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Reykjavik, Iceland Trip

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We were just in Reykjavik, Iceland, enjoying our 4 day trip, I wrote a lot of this post from the airport awaiting our flight to JFK New York airport.

Since we had the hardest time figuring out how to pronounce Reykjavik, /ˈrā-kyə-ˌvik, -ˌvēk/  (Ray-clay-vick).  We heard about 4 different pronunciations prior to arriving but only one when there in Iceland.

There was a lot of expected and unexpected adventure.  The expected that came true:

  • It was raining, sleeting, snowing, overcast everyday.
  • The outside in January 2017 was as cold as in Detroit, MI.  30-40degrees each day.
  • The seafood was very fresh and tasty. So we ate as much as possible.
  • There was so much to see and do the 4 days was not enough.  The Golden circle tour was overwhelming beautiful.
  • We loved every minute of it & would go again for longer, but after we travel many other places first.
  • Our tour group thru Gate One was Great, we heard from others they do a wonderful Peru trip as well.

The unexpected and what we saw:

  • The inside of all buildings were very warm/hot – this was due to the almost free geothermic (Volcanic) heat on the island.  We were told the average household could be heated and provided  as much hot water as they want for only $100 per month, so they crank the heat. So bring layers so you can take them off to prevent you from overheating inside.
  • Our dream trip to the Blue Lagoon was a fail, it was booked everyday we were there until after 7pm/dark (booking ahead would have been smart). So we didn’t give up and instead traveled  to the secret lagoon.  The secret lagoon, was much smaller with only about 25people visitors during our visit.  We booked  our tour for ~$90 US/person the night before in our hotel lobby, the next morning a van picked us up from our hotel and they drove thru sleet, 1hr 20mins to the lagoon, for a 2hr dip.  We loved this, and could have gone everyday, if it were closer.  The lagoon water was so hot near the edges it felt like we were starting to cook, but in the middle it was extremely relaxing.  We loved the apple and pear alcoholic beverages, we recommend buying these before changing.  David walked the pathway surrounding the lagoon, he said it was very slick so I stayed put.  We cannot compare this to the Blue Lagoon, but everyone in our Gate One travel group did say they thought it sounded better, and the Blue Lagoon was super touristy.










  • While we did read the food was very expensive, it was still way over what we were expecting.  A small bag of chips from the local market was $5 US, a single soda was $5 US, a bowl of soup was $10 US, and  a sit down dinner anywhere with one alcoholic beverage each was at least $200 US.  Alcohol was about $7-22 US per drink, with most single drinks or a glass of house wine in the $11 US range. We wish we would have stopped at duty free and got a single bottle of liquor, and drank before we went out.  You can purchase an entire bottle at duty free for the price of a single drink in town.   We did pack snacks and ate them on the excursions, we were glad to have them.  We did have a Hot Dog House, plain hot dog for $4.70 US, which was extremely tasty.




















  • We stayed at Hotel Klettur in downtown.  It was clean, respectful, nice, with small minimal rooms – but who cared, we were out all day, and slept at night.  They had all the amenities we needed and a free breakfast buffet.  It did take us about 10mins to figure out how to turn work the room lights.  Turns out you have stick you room key (or other ccard) in the slot next to the door above the light switch.  Also if you take this out when you leave, your left behind electronics will not charge.

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  • We did see the Northern lights, but they were not spectacular, in fact it just looked like a green smoke cloud and we only saw them for maybe 1-5minutes.  We were told when booking the package that you might not see the Northern lights so we felt lucky to get one good photo below.  We drove from site to site for over 5 hrs at this first site below, we visited a church (in the pouring rain of course), and I took these pictures, because we saw no northern lights at this location, but thought it was pretty.


  • NOTE***  You will never get a picture of the northern lights with your cell phone, you need a higher end camera with a 30second time set, and a stand.  Your in a field in the dark, there will be no where to prop your camera, you need the stand.
  • We visited an Icelandic Horse Farm Tour. It had a short presentation with time to pet the horses.  I really enjoyed this, especially since it was POURING sleet outside, and we were inside. We learned the Vikings brought over the best horses they had and to this day any new horses are forbidden to be imported to Iceland to preserve the purity of this breed.   David thought it was OK, he was more interested in the landscape viewing, which was still to come.

