Wednesday, August 9, 2017

From webfoot to desert rat

This blog began over six years ago when I found myself doing things completely out of character.  (See sidebar -->)  We can now add to that list ..... Moving from the Pacific NW to the desert.

Being that I get extremely whiny when the thermometer rises above the mid-eighties, why, you may ask, are we doing this?

My answer:  Heck if I know.

We should, by all that is logical and sane in the universe, be moving to the coast or possibly Canada, where temperatures stay humanely moderate ...... (well maybe not Canadian winters) and where I would not be checking the forecast first thing each morning in hopes that it has improved since I checked it last thing the night before.  (Who's obsessing?)

In an effort of due diligence, I carefully watched and compared the weather in western Oregon where I have lived since the Beginning of Time, to central Oregon where we will be moving ..... and during the summer of 2016, it was often hotter where you'd THINK it would be cooler.  Yes, western Oregon, known as "the valley", also known for rain, greenery, and general lushness, had crazy hot days with higher-than-should-be-allowed humidity.  And in central Oregon, AKA actual desert ..... it was, of course, drier and .... get this .... not as hot.  Weird, that.

This summer (and taking into account our previous winter of non-stop ice storms) western Oregon weather has completely lost its mind.  Two weeks running with temps nearing and sometimes souring past 100.  Locals USED to say you really didn't need AC since it only got hot a few days each year.

Yeah, right.  Not lately!

In central Oregon, generally it's been the same or slightly less (it never topped 100) AND with low humidity.

So all in all, if I can't move to the coast or to Canada, I might as well move to the desert.  Besides, Husband likes it here and I like him.

Needless to say, it's taking some getting used to.  I've joined a community Facebook group here and have learned that wild fires and "What kind of bug is THIS??" are daily topics.   (Husband announced that he saw his first scorpion yesterday on our property.  Google is now trying to reassure me that Oregon scorpions are of the more friendly variety since they are not deadly.  Somewhat like a bee sting ....... Uh-huh.)

One of the perks of our new stomping grounds is our local community pool, which is part of our HOA, and therefore we feel compelled to use .... frequently.  There's a lot one can say about having the use of a pool that one does not have to maintain.  Much like living at a resort.  (We don't mind this at all. )

"Our" pool.
Us and some of our spectacular progeny during our recent family reunion. 
Typically, my days here (still in the RV park since our property is yet house-less) start out with cool mornings and a long walk, then chores and running errands, then holing up with the AC, then maybe the pool (ahhh!),  then more AC till well after sunset when we can actually stand to sit outside again.  As long as I don't have to do anything outdoors (beyond walking from AC to a hot car and back again) between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., I'm okay.  It's doable.  So far.  (And many thanks to my little oscillating fan that lulls me to sleep each night.)

Update on the House-To-Be project:   Excavation!  A flat spot is emerging from the copious dirt, ridiculous dust(!), and rocks, upon which (someday we hope) there'll be a cool, well-insulated, shaded, three bedroom oasis ..... sans scorpions.

But don't hold your breath.  As my sister says, the three consistencies of life are:  death, taxes, and construction delays.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Anything happenin' yet?

..... or in other words, have we started building our house?


BUT, we have a verbal quote from our builder (Major Hurdle cleared) with the written contract ready to sign, and we have met with the excavators who SAID they can start in a little over a week!!  Should we get our hopes up?  No.  But we have.

I had a set-in-stone vow when the plan of moving all kicked off a year and a half ago ..... to NEVER build another house ourselves (been there, done that).   But with an eye on our budget and the determination to stay out of debt, we have decided to have our builder get it to a point of extreme unfinished-ness (post-sheetrock, pre-everything else inside) and closed to the weather.  After which Husband will don the contractor's hat, take the helm, and git 'er done.

Back in 1985 (when I can retroactively apply dates to occurrences in our lives because I was still having babies and our last one was born that year) we bought a couple of acres, set up a temporary mobile home, and commenced a ridiculous plan to build a home for our family with our own bare hands, paying for it as we go.  (Do you hear the fairies hovering above, warning "Don't do it, you fools!"?)  Husband was serving as a Mormon bishop (similar to minister) at that time, with a full-time job, plus we had four young children with one, as mentioned above, still in Newborn Stage.  And not long after that, we started a new manufacturing business.

