Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Month of Milestones and Moving Forward

After knowing Bill for 43 years it sounds odd that we celebrated our one-year anniversary on December 29 - but indeed we have been married a year now!  We went for dinner and drinks - very formal with long pants, closed-toe shoes, and mascara :-) at Wood Ranch.  It was a lovely evening of laughter and confirmation how very lucky we are to have this life together, to be in love for the last time, to share our dreams.

And to be so darn cute.......
The end of December also marked one year of retirement for me.  It is difficult to describe "how that feels" because it has just been natural and easy.  While I'd be okay working a 90-day contract sometime this year, I have no desire to return to that world.  I'm very blessed with the financial means to have that choice and I don't take it for granted.
Bill's appointment with the surgeon is this Friday and he plans to return to work early.  No reason not to as he is more mobile than before surgery and nearly pain-free - and he can save some leave time for this Spring when we have plans to visit with old friends.  His rapid recovery has been amazing and like my retirement has been natural and easy (especially for me :-] ).  With the successful weight loss and knee replacements he has done what he needed so we can get more active and thus more fit over the next year, keeping us on track with our goals.  While he hit goal on the weight loss I still have about 20 more pounds I'd like to drop and I'm looking forward to the increased activity to help with that.
Brian and Jeff were both able to get here for a couple days over the holidays but Jeff was sick all day Christmas and spent most of the day in bed, missing dinner and the brilliant company of his family.  Even though it was a short visit, it was wonderful getting to see them.  Jeff's return trip home was a mess but he eventually arrived back at his apartment in Seattle.  Although Brian and Shalise are here in SoCal, I don't get to see them much more than I do Jeff :-(.  Richie was with his mom in Sacramento for Christmas but Nick, Corey and Travis were able to spend the whole day with us so it was truly a family affair this year - the best holiday tradition.
When the Christmas decorations went back in the attic there were three less large bins, having purged everything I didn't put out this year into the yard sale collection in the garage.  Next year I hope to reduce it to one bin that goes with us - a warning to family and friends that I plan to pass on these marvelous treasures for you to stow in your attics....
Another goal realized this month was buying our toad.  Getting the Seadoos moved allowed us to get serious about trading in the F150, and when we get serious.......
I was looking at Jeep Libertys with some concern about leg room for Bill.  We found a couple nearby that were in good shape and went to check them out on Christmas Eve.  Nope, even with the driver's seat all the way back it was too tight.  Good to know, time to look for something else.  Knowing exactly what was important for us we knew a Jeep or Ford 4x4 were our only options......getting off-road is a priority.  We've had a Wrangler before but were now leaning toward a Cherokee.  Still had to check on leg room so when we found a 2007 at a local dealer we drove over to check it out the day after Christmas.  With the exception of leather seats it had everything we wanted and has great leg room.  In fact the passenger side has more leg room than the F150 - unbelievable!  They took care of a couple bugs we noted during the test drive, made a deal that fits our needs, and now we have our toad!

The day after purchase Bill had a new stereo installed that connects to his full external hard drive of music (almost 90K songs).  With Boston speakers already in the Jeep we're now driving around in a sound studio with a music library that rivals many recording labels.....because if you can, why wouldn't you?
Tomorrow starts another year and we are resolved to stay on track and keep working our plan. In fact we have an adventure planned to kick things off right - for next time then....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Outta Here!

Not us, the Seadoos and trailer.  We decided at the last minute to drive them up to Clearlake.  The motivation came from "finding" a possible toad and recognizing we couldn't move on it because we still needed to tow the Seadoos 400 miles. There was the issue of Bill sitting "bent" for that long but there was no rush and we could make as many stops as needed for both of us to stretch our legs. Even the weather was going to be clear all week..... So with nothing holding us back we tossed a couple bags and Tessa in the truck, hooked up the trailer (thank you Corey and Richie), and Monday morning we were on the road heading north.

Passing the "scene of the crime" at Fort Tejon we celebrated getting farther than our last attempt  :-).  It was an uneventful trip and we landed at the lake house just before dark.

We had a wonderful visit with Wayne and Marilynn, and Tessa was a well behaved house guest.  She was polite to their cat Gumby and shared doggy kisses equally among the deserving humans.  Marilynn and I drove to Ukiah for her appointment while the guys hung out at the house on Tuesday.  Clearlake is really beautiful and there was still light snow in the shadows along the drive.  The water in the keys is very low and we didn't spend any time out on the deck although the temps were fairly warm for December.  It was great to spend time with family, just relaxing and sharing a few yummy meals.

As I drove from their place on Wednesday morning I felt another link in the chain break away.  Now we are free to find our toad and trade in the truck when we do.  Yahoo.

The return trip was easy as well.  We took a quick detour to pick up Christmas presents from Janis and Nick in Sacramento.  Bill hadn't seen their place yet so it was fun for him to see where I spent two nights a week before retirement.  Unfortunately the Phaeton is in the shop so he didn't get to see that.  Bummer.  Before leaving Sacramento we stopped for breakfast at Lumberjacks.  I don't know how people eat that much food at one sitting....the biscuits are the size of pies.  It was a tasty meal but Bill felt yucky for the next few hours.  We are definitely not the eaters we used to be.  Yahoo again :-)

Five and a half hours later we were in our driveway and Tessa was VERY happy to be out of the truck!  She got a new travel bed for this trip so she could see out the window while lying down and hopefully be less fretful while traveling.  She had some periods of whining but she was definitely much happier on this trip.  Obviously she needs to be comfortable in a moving vehicle so we're glad to know she is going to be just fine.  With her calm personality, good manners, and off-the-leash discipline she is such a perfect dog for our new life style. 

It is wonderful having Bill home full-time, we talk about his retiring earlier than 2015 and what it would take to do that.  We can't head out full-time until Richie graduates but there could be alternatives including an RV, intermittent travel, and getting debt-free.  Ahhhh, the pleasure of dreaming!

After our setback in November it was great to make the successful delivery. Everybody's happy. They are delighted to have the Seadoos for family to enjoy come summer, and we are just as delighted to have them "outta here".

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy One Week Anniversary

Bill and his new knees have been together for a week now.  So far it looks like a great relationship.

A double (bi-lateral) knee replacement is the most complicated orthopedic surgery done through Kaiser.  It is major surgery that usually takes about four hours.  Five and a half hours after Bill went in the surgeon came out to give me the good news.  Everything went well even though the knees were "the worst I've ever seen" and he felt very positive about how improved Bill's quality of life will be.

