Tuesday, December 12, 2017

And so it goes ....

Geez ..... I need to write another update.  But our life has been kinda boring .....

Unless, of course, you're excited to hear about shingles, or trenches, or those little switch boxes our electrician has nailed randomly around The House.

WHICH, by the way, is becoming more real, although it's still far from livable.  And I'm not sure when it WILL be livable because the construction industry in this area is governed by snails, AKA contractors, who always seem to have another job that they MUST finish before starting on, or finishing, ours.

So we wait.

And wait.

And tear up with joy when we find an actual work vehicle parked on our property, with actual work people, who are actually working.

And (dare we hope) we might have electric power soon.  Maybe within (gasp!) a few days.  (How naive were WE, to expect power to be wired onto our property from an existing power pole that sits capably across the street, in the same year we request it?)

Husband working on The Box where there will soon be an OUTLET which will allow us to PLUG stuff in!  (Note the brand new pole on the right.  We honor the two trees that gave their lives for that pole.  One from which it is made, and one that was in the way.)  Oh .... and that flat area where the tractor-thing is sitting is where Husband's shop, housing many guy-toys, will be built. 

A couple of posts ago, when I mentioned we might be painting by late November ..... Let's all have a good laugh.  How silly.  Now we're thinking January.  But we'll see.

We met with Eric -- Awesome Cabinet Maker from Spokane, recommended by Favorite-First-Son-Who-Knows-This-Stuff.  Eric delivers all the way down here.  And he is making our cabinets!  Or at least he will ... make .... our .... cabinets ..... someday.

I don't mean to sound cynical because truthfully, I'm not.  Life is great!  And we are excited.  So rather than cynical, let's just say I'm anxious for each new stage of the building process.  I JUST wanted to see the house started and as soon as it was started, I wanted walls, and as soon as there were walls, I wanted windows and a roof, and now there are windows and a roof, and I just want doors!  How wonderful it will be to have doors to lock it up securely!  And THEN I'll want that boring wiring and plumbing to be DONE because they're ... boring, and life will be perfect when we FINALLY get siding and sheetrock ....

Anyway, you get the picture.

Should've got over to get this pic sooner, before the sand pile arrived.  It's for the future pavers that will comprise the driveway and sidewalk.  

Rear view and another sand pile awaiting a gazillion more pavers.  

Future patio.  We have no plans to landscape beyond the rock wall perimeter.  It will be au naturale. And if there are any remaining funds, there'll be a hot tub on the patio, outside the slider door, toward the edge of the rock wall by the trees.  

And that's all for now.

Oh, and by the way -- Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sasquatch and Murphy's Law

Last winter, before we escaped to California, wasn't the best.  We weren't anticipating  one of the worst winters in recent memory (even though I'm a strong adherent of Murphy's Law wherein if anything unfortunate or untimely can happen, it probably will) .......   I suspect Mother Nature waited until we left our securely roofed, warm home and moved into a rolling monolith .... to unleash her icy armageddon.

We hung around in the atypical deluge of continuous ice storms until after the holidays, enduring newly discovered leaks (including a small non-scenic waterfall through the ceiling AC unit directly over our bed) and ice-encrusted slides (the walls that move outward).  We had to chip the ice off the slides to bring them in so that we could AT LEAST drive to the dump station .... an errand that MUST happen regularly, regardless of one's situation or mood.  Once the slides were in, we didn't dare to put them out again in case of more freezing rain and leaks.  So we spent three weeks living in a narrow hallway.   It's doable, but definitely not preferable.

I purchased a tiny fake Christmas tree and set it on the dashboard, which fell short of offering the festive cheer it was meant to.  It was going to take more than that to salvage the drippy, gloomy season.  Needless to say, we've had better Christmases.

That day in January when we finally arrived at the RV resort in Palm Springs after a somewhat harrowing trip, I SO remember the joy of setting up, putting our slides out for the first time in weeks, and remembering why on earth I ever wanted to live in a motorhome.   There was also the comfort that winter was miles away.   'Twas possibly my favorite motorhome moment.

So here we are again, facing Winter Number Two in The Beast.  And rumors indicate another bad winter is coming.  Of course it is.  Murphy's Law and all.

So far, no new leaks (the old ones were fixed) and no ice yet ...... but it's still just early November.

The difference this year is:  1. I doubt we'll be going to Palm Springs (Husband doesn't quite agree) and 2. We're building a house which will have a solid roof, wood stove, furnace, and won't need to travel to a dump station.

However, it will not be done before winter lands squarely upon us.  Our short term plans involve keeping a keen eye on the road conditions in the mountain pass that currently separates us from said house.  Hopefully a weather window will open, allowing us to rumble through, with no guarantee we can make it back (in the Beast) before the spring thaw.  Hence, committing to holiday events or any other appointments will be tricky for the next few months.

NEXT YEAR ..... after the house is finished, the motorhome is sold,  and the three of us (Husband, me, and the wood stove)  are nestled inside, drinking eggnog and gazing out at the winter view ...... then BRING IT.  "Let it snow", as they say.  "Let the north winds bluster and blow"!   Let all you-know-what break loose and all the mountain passes clog up with ice drifts, and let Sasquatch (and/or the Abominable Snowman) stomp around to his heart's content.

'Cause I won't care.  We'll be ready for it.

Which means, of course, it'll be the balmiest winter on record.  Just wait.  There'll be no snow.  Nor ice.  Nor Sasquatch.  The passes will stay all dry and boring .... with Palm Springs whispering, "Should've kept the Beast".

Because .... you know ..... Murphy's Law.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A curmudgeon speaks out on "TRUNK"-or-Treating (Warning .... controversy ahead)

As we returned home the other night, we passed by a huge crowd of parked cars with adults and children milling about.

"What's going on?" asked Husband.

"Oh," said I, "it's the ranch community TRUNK-or-Treat party."  (Not to be confused with those my church group has sponsored over the years.)

These are, as I have heard, parking lot parties (held sometime during the week prior to Halloween) where people gather with their vehicles decorated in a festive-spooky fashion, and hand out candy to costumed children going car-to-car.   This is offered in addition to the traditional trick-or-treating on Halloween night, October 31.   I don't understand such activities that mimic the real thing a few days before the real thing, causing a double sugar whammy for children and added assault on the wallet for adults ..... and will explain why.  But first a bit of personal history, titled,

"As It Should Be, In My Opinion" or "My Generation Ruled, So There"  .....

When I was a kid, and I'll just say it .... some 50 years ago ..... Halloween consisted of putting together a costume of sorts (there was seldom room in the budget to buy one) using old clothes or whatever one had on hand.  The ol' hobo theme was always a good backup ... (which I've heard is now politically incorrect.....)  Then we teamed up with our friends and set out after dark with the grand plan of covering miles and miles to facilitate the biggest candy haul ever known to mankind.  But after two or three blocks, we fizzled out and returned home to sprawl on the living room floor in front of the fireplace to count and sort the spoils.  And on the banner years, there might be a spooky-fun movie playing on the TV to top it all off.  (No recorded movies back then.  We got what was offered on any of the five TV channels, or nothing.)

The Whites, two houses away, always gave out homemade popcorn balls, and Mrs. Phelps (next door) always greeted us with a tray full of paper cups of apple juice.  These were traditions a kid could count on.  And get this -- back then the candy bars were FULL-SIZED.  Yup.  None of this "fun size" nonsense.  My favorite was Nestles Crunch Bars which I had to hide before my dad got them.  Then anything chocolate, then anything soft and chewy, with the suckers ranking last.  It was glorious and I usually plowed through it within three days.

Then as teenagers, we had the grace to pass the tradition on to the younger kids and stayed home to help at the door or perhaps go to a well-chaperoned party.  (Hint to parents:  THIS is the age that needs an organized party or activity.  The little kids are happy JUST trick-or-treating..... trust me.)

As a kid, I never once heard of a "TRUNK-or-treat" party.  We had the little parties at school but other than that, TRICK-or-treating on the 31st was it.  I mean .... it was mind-boggling-to-a-kid plenty.  We never felt deprived because once a year for a few magical hours we could canvas the neighborhood after dinner, knock on any door, and get free candy!

Possibly for religious reasons, if Halloween happened to fall on a Sunday and some felt it inappropriate to knock on doors, threatening tricks on the Lord's day .... then I understand the need for an alternative event on another night.  Makes sense.  And I suspect this may be how Trunk-or-Treat parties began because if you google "trunk or treat", my particular religion is implicated in the top site.  (These may be the same people who thought -- Why stop with Santa when we can burden parents further with "elf-on-a-shelf"?)

Good and well-meaning ideas tend to take off like the plague and with some groups, this one has become the norm every year.  So now kids get TWO almost-consecutive nights of fleecing strangers for free candy so that they can gorge themselves on enough sugar to set back the health code for years.

Some cite safety reasons ..... but really .... did those old razor-blade-in-the-apple stories really happen?  Really?  Check the candy before they eat it, if needed.   If you really don't trust your neighbors, then organize the trunk-or-treating party to happen (INSTEAD of trick-or-treating) on Halloween night.

I'm all for a good old-fashioned Halloween.  As adults, when we lived in a populated neighborhood where children seemed to be bused in, we geared up with bags of candy, spending a small fortune on Reeses PB cups, Snickers,  KitKats, etc., since homemade treats are now forbidden ..... and happily tossed 'em into the plastic pumpkins, pillow cases, or bags, held by the little goblins awaiting at the door.  I'm even well-behaved and kindly give to the teenagers who (again, my opinion) look quite ridiculous standing there asking for treats.  But having to spend the money needed to buy enough candy to cover TWO nights in one week .... is too much.  I mean ..... why?  Isn't one big night enough these days?

So even though I feel a bit surrounded by trunk-or-treat candy-gorged events, I avoid them.  I feel no need to dispense candy twice in the same week.  To be clear --- I am only talking about parties that try to duplicate trick-or-treating for children when actual Halloween-night-trick-or-treating is already available.

Because once a year the real thing ..... is wonderful enough.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Racing winter

I am often in political discussions online and when someone uses the term, "framers" we all think of Washington, Jefferson, and so on.   But out here on our little five acres of desert, we know them as Aaron and Clinton, AKA the Badger Boys as I have dubbed them since they mentioned they both grew up on a nearby street called Badger.  They are our framers.  And they have been a-framin'.....


Back:  (Covered patio.)

View from the street.

We have also ordered our wood stove, about which our builder is incredulous.

"You don't want a gas fireplace??"

"No."  (We had a lovely fireplace in our last house and prefer a wood stove.  We cannot wait for that first cozy, bone-warming fire that stoves are so good at. )

We have also picked out exterior colors which took little imagination since just about everyone goes with taupe and/or gray and we are tagging along with the crowd.  (I heard it said on a podcast -- "We tell our friends, our's is the 4th taupe house on the left.")

Plus we've selected our exterior rock.  And our flooring.  And .... cabinet finishes, tile, pavers, lights, appliances, doors, and just about everything else we can think of, wearing a path through the aisles of Lowes, Home Depot, and every other building supply business.  It has kept us happily occupied the last few weeks, in spite of the rude awakening that EVERYTHING is crazy expensive and our original budget is now almost laughable.

And ..... how on earth did people DO this before Pinterest??    It categorizes every idea, keeping them instantly accessible as long as my phone is within reach.  If I find something I like -- a click or two files it in Pinterest.  Then if I need to show what I'm trying to explain to the Husband or to a salesperson, I just pop out my phone and open up Pinterest.  It's all there, literally at my fingertips.

We're in a race against winter that we may not win.  Our conversation yesterday with the paint-store-guy taught us that since we'll probably be painting the outside of the house in November or early December, we'll have to pick our paint days carefully.

"Don't start painting till after the frost melts off in the morning," he said, "and stop early enough in the day so it can dry before everything freezes again that night."  Fortunately deserts are supposed to be relatively dry, so there's that.

So come the holidays, we will be hopping busy as we take over the finishing part.  We've been contemplating buying a hot tub which may become essential and possibly prevent the need for a few physical therapy sessions after we lay the flooring and pavers.

In the meantime, we're camped out of the way, just off our driveway, where we are being the model home-owners by not pestering the workers or making daily changes to the plans ...... of course.  'Cause you know we're not those people.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Firm a Foundation

It has been requested that I update my blog.  (Hey, Steve!)  So here's the latest.

Are we doing any traveling?

Nope.  Well ..... Husband and friend drove across several states, landing in Montana, to decide that fishing is (give or take a few pros and cons) really no better there than it is here.  But when the trout are beckoning, who needs logic?  So there was that.

As far as RV traveling ...... no.

