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There are advantages and disadvantages to being retired.  The advantage: you can go anywhere, anytime.  Disadvantage:  you have no money to go anywhere.  And you have to find someone to take care of the dogs.

The Easy Part

Let's see.  My 27 year old son comes by every day to drop off HIS dog so my two will have company (and normally lots of attention from my wife and I).  We have doggie doors, so the three of them can come and go as they please into the fenced-in back yard  from the porch.  My son just needs to feed them, give them their pills (a whole other story) and make sure they have water.  All else is on autopilot.  He also gets to stay over in his old bedroom, raid the fully stocked refrigerator, and use the hot tub while we are away.  Sweet deal.

Preparation and Forethought

Well, I've got to say that I had worked hard before retiring (this, the third and final time) to get as much automated as I could in my businesses.  I'm not getting rich, but the business seems to be paying the bills more than causing them.  While away, we (my wife is COO of the company) would spend about an hour sifting through emails, responding as necessary, and putting the rest in a HOLD file for later.

All of our blogs are moderated, and require approval of comments and posts before they go live.  Our blog articles, reviews, recipes, and videos are set to post at particular times and dates, so we hustled  before our trip to get all the advance-work posted and scheduled and even set up our newsletter to tell people about the planned release dates for posts.

Online sales ping me on my smartphone, and unless there is an issue with a SKU or address, the orders are automatically submitted to the drop-shipper, and the payments automatically post against the supplier invoices,.

As I said, almost a business on autopilot.  I have some automatic ad postings set up, but I spend about an hour a day filling in the gaps in our ad postings.  Two hours tops per day, even while on vacation.

For the Internet Marketing theme associated with this article, this is it.  Get your business on autopilot.  It allows us to take trips and only spend an hour, maybe two a day on our business.

For the shameless self-promotion part of our show, get my eBook, that basically gives you my playbook.

The rest of this is talking about our trip.  I bought this page.  I can write anything I want, even though this probably is more fitting as an article in another of my blogs, Life and Other Calamities.

Planning, Planning, ,and More Meticulous Planning

My wife should have been a travel agent, no, even more than that, a vacation concierge.  She had everything about our trip planned down to the finest detail, with contingencies built in, because everyone knows, something always DOES go wrong.  She is the best negotiator I know.  I like to tell people that all we have to do is to throw a little raw meat into the room to get her warmed up, and then let her have at it.  She could rip out your jugular and you would thank her and invite her to your daughter's wedding with your last dying breath.

Things Out of Our Control

The first leg of the flight was extremely pleasant.   I am still bleeding down frequent flyer miles from the 18 years of being a road warrior so we opt for First Class whenever we travel.  We arrived at Denver ahead of schedule.  When we looked up the gate for the connecting flight for the second leg of our journey, it was at the polar opposite side of the airport.  We each had a carry-on roller bag and I had a laptop bag that strapped nicely to the handle,  but even with the people-movers, I asked my wife to take a break and sit with me at a little cafe about half-way down  the concourse.

I'm a big guy.  Six-foot four inches, and ate far too many of everything, which has shown up on the scales.  In addition, the residuals of an accident eight years ago have left me with 4 blown disks in my back, a hip injury, and I have trouble with my legs. The left hip and left knee are fighting over which will be next for join replacement.  The upgrade to first class mostly works out OK, with wider seats and more  legroom, but our flight from Denver to Bozeman, MT was on a commuter plane.  I could barely stand upright while boarding, and they seated us in the bulkhead seats that had fixed "arms" on the seats for storage of the trays.  I ended up sitting sideways on my bad hip most of that flight, except when I stood in the pantry, bent over since I could not stand up straight.  Painful flight.  Just think, I have to look forward to this on the way back home too.

Then It Starts to Unravel

We got to Bozeman, MT and de-planed.   Bozeman is a  BEAUTIFUL airport.  It reminds me of The Ponderosa.  The car rental places are, naturally, at the opposite end of the airport, down on the lower level.  My wife had made specific reservations for a particular car (size and class of vehicle), and she called the car rental agency the day before to confirm the reservation.  They assured her that either one of two models, which met her satisfaction, were on hold specifically for her and were available at that airport.  Right.

So, after standing in line for a half hour at the rental car desk, we were told that there are no cars available of that class.  All the time we were being served, some other clerk was running around trying to find a missing car.  The computer had it checked in, the mechanics did not have it, but there were no keys.  So, we agreed to walk out to the lot with the sales agent and "try on" cars to see if I could fit into them and drive them safely and with reasonable compromise on comfort.  None of them fit that bill.  The agent was going to rent us a car from a competing rental company when she noticed a car that matched the description of the missing car.  Running in the parking lot, with the keys locked in.  She made some calls, and we "tried on" the car for size, and switched over the paperwork.  Incredible vehicle: GMC Yukon XL with every bell and whistle.  I was so comfortable, and my wife could even drive it (way bigger than my Explorer, but she LOVED IT).  For our trouble, my wife negotiated a discount.

All I know is that someone in that car rental agency must have really pissed off the customer.  I didn't see the clue at first, they left the car running with the keys locked in.  The next morning, under the driver's side seat was two dead mice.  Later that day, my wife pulled another dead mouse from under the passenger's side seat.  Unfortunately, the nastiness was not played on the rental agents.  It carried over to us.  Not cool.  Of course, Barb called the car rental company, not only for the mice, but also because the Sirius/XM subscription had run out halfway through the second day, so we were left with no tunes (no reception in Yellowstone).  She scored another 10% discount off the rental.

Accommodations for the Rich and Famous

Not that I can actually prove who stayed at this place, but the accommodations my wife negotiated were certainly worthy of Kings.  For instance, Barb had gotten us a "cabin" for our first week of vacation in Big Sky, Montana so we could tour Yellowstone and the surrounding area.   Big Sky was about 50 miles south of Bozeman.  This place was phenomenal, the view incredible, and everything we wanted.  We got settled in, and spent Friday evening enjoying some R&R after a hard day of travel.  I, of course, made use of the  hot tub.  I have never seen so many stars in the crystal clear skies.

I had noticed that I got really short of breath while unloading the car.  I didn't think that much of it: I sometimes get that way working in the yard.  The same accident that left me with blown disks in my back (among other things) was also responsible for two collapsed lungs and a punctured diaphragm.  I have been living with this for eight years.  I mentally went down the checklist.  I didn't feel it was anything serious.

We hit the hay, and were sleeping soundly when I heard an alarm sounding outside my bedroom window.  This was 3:15 AM.  At first, I could not find "the book" that had all the emergency information and features.  After 15 minutes of searching in vane, I remembered that they provided an link for an app to download for my smartphone with the same information in it.  I called the emergency  number, and the attendant talked me through how to reset the alarm.  They would be out to look at it in the morning.

Saturday, September 7.  The Adventure Begins

We had a great breakfast at "home" before heading out to Yellowstone.  We loaded up the Yukon with our daily supplies (really, it takes a vehicle that size to haul all the stuff Barb feels is essential.  My next vehicle is a tractor-trailer, which has the payload necessary for a weekend at the beach).

The Continental Divide, Elevation 8,391 feet

We had a reservation at Yellowstone Lake for a ranger-guided tour by boat.  On our way, we actually crossed the Continental Divide twice.  The second time, we took the "turn out" so we could get some pictures.  I was huffing and puffing getting just from the car to the sign.  I bent down for a silly pose next to the sign, boasting the elevation as 8,391 feet, and I could not get my breath.  I was breathing VERY HARD, gasping for air, but I was not getting any oxygen.  I felt as though I was suffocating.  Barb helped me back to the car, and since the marina was only right down the hill, we sat in the car with the air conditioning blasting until I got back normal breathing.  She reluctantly agreed to let me keep driving.

When we got to the marina at Lake Yellowstone, which is the largest lake in the US above 7,000 feet.  We parked, and since we were early for the boat tour, used the facilities, and stopped by the ranger station, which was closing for lunch.  I was trying to explain my situation to the rangers, who told me that this was an opportune time to sit quietly and take a lunch break, since they had just lost power to the complex which included the ranger station, a refreshment stand, and the ticket office for the boat tours.  In the short trek down 20 steps to the complex, the visit to the rest room, to the ticket office, then to sit down at a picnic table, I was totally exhausted, I wasn't getting any air.  I began to reassess, and then I began to panic.  I just lost it.

