December 2023

Gleðileg jól. Welcome to the Pearl edition of the Janz Christmas Letter. First off, Við erum komin á eftirlaun!!!! Now that we’ve got that out of the way … Oh, you don’t read Icelandic? We are retired! We took full advantage of our new found freedom by diving the Philippines and Bonaire, camping up the west coast, and driving around Iceland. Ironically, none of the planned home improvement projects have been completed. Where does all of the time go? What day is today?

In case you missed it in the intro, let’s start with our big life change – WE ARE RETIRED!!!! We have been planning for this day since Mike had his quadruple-bypass nearly seven years ago. That was a clarion call that life can change suddenly so enjoy life NOW! Since starting our new full-time (lack of) career, we have a few observations – it is VERY nice not waking up to an alarm, we have NO idea what day it is (trash day is tomorrow, why are they here today?), we are busier than when we were employed, and every day feels like Saturday.

For our two drive trips this year, we travelled to Dumaguete, Philippines and Bonaire. In Dumaguete it was nice having someone else find critters for us and just focus on the phenomenal marine life and photography. Despite seven years between visits, there were many familiar faces, we dove with the same dive guide, and surpassed 600 lifetime dives. In November, we headed to Bonaire for “two weeks of relaxation and diving”. Unfortunately, we both came down with head colds (Mike first then Lori). We each had a few down days, but with strategically timed Sudafed, we were able to dive in moderation. We were thankful to come home to a moderate climate, our own bed, and two furry felines.

As retirees, we took a 2-week journey up the west coast thru Oregon and Washington with our new roof top tent (RTT). We visited Mike’s aunt and uncle (yay laundry!), one of Lori’s friends, and 3-days with Lori’s Aunt. We heavily utilized HipCamp (think Airbnb for camping) since most campgrounds were full or packed like sardines. This was a learning expedition; we made several changes in situ, and identified improvements for our next escapade (fridge instead of cooler, rear suspension upgrade, …). Surprisingly, sleep was significantly superior in the RTT vs. hotels.

Our BIG destination vacation was 2-weeks in Iceland. It was incredible - so many diverse waterfalls, topography, and scenery! We explored Reykjavik (including the Golden Circle), Snaefellsnes Peninsula, West Fjords, and Southern Iceland. The highlight of the trip was the Northen Lights. We had an hour long, spectacular show that had us jumping around like 12-year-olds. We surmounted many “experiences” - a ferry cancellation, 80 km/hr “roads”, torrential rain, and a flat tire in the middle of nowhere (in the rain, leaking stop leak). With our local SIM card and full car coverage, we were soon on our way. Icelandic food is fabulous! Alas, now our favorite restaurants are 7000 kilometers away ☹.

In late April, we officially moved to Tahoe for a 2-year experiment to see if we enjoy mountain living. We have been converting the Tahoe cabin from a place to visit into our home. We have installed shelves in the closet (more storage), created a new office space in the loft, and cleaned up 12 cu yards of pine-needles/20yrs of overgrowth. The biggest change is how far everything is: In the flat lands, we walk everywhere. In the mountains, we ride electric Mountain bikes to expand our roaming range. With winter coming and loads of snow, we will see how we adapt. San Jose is now our “vacation” home and the kids (ages 0-99) are enjoying our annual Christmas Lightshow extravaganza.

Tolo and Trout turned 2 in October. Tolo strategically hides toys all over the house and will play fetch when he is in the mood (he is a cat….). Trout has the loudest purr, loves belly rubs, and when he gets the “zoomies” he runs full speed through the hallways and up the walls to take the corners without slowing down.

Mike concluded his 29.5-year career at Lockheed and retired once he was pension eligible. He will be 25 years cancer free and 7 years past his cardiovascular re-route in 2024 (but who is counting…). His biggest challenge is trying to sleep in past 7am! Lori achieved 23 years at Intel before her layoff/retirement. With additional free time, she is developing a travel website (, is our Tahoe HOA webmaster, and is expanding card making beyond just Christmas. We do miss the daily co-worker interaction; we do not miss the daily 6:15am alarm nor Mike’s solo commute.

For the next year, we will be travelling a lot more – some planned, some spur of the moment. Road trips (maybe east to Colorado/Utah?), multiple dive trips (Pacific and ???), and who knows what else as we are RETIRED; we have nowhere else to be.

We hope you had a safe, healthy, and wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! Feel free to email us at or visit us (inluding dive and land pictures!) at


Mike, Lori, Tolo, & Trout