From the time he moved from the recovery area to his hospital room to working with his physical therapist at home, Bill's progress has been amazing.  Every person on his medical team has been blown away by how quickly he is moving through the necessary steps.  This is not to say he is without pain and some frustration, just that he is very far "ahead of the curve" in his physical therapy and ability to get around independently.  Except for the mandatory discharge trip out of the hospital he has not seen a wheelchair. The day after surgery he was walking down the hall. Using the walker he is able to get around the house and Wednesday he took a couple of trips down the street.  He's definitely my hero!!

We are still looking at a 90-day rehab period and being right on track to reach our goals. 

In the meantime I've started a couple spreadsheets on campgrounds and domiciles and continue to feed my full-timer blog addiction on a daily basis. 

We made the decision to get rid of the truck before it sees 100,000 miles which means driving it VERY little before and after the 1000 mile trip to deliver the Seadoos to Clearlake.  We both love the F-150 and the King Ranch package makes it a very comfortable vehicle with all the bells and whistles.  But the MPG sucks for Bill's daily commute to Burbank and it is not going to be our toad.  Once the Seadoos are gone we'll have no towing needs and can figure out how to transport the trykes in the Tucson if needed.  We've narrowed down our toad choices to a Jeep or a Ford Escape.  Off-road capability is important to us as is decent MPG.  I'm leaning toward the Jeep Liberty for several reasons but have to be sure Bill can drive and ride comfortably (his height is an issue in the Tucson and we don't want to repeat that mistake).  While we really want a new motorhome, we will definitely get a used toad.  Getting it now means we can have it paid off before we hit the road.  I'd love the additional savings of getting rid of the Tucson now as well, but I'm not ready to give up that independence just yet!

So the knee surgery is off the list and recovery looks to be checked off ahead of schedule.  The holidays are just around the corner so we'll get some more family and friends time in before the end of the year.  In just six weeks we'll be able to say "next year" we're hitting the road - that sounds great!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Road Trip Mishap

We are supposed to be waking up this morning on the keys of Clearlake, CA, but alas we are back home. The good news is the trailer wheel did not fall off at 60 mph on the Grapevine and all the dangerous possible results of that mishap.

During our July 4th visit to Wayne and Marilynn's we arranged to return with the Seadoos later in the month.  We were ready to unload them and W & M wanted to buy them for the family to play with.  Good deal.  Health issues put that plan on hold until two weeks ago when M and I revived it and started making plans.  Our good friend Michelle would ride up with us, we would drop Bill off in Oakland on the way back to connect with his boys for an event they were attending; even Tessa would go along for her first road trip.  Fun times!

When we picked up the trailer from storage on Wednesday we hit our first little bump - none of the keys we had on the ring in the truck fit any of the padlocks on the trailer.  As we had locked them ourselves two years ago when we last parked it, and the key ring was in the ashtray this whole time, it makes absolutely no sense.  And none of the additional keys at home fit the locks either.....bizarre!  Bill was able to cut the hitch lock with our small bolt cutters so we could at least get the trailer out of storage and to the house.  One of the trailer lights wasn't working but it was still light, we had a short distance to cover, and he could fix it the next day. 

The seats are trashed from exposure and will have to be replaced, but the dirt came off with a good scrubbing so they were looking pretty good before noon on Thursday.  Another small bump when the non-working tail light was rusted inside making the removal of the broken bulb impossible.  And.....nothing we had was going to get the bigger lock off the storage box.  So with two new submersible tail lights, two new padlocks, and a rented huge bolt cutter I was feeling pretty good about resolving those issues before Bill got home from work - yay, back on track for Friday morning departure. 

We did miss our class at Kaiser but he replaced the tail lights in time to see Travis off for his big weekend.  Not a lot of trick-or-treaters this year so I finished getting things ready to go for the morning.  Bill got home, Michelle arrived, looking good for our big road trip.

Up early, truck packed, everything secured for the trip.  On the road before 6:30, before sunrise.  Lots of trucks on the freeway but smooth ride up the Grapevine.  Just before Gorman a Mercedes lost the full tread on their rear tire but got safely off the freeway with the tire making its way off the freeway as well.  This started the discussion on our own past experiences with blow outs and tire issues......all with happy endings.  We would soon have another tale to add.

While airing the trailer tires and cleaning the boats I had noticed a crack in the sidewall of the driver's side tire.  It didn't look deep and I made a note to keep an eye on it during the trip.  Because of that I had been checking on it for the hour we had been on the road.  As we got close to the top of the summit the tire was looking weird.  It seemed to be running at an angle, with the bottom of the tire moving away from the trailer.  I did not like that.  Fort Tejon exit was just ahead and I got off the freeway and on to a small side road to take a look.  Nothing wrong with the tire.  The same could not be said about the hub/wheel bearing.  Disintegrated, extremely hot, not going anywhere on that axle.

First order of business - say ten times "Thank god we didn't lose the wheel headed down the mountain, it could have been so bad!"  Being grateful for no flipping trailers and crashing cars is a good start to dealing with these little "set backs".  AAA didn't cover the trailer so we were on our own to make arrangements for transport.  After a few phone calls we confirmed our only option was having the trailer towed back to the Valencia area.  So we relaxed, watched the numerous deer who watched us back, walked the dog, enjoyed the beautiful blue sky and the trees.  We were pretty zen, all things considered

Even after the first flatbed wasn't wide enough to hold the trailer and Bill had to find us another option, our only concern was where to find a restroom.  We were parked between two Fort Tejon corporate office buildings but both had prominent "No public facilities" signs posted outside so we took the hint.  When the second tow truck showed up with an additional pick up truck for "backup", Michelle and I took off in our truck to find more welcoming "facilities".  Just over the freeway was the state park with no signs but a small building barely visible from the side road - yep restrooms!  And more deer grazing in the meadow next to them.....lovely.

Back at our "parking spot" the guys were making the trailer fit on the flat bed.  It took removing the side rails, jockeying the tires to squeeze them on the bed, and tightening the chains down really tight but we were ready to go.  Bill had to ride in the tow truck so Michelle and I headed out in our truck.  They got stuck in the construction traffic but we made great time and were able to drop off the dog and unload our luggage before driving to the axle place in Saugus.  

Not long after we arrived, the tow truck turned in.  While the trailer was unloaded I talked to the tech and got the estimate for the necessary repairs.  With the long distance tow plus new hubs and bearings on both sides it quickly turned into an $800 day.  Sure glad I got those boats out of storage to save us $90/month!  Geez.....but still saying "It could have been so much worse...."

We are all disappointed we aren't spending the weekend with Wayne and Marilynn and we still need to get the boats to Clearlake (they are not going back in storage), but I have to say that the incident further confirmed that when we hit the road we are going to be just fine.  It is so wonderful to be with a man who can just take things in stride without dumping anger and frustration all over the people around him.  Shit happens, you don't have to be shitty when it does.

One silver lining ....... we pick up the trykes this afternoon!  All's well that end's well.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trykes for the Road - Check!

Made an appointment at our "local" Terra Tryke dealer (Bent Up Cycles) down in Burbank in between other appointments we had scheduled for that day.  Just going to check out the Rover 3-speeds and see how they maneuver, and come back later if we decide to buy.......uh huh. 

The shop is open for appointment only during the week so we had the place to ourselves with very personal service from Kate.  She even added additional chain to expand the length of the trike for Bill's long legs.  Although he is still "pre-new-knees", he was able to ride comfortably after the adjustment.  The additional chain meant it could not be adjusted "back down" enough for me to ride so sharing was not an option.  I liked the look of another unit and Kate set it up for me to try.  Wow, the Rambler is so comfortable and easy to move.  It is also lighter weight with a slightly higher seat than the Rover.  While I had come in looking for a 3-speed model, Bill was thinking we needed at least 8 speeds if we want to take advantage of more locations.  Kate and Dana (owner) agreed that anything less would greatly limit our trail options.  Both the Rover and the Rambler are available with 8-speeds. 

After reviewing the specs that were most important to us we decided that the 8-speed Rambler was a good fit for us.  So we left the shop and said we'd come back when we were ready to buy......

Ha!  We bought two of them of course!  

They adjust in different ways to "breakdown" for storing and we are confident that the two of them will fit in the motorhome and/or the toad.

Until then we have lots of paseos and trails to ride locally and they are a great addition to our "getting fit" program. 

The biggest challenge will be not going crazy on accessories - there are sooooo  many!

Feels great to check off another item from the list!

Monday, October 14, 2013

First RV Show

It would take the week to see all the RVs at the Annual RV Show in Pomona.  It would take a couple days just to see the Class A motorhomes.  Although the weather on Saturday was perfect for walking around a huge parking lot at the fairgrounds, I'm so glad we had narrowed down the diesel pusher coaches we wanted to check out.  Even with the focused plan we covered more ground than Bill's back and my legs were happy about.  If we go next year we'll be in much better shape!

We started at the vendor tent but it was dark and hot and wasn't very welcoming.  I wanted to get information on solar systems for the RV.  In the first few booths there were three solar vendors but two of them were for residential systems.  What?  That was just weird.  The last one we saw did have the information I was looking for but we just took a pamphlet after checking out the portable unit they had on display.  Without knowing our options for solar on a new coach we aren't ready to talk with anyone about after market roof panels.  I was disappointed that there were no inflatable boats or recumbent bike vendors and I just wanted to get outside after only 5 minutes. 

Once we got our bearings among the hundreds of different "islands" of RVs we headed for the Itasca and Allegro area.  They were both Mike Thompson sites and were side by side.  Sweet.  Of course our third coach to view was a Newmar and they were at the exact opposite side of the grounds.  Oh well.

The Itasca coach we wanted to see was the Meridian 34B and it looked like one right inside the entrance, but when we told the salesman what we were looking for he took us down another row just to realize it was in fact the one back at the front.  It was a sign of things to come as no one seemed to know where anything was most of the day.  The Meridian is huge!  It was like standing next to a cruise ship and my first thought was "I'm not driving that anywhere!"  On the inside however it was crowded in the living area.  It is a beautiful coach with all the must-haves and nice neutral amenities.  But the couch is inches from the kitchen peninsula and is just a bad design.  In fact, there is more separation when the slides are in!  King bed and hookups for washer and dryer by the closet, but no ceiling fan over the bed.  Top of the line black out shades and a nice fold up table on the passenger seat, but that couch set up just ruined the whole area for me.  Aaron was very knowledgeable and I would want to work with him if we end up at that dealer.

Allegro was "next door" so we went in search of our next choice - the Allegro 33aa.  Again the salesman took us to a couple coaches before finding the right one but in all fairness they were packed in there only inches apart and many of them looked nearly the same on the outside.  Not sure why they didn't have signs on them but I'm sure there is a logical sales reason.... :-).  This was the coach I was most anxious to see and was thinking it was the best choice for us.  I wasn't disappointed.  It was not intimidating on the outside and felt twice as big on the inside.  Perfect.  Two things better on the Meridian - basement storage and dash screen size.  Bill will want to be sure there really is an auxillary audio port and that we can add the drawer in the basement of the Allegro.  I would have bought the one we were in right there. Although not from the salesman who I had to correct twice on coach specs and who was way too pushy for my comfort. 

After waiting 20 minutes to get our bbq chicken to share for lunch we rushed to the seminar tent.  Three people had told us three places to find the tent but Bill found it on the brochure map and we got there just after it started.  Unfortunately they were showcasing the Allegro Bus and NOT the 33aa as advertised in all of the show material including the schedule posted outside the tent.  Bummer.  There was good information on the technology and suspension and other important areas but it was all about the wrong coach.  So we sat down in the back and shared our chicken which was really good then headed back out.

I wanted to check out a couple of the big 5'ers because so many full timers rave about the space and storage compared to motorhomes.  We only looked at three of them but I wouldn't have taken any of them.  Claustrophobic bedrooms, inaccessible bathrooms, unnecessary cathedral ceilings in the living area.  No thanks.  Bill reminded me that I wouldn't be able to make him a sandwich while he's driving and of course that was the most important reason why a 5'er would not work for us.  Of course.

After a quick pit stop (fancy porta pottys but not nearly enough locations in a show this size) we made our way to the Newmar area to see the Ventana LE 3433.  I had it on the list because it's our size and I've heard great things about their Comfort Drive system that makes the coach easy to drive.  Ugly coach.  Few things turn me off in a motorhome like gaudy details and this coach had just enough fake columns and cabinet legs to sour me.  There is no king bed option and the refrigerator was way too small.  Nope, I don't care how nice it is to drive, I wouldn't want to live in it.

So what did the show do for us?  The first thing is it confirmed that if we pulled the trigger today we would get the 33aa.  The 2014 only has two small changes from the 2013 and they are both in the bedroom.  We don't care which side of the cabinet the tv is on but we do want the ceiling fan that only comes in the 2014.  So we know which unit and which year.  The second thing is that 2015 seems even farther away now! 

We are just that much more committed to make this happen.

To Seattle and Back - 5 Days Sort of "On the Road"

When Jeff (my 24 year old) moved to Seattle early last month he flew with one carry-on bag and his backpack.  All his worldly belongings did not fit.....amazingly enough.  So the plan was for me to load the Hyundai Tucson with the boxes and pictures and desk and bicycle and deliver them to Seattle when he and his roommates found an apartment.  As I love to drive, am comfortable doing so alone, and am retired with no commitments on my time, this was a good plan for everyone.  Getting the space back in the garage was a nice bonus......

September 30 I headed out early and made the 5.5 hour drive to Sacramento that I have made many times in the past 20 years.  There was a large herd of deer near Fort Tejon at the top of the Grapevine and the trees were starting to show a tinge of color in the highest elevations.  Famous Footwear has added another large distribution warehouse next to the bright blue IKEA warehouse at the bottom of the Grapevine.  Property costs must be cheap there and certainly it is a major trucking artery, but they still look strange in an area that has been nothing but agriculture for so long.  I made a couple stops for fuel and stretching and made good time until traffic bogged down a little through Stockton.  It is one of those areas that seems to always have construction.  My first overnight was at Janis and Nick Szichak's in Sacramento where I stayed two nights a week for two years while I worked in Sacramento and lived in Valencia.  Sounds crazy now but it wasn't bad and with their wonderful hospitality it was so much better than the first year I spent at the Holiday Inn every week!  So my room was ready and I settled in for a good visit and a light dinner before heading to bed early.

I was up and on the road before 7:30 but with a stop at Starbucks and the morning commuters on Highway 80 it was 8:40 before I was back on Interstate 5.  No complaints from me though......they were headed to work and I was headed to Oregon!  Just outside Williams there was a large flock of birds flying south beside the freeway.  Even from a distance they were larger than the usual Starlings that frequent the area.  They were ducks - and there were at least two thousand of them!  With that many birds they were not in the usual V formation, in fact as they flew over the car they looked anything but graceful or even organized.  I had my doubts they would make it to their next landing without several midair collisions - but I'm no duck expert so it was probably just a normal migration "pattern".  From Sacramento to Red Bluff it is pretty much a repeat of the Bakersfield to Sacramento stretch but the traffic was light and the farmland was peaceful.  I noticed there were no RVs on the road before 9:30 and thought "because they slept in". 

My first break was a quick stop in Red Bluff and then at a Vista Point north of Redding I pulled off to stretch my legs and check out Mount Shasta.

The mountains were spectacular and immediately I was wishing Bill was sharing them with me.  RVs were starting to show up and I imagined us in several of them, heading to wonderful places together.  I noticed that not a lot of Class Bs and Class Cs were towing a vehicle, but Class As without a tow vehicle looked like they were missing something because the majority of them all had one.  While I was delighted with how healthy all the trees looked and with how much snow there was on the peak, when I got to Lake Shasta the severely low water level was depressing.  It was down at least 400 feet and looked horrible.  I took a longer break in the little town of Shasta Lake where the mountain is very close and the heavy snow is visible.

The mountain was visible across the whole large valley near Yreka and I figured I would stop on my way back and take several more pictures. 

I remember liking Ashland, Oregon when Janis and I passed through there a few years ago and it didn't disappoint on this trip.  Maybe it's because I was finally in Oregon but it just looks even greener!  Rain was in the forecast and I started seeing clouds just north of Ashland.  It started getting misty after I passed Medford and I made another quick stop to check out the Valley of the Rogue campground near the beautiful Rogue River.  The "season" ended yesterday and the A Loop was closed but I drove through the B Loop and loved it!  Right on the water and lots of trees, it is a magical place.  The camp road is narrow and the sites would be pretty tight for a bigger rig with little separation if it was full but there were only about a dozen sites with campers and about 50/50 tents and RVs. I could hear the river over the highway which was a plus.  Back on the highway I caught up with the rain.  Wanting to let Janis know where I hit some weather (she had warned me of a "biblical" storm the night before) I looked for a sign of just where I was.  Next exit....Sunny Valley.  Of course :-).  It rained off and on all the way to Eugene but I didn't see any animals lining up in pairs so I figured the storm warnings might have been exaggerated. 

Driving the speed limit and stopping a few times, I made Eugene in about 7.5 hours.  It was a pretty drive with plenty of scenery and mountain driving to keep me stimulated.  The time passed quickly.  I had booked an inexpensive room with good reviews and Siri guided me to the motel in downtown Eugene not far from the university.  The room was clean and comfortable and even though there was a bus station across the street I felt safe.  After checking in I took a walk to some of the local shops and then stopped for a salad at a lovely little cafe about two blocks from the motel.  There were several things at the shops that I would normally have picked up as they were unique and not very expensive.  But they were not something I would take in the RV nor were they something I could justify storing, so they stayed on the shelf and the money stayed in my pocket.  It was very liberating to walk out without making a purchase!

After a good night's sleep I was up early, grabbed a cup of lobby coffee, bypassed the lobby pastries, and continued north.  There was fog all the way to Portland so I didn't see much besides the road ahead of me for that stretch.  I was looking for a particular rest stop that Nick had shown me pictures of from their last trip.  Just south of Portland it started to clear up and I thought the next rest stop in the large trees was the right one.


French Prairie rest stop is easily the most beautiful rest stop I have been in.  And it is huge with two large loops and three large parking areas including one behind the trees that would hold 20 -30 large rigs.  Behind the rest stop is a large PG&E solar farm.  Great place to take a nice long break!  When Janis and Nick stopped they had free coffee but it was closed while I was there.  I didn't take it personally.

Traffic was light approaching Portland so I opted to stay on the interstate through the city.  As is usually the case, the city does not show it's best side to those passing through at high speeds.  Soon after I crossed the Columbia River and was in Washington.  It wasn't yet noon and I was making good time even with the intermittent rain showers.  I was surprised that there was so much water on the freeway as I have heard somewhere that Washington gets a bit more rain than we do in California.  I figured their roads would have superior drainage, but they were a mess.  About 10 miles from my destination seven lanes of traffic came to a stop and then we inched along for 20 minutes before finally getting past the stalled big rig.  Of course Jeff didn't answer his phone (his greatest pet peeve when it comes to his mother.....) to confirm where I should park but their garage was open and I pulled in behind Tim's bus a little after 1 PM.  Whew!  My backside was ready to be out of that seat!

The car was unloaded in 5 minutes and the camping chair set up in the living room where it was the only piece of furniture in the apartment.  Sweet!  It is an amazing large space with a bedroom for each of the three roommates and one block from Lake Washington.  It is a beautiful place to live. Jeff and I walked to one of their local eateries then to the local hardware store for a couple items.  The neighborhood is perfect with its own local grocery, the hardware store, a kitchen boutique, and a couple pubs and places to eat.  I'm delighted to know Jeff is in such a great place.

After dropping him off at work I found my hotel.  The city was booked up and there was only one place under $250 that wasn't in a questionable location or too far away to be practical.  I picked up my keys - not key card, keys - and took the elevator, behind the sliding cage door, to the fourth floor.  My room had an entry hall, a full size living room with a recliner, a full kitchen, a separate queen size bedroom and a small pink tile bathroom.  All the doorknobs were glass and the casement windows were cranked open to let in the breeze.  I had stepped back in time to the early 1950's.  Alrighty then.....  Ready to put my feet up I saw there was a room service menu - yay! - and I could order fish and vegetables for less than $8.00.  Unheard of.  But when I called room service I got a recording that said I had reached room service and that if I needed to have my blood sugar read before I ate I should push my call button.....I didn't hang up.  I had noted that the beautiful old building across the street was a hospital when I checked in.  It was now apparent that room service was provided by the hospital.  The set up of the "room" made more sense now as well.  Families stay in this hotel when their loved one is at the hospital, sometimes for long periods of time.  So I ordered my dinner and as promised it was delivered within 30 minutes.  The hospital worker rang the doorbell at my door (by now nothing seemed strange) and there was my dinner.  In a cardboard box.  There was a full set of dishes in the kitchen if I had felt the need for something sturdier but the box was fine.  So was the meal - very good actually.  I do find some of the weirdest places to stay when I'm on the road!!

When I picked Jeff up from work I took him home and then took both he and Chris to their friends' party.  It was nearly 11:00 and since I figured the party would go much later and Jeff would most likely not be great company for breakfast, we said our goodbyes.

I woke early to a light rain and headed out.  I did text Jeff to confirm he was not up to breakfast this early (surprisingly he did wake up long enough to respond in the affirmative).  Back on the interstate and heading south with another cup of lobby coffee.

South of Seattle I stopped for more coffee and fuel at a 7-Eleven.  The area was beautiful and I sent Bill this picture from the parking lot.

Our 7-Elevens don't have views like that!  Maybe because it was different and beautiful and I wasn't sharing it in person with Bill, it sort of made me sad.  I didn't take any other pictures the rest of the trip :-(.  The sun came out and I was able to see more of  Washington.  The rivers are especially beautiful although the bridges are a bit suspect.  It's easier to understand how a major bridge on this major interstate collapsed earlier this year.
I realized that I would like to work in Washington where there is no state income tax.  I would like to shop in Oregon where there is no sales tax.  And I want to drive in California where the tax revenue provides for safe and superior roads and bridges.  Perhaps a change of political party is in my future.......oh hell no!
The sunshine continued and the area north of Eugene I missed the day before was just gorgeous.  Green meadows surrounded by mountains, it reminded me of the feeling of safety I get in the Carson Valley in Nevada.  I loved it.
My goal was to make Medford for the night, making for a shorter middle day on the way back.  Janis checked in and wanted me to stop at the RV park at the Seven Rivers Casino in Canyonville.  She knows I'm not a fan of the typical cramped concrete parking lot RV park and really wanted me to check this one out as an example of a "good park". The area is beautiful and not far from the Valley of the Rogue campground so I was up for it.  It was easy to agree with her on this one.  Still tight spaces but beautiful grounds and with 50% filled you could tell they made an effort to spread folks out as much as possible.  I would stay there. 
But then she pushed her luck with the Durango RV park outside of Red Bluff the next day......not so much.
After driving through Medford thinking there would be a better place to stay at the next exit I backtracked through town at 5 PM to the first place I thought about staying......it took forever!  They had a room at a reasonable price, room service was provided from the on site restaurant, the bed was very comfortable, and I was asleep before 9:00. 
Another very early morning, back on the interstate before the sun was up.  I hit the Yreka area as the sun was rising and realized that those pictures of Shasta I planned on taking weren't going to happen.  There was a large gray mass off to the east but you certainly couldn't tell it was a beautiful snow covered mountain.  Just as well, I wasn't in picture taking mode anyway.
My gas mileage was certainly better on the return trip.  I picked up a tail wind in Ashland and it pushed me all the way to Sacramento.  Of course I was also without the weight of all those worldly belongings in the car.
Janis and Nick had appointments at 1:00 so I called Lezlie (a dear friend from my previous work world) about 11:00 to see if she could do lunch at 12:30.  Of course she had a 1:00 meeting because it was Friday and you can never have too many meetings at the end of the week.....nope, not missing that work thing.  I stopped by to give her a hug anyway and got caught up on all the big changes in her life.  I'm so happy for her!
Back to Chez Szichak for the night.  I don't know how Janis and I still have so much to talk about after 25 years but there seems to be no end in sight.  When the yawns were winning over the words I knew I was done.  After a goodnight call to Bill I was asleep in minutes.
Absolutely nothing interesting to report on the final day's journey.  The wind blew the whole way but never enough to be an issue.  I pulled into the driveway at exactly noon and was very glad to be home!
The next time I make that trip north it will take at least four weeks!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Great to be on Track to Getting on the Road

When I wrote the original blog post I outlined some goals for the following 27 months to prepare us for full timing.  At the time they just seemed logical and I figured they would be modified by time and reality.  Reviewing them this morning I see they are still spot-on and we have been successfully working on all of them! 

This is the last week of the full medical fast with eight weeks of transition and maintenance to follow.  To-date we are down 131 pounds.  Of course I wish it were a 50/50 contribution but naturally 86 of those are Bill's amazing success!  Still I am feeling soooo much better in this lighter body and we both remain committed to continue losing as we move to the next phase.  Getting the weight off was a big goal for us, one that would make other goals possible.  So being successful here has been inspiring and motivating in more ways than just the weight loss. 

For Bill the weight loss was directly related to getting his diabetes under control and getting his knee replacement surgery done.  Today he has reduced his diabetes medication by 90% from what it was prior to the weight loss, and his knee surgery is scheduled for November 7 (the official last day of the fasting program)!  I would say he is definitely on track!!  I am so proud of him.

We continue to make reasonable improvements to the house for resale value while not indulging in upgrades that we would only be able to enjoy for a short time.  Getting the two ugly trees removed from the front yard was a big part of that.  Exterior paint and a small concrete pour will finish up the curb appeal.  After that there remain a few interior and backyard fixes that fit our budget and can be completed in the next 18 months. 

The move here two years ago prompted some major purging from our two individual houses but we still moved plenty of stuff with us!  In preparation for cutting our living and storage space by 90% we are successfully unloading what we won't need while significantly modifying our "buying more stuff" practices.  Okay, maybe significant for me; Bill has mastered the "need not want" filter and buys very little.  With very few exceptions, nothing new comes in without something old being moved out.  I have planned a yard sale for early next month so other people can pay me to get rid of it completely. I've always been a big fan of that practice!

Getting together with family and friends continues, although the whole "no eating" thing does impact your social life.  It is so eye-opening to realize how often we eat as part of just getting together with people!  If you don't barbecue or go out for birthdays or other holidays then What do you do?  We traveled to Clear Lake for July 4th and spent four days with Wayne and Marilynn and Kurt and Cindy and their three boys.  It was a wonderful visit and the fireworks over the lake were the best I've seen in years.  Last weekend was  Aunt Kathy's 80th birthday party in Fresno and we went up for the two days.  I met the rest of his clan and might even remember all their names for a couple weeks.  What a great bunch of folks!  A short rain shower cooled things off during the party and then the weather was cool and perfect for the weekend.  Bill continues to be active in his men's organization and I meet new people from the community every month as part of a group I started in July. 

October 12 we go to our first RV show in Pomona.  I'm looking forward to getting inside some of the coaches we think we like from the pictures and descriptions on-line.  We have toured some used ones at our local Camping World but have pretty much decided we want to buy new and take advantage of the warranties.  With the nightmare Janis and Nick had with their last used coach and the fact that this will be our home for several years we believe the expense is justified for a new unit. Also making sure we have the safety and technology upgrades from day one is important as well.  We understand that there will be modifications down the road as our personal needs become apparent from experience, but we don't intend to skimp on the important things up front.

There are some skills I want to learn before we head out, like grooming Tessa, dying my hair, driving and towing with confidence (I've driven a 28' motor home with a toad but I think a fully packed and loaded 34' rig on mountain roads may be a different beast altogether), and basic first aid (human and doggie).  I'm looking into some winter classes that should also be lots of fun!  Maybe there's a "healthy cooking in a small space" class out there too!!

Everyday we are ready to hit the road.  Everyday we are ready for Bill to retire.  Everyday we  want to be living in nature.  Everyday we are successfully working toward our original goals.  Everyday we are one day closer.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Challenge of Living in the Now

No plans here to catch up on the last six weeks.  Maybe it's because it's summer and so many fulltimers are in wonderful cool places with oceans or lakes or forests outside their windows but this has been a rough month for being "not-on-the-road."  I once again found myself living in blogland with intermittent perusing of RV online sales.  The first step is admitting.......well I have fallen off the "live in the now" wagon to which I was committed.

Last week I took a couple days and went to visit Janis and Nick in Sacramento.  After months of trials and tribulations and one mixed-review trip to Oregon they have finally purchased a brand new Tiffen Phaeton and I was able to get a quick tour of the coach.  It is a great rig and I know it will be perfect for their planned travels.  At 36+' it is bigger than I want for us, and the type of traveling we want to do, but do think a similar coach of 34' would be wonderful.  I especially like the neutral interior decor which is such a pleasant change from the usual gaudy patterns they use on valances and seating. With a residential refrigerator and washer and dryer they will once again be able to "field test" those things to help us decide if we will want them too.  I suspect no amount of nay-saying from anyone will convince Bill we don't need that outside tv though!  They take delivery tomorrow and then head north to end up in Canada and the Olympic Peninsula - but I will be loving life "in the now" right here at home!

Truly our "now" is pretty wonderful.  We are right on track with the weight loss with Bill down over 65 lbs and me at 30.  Our overall health is greatly improved and we continue to stay motivated.  Our program doctor has suggested Bill schedule his knee surgery for the end of the year as soon as possible. This will enable him to reserve a date and keep us on schedule.  I suspect with his weight loss and new knees I will be working hard to keep up with him next year!  So I should be grateful I have 21 months to get in shape!

While in Sacramento I also stopped by the old office.  Wonderful to see the people I worked with - truly wonderful!  What a great group of folks I got to spend all that time with.  I miss so many of them.  Do not miss the work.  Do not have any sudden desire to return to that world, that pace, that time away from my life.  Do Not.

That was my life "then" and the visit helped confirm that my "now" is a good place to be.  The call of the road is loud and I can expect it to distract me and pull me into the bliss of daydreaming of our adventures out there.  Like so many lessons this one may need to be learned several times.........oh yea, I have 21 months!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

If All Homes Were on Wheels NO One Would Be in the Southwest This Week!

Yes, it's summer.  Yes, it's supposed to be hot in July.  No, we do not live on the face of the sun so this heat wave is ridiculous!  Records are being broken in Death Valley and Las Vegas and Phoenix - and Boise, Idaho.  Apparently no place west of the Rockies is safe. I worry about the plain states as this high pressure system moves east.....and will also be relieved to see it move out of our area.  Sadly we will always be reminded of this period with the tragic loss of 19 firefighters in Arizona who perished fighting to save the town of Yarnell.  15 of them in their twenties and all known and loved in their community, it is very sad.

When we are on wheels we will spend our summers in the Pacific Northwest or in the higher regions of the Rockies.  Temps along the Oregon coast have stayed in the 70's this week with rain and fog as well.  Sounds like heaven.

The weekend in Laguna was wonderful and just what I needed to sate those itchy feet for a bit.  We hiked the Laguna Headlands and spent time at the cottage reading and beading and enjoying the catharsis that is girl-talk.  Although Laguna Beach is very crowded this time of year and the residential area where we stayed is jammed with houses, our little cottage was a wonderful and homey retreat.  The patio and small garden area are particularly inviting and relaxing. [Photos thanks to Michelle because I still can't remember to take them!]


Wrapped up the time in San Juan Capistrano in a delightful area of old residences near the train station that many have turned into lovely artisan shops. My favorite kind of place to spend time browsing and shopping and little buying. 

