Saturday, January 25, 2014

Surely We Will Want to Remember All This

Every time I think "you should be writing something in the blog.....", that thought is immediately followed by "....and say what?"  Afterall, I started the blog to record our journey to get to the journey (Bill and Jodee throw away a lot of stuff so they can fit a little stuff in a motorhome just doesn't have the same ring).  Unless we're doing something super-fun like taking the Jeep to Borrego, or successful like losing the weight, it just doesn't seem "blog-worthy".

Then I remind myself that this is our journey and we are doing something every week that keeps us on point to reaching our goals.  Not always as fun as a road trip, and not always something that can be "checked off" as completed, but still we remain focused.  It's not that hard when you're obsessed I suppose.....

The yard sale did wait for a week and I was glad that I took the time to get things more organized.  Emphasis on making me happier, I doubt the organization did much to boost sales.

Getting the "stuff" organized
An added bonus of postponing was the timing of several other yard sales in our neighborhood so there were dozens of cars making the rounds.  The weather was perfect with no wind and probably over 75 people stopped to browse and buy.  About 80% of the stuff went home with happy shoppers, by noon we were loading up a few boxes for Goodwill, and calling it a day.  Because there will be more yard sales while we continue to downsize our belongings, I kept a few items back that may sell next time.  A day that ends with more cash in my pocket and more space in my garage is always a good one!

One of the "shoppers" owns the Lazy Daze motorhome down the street and it was fun to meet her and learn about their adventures.  Of course I mentioned our plans and that lead to more discussion.  A while later her husband stopped by to talk and offer some advice.  Nice people - and both lit up when talking about the time they spend in their rig. 

Mobility continues to increase in my shoulder and I'm confident that with another two sessions of physical therapy I'll be back to normal (or at least back to where I was).  I didn't realize how much I've avoided because of the pain so just being able to spread a couple bags of mulch in the planter yesterday morning felt great!  It was a little project but makes a big impact on the curb appeal.  Just leaves the trim paint and concrete pour :-). 

Spent a fun evening with Megan at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on Monday.  I have great memories at the old theatre including seeing Dr Doolittle (original) with my mom, and Pirates of the Caribbean with the boys.  This time was a little different and just as wonderful.  We went to see Mary Poppins and it was a "sing-a-long" with the words on the screen.  Sooooo many great songs!! 


Although they have extended the show for a week, it was a light crowd for this showing.  Still, everyone participated and Megan and I had so much fun.  We were mostly adults but one family brought their four pre-teen boys who sat in front of us.  Apparently they were being punished for extreme crimes against their parents.......poor kids.

"Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down....."

Speaking of fun!  We got some new toys in preparation for our future adventures.

 Hours of fun for ages 8 -80!
Benchmark makes wonderful Road and Recreation Atlases for eight Western states and after reading how great they are for planning routes I ordered Washington, Oregon and Arizona.  We spent one evening looking at these and Bill suggested that we really needed the California one as well.  Done.  It came today :-).  I could definitely spend hours lost in these maps.  The majority of daily bloggers I follow are currently in Quartzsite, Yuma, Florida or stuck in their S&B homes with snow in their yards.  However, I read all of RV Dreams and WheelingIt - covering up to eight years of traveling the country. From those I noted several places I want to see.  Many of them have familiar names but I'm unfamiliar with exactly where they are in relationship to each other, to major highways, etc. Finding them on the map makes it less dream and more plan.  Most recently I went back to the beginning of rvsue and her canine crew (I'm at October 2013 today) and it was in her blog that I learned about the Benchmark books.  She mostly boondocks, and in amazing locations, so being able to follow the route to her locations is very fun.  
A possible job opportunity came up last week.  Ultimately it forced me to be honest about what I really want/need to do over the next year.  Weighing the time and travel commitment against the temporary expanded income was a worthwhile exercise after one year of retirement.  Nope, I walked away.  
We've discussed getting rid of the Tucson and with the decision about taking a temporary job made in the negative it is again an option for us.  Tuesday we start a 30-day "experiment" to see if we can be a one-car family!  It would be great to have that car payment out of the budget if we can make it work.
Perhaps not blog-worthy adventures, but I think we'll enjoy looking back from the road at what we did the year before we started out......surely we will!!



