Video: Some couples truckin' into retirement

By Anne Thompson Chief environmental correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/30/2006 8:01:07 PM ET 2006-08-31T00:01:07

For Becky and Dan Ford, the day begins as it has for the last 25 years — together.

At ages 51 and 57, they're on the road, seeing the country, but not exactly the way they might have planned.

The hair stylist and carpenter are now long-haul truck drivers — two of many boomers mapping out second careers.

"I think the bottom line was simply money," Dan Ford says. "We had to take our retirement program and simply build it up faster than what we were doing."

They average 1,000 miles a day as they alternate 12-hour shifts behind the wheel.

It's a job that has taken them to 44 states in just the first 13 weeks.

"One morning we'll wake up in Otay, Calif., eating breakfast burritos and three days later we're eating New England clam chowder in Boston," Dan Ford says.

For many boomers, the road to retirement is now much longer because some have to work, and others want to. That has made workers 50 and over a valuable resource for Schneider National to fill its driver shortage. A quarter of the trucking company's drivers are now boomers. Other companies are discovering this labor pool.

"They do have the technological skills, they are able to work in teams, and more employers are beginning to look at ways to address multiple generations in the workplace," Deborah Russell with the American Association of Retired Persons says.

Bob Rodriguez also made a left turn in life — from phone company account manager to nurse.

"My career had come to the point where I really wasn't growing," Rodriguez says. "But with all the opportunities in nursing, I see myself working longer than I probably would have otherwise," he said.

America's boomers — forging new paths in work, even if to some it seems like a long strange trip.

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