Why should I retire? What am I going to do with all that time? Listen to this episode for advice on how.
In this episode of the Getting Your Edge: How to Right-Size Your Home and Life podcast, co-hosts, Judy and Dennis, will interview Jim Siscel, a retired military veteran and public school educator, about his amazing adventures as a retiree. Jim Siscel, retired for 21 years, has attended games at 342 major and minor league ball parks all across the USA, including every major league city with his wife, Mary. Jim was named Seattle Mariner Fan of the Year in 2022. He's thrown the first pitch twice in major league parks, and presented the colors with other veterans at T-Mobile Park. Jim and his wife also spent time traveling extensively in Europe, Alaska, and the US. They followed the Lewis and Clark Trail from Missouri to the Pacific, visiting historical sites and ball parks along the way.
Jim shares his adventures and insights into how to use your retirement to the fullest. Don't miss this fascinating episode about a life well lived, and still going.
Globetrotting Grand Slam: A Retiree's Epic Adventures Unveiled
Podcast with Jim Siscel - October 23
VIEW RECORDING - 41 mins (No highlights)
@0:29 - James Siscel
I hope somebody else is driving.
@0:32 - Judy
You must be Jim.
@0:35 - James Siscel
Hi, nice to meet you, Jim.
@0:38 - Judy
Hopefully we are in the trees almost to Olympia. So I'm hoping I don't lose you. Sorry for the poor planning on my part.
@0:51 - Dennis Day
Dennis, are you there too? Yeah. I'm here. Can you hear me?
@0:54 - Judy
@0:56 - Dennis Day
Okay. Let's get rolling.
@1:00 - Judy
Hey, that's what we're doing.
@1:03 - Dennis Day
Good day, everyone. And welcome to the Getting Your Edge, How to Write Size Your Home and Life podcast. And we are in episode 26.
We've got a special guest with us. I am your host, Dennis Day. My co-host is on the road. Judy Gratton.
@1:23 - Judy
Welcome, Judy. I. Hello. how are you?
@1:27 - Dennis Day
Just to make sure everybody knows she is not driving. No, I am not driving. No, she is safe. And I want to remind people that if you could like, share, give us a comment, it would really help our podcast grow.
And if you need some help with any form of real estate, we would love to hear from you. We've got some exciting news.
We've got a new website coming up next week. Really looking forward to that. And so let's get going. I want to introduce you.
This is Jim Siscel and Jim, I worked with Jim many years ago though at an elementary school. Jim had been there, he was an institution at that and I kind of arrived late in his career.
since then you've done some really cool things Jim. So Jim Siscel, tell us a little about yourself and your family.
@2:30 - James Siscel
Okay well, past the 82 year mark, a few weeks ago, born and raised in Portland Oregon, went to high school there, went to Lewis and Clark College there for my BA in history and my MED and working with the deaf and the hard of hearing.
@2:52 - Judy
@2:54 - James Siscel
Yeah, yeah, actually when I was in Shoreline I worked for couple years with hard of hearing at the Middle School.
My son is students, so they switched me over to the elementary level.
@3:07 - Judy
My son wears here. guess he's born those two years old.
@3:14 - James Siscel
Okay, well, I worked with lot of those children during the years. Andrea, married my wife Andrea 55 years ago, last Thursday.
@3:27 - Dennis Day
@3:28 - James Siscel
Happy anniversary. I have two children, son who's, I always have to figure this out, who's 52, married, daughter. That's the one I have trouble with because see, I know my son's 30 years younger than I am, so that is easy.
My daughter is 48, maybe 47, don't know. Married, she has two children. Granddaughter for us is 30. Dean and our grandson is in, well, see, granddaughters in eighth grade, grand sons in fourth grade, special needs child.
So we have that experience to deal with. You like I said, 55 years, pretty long.
@4:15 - Judy
@4:17 - Dennis Day
@4:18 - Judy
@4:20 - James Siscel
@4:21 - Judy
Thank you. Thank you.
@4:23 - Dennis Day
Jim, are you fluent in American Sign Language there?
@4:28 - James Siscel
@4:29 - Dennis Day
@4:30 - James Siscel
I had gotten to the point. I worked for, let's see, years down in Phoenix when I first finished my degree.
