Saturday, November 16, 2019

Redefining Home

October 21 - November 14, 2019
Tombstone, Arizona

For more than four years we've called the RV home. People ask where we live, we say wherever we're parked. People ask where home is, same answer. We've even hesitated to say "going back home" when talking about returning to where we used to live. Because home is the RV. It was something we were proud to say - that we had really done it, followed the dream and made it our reality. "Whenever we don't feel like doing it anymore" was the answer for when we'd "give it up".

So does buying the house in Tombstone mean we don't "feel like it" anymore? Have we abandoned the dream? Where is home now? 

I find myself immediately "explaining" that we'll still travel most of the year, that Tombstone is "just" a winter base, that we're looking forward to "continuing" our travels. Like I have to make sure people know we're still living the dream. That we didn't "quit". 

I know it's silly. 

For me the answer to why we chose the fulltime RV life is Freedom. Being able to go wherever and whenever we want. Never having to "go back home" is a huge draw, and having no other financial responsibilities but those attached to our travels made the reality not only do-able, but easy.

I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit that losing those with the purchase of a house (see - I still don't call it home) gives me pause. Both will make a difference in how we live, and I'm hoping neither will be significant. 

But we won't know until we combine the two in the Spring. 

Does any of this mean I regret our decision? Absolutely not!

Going fulltime all came together seamlessly for us, and always felt like it was the perfect choice. Everyday we were excited about the next. Everyday was a confirmation that we had done the right thing.

And although we've made this huge change, nothing feels different. 

The purchase came together unbelievably easy and quick. The sellers took care of us like family, our friends are transitioning us into the community, the place has felt like ours since the first morning we woke up here. Everyday we're excited it's ours. Everyday we know this was the right place at the right time.

Everyday we're looking forward to getting back on the road :-) In the mobile part of our home, our warmer months home.

Returning from our weekend gathering in California we've been busy cleaning up the yard, filling the house with comfortable and "more us" furnishings, and making a ridiculous number of trips to "town".

Tombstone is not town. Sierra Vista, 20 miles south, is town. As a national historic site, Tombstone has very few commercial options. We can buy fuel and a few basics at the Circle K and the Family Dollar (faily dollar for a couple of our international traveling friends), and the antique stores are fun for finding a few treasures. But everything else is in Sierra Vista, and Tucson for a bigger selection (and Trader Joe's!).

Always something pretty to see on the drive to town. This day it's cloud waves to the south.
The UPS truck has our address permanently entered in the GPS because Amazon is still king :-))

We meet people out walking, and they all comment that we have the best view in the area. We love our 360 degree views, taking the time to appreciate the beauty that made this big decision an easy one. Working in the yard is still work, but doing it with these views makes it a lot more enjoyable!

Removing the electric fence (to keep out deer) gets rid of the "compound" look and improves the view.

More deer-proof chicken wire and no-climb fence was wrapped around the back porch planters. Removing the fence stakes is a major pain. Going to feel like the chosen king of England when I can finally pull them out!
We love the mule deer who come to visit (so far outside the fence) along with the cotton tails and jack rabbits. The dozens of quail and handful of hummingbirds keep us entertained.

This large Walking Stick is our most unique visitor.
We still get out to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding us. Slowly the intense green is fading, muted fall colors confirm the nights have been getting much colder. 

Some of the most beautiful views are in the Sonoita area - lots of my favorite golden grasses, colorful riverbeds, hills and mountains. It's a good distance for an afternoon drive.

Old Canelo homestead.

High clouds give us changing views all day.

A ribbon of yellow follows the river.

A bright spot along the road.
Back home we're treated to brilliant western skies.
The next morning we have a rainbow with our coffee.
We purchased the property as-is. The HVAC is four years old, and the roof less than seven, but the house was built in 1970, meaning old electrical and plumbing. The sellers had the septic pumped and the new leech line installed before we closed escrow. We expect issues will arise.

Maybe not this quickly.

A few toilet gurgles turn into both toilets and the tub stopping. Living "out of town" means we wait overnight for the plumbers. They would have come out in the evening if we hadn't had the motorhome onsite, but we're fine until they can get to us the next day. 

Not the visitors you want, but sure do appreciate.
When they get the clog cleared the head guy thinks there's something else "weird" going on where the line comes out from under the house. Although everything is working well, he climbs underneath to double check. 

So glad he does!

The pipe is cracked (turns out to be 30 feet of damage) and when the clog backed up it started to leak sewage. Eeewwee! They don't have time or materials to replace it the same day, but it's not leaking with the clog cleared.

As promised they return in a few days and spend over five hours digging, replacing, bringing up to code, refilling.....Not cheap, but we're so grateful they didn't just stop when they cleared the clog. Now we don't have to worry about the majority of our old plumbing!

The drive to Sierra Vista includes crossing the San Pedro River where the Cottonwoods give us a couple weeks of muted Autumn color.