Friday, January 10, 2014

Next Year Sounds So Much Better!

For the last seven months we've been saying "In 2015 we will be......." and that just sounded like it was forever from now. Since January 1 we've been able to say "Next year we will be......" and what a difference that is just in the saying! Of course it's still too long in the instant-gratification-desires of my real world, but it does make a difference.

After a few more reviews of our budget and what that will look like in 3, 6 and 12 months we are confident in saying that at-the-outside Bill can retire on April 1, 2015.  It's still next year but in just a few short months we can say "in a year, in less than a year, in a few months" he will retire. Even with that awesome reality, we continue to look at options that could move that date up even more, and include having a motor home sooner rather than later. Pathetic I know :-(.....but it does help one stay enthusiastic. 

At the same time I know there are lots of folks out there (because I spend waaaaay too much time in blog/forum-land) who are planning for 3-8 years before they can head out full-time.  I was reading a post from one of the many who have been weathering the polar vortex (such a great name) who just purchased a new Tiffin motor home and is looking forward to retiring in a couple years.  I'm sitting in perfect t-shirt weather here in SoCal, with beautiful warm sunny days and a year of retirement behind me, and I was JEALOUS because they already have their motor home!  Again with the pathetic.....

We have done pretty close to nothing since getting back from Borrego.  Bill had his two-month check up with the surgeon who released him without restriction.  Bittersweet as it confirms his recovery has been amazing but also means he has to return to work.  Still it has been so wonderful having him home for eight weeks and I will miss his being here every day.  Definitely not worried about being "stuck" with each other in that small motor home!  Tessa says doing nothing is a perfectly wonderful way to spend a day......or six.

Pain in my left arm and shoulder has gotten steadily worse so I finally went back to the doctor.  She made an appointment at the orthopedist and had the physical therapist do an evaluation.  Now that Bill is finished with all those people it's my turn!  Bill inspires all of us:  Nick loses over 50 pounds in five weeks and I go to physical therapy!  Awesome. There was good news from both this week that it is bursitis made worse because I have let it freeze up my shoulder from dis-use.  Didn't want any part of a cortisone shot (at least for now) but it already feels better just doing the PT at home.  I'll see the therapist a couple times a week until it's back to normal and be grateful it wasn't something more serious.

Still deciding on tackling a yard sale is perfect but I haven't done a lot of prep and that always means more work on sale day.  Nothing says I can't do it next week.....we'll see.  I do need to keep moving forward on the purging because....wait for it.....this is so good.....feels great.....we're heading out NEXT YEAR!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's Adventure in the Desert

Playing with art in the desert -
a great way to start 2014!

We wanted to get the Jeep off-road and the perfect weather forecast made it impossible to stay home!  There are several options for us to get out in the desert but Borrego Springs has been calling my name for months......lots of bloggers posting pics of wonderful drives and hikes.  I camped there 3 decades ago but although I spent years driving past it I haven't been back in the park. 
On the road about 8:00 AM on New Year's Day (the freeways were "post-apocalyptic") we took the "back" way from I-15 on a nice-but-narrow-two-lane road through a large variety of scenery.  We thought we were seeing a lot of motorhomes and 5ers on that road - then we got inside Borrego Springs State Park and it was like being at an RV show!  Every combination of rig, trailer, toad, toy was crazy!  Our first stop was the hotel to see if early check-in was an option.  We were staying at the recently re-opened La Casa del Zorro and they enjoyed a full-house for New Year's Eve so we had to wait until later.  Fine with us, we were ready to get the Jeep dirty!