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We also visited the Hallgrímskirkja  a Lutheran parish and largest church on the hill in Reykjavik, Iceland.  The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson (1614-1674).   My boss said I had to go, because he had been to Iceland twice and both times it was under construction and he could not see it – it was part of our Gate One downtown tour, but I took these pictures for my boss, Ray Carlson.   It reminded me of a smaller version of Gaudi’s church in Barcelona, Spain – BUT, all while no color.

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My favorite part of the trip, other than getting David to myself for fours days was the Golden Circle stop at the Volcano, Kerio.  It was POURING sleet and so windy I was cautious not to fall down into the volcano.   I am more of an inside type of girl, but I just loved this, I wish we could have walked down the stairs to the crater, but we only have a 15min window.  I read in the summer you can swim in this crater, and it looked so beautiful I pictured myself summer swimming even in this ice storm.

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Because I could go on for more than any one person would want to read.  I included a few more pictures with captions to explain the beauty and awesome of Iceland.  So we would recommend you visiting for sure.  I did want to note, to visit most of the best of nature – you will have to first take a long bus ride, then walk – up hills, down stairs, often longer distances and in the extreme Iceland weather.  Many of our tour group decided to skip most of the tour – they were not interested in walking, or leaving the vehicle, for anything other than a quick looksee, then straight to the food area of the stop.  Therefore I recommend you go to Iceland before you cannot, why fly so far for a bus ride to a periphery view.    Another reason we are sure 52years old is our goal to retire.


Next Travel – David’s close friend is getting married in India in March, still not sure of those details, but we are going – that should be fun.  Then spring break with our 20 year old twins in Cancun Mexico at an Eco friendly resort – Sandos Caracol Eco Resort



Featured post

Suze Orman Your Wrong! (long)

Suze Orman is noted as a financial advisor,  author, motivational speaker, and television host.   The Suze Orman Show had a show on  CNBC, has a wonderful finance website, and she has written several books on the topic of personal finance.  She sells financial self help products on infomercials and online. 

Recently she announced “Seventy is the new retirement age,”  and “Not a month or year before.”  She knows this advice if very unaccepted, because she then says  “Don’t ‘Oh, Suze’ me just yet. Please hear me out.”

Well, when I heard this I was thinking maybe she joking, because I know she is recently retired, and she is only age 67, why would she tell us to do what she had not.  My father calls that “do as I say, not as I do advice.” 

I really admire Suze Orman and would always immediately turn to her finance advice in my Costco magazine.  I loved to watch her on the Oprah Winfrey Show.    In my list of celebrities whom I admire, Suze Orman is in the top 10.  I love Suze’s advice, she helped teach me to be the Master of my Financial Destiny.  When I was in my previous marriage and struggling every month with finances and even when I could not pay the electricity bill, I started using her guidance to help me figure out how to Master my Finances.   I also read many other financial guru advice (rich Dad, poor Dad; Dave Ramsey, reading every single Money magazine I could get my hands on). 

I needed as much advice as I could gather.  In my previous marriage, there was never real financial planning – heck there was never any money left over to plan with, it was spent by my ex with abandonment.  If we made $1000/month, he spent $1500.  I would work more side jobs, or night work to help balance the budge and bring us up to $2000/month, he spent $3000.  I could never catch up – I was a loosing battle.  I eventually had to take strict control of the finances and set up allowances and a tight budget, I put money to the side from extra jobs I took on in consulting and saved every single penny to pay off the debt.  I did eventually catch up, paid off the huge credit card debt my husband had ran up.  In another story of the future, I will write in more detail of how I found out how my ex- husband was stealing regularly from the family.  At the lowest financial point, when I was beyond fed up with the mayhem we separated out our finances, I realized even with what I thought was strict control he was stealing $1000/month.  Now, that was 5 years ago and I have since saved every single penny, including taking on extra work, and saving this money for retirement.  I have a lifetime of saving every penny, but really only about 5 years of acquiring money toward my goals.  I am still 3 years away from retirement and saving non stop.  Budget is key to my success.

