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How We Spent Our Summer Break Sometimes You Have to Step Back to Move Forward


Back in June 2021 I announced that Claire and I were taking a summer break to catch up on travel and to rest up a bit. Overall we had a terrific time!

Summer Break – July

Santa Fe, NM

As our summer heat ramped up, we hit the road. Our first stop was Santa Fe NM, which at 7,000 feet, has very pleasant summer weather. We enjoyed several outstanding meals at two of our favorite restaurants: dinner at The Shed and breakfast at Pasqual’s. Unfortunately we had one lousy meal at Casa Chimayo (which we saw on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives). The service was awful and the food bland. We had some really good beer and decent food at Fire and Hops and Second Street Brewery (I brought home two six packs of Sloppy Sloth New England IPA.)

Santa Fe has many wonderful trails. We enjoyed hiking the central section (Cerro Gordo trailhead) of the Dale Ball trail system. The hike took us through junipers and pine trees and provided panoramic views of Santa Fe and the surrounding mountains.

Of course no visit to Santa Fe is complete without doing some shopping. I have a small collection of Santa Clara pueblo pottery which I’ve been looking to add to. I finally found a pot that fits in nicely with my other pieces.

Flagstaff, AZ

From Santa Fe we drove to Flagstaff which is also at 7,000 feet elevation. Like Santa Fe, we’ve been to Flagstaff many times. We ate at two of our favorite restaurants – Karma Sushi and Proper Meats which has an awesome pastrami sandwich. We were also fortunate to attend a friend’s birthday party. Joyce’s husband, Lou, is a pizza aficionado. He made 5 different pizzas for us – each one delicious. Afterwards we did some stargazing from his backyard observatory. (FYI, Flagstaff is home to Lowell Observatory and the world’s first dark sky city.)

Speaking of dark skies, I finally got to visit Dark Sky Brewing’s tasting room where I sampled a flight of 5 beers. We also visited a big favorite  – Mother Road Brewing where I filled up my growler with their excellent Tower Station IPA.

Summer Break – August

Buffalo, NY

In August we flew to my home town of Buffalo, NY which was followed by 5 days in the Thousand Islands, NY. I was delighted to discover that Buffalo has upgraded its waterfront thanks in large part to Canalside. We took a boat tour up the Buffalo River and along the way saw kayakers, restaurants and social clubs. The best part of the tour was visiting the grain elevators for about an hour. At one time Buffalo was the largest grain processor in the US. Today there are only 4 still in use (one makes Cheerios and Lucky Charms). We met up with relatives and friends while enjoying Buffalo’s special cuisine featuring chicken wings, roast beef on weck, Ted’s hot dogs, fish fry and Anderson’s custard.

Thousand Islands, NY

After visiting Buffalo we drove 3 ½ hours to Clayton, NY which was our base in the Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands are in the St. Lawrence Seaway which forms part of the border between the US and Canada. Ironically it was the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 that contributed to Buffalo’s decline. Ships from the western Great Lakes could now reach all the way to the Atlantic instead of just Buffalo. But there is some good news for Buffalo. According to the 2020 census the city added population for the first time in over 50 years. Plus Buffalo, along with other Great Lakes cities, is becoming a destination for people who are migrating due to climate change.

Clayton was a great choice to serve as our base. It’s a picturesque town featuring buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s. It’s close to several nature preserves, state parks and Alexandria Bay.

We enjoyed hiking, good food, colorful sunsets, the antique boat museum, Boldt Castle and the Eisenhower Lock. Boldt Castle, a very popular attraction, was built during the opulence of the Gilded Age. George Boldt undertook its construction for his wife Louise who unfortunately died at the age of 42. George was so devastated that he immediately halted work (300 workers departed Heart Island at once). In 1977 the Thousand Island Bridge Authority purchased the incomplete castle. To date they’ve done an amazing job completing 2 out of 4 floors.

Next we took a day trip to see the Eisenhower Lock which is located 1 ½ hours north east of Clayton. The lock measures 80 feet in width by 800 feet in length. The lock is just large enough to handle the steady stream of large commercial ships that transport various materials from Western Canada to Eastern Canada. It was exciting to watch a 700’ ship carrying iron ore maneuver into the lock (it took an hour). It then descended 42’ in 7 minutes before the gates opened and the ship continued to Halifax. Very impressive!

FinCon 2021 Austin

We first attended FinCon in 2019 in Washington DC. We enjoyed it so much that we bought tickets for FinCon 2020 in Long Beach. Unfortunately FinCon 2020 was cancelled due to COVID so we rolled our tickets over to FinCon 2021 in Austin expecting that we’d have our lives back by then. Much to our disappointment, COVID is raging in Texas. So we made the tough decision to attend virtually in order to minimize our risk.

What’s Next?

I’m excited about the release of my downloadable excel template that builds a Statement of Net Worth.  It’s supplemented with a YouTube video where I explain how to use it. On the podcast front Claire and I have a new episode called What’s Holding You Back from Pursuing Financial Independence. We go over several common self-limiting beliefs and how to overcome them.  I might produce something to share FinCon 2021 with you but that depends on how the virtual experience plays out.

That’s it for now. Wishing you all best!


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