And I got to the point where I could send, send pretty good and receive relatively well. But you know, once you get away from it, it's like any language.
You kind of forget. Yeah. know, for the first few years after it, when I moved back up and was working in Shoreline, someone told me, Jim, you're signing all the time.
I hadn't realized that. Dennis Day was, but as time went on, it's kind of left.
@5:05 - Dennis Day
Okay. Tell us about your, you had two careers.
@5:10 - Judy
tell us about those.
@5:12 - Dennis Day
You had one in the military, one in education.
@5:14 - James Siscel
Tell us about those. Yes, when I finished my degree where my bachelor's work, I decided that I would go into the Air Force as an officer and thought I was going to spend 20 years in it.
I on active duty. Things didn't work out. I was in a field that promotions weren't as good as they should have been.
Let's put it that way. So after seven and a half years, I separated from active duty. And that's when I joined Shoreline School District.
But I did stay in the military. I stayed in the international guard in Portland and in Phoenix. And then when we moved up here to the Seattle area, I joined the Air Force.
@6:06 - Judy
Thank you for your service.
@6:10 - James Siscel
I was honored to serve. I am a patriot. My country has given me a tremendous amount and provided me with an education that a lot of young people don't have around the world.
And so it was one way for me to pay back.
@6:27 - Dennis Day
And you served in Vietnam, correct?
@6:30 - James Siscel
No, I didn't. I was lucky enough not to serve in Vietnam. Things worked out. I did go over to Thailand right after the Gulf of Tonkin in 64.
Then I served on a little island north of Okinawa, little Japanese island for years. so I didn't go to Vietnam.
Was that Ishigaki Jima by any chance? Okino Irabo Shima.
@7:02 - Judy
Ok, I've been to Ishigak Chichima, which is right off Okinawa.
@7:07 - James Siscel
Yeah, this one is just north of Okinawa.
@7:11 - Judy
@7:12 - James Siscel
now of course, Okinawa is Japanese, but at that time it was a small island between Okinawa, the northern tip of Okinawa, and the radar site that I was on on Okinawa.
Mm-hmm. Went from Okino, had an assignment in Germany, met Andrea on a blind date while I was home on leave.
@7:35 - Dennis Day
@7:36 - James Siscel
Yeah, and a pretty successful blind date when I looked back on it. I went to Germany, it was over there for a year and a half.
Andrea came over and visited me. We decided to get married, came back, we got married, she went back over with me to Germany.
I say we had a year and a half honeymoon in Europe, compliments of the government. We did a lot of travel.
All over here over there. Then we came back to Cape Cod. were on Cape Cod for a year and a half.
And that's when I separated from active duty. So that was, you know, continue on from there. Education-wise, after I got off active duty, obviously had to find a job.
So I was a substitute teacher for one year in the Portland School District. I counted 35 different subjects and levels during that year that I subbed in.
The sub supervisors really liked me because she knew, well, first of all, we had a new baby, our son.
And so she was taking care of me there. But she knew I could get anywhere within a half an hour.
If somebody had a problem with first thing in the morning, she'd give me a call and I was on the road and would get there.
I went back to Lewis and Clark got my master's, did the Deaf education in Phoenix for four years. There was a job down there.
I took it. Then I was supposed to have a job in Tacoma, but that fell through after I'd quit the job in Phoenix.
I fell into the job in Shoreline because the Deaf Head teacher there had moved after the school. The year started.
did Deaf Head for, let's see, two years, yeah, two years, ran out of students and went into elementary, which is what I wanted to do.
My ultimate plan was to be an elementary school principal. That didn't work out. I'm kind of looking back on it and I'm kind of glad it didn't because, as Dennis, you and I were talking about, I know earlier.
Well, a principal's job is even worse than a superintendent's. Just don't fix your technology, TomBroys, could retire as far as the state was concerned, but because of my military retirement and taking early social security, were able to retire at 62.
Then I started drawing the teacher retirement at 65. 2002, 20, 21 years ago, yeah, 21 years ago now.
@10:50 - Dennis Day
I guess I came aboard Echo Lake, the same year you left. I came in mid year, so it was
@13:01 - James Siscel
The I was supposed to, I was in a weird situation because I got hired after the beginning of the school year and I wanted to get in my full 25 years.
