Imagine having a hobby after retiring, doing the same things that you used to do at work! But now Tracy Miller’s taking cruises instead of flying.
“When I retired in 2009 I really didn’t have a hobby; I was never home long enough to nurture one. I travelled a great deal in my job for John Deere as a corporate resource for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). MES is the layer of computing between factory floor controls and the enterprise wide data processing system. With over 50 factories worldwide, I was kept busy coordinating design and implementation efforts across the Deere corporation. By the time I retired, I had taken over 35 trips to Europe, several to China, Mexico, Brazil, and Canada as well as India, Japan and all 50 U.S. states.”
Tracy comes from Iowa where he earned an Electronics Technology degree from Iowa State University. Then he taught systems design engineering at a trade school for one year. Before working for John Deere, he worked at the Apollo applications lab helping to develop the Skylab satellite.
After retiring Tracy was looking forward to limited travel. But he amazed himself. “I was surprised to find out that travelling had apparently gotten into my blood. But, leisure travel is quite different than travel for business. I now have the time and freedom to choose my destinations and activities and enjoy seeing new places and experience different cultures. Since retiring I have been able to visit some of the countries I had missed while working. Such places as Italy, Greece, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand for example. All this and I get to pay for my own travel now. I could have gone without that though.”
Now cruising is Tracy’s favorite form of travel. He writes, “I have had other hobbies in the distant past such as flying (ASEL/Instrument) and I have owned several boats, each at least one foot longer than the previous. But for now, and as long as my health and budget allows, I will continue to travel. While I have taken a few land tours and plan on taking the trip to Ireland, cruising is my preferred method of leisure travel. I see these as the major attractions to cruising:
- I don’t have to worry about where to eat
- Only one check-in and one check-out
- I only unpack once
- I don’t have to make my own bed (like in some resorts)
- A variety of destinations and durations
- I can do as much or as little as I like
“We are so fortunate to live close to several ports here in central Florida. This provides us with many choices of cruise lines and destinations. I especially like the flexibility to either drive to the port, take Amtrak, or take a bus from Tanglewood direct to the cruise terminal and back home. Another thing I like about cruising is the ability we have to choose how much time we want to spend travelling. This spring, as part of a three cruise, 54 day trip to Australia and New Zealand, I took my longest cruise of 26 nights (Sydney to Seattle). This fall (2017) I will take my shortest cruise: 4 nights to Cuba. There are many shorter, and longer cruises available. So far I have taken, or currently booked on, 29 cruises. Twenty-three of those have been since retiring.”
Tracy has some fascinating memories.
The most culture shock was while living for 2 weeks in Tokyo. There were so many young people! He found them clean and friendly. They were surprised to see his beard. In turn, Tracy was surprised at their food: it was often raw or barely cooked. He was impressed with the Nazomi Bullet Train and with their unique architecture.
He was also impressed by the opera house in Sidney, and especially by nature’s own architect, the mountains of Alaska.
Tracy remembers walking off a train in Barcelona one evening right into a football riot. Fortunately, solders were dispersing the crowd as he ran into a nearby shoe store. Later he admired much of the city’s distinctive architecture, largely designed by Antoni Gaudi.
In China, he watched the government building the giant Tianjin Economic Development Area (TEDA) south of Beijing. The Chinese version of TEDA is made up by two words. Its first word means ‘peace’; the second word means ‘prosperity’.
Tracy continues, “I enjoy the trips that are available to all of us in Tanglewood through our Trips and Travel committee. Most of these trips are one day or overnight trips to places and venues that are of interest to the general retired population. There have also been trips offered to other countries such as China and European river cruises and an upcoming trip to Ireland. Since T&T is operating under the umbrella of TMAC, a not for profit organization, funds collected from our customers that exceed our cost are returned to the traveler. This keeps travel costs at a minimum. It has been my privilege to serve our community as Treasurer of Trips and Travel so I admittedly have a vested interest in its success.”
Tracy also likes to play cards. He sings in his church choir and works with their food pantry.
“Travelling single can be very expensive.” Tracy explains, “I am fortunate to have found someone in Tanglewood to travel with that can tolerate my idiosyncrasies enough to travel with me for long periods of time; and be fun and easy to get along with as well. Randy Roth, who is also a member of Trips and Travel, has been my travel partner on most of my trips since retiring. The only exception has been that once a year, my Sister Marsha, who lives near Nashville, has joined me on one T&T cruise a year. There are some cruise ships that offer single rooms but the cost is more than half the double rate. At least for now, I plan to keep cruising and travelling as often as I can. I guess that makes it my hobby.”
You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .