Ready for the Desert!

Ready for the Desert!
Ready for the Desert!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

01-30-2018 “Home” to Catalina Spa

Most years when we travel south, we slip into one of our favorite little spots, Catalina Spa and RV Resort.  Last year was a bit of a shock for us, since one of our favorite things about this particular park  was the hot spring fed swimming pool that was open all night.  I have watched moon rises and sun rises from this pool, watched stars at night and one time tracked the space station as it crossed the sky.  I love swimming in the dark without the sun in my eyes.

Last year the “adult” pool in the lower (older) part of the park was closed for renovation, and I had to either walk or drive in the middle of the cold night to get the the upper pool.  We knew that the lower pool renovations were complete and were excited and a bit nervous about the changes.

I discovered that I really am resistant to change.  It infuriates me.  Cracked me up when I realized how I was reacting to the shifts, just like an old person who can’t deal with change.  As time passed, I reminded myself, “change or die”, and I began to adjust to the shifts in our favorite place to camp in the Coachella Valley.

The new pool is quite modern looking.  The lovely old and somewhat amateur murals on the spa wall have been replaced with very spendy and lovely glass tiles.  The pool is spotlessly clean, with some kind of machine that runs during the night.  A very nice technician explained to me that California state law requires that all pools be treated with chlorine, and that not using it could result in the complete shutdown of the pool.  Sigh.  What I loved about that pool, in addition to the 24 hour open thing was the fact that it had no chlorine in it, and neither did the spa.  The hot springs at the resort completely replace the water in the pool every 3 days or so and in the spa more than twice a day.  Technician man said that even when he keeps the chlorine level up to state requirements, it is on the very low level of those requirements.  I only noticed it very faintly early in the morning, at 7am, when the pool now opens.  We also were told that the resort is now being billed as a “family resort destination”.  No such thing as an adult pool any more.  At least they still honor Passport America and our daily rate was a cool $22.50.  Not bad overall. Change or die.

The camping area has changed as well.  Half of the lower park (including the area we always chose to camp) has been closed off for repairs, and for eventual conversion to park models only. We were directed to our spot by a volunteer in a golf cart, unlike in the past where we were allowed to make our own choice.  It wasn’t a bad spot, actually quite level, and the sand had been freshly raked.  Instead of the tall tamarisk trees at the rear of our rig on 11th street as we always chose, we had campers directly behind us, and our patio was completely visible to them.  Not exactly private, but tolerable, since we were lucky enough to have nice, quiet campers in those spots.

The park seemed fairly full, but with half of it shut down, that would explain why.  We were given pages and pages of rules and activities, how to create a “safe bag” for exiting in an emergency and all sorts of other stuff.  TV thank goodness is still not digital, so we were able to get it via cable.  (We left our cable at home somehow and had to buy another one)  So much for knowing where everything is located after our move.

We were so lucky for our entire time in Desert Hot Springs with absolutely perfect weather.  It was especially lucky to be in a place with clear skies for the early morning spectacular show on January 31, the Supermoon and the Lunar Eclipse.  I didn’t even set an alarm, but woke up several times during the night to gaze at the moon, and was awake just after the eclipse started.  Didn’t pack a tripod on this trip, and thought that I really didn’t need to try that hard for a perfect photo.  So many good friends are really good at what they do, and they all have tripods.  I did want to at least try to capture the moment for my own memories, and the photos I got made me happy enough.  I was surprised at how many people around us in the park just slept through the entire display.  Of course, there were a few folks wandering about in bathrobes and slippers, smiling and laughing with me.

Once the sun was fully up the last morning of January, it was time to take Mattie walking in the big desert area just north.  The dog park is small and was muddy from the morning sprinklers, and the desert was much more inviting.  Within a few days, Mattie had made friends with several other dogs whose owners liked walking in the open, and several of us let the kids play off leash when everyone got along well.  As usual, Mattie likes the big dogs best, but there were a few little ones who were playful enough for her.  She can be a bit of a brat when she is on-leash, and gets all excited when she sees new dogs, wanting to play.  Her version of play can look kind of aggressive if you don’t know her, and I spent a lot of time saying, “No!!” 

I was glad for doggie play time for her since she will be going to visit a doggie care center while we are in Mexico next month, and the place requires her to be well behaved with other dogs.  Of course.  At least she had some practice during out three weeks out on this trip.

Time passed slowly for us at Catalina.  This year the weather was so great, with NO wind, an unheard of thing when visiting Desert Hot Springs at this time of year.  We had time to read in our chairs on the shady side of the rig, to swim mornings and evenings, to actually relax.  That is something we both really needed to do since we have been so much on the go for the last two years.  Real relaxation has been missing, and especially relaxation in warm sunshine!  Wonderful.

We had a few plans upcoming for the later part of our week, including some hikes, and some traditional treats like the Living Desert and Palm Springs Street Fair, but the quiet down time we enjoyed those first few days was extra special.


01-29-2018 The Oranges are Waiting!

I know I write about this almost every single year, but I just get so excited thinking about the oranges that are waiting for me at Orange Grove RV Park. I don’t even eat them, I juice them.  Crazy, I know, but with those big bags of juicy sweet oranges, I can have the luxury of making fresh orange juice every single day for at least a couple of weeks.  I can barely stand to drink OJ from a store any more.