Do we plan any upcoming trips?

No.  (How boring are we??)

So why the heck do we live in a motorhome?

Because right now we don't have much choice.  And it provides a roof of sorts until our house is built.  And with THAT, we will segue to .... THIS .... HAZAH!

And after WEEKS of hiding in clouds, haze, and smoke .... the Ladies (Three Sisters Mountains) finally emerged, elegantly dressed in their latest ballgowns of snow.  Oh, how we have missed them.

So unless you want all the gritty details, which are dutifully posted in my pinterest account, regarding our choice of appliances, flooring, paint colors, etc. ..... I'll leave it at that.

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!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Don't ask

Starting Week Four of waiting for our builder to give us the final quote.  In other words, nothing on the house-to-be is happening.  Nothing!  Well, actually, a few things are happening, but only by the sweat of our own personal brows.

Not that we blame our builder.  It's just that we happened to pick a bad time to build a house because we are in a house-building-boom and anyone related to construction is not that anxious to add to their work load.  Apparently, for example, the truss-building people are swamped and have not yet sent their quote to our builder.  "It usually never takes this long", we are told.   So it drags on.

We, however, have been working our little hearts out.  Our five acres is now minus 11 trees on or very near where the house-to-be will someday sit.  Husband in his safety chaps has been wielding a chainsaw and felling trees while I drag the limbs (not his, thank goodness) and firewood into piles.  We hope there will be no neighboring wild fires before we can get it all cleaned up.

One pile of many.

Upside:  I am excited about the firewood and about building our first fire in our wood-stove-to-be.  It has been 15 years since we've heated with wood and we've missed it.

Downside:  This whole moving onto rural acreage thing was supposed to end yard work forevermore.  The Yard Plan was to do what is called xeriscape, or in other words, pretty much nothing.  Except for a narrow perimeter around the house, leave the land like we found it.   Something one best not do in a subdivision if one wants to be liked by one's neighbors.

But lately I've been sensing local nervousness about the above-mentioned wild fires and reading too many fear-mongering booklets telling us to keep everything cleaned up and mowed.  So we may have jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the (wild) fire.  Husband is still holding out that, once all set up, there will be little to do, but I'm not so sure.

The property out here is covered with trees of one variety -- the juniper.  And I've decided junipers look nice from a distance, in a grouped setting.  But standing close to one of them and really giving it a visual once over ..... these things are not that pretty.  The fear-mongering booklets say to cut away any dead branches but that would take out large portions of nearly EVERY tree.  You've got to give them some credit for being hardy enough to grow in this sandy terrain .... but most are one quarter dead already.

So now that we are into June and the summer is well underway, I am wondering about what we will be in next winter.  Hopefully not the Beast again ..... because last winter and its ice storms wasn't fun.  We haven't planned on doing another southern escape like we did this year, but it may have to happen.  We'll see.  In the meantime, don't bother asking.  I'll let you know when something finally happens.  You'll probably read about it in the headlines.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Things I have missed in a "Sticks 'n Bricks"

That's RV-speak for a house.  I have said many times that the comfort of living in a motorhome has been top-notch ..... but there are a few things I miss:

1.  Space for my kids to gather.

2.  Long showers .... although when we're hooked up in a campground, we can shower as long as we want.  It's just that most of the time, we're not in a campground and the tank levels become all-important.

3.  Security in bad weather.  We've had our share of leaks and frozen slides this past winter.  [Review: Slides are those portions of a motorhome that (when parked) expand out for more space so we don't have to climb over the bed to reach the closet.]  During the ice storms that besieged us in recent months, the slides literally froze open with a thick layer of ice on top.  This is not good when it's time to drive to the all-necessary dump station.  (See #2, no pun intended)

4.  Hard ice cream.  Our freezer is sufficient, but not ideal.  And all soft ice cream should (in my opinion) come directly, and exclusively, from Dairy Queen.

5.  Decorating.  Presently I cannot buy a piece of art, or pottery, or any of a million knickknacks that women, in general, tend to fill their homes with.  (This actually has been a good thing.)

6.  Unlimited water drainage.  I miss not having to dump the used dish water into the toilet to keep the other tank from getting too full.  Again, it's all about the tanks.  Getting water is easy.  Getting rid of it, not so much.

