Sunday, September 7, 2014

Whoa—been a long time—transitioning to our new life off the road

Sept. 7, 2014
Bend, Oregon

morning coffee by the river

Thanks to a friendly nudge from a fellow blogger I decided it was time to fire up the laptop, search for the Windows Live Writer icon and write an update on our lives since we delivered the Big EZ, our former motorhome, to its new owner in Billings, Montana back in mid-July.

I did not intend to take such a long absence from the blog and blogging in general. What happened seems analogous to the time we sold our home three years ago and started our journey on the road. For at least a year, Vic and I had a hard time looking at photos of our old home and its beautiful gardens without feeling a huge tug on our hearts—even though we were very excited about the decision to travel full-time in our motorhome. Saying goodbye to the Phaeton has brought up a similar feeling; it’s rather hard to look at Tiffin Phaetons towing Jeeps going down the road and to even revisit the blog world that was such a big part of our travels.

So I won’t pretend this transition to living in a sticks and brick home is without its emotions. The good news is we both felt “right” about the decision in spite of being a little afraid of how much we would miss the lifestyle and, most especially, the special friends we made along the way.

I also need to add that my blog reading fell off the same “boat.” Not until writing this have I realized that my resistance stems from a similar tug on my heart. It’s taking me a while to face the inevitable sadness that comes with the realization we won’t be seeing many of you this year. Please know my absence is not a sign of a lack of interest in your lives.

Now that the true confessions are over--my Catholic upbringing still has a hold on me--I am happy to share that we have been in our house four weeks already. This first month has been mostly a flurry of unpacking boxes (sixty from the motorhome alone), painting, organizing, and making lists of all the things we needed to purchase once again for home ownership like a vacuum, shower curtain, light bulbs, houseplants, rugs, a television, a DVR, and the list goes on.

moving van at shop 
We hired a local moving company to haul our belongings over the mountain from Corvallis to Bend, about a 130 mile trip

living room unpacking1

kitchen unpacking1

When we sold our home, we sold about 70% of our belongings; the rest we put in a storage unit. We kept our best furniture and lots of art for the walls. Thankfully, we have not had to purchase any furniture for the house; the bigger challenge was having more furniture than we thought our 1250 sq..ft. home could accommodate. Happily, we have found places for most of the furniture but have had to edit down the art considerably.

Vic’s greatest challenge has been making a one-car garage hold our Jeep, kayaks, bikes, “camping” gear, and all the other miscellaneous things that don’t fit in the house. If you know him, he likes to keep things tidy and organized so it has required many trips to Home Depot to find the right shelves, hooks, and other storage goodies.

new garage1
Our one-car garage overflowing with boxes

Admittedly, we have been rather obsessed with daily tasks of making our house a home. There’s no real hurry but we both have felt a self-imposed urgency. Aside from emptying all the boxes, the next priority was choosing paint (it took me about 20 samples to find just the right color) to free us from the overwhelming shade of blue that enveloped us in the main areas of the house, the living room and kitchen.

living room with blue walls

fireplace with blue walls

Painting is one of the homeowner tasks Vic loves to do and, as you can imagine, because of his eye for detail, he is quite good at it; however, with 15 ft. ceilings, the task was not too easy. We had to buy a a ten foot ladder for Vic to be able to cut in at the top of the wall. It’s amazing how much better these rooms look with the new paint color called jute, a pale shade of khaki green.

As our task list gets a little shorter, we are looking forward to taking more advantage of all there is to do here-- concerts, festivals, art walks, and plenty of beer tasting venues. Aside from working on the house, I have also been a factor in not pursuing many outdoor adventures yet as I have been suffering from a foot injury that caused me to finally see a podiatrist followed by several trips to physical therapy. I sprained my ankle about six weeks ago and did not take good care of it. Whatever compensation I was doing for the weak ankle led to a raging case of plantar fasciitis. I have been told to lay off hiking, biking, and zumba for a while until my ankle is stronger and the throbbing in my foot diminishes. We did, however, just join an amazing local fitness center that has an Olympic size pool, so I can at least get in the water—something I already miss about being on the road—having a pool to enjoy at many of the campgrounds where we stayed.

I am also more than ready to go kayaking. The Deschutes River flows right through town here and they estimate about 1000 people a day use the $1 shuttle on summer weekends to float the river on tubes, kayaks, and paddleboards.

river with activity
Several tubers hook up to float down the Deschutes River near the downtown area

river with paddleboarders2
A young paddleboarder negotiates the river in front of the Old Mill Shops

We also have an abundance of mountain lakes to choose from for kayaking. The only challenge now is that the weather is getting cooler fast. Fall is definitely in the air. We have already had a couple nights with temps in the high 30s—geez! Fortunately, the daytime temps have been in the 70s to low 80s. We aren’t really sure how we will react to the truly cold weather of winter when it comes.

The dogs have adjusted to our home pretty well. They seem to be enjoying the freedom of more space and a yard, but are a little clingy when they think we are going somewhere. Rico even follows me into the walk-in closet when I am putting away clothes. He seems to be less sure about this house thing than Jetta as he spent most of his life in the motorhome (all but a year). It will be very interesting to see how they will react to snow. Jetta has seen a day or two of it in her life, but it will be a new experience for Rico.

One outdoor activity we have been doing is trying out the many dog parks in town. We have learned we much prefer the ones with grassy areas as this time of year things get quite dusty around here. The closest one to our house is pretty good too as it has large wood chips and access to the river for dogs to swim and fetch. There are even off-leash cross country trails for dogs to join their owners while they ski—not sure I would feel that confident to have them in the woods in deep snow.

dog park pine nursery best
Vic and the dogs stop for a pose just outside the grassy off-leash area at Pine Nursery Park 

A concern in moving here was living in a house where the neighbors are not likely to stop over for happy hour, hold potlucks, or sit around a campfire like we have experienced in our motorhome travels. Ironically, I remember feeling quite concerned that our social life on the road would be diminished and that Vic and I would quickly grow tired of each other with few friends around to spice up our life. That concern resolved itself faster than we could have ever imagined. Our best memories of the past three years are of times we spent with the friends we made along the way in various campgrounds. Fortunately, we know quite a few people here who moved from the valley where we used to live and my best friend from high school moved here from the Chicago area three years ago, so we are lucky to have good friends here already. We are also hoping that those of you on the road reading this will be sure to let us know when you are in the area so we can have you over and show you some of our Bend discoveries.

I will close with a few other random photos of our house and life in Bend. Let the Good Times Roll—wherever you are.

pam on frotn porch

bend beer fest
We spent a lovely Saturday afternoon at the annual Bend Beerfest
 where they had over 150  beers on tap for sampling. Good thing we could walk back home!

Sitting on a bluff near our house after sunset listening to a Jack Johnson concert
that was taking place at the nearby Les Schwab outdoor amphitheater