First and foremost, I could not breath.  Second, with the power outage, there were no telephones working anywhere in the complex.  Third, there was no cellphone signal for miles.  Fourth, we found a payphone, which allowed a free 800-number call to the Concierge at Big Sky.  Fifth, without power nobody could open a cash register to give us change for the payphone.

Barb explained the situation, and the concierge gave us the number of the medical clinic at Big Sky Town Center.  This was 12:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.  We had only several coins in our pockets, the ranger station was closed, and the ticket office could not open their registers for change until the power was restored.  I got a receptionist at the medical clinic who said she would leave a message for the doctor.  I guess she recognized the panic in my voice when I told her we only had four minutes before our change ran out and there was no cell service.  She put me on with the doctor right away.  I gave him some very brief contact information, and told him to call the Concierge to get details.

Leap of Faith

This doctor really took a chance.  He did not know me from Adam.  He did not have any medical history other than that I was at 8,391 feet, I had a history that included two collapsed lungs and a punctured diaphragm, and we were staying at Spanish Peaks in Big Sky.  He had given a loaner oxygen machine to the Concierge at  Big Sky, who had it delivered, waiting for us at our cabin.  Apparently, this happens a lot to skiers in the wintertime.  The thin air at 7,100 feet (the elevation of our cabin) can do funny things.  Since this was September, demands were low for that machine.

Not So Fast.  Pay Toll at the Luck Meter

You know that alarm that so rudely woke me at 3:15 AM?  Well, apparently it had something to do with the septic system, and in the interest of safety, they would only let us back into our cabin long enough to pack our things.  The property manager helped us pack and move (I sat with the oxygen machine on me), and they moved us to ANOTHER UNIT.

I thought OUR cabin was spectacular.  The only other "unit" they could make available at such short notice was up the hill (at 7,363 feet).  Calling this a "cabin" is an understatement.  A ski-in/ski-out  4,700 square foot log cabin "lodge" is not a cabin, but a Chalet, complete with a Great Room/Dining Room/Kitchen, 2 other complete living rooms equipped with gas fireplaces, 5  bedrooms that slept a total of 16 people, 5 1/2 baths, 5 balconies, and an on-call concierge service 24x7.  All week for less than we would have paid for 5 days in the best hotel in West Yellowstone.

And You Thought You Beat The Beast

Well, Sunday, we kept with the agenda, only making slight modifications to allow for the oxygen machine to be "seat belted" into the back seat.  I had planned for annoying electronic devices that cried out "feed me" at the most inopportune times, so I had brought along an "inverter" that plugs into the cigarette lighter and converts 12VDC to 110VAC.  I proudly showed off my genius to my wife, and as I turned the unit on, it ran for a couple seconds, and there was a flash, and the cooling fan on the inverter stopped.  The flash was the 15 amp fuse.  Apparently, the oxygen machine was more than 15 amps.

So much for "best laid plans".  We continued Sunday without it, uneventfully, since we modified the touring agenda to keep to lower altitudes (which were still above 6,000 feet).

Monday - Day of Reckoning

We waited until after 9 AM, when most stores and offices in the Town Center complex opened.  We walked into the medical clinic, and squared things away with the doctor, not only for the loaner machine, but he called in an order for a full blown oxygen treatment pack for me to use for the duration of our visit.  I got a full history taken and medical exam, and determined that there was a simple fix with some portable equipment.  This "treatment pack" was delivered, set up, and training was administered in our cabin.  The equipment consisted of a rack of portable bottles that fit into a backpack, a large bottle on what looked like a golf cart, and an identical oxygen machine that plugged into the wall.  Nice guy. He spent about an hour with us.  He also took the loaner machine back to the doctor down the hill.

So, the rest of the week, as I needed it, I simply strapped on the nose-plugs, turned on the bottle, and life continued unfettered.

I cannot wait to see what Barb  got us for the second week in Jackson H***, WY.

Rich Moyer - Managing Partner and Principal Consultant (retired) Spaho Consulting, LLC

Spaho Consulting, LLC brings you the Life Balance Network, the Life Balance Lifestyle Network, and the Netpreneur Network.

Took Me Totally By Surprise

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