Monday, October 4, 2021

The Reality of a Home Hit By a SUV!

 September 5 - October 4, 2021
Cameron - Tombstone, Arizona

Following a surprisingly good night's sleep we are up and on the road early Sunday morning. Even though we've both shared the "what-ifs" of the SUV crashing into our little Tombstone house, we've yet to be angry about it. Accidents happen, no one was injured, the house remains live-in-able, we have insurance as does the driver.

Bummed we're going to miss our Colorado route, and for the fourth time (!) we aren't going to see the eastside of the Grand Canyon. I really need to stop putting that on the map :-) However, we do target Cameron, Arizona (the place we would have used for that Grand Canyon visit) as our overnight stop on what is now a two-day trip. 

Another reminder that the things that matter are just fine. Christie and Emily expecting our next two grandbabies in December and October. 

Definitely more driving than usual, but Moab and Monument Valley give us lots to appreciate on what is a fairly clear day. I still can't believe the smoke continues to faintly mute our western skies. 

Love the red dirt of southern Utah.

Monuments everywhere through the Valley of the Gods.

Although a bit hazy, I have to slow for people standing in the middle of the highway to capture this iconic view.

We're bummed that Amigos is closed in Kayenta and we're missing the best Navajo Tacos anywhere. Instead we opt for marginal offerings at the Burger King. I remember there's an exhibit here for the Navajo Code Talkers so it's a good spot to take a break. I take photos but they disappear from my phone (obviously very secret stuff here).

Arriving at a respectable 3:30 PM at the Cameron Trading Post, we set up in our mostly level, all dirt, water and 30 amp site. Across from the trading post and restaurant, we've stayed here before (that time the snow kept us from seeing the canyon). It's a bare-bones little park owned by the Navajo Nation, with night security and star-filled skies. The frybread tacos here are good, but they aren't Amigos :-)

The dog-tv is very limited here.

Our 380 mile, Labor Day weekend, drive on Monday is a mix of two-lanes through green desert, city traffic, and familiar vistas. Although we've driven it before, I forget how much climbing and dropping there is on Hwy 17. Pretty though! The holiday hordes aren't bad through Phoenix and Tucson, but we're very happy to see our San Pedro Valley about 2 PM. And the skies are clear and blue!!!

It's greener here than anywhere we've been since western Washington!

Almost home.

Jeff has been great about sending us pics and keeping us informed on what's happening at the house. Still, nothing really prepares you for seeing your fireplace spread out across your living room, and large holes in the structure of your home. Our good friend Jim pointed out that you'd think it would be our home on wheels that a vehicle would drive into, not our stationary one!!

Had it not been for the 800 lb cast-iron firebox and the massive brick hearth, he would likely have driven all the way through given his probable speed of 45 mph when he hit.

Bill's antique trunk with many of the keepsakes we kept when we went fulltime took the direct hit on that wall to the left of the fireplace. Landing upside down next to the recliner, nothing inside or on top of it was damaged!

Although greatly reduced from the amount of Christmas decorations I had before we retired, there were still four bins (one flew up and caught on a hook in the ceiling) on the shelves that were wiped out where the SUV came through. Four small "filler" ornaments broke, everything else including ceramic and glass items are all fine.

One of several irreplaceable treasures (Brian made in third grade) that survived inside the damaged trunk.

Look at the photo above of the Christmas boxes in the garage. To the left of the blue tarp is the inside wall of the house where the garage wall was pushed in. This little wooden chair was mine as a child, and my boys and Ezra have sat in it as well. It is completely unscathed. 

Tuesday a demo crew arrives from Tucson to haul off the fallen brick from inside the house and shore-up the damaged walls to make it safe. They brace the ceiling around the chimney in the garage, remove the damaged front door and carpet, and board up the holes to the outside. They comment several times on how the fireplace and chimney were built to survive hurricanes and earthquakes! Their trailer must have weighted 5000 lbs when they were done.

The crew of four were efficient in getting the carpet out and the walls temporarily framed to hold up the ceiling after they spent hours hauling out bricks and dry wall.