And of course the best part of being away from home and the man you love is coming back to both!  We had fun stories to share with each other and got excited about traveling together all over again. 

This weekend we head to Clearlake, CA for the July 4th holiday with family.  Wayne (Bill's big brother) and his wife Marilynn have a great little place on the keys and we are looking forward to a nice visit.  We are flying most of the way then renting a car in Sacramento so it doesn't really qualify as a road trip.  Yet we will see things we haven't seen and do things we haven't done and enjoy being together with family. 

The road beckons, as do the cooler temps..........

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Still Moving in the Right Direction

We continue to be excited about our future on the road and to work on the goals we set to make it happen.

Bill gave me an electronic photo frame for my birthday last month.  He saw parts of my Pinterest board "Let's Go There" loaded with great places I want to see, and thought getting them off the board and up where we can both drool over them was a good idea (smart man).  Today I finally sat down to get it loaded and after learning the importance of resolution (thanks Jeff) I now have 50+ photos of amazing locales scrolling beside me.

Some places either one or both of us have already visited but they are places we want to see together or places we want to return to for a longer stay.  Just thinking about spending weeks rather than days (in some cases hours) at Sedona, Arizona or the California Redwoods refreshes my excitement about our plans!

Everytime I read about another fun place that other bloggers already on the road have found, I can add that picture to the frame (if there is a photo available with the proper resolution of course....).

Not surprising, I did scratch my itchy feet and make arrangements to spend next weekend in Laguna Beach.  I have a great friend from high school who lives down the coast and we are renting a little beach cabin with no plans other than to walk the beach and have morning coffee on the patio.  I'm even looking forward to the drive down Interstate 5 so know I'm ready to be on the road.

Bill is doing so well on the medical fast!  He's down over 25 lbs in under two weeks and has been 100% on program.  Me?  Also 100% on program.  How much have I lost?  Yep - 7 lbs!  Enough to make every woman hate every man........almost.  Fourteen weeks to go, with 4th of July at Clearlake with the family to really give us a challenge, and I'm confident we will BOTH be successful in meeting our goals.  It sure makes you rethink how much time and money we spend on food for entertainment, food for comfort, food for socializing.  If we can hold on to what we're learning this summer we'll have a great start for eating light on the road.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Itchy Feet


At the end of April we took a 9-day road trip in our little SUV.  It was wonderful in all possible ways and upon arriving back home both of us were ready to go again.  I started blog-binge'ing on every full-time rv'er blog I could find and Bill started logging all the places we had already traveled together.  We had been planning the big move in 2015 but it was that April trip that really sealed the deal.  If we could enjoy traveling together in a few cubic feet and hauling luggage in and out of numerous hotels, then certainly taking the comforts of home with us will be the greatest experience ever! 

And I want to do it now.

It is no coincidence that I started this blog immediately following that trip.  I found myself obsessing (one of my more endearing traits that comes as no surprise to those who know me) over motorhomes and campgrounds and hiking locations and weather patterns as if we were loading up and taking off in two weeks.  Preparation is certainly a key to success but I mean I was in the mindset of doing it all before Cinco de Mayo!  So the blog was a way to focus on the reality of time and those things yet to be accomplished before we can actually hit the highway.

And I still want to do it now.

Yesterday I was researching something completely unrelated to travel (part of my self-prescribed therapy) and found myself looking at weekend retreats (side effects?) for next weekend when Bill will be camping with the guys.  Living in Southern California there are numerous places within driving distance that make you feel like you have traveled to another world.

And I really want to do that now.

My best friend Janis and I make an annual trip to Bodega Bay in her motorhome and spend a week on the beach.  With the exception of one day trip in the beautiful surrounding countryside we spend the time reading and relaxing and walking her dogs.  We were scheduled to be there this week but the motorhome-gods felt this was not the right time to go and alas we are postponed until November.  Perhaps it is that missed trip as much as the great trip that have combined to create this compelling desire to travel somewhere else.

And I should do that now.

Maybe just a quick trip up to Ojai for a personal retreat, or down the coast to see a good friend and get my beach-fix.  I don't think it will take much to scratch these itchy feet - not time nor expense.  One true advantage of being on a full-fast is that food is no longer something to be planned or purchased.  I can take Tessa if I want and I don't have to go far.  The hotter weather is a factor but having the wind gone also opens up other possibilities. 

Okay, I'm totally doing that now.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Introducing the Fluffy Dog

We are both dog lovers and have been blessed to have several wonderful pals in our individual lives.  When Bill and I reconnected in 2008 we each had old dogs who we adored.  Over the last five years we have lost each of them and in November of 2012 found ourselves sadly "dogless".  Not fans of tiny dogs, we were still ready for smaller than the big shepherds who had been members of our families for decades.  As we were already talking about life in an rv, we also liked the idea of non-shedding, or at least "less shedding" dogs.  There are several breeds that met our criteria but I was especially drawn to Labradoodles and Soft-Coated Wheaton Terriers.  While puppies are wonderful and don't come with the baggage of their previous lives, neither of us wanted to buy a puppy when there are so many homeless dogs out there.  My shepherds were rescues and I never regretted bringing them home.  So the search began. 

You just don't find Wheatons in rescues but there are several wonderful "oodle" rescues out there and I started checking daily for a new doggie to join our family.  A friend reminded me that Craigslist also has a dog listing so I started checking there as well.  Close to Thanksgiving there was a 2 year-old labradoodle listed about 50 miles away.  Contact with the owner revealed a family who had to relocate to a home that didn't allow dogs.  They were heartbroken to give her up but wanted to actively find a new home for her rather than take the chance with a rescue.  I was still working and although we tried a couple times, we couldn't coordinate a time to meet.  During this time other people were making arrangements to see the dog and every time they didn't show up.  Two days after the owner's "final day" he got in contact to see if I was still interested.  I didn't hesitate.  My son and I jumped in the car with a leash and blanket and drove the fifty miles. 

Matted coat and sad eyes, with a rope for a leash, we met her.  She was scared at first and whined most of the return trip, but when we got home she was more relaxed and started checking out her new digs.  After a trip to the groomer she had her vet checkup where she got a clean bill of health, confirmation that she is about two years old, and speculation from the vet that Tessa is more likely Wheaton than doodle.  Too funny! 

With few exceptions like an affinity to spread the bathroom trash all over the floor and a couple food snags from the table she has turned out to be the perfect dog. 