So I went to the school district and said, I want to work the month of September. They said, that's going to is too much money and I said and they gave me some figures and I said well I don't think it's going to cost you that much and so I did some stubbing that year that month so it was kind of a little bit easier because I was kind of still doing things in the school year.
@13:44 - Judy
So you did sort of transition.
@13:47 - James Siscel
Yeah yeah when I stopped and think about it I forgot I had for spent too many years I forgot about that but yeah there was a transition there I did some some work at the central office I did some substituting at our
Kelly, one of the teachers couldn't start at the beginning of the year, so I stepped in and I knew the school rules and it worked great for that particular class.
But after that, it was like, let's keep going. I got too many things on quote the old bucket list that we wanted to do.
@14:22 - Dennis Day
And how did you prepare your wife prepare financially for your retirement?
@14:30 - James Siscel
Well, my wife was, is, no, I think I've loosened her up a little bit. She was very conservative financially.
And so we were putting money aside and whenever, I don't know, maybe this might be in one of the other questions, whenever I got a pay raise, I put most of that money into a 401k that I
I had my wife had a 401k because she was in the medical field. And we didn't buy a lot of the stuff that I see people buying boats and trailers and this type of thing.
And because we were conservative, like I said, we did okay, know, and we still are. My financial advisor says, you know, Jim, you could love to be a hundred and sell that money left over.
I'm going, yes.
@15:35 - Dennis Day
@15:37 - Judy
So, is there anything, Jim, that you wish you had known about retiring before you actually retired that might have helped you make that transition a little more easily?
@15:51 - James Siscel
You know, looking back, I really don't think so. I mean, as soon as we rolled around to the next year,
Frank, we started traveling and we had plans to do traveling and we traveled and were still traveling. And so, no, I don't think so.
mean, it was because I'm so active, I was active in Boy Scouts. I was active in the sport of orienteering.
I was active in my retired teacher group. I had so much much.
@16:32 - Dennis Day
Okay. So, what did you mention some travel? tell us about some of the things you have been doing and enjoying your retirement.
@16:42 - James Siscel
Well, because of my history background, I'd done a lot of travel around the United States. Some of it thanks to the Air Force because I was stationed on the East Coast.
But Andrea and I are big baseball fans. And so, in January after I retired, thought about this a little bit, I approached her and I said, you know, I think I know what I want to do over retired.
And she says, well, I do too. And I said, well, what do you want to do? And she says, well, I want to go visit baseball fields.
And she was talking about 30, the Major League fields. I was talking about the 172 at that time from the single lay through the majors.
Wow. Wow. Okay. We're on the same page there. And so then the next June, and no, actually, I'm sorry, I take that back in June of 2002, actually the year that I retired in that June, we took off and we did all the baseball fields west of the Rockies.
We were gone for like 10 weeks. I got back as a matter of fact, I was we were visited Calgary when I got a phone call from.
I The echo. Hey, Principal, saying, hey, Jim, we need you here on the first day of school. So we heard back a day earlier.
And then the next year, which would have been 2003, we did, no, I'm getting this mixed up, just a minute.
Well, anyway, the second year we did everything east of the Mississippi. We were gone 180 days. And then the third year we finished up with the stuff in the Midwest for the 172.
And it wasn't as it still is because I continued doing it a fantastic way to see America, getting into small towns, getting into large cities, seeing the history in all these places, visiting national parks along the way, visiting civil war battlefields along the way.
And then 2000, the fourth year, I'm all confused on my dates right now. But the fourth year, we followed the losing.
Clark route from the Midwest all the way to the Columbia River and along the way did some more baseball.
I've continued do baseball except for COVID. Well, actually we did one in some in COVID too, but I'm at like 342 different baseball fields and up through this year.
@19:23 - Judy
And I think, oh my gosh, that's a lot.
@19:29 - Dennis
Yeah, one day each day of the year.
@19:34 - James Siscel
Well, the problem is that the teams moved and they built new stadiums. So I had to go see where they moved to and I had to go see the new stadium.
I've got like 16 left, but they're so scattered around the country that, you know, like I said, year was the last one.
Then we decided that we would go to Europe. So we went to we've been to Europe four times, I guess.