Much better, but daunting knowing that chimney still has to come down.

Glad to have those braces in place for a couple days.

Within a couple days we have an approved claim from State Farm with checks already in the mail. Our contractor who did our kitchen in 2019 is onboard to do the rebuild for us. Friday his crew arrives to remove the rest of the chimney, the ginormous firebox, and do a temporary patch on the roof. It sounds like something I want to watch them do. Until they start and instead Jeff and I go to town to run errands :-))

No more brick chimney.

Once the chimney on the roof was off, they "pushed real hard" from inside and above.

It was a huge chimney.

So much better, but it does get old fast.

Since our new gas fireplace (the old one was gas as well) is vent-less, and we're installing the firebox on the house-side of the wall, our garage is now much larger! The temporary drywall will be replaced with the same paneling as the rest of the garage. There was a door where he came through that we are also not replacing.

On the mantle, along with vintage books and drums that flew off but were not damaged, were six glass bottles and five glass candle holders. We found all but one of each when we picked up the first day. Found underneath the brick rubble in the garage were the remaining ones. 

It's obvious from the photos that we are incredibly fortunate in the lack of damage we sustained to personal items. Bill's recliner was tweaked and we've already replaced it. The trunk is damaged but useable against a wall. A small ottoman was crunched and we've replaced that as well. Paintings, books, pots, etc., all flew across the room from the impact, but except for a few nicks are all fine. 

The one item that is devastating for me is the loss of my Bison skull, painted with the face of Chief Red Cloud. It is completely decimated. 

Red Cloud has held a place of honor in my home for decades. 

I kept the horns, the only pieces left intact. 

Little else remains identifiable.

Now we wait. Not for our contractor or permits or the insurance companies (the driver's insurance company is covering everything so they are reimbursing State Farm and paying our deductible). We're waiting for Lowe's to deliver the firebox <groan>. As of today it's a week late, hopefully coming tomorrow. Reminds me of Janna's countertops last Spring! 

Bill's aunt's memorial in Fresno is the last weekend in September. With everything going on here, he drives by himself to be there to say goodbye to the youngest of the matriarchs we lost in the last few months. Stopping for the night at our friends' in Desert Center where Kevin joins him for the round trip to Fresno, and a quick visit with two of the grands in Valencia, breaks up the long drive for him. He enjoys seeing the family of course, but is very glad to be home after four days away.

M&M with their PopPop.

Cousins Cindy, Terri, Bill, Jenny and David

We continue to get afternoon storms nearly everyday. Most go to the south of us, but we have a few days of real wet. When we returned our yard was deep in weeds from all the monsoons of the summer so getting those knocked down was a priority the first week. We're just hoping they don't come back before winter hits! 

Although we can't know when the rebuild will be done (it includes all new carpet throughout the house, painting, new fencing, etc.), we're heading out the end of October for our high school reunion and a couple weeks in SoCal to see the kids and Bill's college pals on the coast. Elliott will be a year old already, and as of two days ago Penelope Anne has joined the family - our seventh grandbaby!

At ten months Elliott is walking, and growing much too fast! 

Days before baby Penelope's arrival, Reese with mommy Emily.

I'm convinced we've used up every bit of good Karma we had with how little personal property damage we had, and how quickly our insurance money got to us. When all is done we'll have several upgrades - both planned and not. Of course we'll be glad when it's all done!

In the meantime life goes on in our little corner of Southeast Arizona.


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Colorado Beauty Cut Even More When We Get Another Shocking Call

 September 2 - 4, 2021
Fruita, Colorado

Thursday's drive south from Vernal, Utah, to Fruita, Colorado, is 130 miles of two-lane road. From pitted, bumpy and very narrow to newly paved and comfortably wide, it's beautiful most of the way. Towering colorful canyons with amazing rock formations lead into pine forest covered mountains.

About that mountain.....Douglas Pass is 7% grade on both sides with a speed limit of 25 mph, and 15 mph switchback turns. It's also one of the narrow sections of the road. But there is very little other traffic, and it is stunning (and you're going slow enough to really see it!). I'm not nervous up or down, but it always feels good to get to the bottom :-) Not sure I'd want to drive it from south to north as that is a LOT more steep uphill. Actually, we drop elevation all the way to I-70 just west of Fruita. 