Despite this setback of savings, I am ready to retire in 3 years, when I will be 53years old.  Suze, I love you,  but your 70 year age for retirement reasoning is wrong and here is why:

  • While no one knows what the future holds, and maybe one day in the future we will all live to 90 years old, but current data shows the average lifespan of an American is 79.3 years old.  “World Health Statistics 2016: Monitoring health for the SDGs Annex B: tables of health statistics by country, WHO region and globally”. World Health Organization. 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016
  • 90-79.3 = Gives most of us 10.7 years of retirement.  Wow, that seems kind of unfair Suze.   I am planning my retirement at 53, so 26.3 years of retirement fun for David and myself if we are blessed.   Now, if the average American retires at 65, that leaves them 14.3 years of retirement, which sounds way better than 10.7 years.
  • At 70 everyday things are harder- such as traveling in an aged body, or living their dream of the bucket list.  So you might have money at age 70, but you don’t have the physical stamina.  Who wants to spend their finally achieved retirement to sit at home, spending the money but not on their dreams.
  • Suze your rich, its easy to give advice to work longer, when you don’t have to, in fact you are retired, so nice giving advice you are not following yourself (yep pointed this out twice).
  • Most people give every last ounce of energy to their jobs and are completely unappreciated or even recognized for their entire career.  Most people can not wait to retire and the idea of working another 5 years sounds like a death sentence.  While both David and I love our jobs, how often do you hear someone say they love their job.  I know for sure when I say it, those listening are surprised and do not answer back with the same attitude.
  • Many jobs DO NOT ALLOW you to work past 65.   You will be forced out, forced to retire whether you want to or not.  Good luck finding another career starting at the age of 65.  Heck some people are forced out way before age 65, what makes you think everyone has a choice.
  • I know in my life, I have given to my career, to my ex husband, to my children and I would like to have a chance to finally make it about me and David before my time here on this Earth is over.  Giving, giving, giving to others, and finally now I am in the window of opportunity to give to myself.  Do what I want, with my new husband.  I know I am not alone in this situation, and for you to tell anyone they should put off this pleasure even longer, at the end of their lives.  Well, your wrong Suze.

An early retirement, a retirement at 65, or even at 70 – is really about budgeting.  Budgeting earlier in life to save for the future, and budgeting while retired so what you do have goes all the way to the end.  Suze tell people to budget like crazy to live for the future and within their means, not to delay their happiness until for so many it will be too late.

Suze your wrong.



Long and short (Short)

Reading up on what Blog sites are most successful, I have found they have WAY to much writing for me to follow.  I get bored so easy and skip over wording if I see way too much.  I figure I read a lifetime amount when I was in school and it REALLY has to capture me to keep me going, but these successful blogs are long.  I also read I would have to guest blog to acquire readers.  So I am going to start two versions of my blog a short and then a long version, I will indicate which is which in the title.  So if you like me and can not stand reading long text, you can just review the short writes and look over the pictures.    My next post is Suze Orman is Wrong, don’t retire at 70.