So far, we've taken a lot of river cruises. The first one we went from St. Petersburg to Moscow. We did one from really, it started in Paris, but you weren't on the river.
Actually in Luxembourg, we got on the Mozzell River and then went down the Rhine to Basil. We then flew to Berlin because we had been to Berlin when the wall was still up.
After got married and we went to Prague on that trip, after we went to Berlin, went to Prague and then we went down the Danube to Budapest.
This last summer, we did an Amsterdam to Antwerp cruise again and then flew to Madrid for three nights in Madrid and then did Lisbon and the Duro River in northern Portugal.
Did you see baseball fields in Europe? No baseball fields. We've done an Alaska Cruise. Enjoyed that is enough that we're going to do another cruise.
Alaska Cruise is next year. Let's see. Fort to LA through the Panama Canal Cruise. We did a, oh, I just went blank, in Spain on the southern coast all the way across the med to Turkey and then back to Venice cruise.
So, you know, we've traveled an a tremendous amount and I think we're both getting
@22:00 - Dennis Day
I think this gets to kind of the point you have, you took care of yourself financially and then after you retired, you did what you love.
@22:17 - James Siscel
Yeah, exactly. And that's the important thing as far as, you know, if you can put money away to have it when you retire while you're working, I think that allows you to do what we've been doing.
@22:33 - Judy
Just out of curiosity, have you stayed in the same home that you were in when you actually retired or did you end up downsizing into something else or just changing homes?
@22:48 - James Siscel
So we live in Lenwood and initially when we came up here and I started working in Shoreline School District, we bought a Ramwer.
And it was fine. We did a little work on it, but not a whole lot. And then...
@23:05 - Dennis Day
How much did it cost?
@23:08 - James Siscel
Oh, how much did it cost? was... Oh, God. I have to go look at the records. Let's say 150,000, something like that, 130 to 150.
then Jim wasn't happy with how many went to Bigger House. So we moved about, I know, 10 minutes. And he had a four-bedroom instead of a three-bedroom.
And we've lived in it since. So that was, I think, 91. So when we moved into the current house.
Will we downsize? Yeah. At some point. Andrew's had some hip problems recently. 3 she's much better than originally, 3 weeks ago or 4 weeks ago.
There has been talk recently about getting out of a 2-story, know, where the bedroom's upstairs into something else. We're kind of trimming back on a few things, rid of a few things here and there.
how soon it'll happen? I don't know.
@24:27 - Dennis Day
Okay. We hear that a lot. I mean, and I'm kind of with you that I hope someday that we move into a single story house and that way I can stay in the home as long as possible.
@24:42 - James Siscel
Yeah. And I think that's true with, as we all age, that we want to be someplace familiar. And, you know, even if it means who knows, you know, going into a long-term care facility.
Hopefully with everything still working up here, you know, you want to be someplace where you're familiar and where you can get around.
@25:14 - Dennis Day
Is there anything that makes you concerned or downsizing the P.A. from a longtime family home can be pretty daunting?
@25:25 - James Siscel
Yeah, I think that's the thing. mean, you look at the wall behind me and all that stuff has to do with the, well, all but one has to do with the Lewis and Clark stuff.
Well, you know, my kids aren't interested in that. You look around and I talk with my other senior citizen friends.
Our younger people don't want the things that we've collected over the years. know, there might be, you know, one item here and another item here, but they don't want the big items.
I mean, I was really lucky when my dad passed away in Portland from the house that my parents had moved into two months before I was born.
There was a lot in that house. And we went through with my two children and they picked out some small items.
Andrew and I picked out a couple of large items, but not huge. And then the realtor turned us on to a state person.
And rather than me having a garage sale, the state person came in and took care of it. And I think that's something that somebody should do.
Don't try to do a garage sale on a house full of stuff. Get somebody to get a professional in because ultimately you're going to make a lot more money.
I mean, we went down there before they had the sale and Andrew and I walked through and they said, they're putting that amount on that item?
@26:58 - Dennis Day
@26:59 - James Siscel
They got it.
@27:08 - Dennis Day
So, what are the things you've done in retirement is embrace the Mariners, your real fan, and tell us about being the Mariners fan of the year award you got.
