched a herd of antelope scamper over the horizon. At 11,000 feet in the Rockies, I experienced a white out. I couldn’t see where I was going. I still get shivers when I think about it, but I made it.

On day four, I pulled up in front of our house and asked Orllyene to step outside, and meet Georgie Boy. I loved watching her take her first step inside. She looked up front at the swivel chair next to mine, then at the sofa, the dinette, the shower and queen size bed. Her home maker instincts kicked in. She outfitted us with new pans, plates, cutlery, sewed blackout drapes and made a handmade quilt for the air bed. We took a trip to Nova Scotia, saw the “Anne of Green Gables” enclave on Prince Edward Island, and on another occasion parked on the beach in Mexico for two months. We had all the coziness of home at our finger tips, and were treated to new scenery for every mile we traveled.

When we settled down, I got restless. “Well you said you’d like to write, so why don’t you?” Orllyene prompted. Life smiled, and I signed up for a memoir writing course at Western Nevada College. Ursula Carlson, my brilliant professor, waved her magic wand, and my passion for writing came to life. When the dancer in me awakened, I started giving classes at the Betsy Hunewill Elliott Dance School, just 1 ½ miles from our front door. Orllyene and I also initiated a kids’ program at the Smith Valley School. I would get the kids doing kiddersize, and she followed with story time.

When your work days end, it’s time to evaluate. Just remember, we’re God’s greatest investment, and our warranty is renewable every day. So go for it. Life is too good to waste.

Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at