What is a Fixed Annuity

Well the short answer is a guaranteed rate of return over time with tax deferral.  In terms I can understand – It is an insurance product.  You give the Insurance company your money, over time they give you some back at a promised rate of return, so if the market goes up, so does your money.  If the market goes down, it will stay flat and there is a guaranteed amount return – such as 5%.   This sounds awesome for sure, and works for a lot of people.  Also with a fixed annuity, you can withdraw certain amounts over time (after 55yrs old I believe), but you have to be careful there are tricks such as if you die it can go to the Insurance company if you do not indicate to leave it to a spouse or family member, and I am assuming that adding requirement gives you less money.  I also believe the spouse or family member only get a smaller portion of the withdraw, not the entire amount.   It kind of reminds me of a 401k, or even more so a reverse mortgage (because you loose it after your dead).    Different products are important for different reasons to different people, but after researching a fixed annuity, we have decided this is not for us.  I do like diversification, but at this point in our lives, we will stick with our 403b and 401k products thru work that we have.  Something in my head keeps saying – what if the insurance company went out of business, it is small – your work is huge and all pensions are protected by the state we live in – Michigan.  Also, The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, commonly known as ERISA, requires employers to meet certain requirements designed to protect your pension plan.   You also are entitled to all of the money you invested in your pension.   So a guarantee like that is hard to beat.

Glad to learn of this information, but No Fixed annuity at this time for us.

Cruise to Cuba

After weeks of looking for a trip that we could take together (no kids) during the time our youngest would be on spring break (and could go to his mothers) we finally found a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico – Grand Cayman  – and two days in Havana, Cuba.  It is a Holland America Cruise, smaller older ship.  But the cost total for seven days and a day before stay in Fort Lauderdale is under $2100.  We searched Travelzoo, Travelocity, Groupon, and finally found a trip that meets all our criteria.  Whew, a lot and I mean a lot of looking (months of looking) our deal was on, but cheaper directly thru the Holland America site (like $150 each cheaper).    Now just to dream and figure out excursions, hopefully loose a few pounds and buy a nice outfit.

Hoover Dam


On the way to Hoover Dam, a quick stop at Lake Mead.

Going back a few weeks, we visited Hoover Dam.   We were already in Vegas, and David has never been and he wanted to see.   The downside, the elevators to the inside powerhouse were down, so we only were able to see the outside and the museum, which was amazing.  The upside of this day trip – a quick nap on the bus ride and beautiful sites, with education learning that fascinated me.  As a physicist, I love learning how things work, and the museum there had a lot of information on both the history of Hoover Dam and the science behind the design.  The quick summary, is there were two years of fertile farming, and then years of severe flooding in the surrounding areas, which lead to this (originally named Boulder Dam) project.  The Dam is a concrete arch gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, right on the boarder of Nevada and Arizona.  It was built during the great depression, which paid super low paying, very dangerous (112 deaths) jobs to those who were desperate and had nothing.   The water is taken into the towers, then down the narrowing funnels to the powerhouse, the water pressure turn the turbines, which make electricity.  There is a lot of past fighting over who gets what % of the energy, but I honestly ignored that portion and focused on the awe and science.

We bought the bus ride on Groupon, with Grand Canyon tour (below)  just two days before we left, and they picked us up at the hotel, took us to a depot, where we sat for about 20mins before leaving for our trip.  Since the Hoover Dam, Powerhouse tour was not available, they did refund us for that portion, and I would definitely recommend this tour.

HooverDam1 2017

Below we are on the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which was built to help with traffic and to help with safety on the Dam drive over (to minimum traffic which helps maintain security).  Note each of those (which look like lego blocks are 6feet tall), it looks so small, but the size is almost unimaginable.

HooverDam 2017


Seeing the world with my husband, is my dream, and I am living it.  We don’t travel as much as we want, but we make it work, and I love looking back at these pictures and how happy we were and are.

Retirement seminar

So David and I went to a Retirement pitch dinner, where they try and upsell you on a product.  Honestly we know so little about the variety of retirement programs out there.  What we do know:  A Traditional IRA is a tax-deferred retirement account. You save your $ today and are taxed later when you withdraw the money.  A Roth IRA, is like and IRA where you don’t get a tax deductions for the $ contribution today, but later can withdraw the assets when you retire without paying taxes.    A 401k or 403b is an employer sponsored retirement program. Taxes aren’t paid until the money is withdrawn from the account.  Sometimes employers match these on a smaller amount.  A SEP, is a Single Employer Pension Plan, which really is a small business owner traditional IRAs (SEP-IRAs) set up for employees.  Do not put all your eggs in one basket and diversify as much as possible, save and save in as many different methods for retirement as possible.