Still going down, looking back up at the road - it's a lot further "up there" than it looks here!

Monument RV Park is easy to find, and we get set up on our level all-gravel 50 amp FHU site. Basic city park with few trees and close neighbors, it's perfect for our needs this holiday weekend. As I always try to get the holidays covered first, I made this reservation nine months ago!

Late lunch at Cattleman's Grill in Loma is tasty, even having to fight the flies for our meal. The restaurant and bar share the building with the livestock auction facility so it's not hard to guess where the little pests are coming from.

We've heard about the scenic drives in the area, and with our Colorado time cut short we want to take advantage of what we can see here. Friday morning we take the Historic Rim Rock Drive, 23 miles of grand views ranked high on the country's "most beautiful" lists. 

The only "history" we encounter is a reference to the cattle trail that was the original route to the canyon's rim, and the building of the road itself. I continue to be amazed and appreciative of the roads built just so we have access to these gorgeous natural wonders. 

The 23 mile road travels up, over and through some of the most beautiful canyons we've ever seen. And we've seen a lot!

Independence Monument to the right is a beauty. A fellow traveler at the pull out tells us there are climbers near the top.

With full zoom I find them on this ledge preparing to reach the summit.

First up assists his partner for the last step.

Which one of us is calling the helicopter? 

Interesting formations along the roadside.

Red stripes brush along the canyon walls.

Upper Utte Canyon where the dark clouds drop light rain.

A bright burst along the trail.

Canyon walls on all sides.

Erosion creates a variety of gallery pieces.

Grand Junction has a cute historic downtown, but very little parking that we can find. We do find a tasty lunch at Main Street Cafe, but the sprinkles felt earlier become a pretty good rain so we miss a stroll through the restored area. 

The main reason we kept Fruita on our route (although the anticipated natural beauty is a strong second) before returning to California is to see a dear friend from high school. Terri and I were buddies my senior year, and have only seen each other at one reunion over the many years since. She is here with her mom and youngest brother and his wife. Our first meeting is for dinner at nearby El Tapatio, including their good friends Eddie and Kelly who also live in the area. We enjoy a lively evening and very good meals. Good margaritas too! Afterwards Terri and mom Lois come to visit our little home for more visiting. While I fail to get pics, we are going to their home for Sunday brunch where I'm sure to remember!

Saturday morning we get a slow start for Grand Mesa. The lower route takes us through golden formations along a shallow running creek. As we climb we're in thick pines and hardwoods. Long distance views show how high we're climbing - at one point we're level with the high clouds on the other side of the valley. Just past 10,000 feet I'm feeling the elevation in a not-good way. When the road narrows and continues to climb I turn around. Not having fun, not feeling good, not going any further. Little did we know at this point that feeling funky was the least of bad things happening elsewhere. That would once again cause a major change in our plans.

A small lake, part of the recreational area.

Still some smoke in the valley, but certainly better than previous stops.

The green is so lush!

Taking a little break on the way down my phone pings that I have service again. And a voice mail. From Jeff back in Tombstone. Call, it's an emergency.

Horrible things go through a mother's mind, but at least he was able to leave a message. When he answers my call he sounds good. Whew! 

"An SUV crashed into the house" is NOT what I'm expecting to hear! Learning that no one was hurt is not only amazing but a huge relief. Police and fire are there, utilities are turned off, he has all the information from the driver, the neighbors are a big help. He's calm and in control and that makes me feel the same way. We all laugh about the absurdity. 

I see a new fireplace in our future.

Glad Jeff's car was on the other side of the garage - still got a few dents from that flying door :-(

Of course we'll head home in the morning.

The afternoon is spent cancelling all the reservations I finalized two days ago. It's becoming second nature.

I'm bummed to tell Terri we can't do brunch on Sunday. No pics after all :-(

Our summer isn't wrapping up the way we planned, not even the way we re-planned - but having a flexible life style is a blessing as are our family and friends.