One of the areas on my want-to-see list was Galleta Meadows.  It is a popular attraction and the front desk had a map of the metal sculptures starting just down the road.  I was surprised to see that they were spread out from one side of the village to the other, in all directions.  Not really a "meadows" area by itself, the pieces dot the landscape in numerous areas. I figured dinosaurs and big bugs were the kind of art Bill might enjoy!

The scorpion echoes when you talk to it.

There is a large variety of animals and pre-historic animals including mammoths and giraffes and tapers and horses and sloths......and the large serpent that takes up both sides of the road.

 Serpent head

 Standing at the tail

But I have to say my favorite was the farm workers....amazing detail including tools and clothes and just different than all the other pieces.  Tessa was not nearly as impressed....

Pruning the vines

Walking the dog....very life-like

Most of them are close to the main highway with close-up access on flat dirt trails.  After enjoying a wonderful lunch at El Borrego (don't let the carpeted outdoor eating area deter you - the food rocks!) we went in search of the few remaining dinosaurs out in the desert.  The dense cholla made staying on the trail a must but it was still a good test of the Jeep.  As expected it did just fine.  These were the bigger dinosaurs with great detail.

Don't sit down!

 Gnarly gnails

I didn't take a picture but from this spot you can see across the whole valley and the weather was perfect - 72 with no wind and crystal clear skies.  There were several other vehicles at the other pieces but we had these critters to ourselves.  There was zero sound and so peaceful. 

We were nearly back to the hotel at this point so we tried to check in again.  Had to wait about 45 minutes so we suffered through a cocktail (best mojito I've had in years) sitting in a small covered patio on the beautiful and serene grounds.  Fountains and beautiful natural desert landscaping made for a very nice wait time.  Tessa was so good, just hanging out with us off leash.  Other dogs came by with their owners and while she kept her eye on them she didn't get up from her spot. 

Our room was upstairs above a "running" creek with a balcony over the pool.  It was huge with king bed, fire place, wet bar and large spa bathroom.  Such a surprise find here in the wilds of Borrego!

Won't be coming back to this in the RV!

Had a couple snags with the room phone and ordering dinner but it worked out with service to our room and a delicious meal.  Prices are steep but portions very large - too large for me.  I enjoyed a very tasty salad and shrimp with pasta while Bill liked his scallops and loved his cheese cake!

Unfortunately the nasty "vacation virus" that laid Jeff out on Christmas day caught up with Bill and he was up and down all night.  No matter how nice the accommodations, it just sucks to be away from home when you're sick!  In the morning I drove into the village for the magic cure that is Pepto Bismol, Gatorade and saltines.  While he and Tessa slept until check-out I had breakfast in the dining room.  Another good meal of granola pancakes - couldn't finish half but it was exceptional.  Lovely space and friendly, efficient service. 

Although Bill was feeling better we headed for home.  Decided to take the "front" way out of the park giving us the opportunity to see more of the area.  Once out of the village about 5 miles we came upon the "bo-dunkers" (boondocker) area.  Lots of rigs still there including a few large circles of multiple rigs.  While it was crowded due to the holiday it was encouraging to see many large 40-foot MHs had access to the area, several pretty far from the highway.  Seeing these bigger units in places I want to go gives me confidence that our smaller one will be no problem!

The canyon area is incredible and we both said we WILL be back to play in the near future.  The ORV area was packed with quads and buggies and Jeeps and while I would have loved it 20 years ago it held no draw for me now.  Too many people, too much dust, too much noise......and I'm totally okay recognizing it means I'm getting older :-).  As I told Bill a couple times on the trip, while I'd rather have the place to ourselves, I'm glad  so many people are getting out in nature with their families and having a good is a good sign that we are recovering.  We will have to share with others on weekends and holidays but be able to enjoy our own space when they return to work and school.  I think we can live with that :-).

A quick drive with a couple of traffic bumps and we were back home.  Although we didn't get to really challenge it, the Jeep definitely passed the "glad we got it" test.  We're already looking forward to getting out there again.