I've never had a dog that really "cuddles".  I mean she puts her paws around you and hugs.  She will lie in your lap for hours or race around the house like a dervish - depending on her (and your) mood. 
She has not always been "welcoming" to others entering the house and we had some concerns about everyone being here last weekend.  We had nothing to worry about.  She just seemed to know that everyone was family and special to us.  She loved every single one of them.  I kept telling Bill that when she was gone Monday morning we wouldn't know where she went because every one was saying they were taking her home! 
So that's our fluffy dog Tessa.  I believe it is no accident that those other people didn't go meet her back in November; that her previous owner kept my number.  She was supposed to be with us and we are blessed to have her in our family. 
I can't wait for her to be a part of our travels!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spending Time with Family and Friends.....All at Once!

One important goal for our next two years is making opportunities to be with family and friends. Our travels will certainly include visits to folks we care about but for the most part we will be out there on our own.  There will be long stretches of time and distance between us and those we care about.  So while we are stationary in a sticks and bricks house we want to be better at reaching out and visiting.  Otherwise I suspect we will look back with regret at missed opportunities.

So let's have 40+ of our favorite people over for the weekend!  And take our wedding vows and make food and play music and drink beer (let's do lots of that) and eat cake and talk and laugh and play together!  Wow, what a blast! 

It was so good to see every one and to get caught up with some we haven't seen in way too long.  Just as fun was sharing our plans to be fulltime travelers and to find support (and some envy) from those closest to us.  It's easy to question yourself when you decide to take a leap of faith and change to an alternate life style.  You wonder if people will think you're crazy and send you down a road of doubt with questions you haven't considered..... but nope, none of that from this bunch.  Every one thinks it's a great idea, especially those signing up for the stuff we can't take with us!  And that is great too because where else do you want your precious things to be than with family and friends?!
The weekend also validated the importance of this goal.  There is great value in making the time and space in our lives for people.  We are blessed with wonderful (crazy) family and friends so to miss any chance to be with them is a loss.  I suppose we could have used the weekend event to check off the goal as accomplished, but instead I'm motivated to build on it.
Tomorrow we pick up our supplements to start the medical fast on Friday so this weekend will be the polar opposite of last weekend in the food world......also a good thing!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sometimes Your"self" Is the Biggest Job to Get Done

One major goal before hitting the road to spend long stretches of time away from the conveniences of metropolitan healthcare and rv repair is getting ourselves healthy and fit.  Now neither of us have allergies or asthma or phobias that keep us from doing things.  We are exceptionally healthy when it comes to avoiding the flu, the common cold and generally "being sick".  However we are both far from being "fit" and suffer the health complications that come with being overweight. In addition, Bill needs to have both knees replaced to regain the flexibility and agility necessary to do the hiking we want to do and the rv maintenance we need to do. 

This is one area where that 27-month timeline is closer to "too short" rather than "forever from now".  So with the encouragement of our doctors and the support of Kaiser's weight management program we signed up for a six-month very calorie-restrictive diet and behaviour modification plan.  It began with a group orientation last week that outlined all the damage we are doing to our bodies by being overweight (uh yeah, we live in these bodies....) and the various programs available to get the weight off.  Before we went I already knew, and Bill had reluctantly agreed (because he's no fool) that we would join the strictest full-fast program to kick start our physical transformation.  These are six-month programs and they only do one program at a time so when they announced the first program (not a full fast) didn't start until mid-August I was worried we would have to wait as long or longer for our program.  This would really push Bill's rehab from the knee surgery (on hold until the weight is off) into the far end of our timeline.  The gods were smiling on us though and our program starts May 23!  Just enough time to rush through some lab work earlier this week, meet with the program doctor, and start the first week of the fast after our wedding reception (more on that later).  It was great news and is always validating to have our plans come together so perfectly!

We both know how important this "job" is to the success of all the others we need to complete. It will be miserable and difficult and satisfying and uncomfortable and exhilarating all at the same time.  We will question our sanity at thinking we could really do it, and look for excuses to get out of it, and at least once will believe we can get the same results on our own - hopefully not at the same time!  Which is one reason that doing it together is the best way.  One of us will drag the other kicking and screaming through the week, and then we'll switch the following week.  But we will succeed on this big job and at the end of November we will be truly thankful to be right on track to reaching our goals!

Here's to a healthier us!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

27 Months Isn't Really That Long......

.......it just seems like it today.  Today being the first day of capturing our pre-journey-journey on "paper".  After dreaming and imagining - and buying that non-winning Powerball ticket - Bill and I have committed to living on the road full-time before the end of Summer 2015.  This includes living a focused life for the next two years: enjoying life at home while spending as much time as possible with family and friends, improving the resale value of the property, paying off those final couple of bills, adding to our savings, getting healthy and fit, selling the house, purchasing a motorhome, Bill retiring, and taking all necessary steps to realize our goal.  When we look at being successful in all of these areas, 27 months seems about right!  Some of it will be really fun - like working on the house and buying that motorhome.  Some of it - like getting in shape and selling the house - maybe not so much.  But I am confident that all of it, fun and not, will be worth it when we hit the road. 

This blog will track our efforts, successes and set-backs, and perhaps even be useful to other couples who have similar plans in the future.  There are already several great full- timer blogs out there that I follow enviously every week.  They motivate me to work on the dream, to know that it is very do-able for us, and to document our own journey-to-get-to-the-journey. 

In July of last year I decided to make December 31, 2012, my last day of work.  There were several factors that led to that decision, some were economic, some were familial, and all told me it was time to be done with the job.  After 26 years with the same organization it was a significant life change.  Bill was comfortable with my early retirement and even figured he could tolerate having me home every day!  Once the decision was made, I thought those six months would drag by.  Instead they were gone in that well-known flash!  There were several steps to take for retirement and I was glad I had more than a couple months .  Other important dates and events during that time  were a blur, and boom! it was Christmas, my office was packed up, and everything was ready for my replacement. 

Not once have I regretted early retirement.  I don't miss the work, the travel or "being part of something big and important". I can meet all of my financial obligations. I am never bored and wonder daily at how others struggle keeping busy in retirement!  I enjoy every day and love the freedom of no schedule. For all of these reasons I am confident that I made the right decision. 

That confidence is part of my foundation for this next big life change.  The other part is Bill's enthusiasm for the whole idea.  Together we will do what it takes while we   celebrate the easy steps and survive the challenges.  Sharing this adventure with him makes it even more exciting.  We will also be sharing the road with our fluffy dog Tessa but she won't have much to contribute during the preparation period.  Still, I'm sure she will show up in these pages over the next two years.

And so we begin.......