On the Side

By Jim Dickens

Have you had the,” I wish you could come earlier.” or, “Stay another day.” offer like most of us?  Usually with work, family commitments and an already defined plan, there is huge resistance to change.  However, with a little practice, you can leverage retirement flexibility to find out the sincerity of the offer and have even more fun.

Now the speed of the Ridgeline Tour has slowed, I have answered yes to several “stay later”, “come early” offers and had a little extra fun on the side.  First, you must be open to unexpected changes in plan.  Second, you need to persuade those affected by the change it is a great idea. (Remember to be honest when persuading to preserve trust for the next change.) Third and finally, be ready to go with the flow and trust others it will be fun.  Just say yes and don’t try and control it.

Over the past four weeks,  I have had three on the side experiences.  I played an extra day of golf in Florida with Roger and had to persuade the airlines and Lori it was a good change without the need for extra fees.   I extended Thanksgiving in California to fish with Bill for a couple of days persuading the car rental company, the airline, and family members.   And finally,  I played in a charity golf event, Santa Scramble, on my wife’s birthday, no explanation needed.

A quick note on Bill. We have known each other through business for 26 years. I fished with him one other time 10 years ago. Both times he caught a nice rainbow trout on his first cast as pictured above.  I’m looking forward to fishing with Bill sooner that ten years from now.  It’s too fun.  More on Northern California in the next blog.

Good Cadence

Sam Snead’s Grill, Naples, Florida

By Jim Dickens

I have mentioned several times that I have been going too fast.   I have been gone every weekend and usually once during the week since before Labor Day usually spending only one night before packing, traveling and unpacking again.  So just before Thanksgiving it was nice to spend an extra long weekend in Naples, FL with good friends, Pete, Patty, Roger and Katie.  Lori and I unpacked in one place for 4 nights and avoided crappy Chicago weather for a little longer.  It was a good cadence.

It’s really good not to rush and have to do extensive travel logistics.  We did one or two things each day and enjoyed getting enough sleep, exercise and good food.

When in Naples, I suggest you take advantage of how old the average person is there to feel young again.  Seven thirty dinner reservations are much easier.  For Seinfeld fans, I know Naples must have a complex somewhere named Del Boca Vista.

As you may know, the Ridgeline Tour was in Florida for last Memorial day during Tropical Depression Albert.  However, this time the Tour found Chamber of Commerce weather.  And no the Honda Ridgeline was not driven here and yes it still counts as the Ridgeline Tour and no it is not in a body shop due to my poor driving (although it does have a rear bumper hit from the last time parked in Cleveland).  As guest bloggers have realized the Ridgeline Tour is a state of mind not a truck drive.

Many thanks to our good friends for helping us find a good cadence as we headed into Thanksgiving in wine country.  Another chance to feel young again as we hang around young people.  Look for the next blog coming out of Northern California soon.

Saturday Night Dinner 11/17/18

By German, Brazilian, American Guest Blogger Andreas Hecht

OK, I must be one of the most uninspired writers out there, so when Jim asked me (told me?!) to contribute to the Ridgeline blog on the occasion of yesterday’s dinner, I knew I was in for a lengthy exercise. Anyhow, I digress…


We have made it a recurring thing to get the heads of the CCC verticals together with their better halves to find some time away from all the day-to-day craziness for some fun and to relish in Jim’s post-retirement adventures. I thought that this was going to become a short-lived exercise (or at least the retirement portion of it) when I saw Jim’s recent blog discussing his thoughts around coming back to CCC. Anyhow, false alarm, Jim’s doing just fine without the day-to-day work-life and finding time for things like the free flu-shot queue at his grocery store…nevertheless, his heart is still a bit in it and he was curious about the latest developments

We got together for a wonderful dinner at Devon Seafood and Steak at Oakbrook Terrace (see pic). I will point out that Jim apparently did not make this an official stop along the Ridgeline Tour as they took Lori’s car 😦  … bummer, I would have love to have inspected the ‘safe repair’ done on his car, ADAS sensors and all!

Jim is in great spirits but I guess if you’re an avid reader of the Tour you already know that. He’s keeping in shape and has signed up for 3 cross-country ski-tours after the new year.

I promised Jim I’d add a bit of German stuff into this post, so here it goes. I found this one very fitting (as an aside, Wilhelm Busch was the author of one of the most famous Germany children books – “Max und Moritz”, one I grew up with and can recite to this day)

Viel zu spät begreifen viele
die versäumten Lebensziele:
Freuden, Schönheit und Natur,
Gesundheit, Reisen und Kultur.
Drum, Mensch, sei zeitig weise!
Höchste Zeit ist’s! Reise, reise!