A very young Husband on a very steep roof.
Reality set in quickly and we could see that if we wanted our children to grow up in this house, they were not going to wait the 20 years it would take for their silly parents to build it.  So we hired contractors and, long story short, eighteen years later, when we tired of mowing those two acres and decided it was time to move again, we finally finished up the trim in the upstairs bedrooms so that we could put it on the market.

We hadn't started the landscaping yet, which was worse than building the house.  Sorry about the poor picture quality.  The scanner wasn't hooked up and this is a phone-photo of photos.   

Never again, I said.

Till now.

Our reasoning is thus:  Husband is now mostly retired and has time.  Children are grown and launched.  We have funds.  We are still healthy.  And we both think shopping for light fixtures, cabinets, tile, flooring, appliances, etc., is a lot of fun.  (We're weird that way.)   Hopefully this will save enough money so that we can also build a shop, pave our driveway, and after selling the Beast, buy another smaller trailer for future travels.  Are the fairies hovering again?  Are we insane?  Probably.  

I guess we'll see.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Awesome-sauce on Lolo Pass

It all started four years ago with Awesome Friend Garth who rides a motorcycle.  He hatched a plan of riding to Canada on said motorcycle and began inviting anyone who is fortunate enough to count as his friend, along on the trip.  The problem was, at that time, Husband, who is one of those fortunate friends, did not own a motorcycle.  In fact he had not owned a motorcycle for a very long time and those one or two periods of his life in which he did own one, were very brief.  But he wanted to go, because anything AFGarth does ..... is awesome.

My heels immediately dug deeply into the ground, so to speak.

"People get hurt on motorcycles.  People die on motorcycles."  And so it went for a year or so.  I even enlisted the support of Experienced Motorcyclist Friend Steve**, who wisely counseled, "Don't do it."

Needless to say, Husband didn't go to Canada.

But I eventually gave in.

Fast forward to now.

Much to Husband's joy, AFGarth hatched a plan for another ride.  And this time I was on board (figuratively and literally) along with Dear Friends Steve**(see above; note the irony) and his bride Robyn ....

and New Friend Dallas, who lived locally until his career took him and his young family to China ..... yes, China .... as in .... Asia.   He popped back to the U.S. to visit friends/family and to do this ride.

The plan:  Six days, 1400 miles (turned out to be 1500 for us), through Washington, Idaho, and into Montana, then back through central Oregon.  The highlights:

First day, it was hot.  97 degrees.  We rode through the famous Columbia Gorge on the Washington side where, in my opinion, it's prettier because you can see Oregon better from across the river.  And Oregon hits a scenic home run in the gorge.   Husband and I decided en route that we couldn't NOT stop and see Favorite First Son and family who lived about 20 miles out of our way.

Favorite First Son and grandson.  
We managed to keep the visit very brief, which was not easy, and we caught up with our group in Walla Walla, where we spent the night in a Best Western.  315 miles.

Second day.  It was not quite as hot, fortunately.  165 miles.   We went through a portion of Washington similar to (and not far from) its gorgeous Palouse area (where we visited a year ago), then had lunch in Lewiston, Idaho, and on to the small town of Kamiah (pronounced Kamy-eye) which sits on the banks of the Clearwater river and is where we spent the night.  

Since he knew we'd have time, AFGarth had called the local LDS (Mormon) bishop and arranged a service project for us to do.  Hence we spent a few hours doing yard projects for K, the sweetest lady you'd ever meet.  Her humble home and yard was awash with what most observers would call junk, but to her, it held dreams of potential.  It was easy to see that without help, very little, if any, of her dreams would reach fruition .... the shed she planned to paint, the potting sink she wanted to make, the fence she was going to mend, and on and on.   As we worked, she flitted about joyfully in her flowered house dress and pink straw hat, telling us of her plans for this and that, and how blessed she was to have her own little home and garden that she was able to purchase some 15 years ago for $15,000.

