Normally wooden counter tops are made with edge grain up. I have made quite a number of wooden counter tops but I have always used hard maple. I would not use oak because it is too porous and would require huge amounts of filler, sealer and then some sort of heavy film finish and for counter tops that is never a good idea.
Oak is good for many things but cutting boards and counter tops are not among them
As for drying it would be under ideal conditions 6 months for every half inch of thickness.
Retirement is easy, but You really have to work at it.