7.  Being able to use my blow dryer, vacuum cleaner, toaster, electric fry pan, etc., WITHOUT first turning off the space heaters.  (We have a perfectly good furnace but it uses propane which must be refilled via driving to some place that sells it.  So we use electric space heaters quite a bit.)  I have notes attached to most of these appliances to remind me.  The notes do not work.  We are always reflipping the breaker and restarting Husband's computer, preceded by a loud "Darn-it!" from Yours Truly.

8.  Air conditioning.  Yeah, we have that too.  But it's a little noisy and we seldom turn it on. The point was to not BE where it's hot, which has proven to be more complicated than it sounds.

9.  My washer and dryer.  I have gained intimate familiarity with too many laundromats.  PLUS the "fun" of hauling my basket of dirty clothes across a very public parking lot in a town where I know people.  (The miserably few non-handicap parking spaces close to the laundromat door are almost always full.)

10.  A garage.  I had a rude reminder last winter about having to scrape frost off car windows. T'was a lesson in empathy for chronic garage-less-ness.

What I DON'T miss:

1.  Yardwork.

2.  Large spaces to clean, including multiple bathrooms.

3.  Yardwork.

4.   Cable/satellite TV.  This one surprised me.  I discovered that as long as I have Wifi, I'm happy.

5.  A dishwasher.  Not kidding.

6.  Stairs and/or having to walk more than a dozen steps to anything indoors.

7.  A large closet.  Still not kidding.

8.  All the stuff.

9.  Yardwork.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The other side o' the fence

I figured you all needed a breather after my last few rapid-fire posts from our trip ..... hence the quiet spell.

So what's new?

I don't know if I have formally announced here in The Blog that we will be building our next home in, and moving to, central Oregon.  In the desert.  Where the deer and the rattlesnakes play.  It's a bit of a change for this Pacific NW webfoot.

Last fall we purchased five acres in an area called the Crooked River Ranch, a few miles north of Redmond.  Other than my two college years in Idaho, this will be my first experience of living more than 20 miles from where I grew up.  T'is time.

The Husband is giddy with the expected sunshine, close proximity of multiple fishing holes, and the relatively inexpensive membership to a nearby golf club.  I am simply happy about the change.  And the privacy that acreage affords.  And our view ....

(Meet our new neighbors, the Three Sisters mountains.  We call them, "The Girls".)
..... and our firm plan of natural and very minimal landscaping -- meaning -- never maintaining a lawn again.  Ever.

We will be three hours from our previous home and our business, which is now mostly run by Capable 2nd Son .... and three hours from many wonderful longtime friends.  We plan to return monthly to assist Capable Son in the functioning of said business, and to see our other kids, and of course, the Grands.  Plus to fulfill responsibilities in this lovely building....

If you fall into the categories of #1-Family or, #2-Wonderful Friends ..... just know that we will have guest rooms.  And we will expect visits.

One of our motivations for this move is to make a place for the Grands to create memories.  We have plans for hikes, camping, building forts, exploring the canyons.  And Husband is SURE that they will want to learn fly fishing ..... We hope to play pickle ball and swim the local ranch pool.  And we plan to finally set up our kiln and pottery wheel properly.

No, we have not broken ground yet which means it is all still in the surreal stage.  We have our house plans and are still deciding how much dirt must be moved from one place to another to create a level pad for the house.  It all takes time .... blah, blah, blah.

So what about the Beast?  When we move into the new house, it will go up for sale and hopefully there will be some money left over to buy a small trailer for future travel.  If not, we'll dig out the tent and camping gear.

Anyway, we have no plans for more big trips in the Beast.  Just back and forth over the coming months, from the business to the new house as it emerges from the sand and sagebrush.

By the way, we are thinking of naming it, so I will be accepting submissions for ideas.  (Favorite Daughter -- that's your cue. )

They say the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  Well, we've spent enough time in the desert side of this "fence" to know it definitely isn't greener.  Which is fine by me 'cause I will not have to mow it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Didn't leave my heart in San Fran

Calistoga, CA, was another little stroke of luck since, again, we had no idea what kind of town it would be before we got there.  Like in Mariposa (see previous post), we parked in the fairgrounds which often host RV parks.  It was about 3/4 of a mile from yet another charming main street. The abundance of antique stores there set it above Mariposa, in my very biased opinion.  I spent an hour or so by myself exploring and wishing I had space in our motorhome to put that charming old steamer trunk I found in one of the shops, that reminded me of the trunk in our basement where our Christmas decorations were kept when I was a child.