(Wilhelm Busch)

…and here’s what it means:

Way too late many realize

the lost goals in life

Joy, beauty and nature

Health, travel and culture

So therefore, man!, be wise and timely!

It’s about time … travel travel!


Cheers – had a great time!


Do you miss it?


By Jim Dickens


Lori and I went to lunch with my awesome ex boss and his family a month ago.  We were reminiscing and my ex boss’s wife asked a simple but deep question, “Do you miss it?”   I did not have a simple but deep answer and have thought about it since.


The last kid has played her last game and I retired more than 6 months ago.  The question, “Do you miss it?”, has been asked often in many forms.  Aren’t you bored?  So what do you do to fill all that time?  You just need a break and then you go back to work!  You’ve played since you were eight.  Aren’t you sad its over?

Right before I retired an Uber driver told me he retired 6 months ago after selling his business.  He found himself sitting on the couch and watching a lot of TV.  He started driving Uber for something to do and to have more human interaction.  He then said he was getting back into his old business.  He like others thought that after 6 months I like him would be back at it.  Two friends who retired had jobs within 60 days of leaving their old companies.

As further context, my wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching our kids play sports for 21 years and November 3rd was the last game.  We traveled twice a week from Labor Day on going to every game.  Luckily, our kid stayed healthy, played extensively and thoroughly enjoyed her last season.   In the process our relationship with her deepened and we had some great moments.  We also connected with old friends across the country like Pittsburgh below.  But it ended for her and us and tears were shed.

So how do avoid ending up like the ex high school football player, Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite or watching Oprah every afternoon scratching your belly wearing out the couch?  How do you avoid just staying in your comfort zone and going back work again? I think there are lots of ways to successfully enter a next stage of life. For my kid and I it was planning an immediate next thing or set of things to do, she has a part time internship and I am getting involved with non profits.  They fill the gaps that the end of soccer and work have left.

You can’t go back to your old school and do it again.  Being a fisherman, I like the analogy of life being like a river.   You can’t fish same water twice because new water is always arriving and the river is ever-changing.  The season is over, I’m not going back to work,  and the Ridgeline Tour rolls on.

Well we are going to visit friends in Naples, FL, and head to California wine country for Thanksgiving.   I have entered three cross country skiing endurance races in  Wisconsin, Idaho and Minnesota so training and planning is underway.  Finally, I am becoming more active in three non profits, The Alliance for the Great Lakes, Junior Achievement and Trout Unlimited.  The time is well filled. Lots of blog post content is upcoming.

Finally, the answer to the question,  “Do you miss it?” is immensely but there is no going back.  I’ll end with a quote my boss’s daughter eloquently shared from the fictitious character, Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am that I have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”



Ridgeline Tour – Return to the South

By unpaid guest blogger Chris Milhous


Jim’s Ridgeline Tour made its second appearance in the South this past weekend and I quickly informed him that I wanted to be the next guest blogger. As my former roommate Mark Glenn rather inarticulately, but accurately cited in the last blog entry, the Ridgeline Tour is not about a truck.  It is about a state of mind.

Having ridden in, and even driven, Jim’s Ridgeline back in the spring as we traveled from Atlanta to Lewisburg, I certainly can attest to the magnificence of this vehicle. However, what I want to write about is Jim’s magnificent state of mind.  Jim shared his initial insights for the Ridgeline Tour as he challenged his family to help him define what the second half of his life was going to look like. Jim did not retire, but rather graduated from full-time employment into a stage of full-time relationships.  And there is no one better suited for this vocation than Jim.


My adventures with Jim date back to 1979.  We first met in the shabby Freshman locker room at Christy Mathewson stadium and became friends as brothers at the FIJI house at Bucknell.  Then life happened and we didn’t speak for many years.  One Christmas, Jim called me at work to wish me a Merry Christmas and to invite me to the annual Red Stackloaf golf event in Hilton Head.  I’m happy to say that nearly 20 years later, I am reconnected with so many great friends because of Jim.


So, I’m a firm believer and supporter of the Ridgeline Tour and its unique ability to bring people together.  This past weekend, we finally got to meet Jim’s amazing wife Lori and to watch his daughter Emily play her second to last college soccer game.  We also got to meet some of Jim and Lori’s friends Christina and John Born. I can tell you that just watching their interactions with Emily that they are amazing parents.


Jim and Lori have each been through quite a bit.  They survived Jim’s rather inarticulate 10thanniversary comment (have to ask Jim or Lori for more details) and they have each survived their own personal health scares. Yet they both stand tall (figuratively for Lori), they both have infectiously positive attitudes and they both inspire those around them to carry on the Ridgeline Tour spirit.