Afterwards, she invited us in for "hors d'oeuvres" of fresh fruit, home-brew cider, and hot dogs baked in biscuit dough.  We sat in her tiny cluttered kitchen, at a small table neatly set with a fresh table cloth, where she continued to express her appreciation for her blessings.   It was a lesson of gratitude and humility that none of us will ever forget.  And no doubt, if any of us ever pass through Kamiah again, we will be visiting K.

Third day.  Perfect weather.  There is something in Idaho/Montana called Lolo Pass.  It is up there on the list of great motorcycle rides.  Of course Husband had been wanting to ride it.   And better yet, with AFGarth.

Lolo Pass takes you through scenery for which Idaho gets little credit.  Most of the time, the only part of Idaho that travelers see is along I-84 which, sadly, passes through the very unimpressively brown lower portion of the state.  The middle/upper portion is one of the best kept secrets because it is .... stunning.

Who knew?  At the far end of that 99 miles, we diverted up to Missoula in search of pizza for Dallas because, apparently, China doesn't have a Papa Johns "where they make the best".  We spent that night in some homely little cabins in Darby, Montana, where it seems that fly fishing and rodeos rule.   195 miles.

Fourth day.  283 miles.  Back into Idaho and after lunch in Stanley we came upon a road which, by common consensus, outdid Lolo Pass.  It was through or near the beautiful Sawtooth mountains (or was it the Bitterroot mountains?) .... with all the classic tight, hairpin curves ..... qualifying as pure motorcycle-Nirvana.   The more timid ones in our group (me) just hung on and leaned with the curves.    That night we stayed in an Airbnb house in the historic small town of Idaho City, where Steve and Robyn celebrated their 33rd anniversary, and where I slept on the top of a bunk bed.

Idaho City is the result of one of the biggest gold strikes, second to the one in California.  In its heyday during the 1860s, it was the largest city in the Northwest.

No explanation for this.
Fifth day, 295+ miles.  Realizing that we would be within five miles of my One-and-Only-Best-Sister-Ever, Husband and I diverted over for a quick, twenty minute visit.  We seem to have developed a tendency of arriving at their home in non-conventional ways.  Last time it was in a 40 foot motorhome.  This time, in helmets on a bike.  The detour put us about 30 minutes behind our group and needless to say, we blew through some long back roads of eastern Oregon and reached the prescribed rally point in the charming town of Prairie City, 45 minutes ahead of them.   From there we passed through John Day which, coincidentally, was hosting a BMW motorcycle rally and we found ourselves among dozens of kindred BMW riders.

We lunched with fellow rider, Kim, a longtime friend of Steve & Robyn, who just happened to be there for the rally.    

We spent the night in Mitchell, Oregon, which, if you are familiar with this town, you will be wondering, "Why on earth!?"

In spite of the fact that it still contains residents and a smattering of businesses, it is on the list of ghost towns which is not surprising since it has obviously seen better days.  The character of the ramshackle buildings that line its one street in the "business district", is in a class of its own .  We stayed in the very over-priced Sky Hook motel, circa sometime in the 60s(?), perched on a hill overlooking the town.

Sixth day, 223 miles and home.  Obnoxious high temps were forecasted, so we started early, stopped for breakfast in the delightful town of Sisters (of course), and parted ways for the home stretch.  Later in the day, everyone reported that they had arrived home safely.  

Thoughts:   There were no Harleys, nor beer drinking, nor even a tattoo (that I know of) in our group.  If not for Dallas' leather jacket and jeans, we'd be hopelessly dismissed as nerds in our padded mesh gear and ample helmets.  But a better group of people with whom to ride, you will never find.   I don't know how we deserved to be among them ...... needless to say, for the honor, we, like K of Kamiah, are grateful.

P.S.  All details that I have inevitably omitted, hopefully will be compensated for with pictures.

P.P.S.  Does anyone know who the heck was Lolo and why the pass was named after her/him?

P.P.P.S.  Thank you Garth, for your time and effort in making it happen, for your patience in keeping us all herded and on schedule, and for simply being awesome; and thank you Steve, Robyn, and Dallas for your wonderful company.  Let's do it again sometime!