Fallen leaves look more like gold nuggets in the sun.
Donnie's brother Turk and girlfriend Rhonda (we went to high school with all three of them) come to visit them, and we get together along with Anna's sister and brother-in-law for a couple meals/football watching at both Donnie's and our house. The guys spend a day fishing at Patagonia. The gals take a trip to Bisbee to show Rhonda the cute little town and the big pit mines. We forget it's Saturday of the holiday weekend and find no place to park anywhere. Oh well, good company and fun sights, we still have a great day.

Donnie, Anna, Rhonda and Turk enjoying the game after another tasty dinner.
Most days we have a big or small project. It never seems like we do anything big, but when we look at all we've completed it feels great. No matter the size of the project, I love having a bath tub at the end of the day!

Bill found the perfect piece of old wood to complete our new address sign for the street.

I removed all the pantry shelves to expedite demo in a few weeks. This will be open to the living room when done.
Having a house means being able to have family and friends coming to stay. Even those without their own RV! We'll make the trip to SoCal over Thanksgiving to see the kids and grands, pick up our two stored trunks, and take care of doctor/dentist appointments. But for Christmas, Ezra and his parents and uncle are coming to visit for five days!! I suspect stockings on the fireplace will make it home like nothing else.

Our niece and her family are finally moving out of California's bay area, making their new home in Texas. We're so happy for them, and even happier that she and two of the boys made our place their first stop. It was so fun to have them overnight.

Noah, Jessica, Bobby, Jodee and Bill
Bobby and Tessa enjoy the sunshine.
When I consider that "Home is where the heart is", it's easy for me to define our home as part-mobile-part-stationary. The RV is still home, and so is the house. We're blessed to love being in this house, and to also be looking forward to continued travels. 

No pics for now, but on November 10 our first grand daughter Reese Lynn Gravel was born! We're beyond thrilled to welcome her to the family and can't wait to meet her in a couple weeks!

 Tessa makes the best of the changes in her life.

There are lots of reasons we chose Arizona,

amazing sunsets is one of them.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Eagles Gather

October 18 - 20, 2019
Lake Tamarisk, California 

We've been in the house a week when we sign the final docs on Thursday. Perfect timing as Friday morning we're headed to California!

A very early departure for us, we pull out before 7 AM - because we also have a very long drive for us. It's 380 miles, nearly double our usual maximum! But it's a route we know well, the weather is expected to be calm and clear, and we have friends to see.

We take advantage of being in California and make a quick stop at the DMV in Blythe to get Bill's new driver license. We're amazed that there's only two cars in the parking lot, and he's in and out in 15 minutes. 

The Eagle Mountain/Desert Center/Lake Tamarisk area will always be coming home for us, no matter where we have a house or an address. This time we're here for a "Gathering of Eagles". Eagle Mountain High School closed along with the iron mine and it's town in 1983, but all of us who attended are Eagles for life. 

Friday afternoon and evening we gather at Hamby's house (the first place we parked our new rig back in 2015) for dinner, laughs, and tall tales on the patio and around the fire. It's great to see our buddies we see throughout the year as well as some we haven't seen in ages.

This patio has seen and heard a lot over the years!

Although we now have a home just a mile from theirs - we're happy to spend time with Anna (Donnie too, but he's not in the pic).

As the temps drop we get a big fire going to continue lots of conversation.

I'm always amazed at how many generations continue to come together, and the woman on the right left Eagle Mountain when she was nine - and here she is decades later enjoying the undeniable connection.

Yet another couple who knew each other in high school (Rhonda class of '73 and Turk class of '70), and got together just this year. They're so happy :-)
Saturday morning more people arrive, setting up RVs and tents at Hamby's, and filling sites at the RV park where we are. 

I decide to take a short drive to capture what is now the ghost town of Desert Center. It's for sale, and once purchased will never look the same as we all remember it. 

"Mama opened the restaurant in 1922. Desert Center Cafe has never missed a day of being open in all that time - more than 25,000 days. Since 1928 it has been open around the clock." - Stanley Ragsdale, 1990

Rusting equipment in front of the elementary school.

Lots of I-10 travelers stopped here for fuel for over 70 years.

The little market gave locals an option for minimal groceries without making the one hour drive to either Indio or Blythe.

Those passing by leave recent memories in the dust that covers our long-ago memories.
Before returning I take some time in this beautiful desert that I didn't appreciate growing up. Much dryer than our new desert in southern Arizona, but still lovely.

At noon we all head for the community center (where many of us enjoyed graduation parties each year over 40 years ago). We eat great food and catch up with many who haven't been at our Laughlin reunions. Not surprising, they're now all committed to come in April. Once you reconnect with this community, you want to keep doing it!

Everyone lines up for chow.

Good pals, Anna, Bridgette, Stacey and Karla

The cool dudes Bill, Jimmy, Mike, Donnie and Kevin

The youngest taking center stage.
I grab a nap then join everyone for a short drive to the other side of the interstate and a bonfire at Castle Rock II. Lots of memories here - many shared with the large gathering - most embellished by the years since :-)

I've yet to learn how to take decent pics in the dark. It's a great turn-out with perfect weather and limitless stars overhead. We have a wonderful time and eventually head back to Hambys where we party for a couple more hours. 