I’m looking forward to the Ridgeline’s final tailgating episode in Pittsburgh and to follow it wherever else the path leads.  And there is one thing you may be sure of…wherever the Ridgeline goes, there will be copious amounts of laughter, good will and adventure.

Thanks for the ride Jim. I am eternally grateful.

Ridgeline Tour – The New England Swing

By Guest Blogger -Mark Glenn


Jim had given me a heads up the Ridgeline Tour was coming to Boston.  Sue and I were very excited to see Lori who we were told would be on the trip.


It was great to see them and of course we had the usual laughs and fun.  Lori looked awesome and saucy.  She is also really nice and very funny. Top 1% in both categories.  Also great to see their daughter Emily play soccer.  


Sue and I were very disappointed that the Dickens did not arrive in the Ridgeline Truck.  We had seen so many pictures and videos about the Ridgeline Truck.  However Jim did find a hidden Treasure.  The long lost ski pole which is very valuable.  So I guess the Tour is also about Treasure Hunting.  See picture below.



But without the actual Truck I started to dispute how this visit could be part of the Ridgeline Tour.


After a few weeks I think I figured it out.  The Ridgeline Tour is not just Jim driving around to see people in the Ridgeline Truck.  You could even say it is not even about a Truck.  it seems to me it is also a state of mind.  


Here’s to everyone finding their own Ridgeline Tour.

Faith in America’s Youth

By Jim Dickens


The picture above is of my daughter and her friends some still sweat soaked from the soccer match.  In today’s environment of pervasive social media they happily, quickly and expertly posed for the picture above. They are Millennials and I have gotten to know them a little. I think our aging country has stereo typed Millenials wrongly and I’m calling us old guys out as curmudgeons.  I don’t think they feel entitled, have low motivation or fail to take responsibility.

Over the last six weeks, I have connected with lots of friends new and old and the conversation turns often to kids.  All the kids they talk about no matter the path in life are trying to figure out how to be independent, build their own identity and be or do something important.  All the kids I meet have some vision for their future.  Sure they snapchat, instagram, and tweet all the time but that’s just the newest and best communication technology.  As that old band, The Who, said, “The kids are all right!”  Of course they were singing about us to our curmudgeon parents.


We went to Pittsburgh and had a fantastic dinner with some great old friends, Andy & Allie Kimball, Ian and Terry Ferguson, Ken Moir and Pete Mathieson.  Marine Colonel Ferguson once saw my daughter ask for help buying Cubs tickets on line.  On the spot he nicknamed her Cubs Tickets as an entitled Millenial who can’t do things for herself.  It was funny to hear Cubs Tickets being yelled during the game.

In addition to Pittburgh, we went to Boston and many Ohio locations.  Many thanks to Sue and Mark Glenn for a great stay and an education on the Red Sox.  Our daughter through 11 games remains healthy, playing the best soccer of her life and growing as a team leader.  It’s making the transition to fall outstanding.

I have continued to say yes to fun opportunity from golf with old friend John Fauth in Ohio to play off games in Chicago with Roger.  I remain convinced doing cool things with great friends is the best.


Also the Ridgeline has proven to be a great choice facilitating 5 tailgates and taking us down dirt roads to national parks and the worlds first oil well (not to be confused with the biggest ball of yarn).  I get why today’s country singers write songs about their trucks.  It’s like a cowboy’s horse which old country singers used to write about, i.e. Old Paint.

The Super Fan Part Two schedule is now posted on the side web pages.  More Ohio, New York and Georgia next.  The Tour rolls on.


Super Fans

By non guest blogger, Jim Dickens


The Ridgeline Tour west logged 4,600 miles routing through Denver, northwest Colorado, Boise to Bozeman, and Craig MT to Mt Rushmore before returning to Chicago.  The Ridgeline is repaired and was an awesome machine out west despite the disparaging remarks from guest bloggers.  Now, the Ridgeline is about to show of it’s versatility and turn into a tailgate machine supporting my conversion into a Superfan.

So if it’s your youngest kid’s last season and you are retired, you go to every game including weekdays because you can.  Part 1 through September is in the side page.  I’ve never been a Superfan before but more of a band wagon jumper.  When a team I have a past connection with does well, I become a fan. And, when they stop doing well I jump on the next bandwagon.  A lot of sports fans don’t respect that, but hey I’m happy more often and spend more time doing stuff than watching down on their luck teams.

In becoming a super fan, I speak regularly with my daughter learning about the upcoming evil opponents, player injuries, keys to the game and all other details I can think of.  My wife reminds me to support the team by helping with team family events, post game meals and constructive cheering (not coaching or refereeing) from the stands. Those reminders are needed.