@27:22 - James Siscel
Well, we've had weekend season tickets since 94. But going back further than that, back into the late 80s, I was taking groups from Echo Lake.
One time we took the 3 3rd grade classes to an late afternoon game. My wife said she'd never do that again because she had 5 boys that I assigned to her.
@27:45 - Dennis
I can just imagine which 5 boys it was.
@27:49 - James Siscel
Yeah, I pick any 5, know, but she got them. But I had groups going from the PTA from the, you know,
Early 90s, late 80s and 90s. I got to do a lot of things that a lot of people didn't get to do.
I got to go on the field a number of times. I've thrown out a first pitch at the kingdom and at Safeco slash T mobile.
Oh, just a minute here. Stop this scam going. There we go. And I've been on the field numerous times.
I've been on Because we've had a large, I've taken large groups. I've been on the field because of my military experience.
But anyway, we came back off to the three years of the first part of the road trip. my ticket manager nominated me.
And I said, Andrea is going out there also because of this three, because of the 172 games that we've been that since we were big fans for that as well as being regulars.
Thank Rick Riz, Rick Riz, know, call us out and read this background information and everybody recognize you as is pretty neat.
One of the things, one of my bucket list things that the Mariners occurred last year, not this previous year but a year ago, we were joined a bunch of other season ticket holders and got to hold the big flag, American flag out on the field during the playoffs.
That was a thrill as well to be able to be out there and wave at everybody as we were walking on and walking off the ground.
I think my favorite one would be to get a little bit further than the playoffs, but that's not gonna happen this year.
Who knows it'll happen next year? My favorite one is throwing out first pitches and just being on the field.
You get out there and even if you're back there in the dirt behind home plate or with the military being out there with all these various military organizations on the baselines and having the team players come out and stand between you.
Those are great times. Very few people get to do it. He said, I'm on the ground, because the groundskeeper, we had specific comments that were supposed to be behind the whole plate, was, don't step on the grass.
@31:32 - Dennis Day
Well, you didn't.
@31:34 - James Siscel
Okay. Yeah, you were in trouble.
@31:35 - Judy
Why not on the grass?
@31:37 - James Siscel
What would happen if you... I, you know, it was just, they didn't want people walking on the grass because it mats down the grass.
@31:44 - Judy
Oh, I say okay.
@31:46 - James Siscel
you get too many people out there. when I was on the baseline, you obviously had to walk across the grass, but, you know, they were a little bit easier with the military than what the normal person, so to speak.
@32:00 - Judy
So Jim, where did you get your thrill for baseball? you play baseball when you were in school?
@32:07 - James Siscel
No. Going way back to 93, I had a scouter that was in the troop that I was a scoutmaster, he took the, went back to the whyscot Jamboree, his voice got Jamboree, and he had tickets in the kingdom right behind the Mariners dugout.
And so, prior to that, we've been going to Mariners games four or five, six times during the year. We enjoyed it.
You know, it was, we'd sit out and sit out in left field in the bleachers with our two kids running up and down the alcus.
Nobody was there with the popcorn that we brought from home and the low, you know, low round coolers that we had cool aid in.
She could bring in in those days. And so it was just something that I kind of grew on me.
My wife's father was a real big Cubs fan. And so she'd listened to baseball as she was growing up.
So she enjoyed it. I don't know, I just kind of grew on this. And we still enjoy it.
@33:25 - Judy
Well, it is the favorite American pastime. So we've heard forever and ever.
@33:30 - James Siscel
And people ask, oh, did you see the game yesterday?
@33:36 - Judy
No, because we don't want football.
@33:38 - James Siscel
We don't want basketball.
@33:40 - Dennis Day
We're baseball fans. Do you have a favorite field in all of America? You've seen a hundred and how many?
@33:48 - James Siscel
@33:49 - Dennis Day
@33:53 - James Siscel
Major leagues, I think T-Mobile, I have trouble, is really a great field. You can go all around the field and see that watch the baseball game.
National League, we liked Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh sits on the – I don't know, remember which river it is, but on the south side of the river and you look across and you can see the downtown and it's really pretty at night because all the lights are on and the offices and so forth.
When I got back, I went through all the different leagues and picked out a favorite ballpark at each one.
