VILLAGE MEMBER STORIES
Meet Michael & Cynthia Harvell
Michael and Cynthia have lived in NH and Maine seacoast communities for over 30 years.
What did you do prior to retirement?
Cynthia has a master’s in social work and worked at RMC Research Corporation as an educational consultant prior to retirement in 2011. Michael was a US Navy submariner for 4 years and a practicing attorney at Sheehan, Phinney, Bass and Green in Manchester until retirement in 2017. Both of them were actively involved in many Seacoast non-profits, such as Strawbery Banke Museum, The Music Hall, the NH Preservation Alliance, and NH Forest Society.
How do you view retirement?
When asked what each of them enjoys most about retirement, it is the same—time with grandchildren and travel! What attracted Michael and Cynthia to each other since the beginning was that they both loved to travel.
[Michael] “ Before we were married in 1970, I suggested to Cynthia that we go to Great Britain together after my next three-month submarine cruise. I surfaced in Holy Loch Scotland.”
[Cynthia]” I was a Senior in college then, but I felt I had to run this idea by my parents.”
[Michael] “She had traveled in Europe the summer before with a girlfriend, and I had done a lot of traveling with the Navy and on my own. We met with her parents, and they were very quiet. The next morning, she got a phone call from them, and their response was a resounding ‘No Way’! So, we made the decision to get married that fall. There would not be any obstacles to traveling together! We did go to Europe together the next spring.”
[Cynthia] “We have done a lot of camping, hiking, skiing, and traveling without and with our three children, spouses, and seven grandchildren. We have always enjoyed the outdoors. We have a bucket list of places we want to visit, and we have made great headway—New Zealand, Southeast Asia , South America . . . . I decided a good way to get Michael to retire would be to buy an RV. We invited our children and their families to join us for a trip out West in 2017. We sold our house, bought an RV, bought a condo at Tidewatch in Portsmouth (rented it unfurnished for a year), and planned a 6-month trip, with various family members joining us at different times.
While in the RV, we started a blog – Travels with Louie (our dog). He was two at the time and was a very active part of our trip. We had family with us for 3.5 months of the trip though they mostly tented in an adjacent camping site all of which had to be reserved ahead of time. Quite a feat! We made it clear that the RV was Grandaddy and Grandma’s house only though from time to time we had guests sleeping in the RV too. We came back and spent the holidays in Brentwood with our daughter and her family. They were very sweet to give us accommodations for two months! We were essentially homeless then since we had tenants in our condo.
In January 2018, we left Louie in Brentwood and traveled around the world for four months. Again, we planned our destinations and lodging ahead of time, and enjoyed the local culture and history. Twenty-two stops in 13 countries. Part of that trip was to see our son and his family who lived in Switzerland. Traveling quickly became our modus operandi for retirement.
“We are still planning to move down on our bucket list. However, there are so many places we could not travel to now because of the changing world and political environment. It is getting tougher to travel with COVID unfortunately.”
“Our philosophy during retirement has been that we have to stay active and involved in the community. If you don’t stay active, you fall apart. Having a dog makes a difference during retirement. Louie gets us outside and he enjoys our adventures. Another thing that is important is to have a sense of community. Strawbery Banke and The Music Hall have been major community connections for us, but some of that has been lost during the pandemic. Now Seacoast Village provides another way to stay connected."
What aspects of being a Village member do you find most helpful or enjoyable?
[Cynthia] “ I really enjoy meeting new people—and going to different areas of Portsmouth I had never been to as I delivered Member Notebooks. I have been doing some of the New Member interviews and paperwork to lessen the load on Nancy Euchner, which has been very fulfilling. I have participated in some of the ZOOM events. The one on migratory birds was very interesting. I look forward to more educational and social events. Summer is a crazy time for us. We still have the RV! We look forward to getting more involved in the fall.”
If you were to encourage a friend to become a Village member, what would you tell them?
[Cynthia] “I describe the potential services, personal benefits, social and education al events. I tell people that our office is in a beautiful location. Even though a number of members have family in the area, they don’t want to burden them.”
Read more member stories by clicking on the images below.