Additionally,  I plan on initiating and using the Ridgeline to host a series of tailgates starting September 15 in Cleveland.  Lori, my wife, will be a Superfan as well going to all games while still teaching mid week.  It will require some complicated logistics.  Along with the tailgates,  I’ll get to see old friends in Cleveland, Boston, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.


For the opening games last weekend, old friends the Kenny’s and Bacon’s road tripped from Chicago.   We did a little kayaking to Lake Erie, an Indians game, and of course the home opening victory of the CWRU Spartans Women’s soccer team.  Our daughter is healthy and happily playing for now.

A special thanks to our road trippers for making the weekend a true Ridgeline Tour event, great experiences with great friends!  And thanks to our daughter for letting us hold on a few months longer.   Lori and I are now Superfans.

Ridgeline tour – without the Ridgeline???

By Guest Blogger Peter Mathieson

I had the wonderful opportunity to officially join in on the Ridgeline Tour in early June 2018 with my awesome “fishing and life guides” Slim and “the good doctor” Pat McMahon. Fishing Central Pa at Spruce Creek and Rolling Rock with these guys is an over the top experience – we caught more big trout and had more belly laughs than is humanly possible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but the only thing that was missing was the experience of riding in the Ridgeline. This trip, Pat and I had our own cars cruising behind the esteemed Ridgeline, just dreaming of how nice it must be to have a truck that pretty much drives itself.
For years I’ve been hearing about how Jim had “pimped out” this awesome truck for adventures far and wide. To be honest, I was jealous. The “truck” looked awesome in the parking lot at Rolling Rock, but what I was really looking forward to was how it would perform out West in ‘Mantana’ with it’s integrated rod holders, comfy chairs for putting on waders, awesome stereo, cold beverage holders, etc, etc, Slim thought of nearly everything.
Fortunately I wouldn’t have to wait long, as my “fishing and life guide” invited me to join him on two trips out west. The first was in July with Dr “Scoop” Simmons (see blog below), starting in beautiful Mackay, Idaho and working their way up to “trout heaven “ Mantana. Unfortunately my hectic work schedule kept me from joining the boys on that trip, but the good news is that I was able to rejoin “the Tour” on the next western leg, set to begin on August 13th. Finally a chance to ride with “The Big Dog” in the pimped out Ridgeline!!!`
After many sleepless nights, filled with anticipation, the 13th finally arrived. Due to “faulty” rear sensor the Ridgeline had spent a few weeks in a Bozeman body shop (presumably to add more creature comforts) and although it wasn’t quite polished enough for pick up on the 13th, it was guaranteed to be ready on the 14th when we were scheduled to fish the epic Madison river, with high hopes of re-catching Chet’s “Bill Buckner” brownie.
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On this leg of the tour we were honored to be joined by fellow yinzer and the originator of “the trout-about” Pete “trico” Perkins. Together, Pete and Slim lined up the best water, guides, hotels, restaurants, etc,etc for a truly epic leg of the tour. Life is truly good when you are with these guys!
Following the unparalleled chicken dinner (and multiple shots of moonshine with the bartender) at “THE BEST BAR” in America (and closest to my cabin) the Gallatin Riverhouse , we received the unfortunate news that the Ridgeline wouldn’t be ready until the afternoon of the 14th. This meant that we would have to slum it in my dirty old Suburban (without the rod racks), but just for the day. Unfortunately, that day on the Madison was a disappointment, not sure if it was the guides, the weather or the fact that we were all missing the Ridgeline, but Chet’s big brown trout (and his buddies) were able to avoid our flies. Collectively we did catch many trout, just not the bounty we had hoped for.


The next day was scheduled to be a travel day. I got 2 weeks of work done while the retired guys (Slim and Perk) explored the expansive Buck Ridge in the ATV.