Oh the stories this tree could tell.....

Sunday morning we pack up, and after coffee on the patio we're back on the road. And it's still 380 miles to get back :-(  Tired from the busy weekend, and occasional high winds, it seems even longer this time. For the first time, Bill lies down on the bed and sleeps for a couple hours. 

So fun to come around the corner and see our little white house on the hill. We're set up and unpacked (that part is weird) in 20 minutes.

It's the first time we've "returned to the house" in 4.5 years, and it definitely feels different. We'll take a trip to see the kids and grands in November, but other than that we'll be in Tombstone until mid-April. Unless that hitch-itch takes over, and then there's nothing stopping us from scratching it with a trip to anywhere.

Lots of projects keeping us busy around the property now that it's ours. We love this little piece of southern Arizona, and hope you'll check in to see what we get up to here! 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Still Here, Just a Little Distracted :-)

September 22 - October 17, 2019
Tombstone, Arizona and Yosemite, California

Like waiting for anything major in life, the time seems to drag until we look back and realize it really flew by. A month seemed daunting when we opened escrow, the days sort of ran together while we practiced patience, postponing those "fun" purchases was challenging. Then poof! we met with the owners who agreed to pre-closing occupancy and we're in our new place a week before closing. 

There's been more than just waiting too - we had a wonderful adventure with family back in California. Corey (our number three, Bill's number 2) and Christie got married at the base of El Capitan in Yosemite on October 6. We flew to Sacramento from Tucson on Friday, then drove four hours to Yosemite Valley. 

Having a small condo in the park, close to the cabins the rest of the family had rented, worked out great. It was just the parents and siblings so an intimate gathering of 12 people made for a relaxing weekend. 

Saturday we visited the wedding site and drove through the park. It took us over an hour to go less than a mile by the visitors' center, but with the surrounding views it wasn't much of a hardship. A short drive down the mountain to pick up a bite of lunch at the market was a nice break from the hordes. That evening we enjoyed BBQ at one of the cabins and tucked in early. 

Figuring out where the sun will be the next morning.

Crawling through the park traffic.

Much dryer than our last visit (this is upper falls without a trickle), still stunning.

Richie and Travis get the chicken and burgers ready.

Granddaughter Reese is due in November - momma Emily hams it up with daddy Travis.

Family time before the big event.
I am now a big fan of morning weddings! Sunday at 8:30 AM we were on a rocky beach along a bubbling river, surrounded by incredible mountains, sharing a lovely and simple ceremony with immediate family. The photographers made sure we were in the perfect spot, and it was magical. The couple asked that everyone be present and not taking photos during the ceremony so I'll share those when we get them.

Good friend and wedding officiant Matt with Corey in front of the beautiful natural cathedral.
Following brunch in the majestic lodge we all headed in different directions - us returning to Sacramento where we had dinner at my BFF's home. 

Christie made this darling jacket. Welcome to the family!

The lodge, not the BFF's house.
This was Tessa's first time flying and she did great. She waited her turn to go through security off-leash by herself, and made lots of new friends in the waiting areas. Southwest Airlines treated her like royalty, and we had the front row for all our flights (two in each direction). Once she laid down on her blanket, she slept through take-offs and landings. 

All comfy for the 90 minute flight.
The day after we return, we meet the owners at the house. After a thorough walk-through, and a few hard-to-let-go tears, we have the keys. We purchased it furnished but they went the extra mile in making sure we could comfortably just move in and have what we needed. The bed is made with fresh sheets, towels in both bathrooms, a set of dishes, shower curtain, etc, etc.....and best of all - a Keurig in the kitchen! 

We spend our first week taking care of priorities like satellite, a new king size bed, big TV, and recliners. Projects get started, but until closing we don't tackle anything major. 

The house is very livable, but it's dated and we'll be taking our time bringing it into the 21st century.     

Not surprising, most of the work will be in the kitchen. Yes, that's carpet on the floor!

We love our big island. The opening on the left into the living room will be twice as large when we take out the big pantry and move the frig to where that closet is in the corner. Probably change out those lights :-))))

The tub is wonderful and the commode is new - but have to lose those metal walls and update the sink and storage. 

The carpet is in perfect shape but will end at the dining room. There will be a more open feeling when we widen that opening and paint the paneling. 

I'm keeping the large built-in hutch in the kitchen, but the layers of shelf paper have to go! 
So we're in and enjoying cool evenings on our front porch with amazing views. What a blessing that it all came together (looking back) so quickly. 

Lots of excitement planned for the holidays both here and back in SoCal, but we'll mostly be here through the winter. Then back on the road!

Naturally we  had to share our first "house-cooked" meal with Anna and Donnie!
Next we'll take the motorhome for a weekend gathering of high school friends back in the desert where we grew up.