But If I am going to retire early, I figure I need to know Everything and make best choices, saving money is good, but saving it smart is better. So this seminar did teach me some things.  What I learned:

  • On a Roth or 401k/403b, you can withdraw your money as soon as your 59.5years old, (before will cost you 10%) and have to start spending these (or be penalized 3%) by age 70.5.
  • 403b’s are more restrictive, but also can allow higher contributions.
  • An annuity can go up, down, or stay the same.
  • A fixed annuity can go up or stay fixed – this is what they were selling – so going to learn more on this and report back later.  It sounds fabulous, but things always do at free dinner seminars.  I plan on researching this subject and getting back to everyone.

What do we have as far as retirement plans and income- well we currently we have a huge diversification – I have a 403b, with a small match plan.  David has a 401k.   We are not 401 millionaires.   We both have retirement accounts – David has stocks, and mutual funds, and MESP accounts for the kids college, which he is still adding to.   I have two SEP accounts – one for each business I own – an education website, and a physics consulting group.  These were added to at the advice of my tax accountant, who told me send a certain amount of money to these each year to avoid taxes in the current year.  I have a small Roth IRA, and an IRA.   I have three MESP accounts for the kids, that a funded.  We have three rentals, which I bought one at the peak of the market and two at the downfall.  We have an investment property, that too this point has not generated any money.  I have two pensions (one fairly small), and two pensions from my ex-husband (which can be collected upon 6 years after we retire).  David has a pension.  We cannot collect on our pensions until 3 years after we retire (at 55 years old) but that would be at a low rate, and waiting would be smart.

So we are need to bulk up and figure out how to live for those years in between when we retire and we can collect on our retirement funds.  Another post in the future will detail our plans, even though these are in flux and well honestly we are not 100% sure.  I guess we will learn and figure it out as we go.



Why write a blog?

I have been trying to read as much as possible on how to write, promote, build readers and perfect a blog site.  One website had the suggestion to start with on Why you write a blog:

What is our purpose, our cause, our belief about this web blog?   Answer:  We want to attempt to retire in .. now three years and live our lives together having an equal amount of fun to the hard work we have done in our ~25-30 year careers and 17-23 years of love in raising our children.  We want to share this experience, so others can be inspired, do the same or make their lives their dreams.  Follow our Lead, Learn or Enjoy our site is what I hope for readers.

Ok, this was helpful, because as I wrote why, I realized simultaneously,  I don’t believe we are clear in our intent on this site.  So hopefully this exercise will streamline our intent, with our first goal to explain finances better, explain the plan, how we got her and what we want to accomplish in the next three years.    Next post, on these subjects.

First Tumblr Post

Ok, First time posting on Tumblr.  Argh, I feel old but young at the same time.  So easy but so much to learn on perfecting this site.  Then next…. Instagram, Pintrest… oh who knows.   Because while I am still Young (ok 49 years old, so I suppose it depends upon who you ask), I have worked not kept upon social media (outside of Facebook and WordPress blogging).   But I do know, to keep learn is to keep your mind young and healthy.  So my first picture on Tumblr.


Next Trip?

The cover picture, is David is holding a baby turtle at a turtle farm we visited in Grand Cayman, our first family trip together in 2015.  So we are now together almost 4 years.  I was divorce Feb 13, 2014 and joined the end of Feb 2014 and met David after about 30 coffee dates in 30 days (yep marathon dating) and after a Tim Hortons coffee date, I was hooked.  So end of March 2014 will be four years.

So now, we are trying to plan our next trip, which is always a masterpiece theater trick of timing, cost and minimizing kid inconveniences.    There is an upcoming winter break we could slip away for a few days, and so trying to find some close by 4 day trips.  Maybe New Orleans, or Mexico, or a 3 day cruise.  Some place warm for sure, but too short to head to China, or Greece or Italy.  So next we must plan.   I think the planning is half the fun, and waiting for the next trip is so much fun imagining what we will do once we are there.

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