Around noon we packed up the now clean Suburban and headed to the body shop to finally pick up the star of the show. Once in cell coverage , we received the unfortunate news that the truck was delayed at the Honda dealership…”oh my, how can this be happening”. Ironically, the man who literally invented the network of tying insurance companies with body shops and parts distributors to streamline the whole process of automobile repairs was now being tripped up on repairing his own vehicle . This irony probably would have sent the old Slim over the top and down the throats of anyone involved in the mishap, but the new, improved (nose job) and retired Slim took the news (mostly) in stride. After transferring some precious gear from the parked Ridgeline into the same old standard “Mantana Suburban “we were on our way up North to fish the Mighty Missouri River.
(Side note… Perk and I had an interesting talk with the service technician who let us know that the delay was due to the fact that Slim had requested that the rear sensor be reprogrammed to prevent the Ridgeline from getting into accidents while traveling 35 mph in reverse, into guide trucks traveling 50 mph towards him. Not an easy programming task, but one they could handle in Bozeman, albeit with a bit more time. The tech also told us that we’d be much safer in the Montana friendly Suburban, as there are all kinds of bounties out to get all Ridgelines off the roads. She said it was because they technically are not considered “trucks” out west, and she was right… we never saw another Ridgeline, anywhere, including dealership lots.)
Any way, “the Ridgeline Tour” must go on (too hard to rename the blog?) and on we went to experience The Mighty Mo, outside of Craig, Montana. Sweet singing Pete Perkins (a legit recording artist) set us up with the guide above all guides (Bryce Connery), accommodations and libations that all exceeded expectations. The fishing was extraordinarily and true to the rules of fishing with Slim, we led him to believe that he caught the biggest fish all 3 days.




The only disappointment was that we didn’t have the Ridgeline, but fortunately the old and faithful Suburban was an adequate (and safe) mode of transportation, made significantly better with the addition of Slims various Spotify playlists.
I’m still hoping that someday I’ll get to ride in that beautiful “truck” (featured in the infamous holiday card), but then again I’m going to check in with the bounty hunters to make sure it’s still not on the list!!!
Delighted to be on “The Tour”, honored to be a guest blogger and anxiously awaiting our next adventure! Nobody does it better than you, my brother!!!

The Same . . . But Different

By Guest Blogger Lori Dickens

I have the opportunity to be the next guest blogger on the Ridgeline Tour.  I am Jim’s wife and have been one of Jim’s traveling buddies for just over 30 years. It has been an adventurous and joyful ride.  I have had the opportunity to see many new places and have exciting experiences I would never have had without Jim’s vision and energy.  The purpose of this trip was to see family and friends which is my favorite kind of trip.

Our first leg of the journey was a quick flight from Chicago to Cleveland.  At the airport we rented a Cadillac which we would later use to drive further across country.  Where is the Ridgeline you ask?  Still in Bozeman, Montana.  I refer you to blog post from July 14th.

We picked up daughter Emily and started the journey with a rooftop drink and a delicious dinner followed by the musical Hamilton at Playhouse Square.  We have been told many times what a wonderful musical it was and I felt the hype set us up for possible disappointment.  We all agreed, it was as good as we were told. Jim – admittedly not a musical guy – loved it.  Thanks to the Bacons who shared the music with us in advance.  Cleveland continues to surprise us with little pockets of coolness. As long as Emily is there, we will be drawn to the Rock and Roll Capital of the World.n

The next morning we walked to the CWRU soccer field and Jim stood in goal as Emily hurtled balls into the net with an occasional save by Jim.  Jim has stood in goal for many years for Emily.  The differences over time have been field location, size and strength of Emily, and ball velocity. What Jim lacks in agility he makes up for in bravery.

We next rolled across beautiful and lush Pennsylvania countryside to Philadelphia in our rented Caddy to the MacGibbon’s lovely home.  In my opinion, Fernfield (home of Jamie and Glen) gives Tara (home of Scarlett O’Hara) a run for its money.  After a drink on one of the many MacGibbon porches, we met The Simmons, and Dan Willcoxon for dinner.  How awesome to reunite with these friends who I haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time with since the late 80’s and early 90’s. As it goes with old friends, you pick up where you left off.   Of course, many of the old stories resurfaced causing loud laughter – much to the chagrin of the other diners.

The next morning we landed at the home of Momma and Poppa Dickens who greeted us with a warm welcome and big smiles.  We were happy to have Jim’s  brother Tim join us.  Soon, in a flurry of texts amongst Tim’s family, we landed at Tim and wife Nancy’s house with nearly the complete “Philly Dickens” contingent present.  We missed our nephew-in-law to be Matt, but are confident we’ll catch him when we return. We are keenly aware that a BIG motivator to gather was the promised appearance of the tiny and beautiful Miss Emma Brauchli Dickens – our newest great grandniece.   We will ride on her coattails any day.  She is a precious little bundle who tolerated being held by many different adults with great composure.  The visit reminded me of a similar one Jim and I took in 1991 across Pennsylvania to meet Emma’s daddy, Michael.  What a blessing to see the family grow in such a wonderful way and to have the opportunity to spend time together.


Same traveling buddy, same friends, same family with some new players that make it all even better.  It is a new season of life for me and my traveling companion. I am filled with gratitude for all our many blessings along the road. . . no matter what car we’re driving.