Yeah I know.   This looks like the beginning of my last post.
Husband was off in search of a do-it-yourself, non-automatic-type carwash because the motorcycle always gets filthy as it rides atop its lift on the back of the motorhome, especially in the rain.  He cannot stand a dirty vehicle so we frequent many carwashes in our travels.  (I cannot emphasize *many* enough.  I now habitually watch for them in every town we go through.)  But this time it was a 20 mile quest to the next town to find one ....   Obsessive?  You decide.

Our plan was not to spend much time in Calistoga but to leave the motorhome there while we did a three-day motorcycle trip (with three days of mashed helmet-hair) over to and down the California coast.

So the next morning we packed a few clothes and left on the bike, heading west.

First stop -- Bodega Bay where we HAD to search out this infamous old school:

  The angle of the above shot didn't do it, so I got this next shot as we rode away.  It SHOULD look familiar to you all.

  And just for fun (and a hint):

A few more pics from my phone as we rode south.  (No packing the camera equipment when traveling on the bike.)

We shared a Reuben sandwich while sitting on the water's edge, looking out at San Francisco's skyline across the bay from the inviting community of Sausalito, which is on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Because of all the rain this winter, there was a lot of road damage so via a detour up steep and narrow side streets, we then made our way to the famous bridge that is definitely not golden.

Google informed me that the bridge was named after the channel (called the Golden Gate) which separates the bay from the ocean.  The color red, or orange as they call it ... (it's red) ... is so that it stands out nicely against the background scenery.   Which it does.   I found this picture on the web, to illustrate the point.

I remember from the last time we drove across it there was a toll, but this time the booth was closed and empty and cars just sailed past both ways.  Score! .... or so we thought.  Several days after we returned home in Oregon, a bill for $7.50 along with a fuzzy photo of us from the rear, arrived in the mail.  This is how they collect the toll from us non-locals who don't have an online bridge-crossing account.  Oh well.

I am not particularly a fan of San Francisco, which presents itself on the other end of the bridge.  It's expensive and crowded (and liberal) and the traffic was a little unnerving.  And we've seen it already.  So we got through it and its endless over-priced row houses as fast as we could and continued south.  We spent the night in a hotel in Half Moon Bay where we had one of the best Italian meals ever.  (This coastal town was fine although I wouldn't call it charming .... but a name like that belongs in a romance novel or in a song title.)

The next morning we went as far south as we could on Hwy 1 until it ended at a washed out bridge.  Husband wanted to make it to Big Sur where the motorcycling is supposed to be spectacular.  But not this year.  That road will be closed for a while.

Then back up to Carmel-by-the-Sea to stroll past the many high-end, trendy shops where most folks (like me) just go to gawk at the price tags.   We gave up looking for Pebble Beach, the famous too-expensive-for-normal-people golf course that Husband wanted to see, because we got a bit lost in an overly hilly neighborhood.   (Off the main thoroughfares, this state abounds in steep and narrow side streets which, when on a bike with a clutch, is not fun for the nervous passenger on the back.)

But how cute is this??

In Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Every town needs a tea room, right?
(Side Note:  Clint Eastwood was once the mayor there.  Ya gotta wonder about crowd control at the town council meetings.)

We spent the second night in Monterey then headed back north along the coast (purposely avoiding San Francisco this time), and through more winding detours (more road closures) that took us up over forested mountains, back to Bodega Bay, and finally to Calistoga and our little home.

The next morning it was time to go north back to Oregon.

Just like six (or seven?) weeks prior on our trip down, we again had to study the road conditions through the Siskiyous.  Winter was not over yet.  We planned to spend some time in central Oregon so we drove all day up 97 through Klamath Falls and continuing north into the snowy darkness.  As always, Husband was at the wheel, and as always I was navigating.  This time I was using both my phone and iPad, monitoring our location, the road cams, weather reports, elevation changes, etc.  Multi-ton motorhomes and slick, icy roads are not a good mix.  Fortunately, inspite of the thickly falling flakes, nothing was sticking to the road and we finally landed in the Walmart parking lot in Redmond, Oregon, where this adventure ends ......

and a new one begins.