Altoonic, Pennsylvania is a favorite. It sits – I don't remember the orientation, but one outfield is trees, the other outfield is an amusement park with a wooden roller coaster.
@34:55 - Dennis Day
Oh, what though?
@34:57 - James Siscel
And the team is the Altoonic curve. He's after a railroad curve that goes through the mountains near there. But on the side of the car is going up, they have the word C-U-R-V-E for curve.
Just a really neat setting. And there's another one in Carolina that I always have trouble with. But again, a small ballpark.
All the outfield is trees. Just a real, you know, nice. But, you know, to, with 342 down, trying to remember them all, generally do come close.
But those were kind of my favorites. And, you know, lot of the newer ballparks that kind of cookie cutter.
A lot of the new major leagueparks I dislike because you can't go around and see the game from everywhere.
They've got the area behind home plate. The big bucks, which is frustrating for me.
@36:08 - Dennis Day
Thanks so much, Jim. Can you give to you have any last advice for people who are thinking about retiring or who have just retired about living well as a retiree?
@36:23 - James Siscel
Well, I think the thing if you're planning on retiring, make sure that you do have something once you do retire to do.
I mean, we've all heard the stories about people who retire and the next thing they're gone. So make sure that you do have plans for when you retire.
If you've just retired, you don't have plans, start making them. If you can afford to travel, travel. know, enjoy life once you retire.
Don't keep active somewhere. Voldemort Volunteer, volunteer, you know. One of the things that was really great for me is I had a senior citizen gentleman that was a Boeing engineer who had retired and he volunteered in my classroom through Power of One and Shoreline.
And initially he was, I think the kids kind of scared him a little bit because he'd never worked with children before.
But he'd come in twice a week when I was working when the children were writing their stories for creative writing.
And after a while I could just turn him loose, you know, and he would help him make your stories better.
And he'd bring cookies in a couple of times year, you know. so volunteer, I mean I was just at the Edmonds Waterfront Center and a woman was giving a presentation to us to our retired teacher group about how people can volunteer at the Edmonds Waterfront Center.
There's a lot, a fantastic amount of organizations that can And you can your... The food banks are always calling for help.
I don't go into the classroom anymore because Andrew is immunocompromised, but I still do the book orders for a teacher that I've been working with since I retired.
First was teaching third grade and is now teaching second. Keyes me active. Stay active. That's the important thing.
@38:27 - Dennis Day
Well, thank you so much. You have a website, correct, about the Ballparks?
@38:33 - James Siscel
It's called baseballroadtrip.net. All one word, baseballroadtrip.net. You'll see pretty much the same. I tried to take the same angle pictures as I was going to each one so you keys to do when you're in the area.
Touristine wise. Yeah, baseball road trip.net.
@39:02 - Dennis Day
Well, think about that.
@39:03 - Judy
@39:05 - Dennis Day
Yes. 360, 360, Yeah, 342. I can't get the number right, but that's so wealth of information that is amazing.
And it's so extensive. done such a good job with that. Well, that's all I have. Any more questions, Judy?
@39:25 - Judy
I don't think so. I just really appreciate getting a trip around the ballparks in the United States. And I thought your advice was excellent for anyone thinking of retiring.
I'd add one thing to that. Never turn the television off.
@39:41 - James Siscel
@39:42 - Judy
think two people get caught up in watching TV and don't go out with life.
@39:48 - James Siscel
We have two channels, PBS and HDTV.
@39:52 - Judy
@39:55 - Dennis Day
There you go. Yeah.
@39:57 - James Siscel
Well, thank you for inviting me, Dennis and Judy. I... I appreciate it talking with you as well.
@40:02 - Judy
Oh, thank you so much and I'm sorry I'm in the car and hushing the dog and going in and out of range here but I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us.
@40:14 - James Siscel
It was fascinating. You're quite welcome. Appreciate it.
@40:18 - Dennis Day
Thank you, Jim, for sharing how to live a quality retirement, enjoying things, having fun, just doing what you want to do and that's so important.
Thanks for coming and that's all we have today for our 26th episode of Getting Your Edge Out of Right Size Your Home and Life podcast and we will see you next time.
Thanks for watching and or listening. Bye bye.
@40:49 - Judy
@40:50 - James Siscel