We have traveled our winter escape south so many times, and several different ways.  In the years when we stored the MoHo in Brookings, before we bought the Grants Pass property, we traveled south along 101, through San Francisco and intercepting I-5 east of Paso Robles.

In the years when the MoHo was stored in Redding, we traveled south via I-5 all the way to Bakersfield before heading east on Highway 58 over the Tehachapi’s to the desert.  I-5 is in serious need of repairs, and each year it seems to get worse, in spite of the few spots that get repaired.

Mattie is a happy camper when we are rolling down the road.This year we decided to travel Highway 99, the old historic route through the Central Valley, Lodi, to Modesto, to Merced, to Fresno, to Bakersfield.  This freeway can be narrow and crowded, but traffic doesn’t seem to travel quite as fast as it does on I-5.  70’s instead of 80’s.  Also, except for the areas through the cities, the pavement was blessedly smooth.  No bumpety bump d bump for miles and miles and miles, and no 6 inch divots in the pavement.  We had a valve stem go out on one of those potholes, and it just doesn’t seem right that there should be big ugly potholes on an interstate freeway.

The route south to the desert isn’t that long.  Theoretically we could travel it in two days with ease, but it is more fun to take our time, stop after 300 miles or so, and arrive rested and ready to play

The trip was uneventful, leaving Lodi around 9 and pulling into Orange Grove RV Park around 3.  Perfect driving day.  We had fueled in Dunnigan the day prior to arriving at Lodi, and didn’t need gas again until we reached the Costco in Bakersfield. This time, with our travels down 99, the Costco was right off the exit.  Easy off, easy on, and cheapest fuel around.  Traffic was heavy, however, and the lines were long, as usual.  Ah yes, we are back in California again.  We have to pump our own gas.  Always a jokester around who asks us if we know how when they see our Oregon license plates.

Arriving at Orange Grove in the afternoon, we were once again glad that we took the effort to make a reservation.  This is such a popular park for Canadians on their way south and most of the license plates were from various Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Quebec. 

Sometimes they have signs saying “please only one bag per rig”, and that bag is a small plastic garbage bag.  This time, however, with most of the low hanging fruit gone from the trees between sites, they had no such restrictions.  Instead, the maintenance man came up to tell me about their additional grove that is just a bit west of the main campground, loaded with oranges all the way down to the ground, and free for the picking.  I, like many others I saw, filled a grocery bag or two, and they weren’t small plastic ones, they were big Trader Joe’s cloth bags.  I took enough to last as long as I thought they could stay fresh without refrigeration. 

Within minutes I had my first orange, sliced up and eaten from rind to get all the juice.  Then a bit later I did the old California trick of puncturing the stem end of the orange and drinking the juice, before I cut up a bunch of oranges and made a full glass of the sweet stuff.  Darn good thing I don’t have diabetes!

We didn’t pack our satellite this time.  It just has been entirely too much trouble the last few times we were out.  Our TV is not digital, so doesn’t work in all parks.  After all, our rig was built in 2006, before digital was the norm, and we aren’t in that much of a hurry to upgrade.  A break from TV is a nice thing.  We listen to the radio for the news, and thoroughly enjoy the different perspective of NPR in the morning.

Orange Grove does still have cable TV, however, and not the kind that requires a digital TV or a cable box.  Our problem with broadcast TV is that we are so used to watching at our own times and skipping the commercials, that regular TV is a pain in the neck, so it doesn’t stay on for long. 

Orange Grove also has LOTS of outside lights on at night.  It was quiet, with only a bit of road noise from the freeway that is 1/4 mile distant, but we were glad we had darkening shades that kept the light out.  Reminded me of our nights in Alaska, where it never got dark at all, and the shades worked great.  We still have day/night shades, the kind with cords, and the MCD shade upgrade is also something we aren’t all that much in a hurry to complete.  Mo has fixed the shades a couple of times, makes sure the strings are all working properly, and our shades are just fine after ten years.  I can hardly believe we have been traveling in this rig for that long.  She is still great, and we can’t find any other that we would choose to replace her.

Onward to Catalina Spa and RV Park, with our minds curious about what we will find with the new owners and remodel of the park.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

01-28-2018 South at Last

On Sunday morning the skies over Grants Pass were gorgeous.  The often present winter fog was nowhere to be seen, blue was all around us, and a few puffy clouds toward the south were lined with gold from the early sunlight.  A perfect travel day! 

Our preparations for this trip were easy.  We were basically settled into the new house and had all the time in the world to get ready.  A day to wash the rig, a day to check fluids and tires on both the MoHo and the Tracker.  Two days to pack.

Packing was interesting.  For the first time in a long time, everything we have is in one house.  If I can’t find my swim suit, I don’t have to wonder in which house it might be hiding.  It is either here, or already in the MoHo.  Then of course, there is the ever present question of exactly what to take. 

It is chilly here, of course, it is still winter in Grants Pass.  A much warmer winter than what we are used to in Klamath Falls, but winter nonetheless. It is really hard to imagine that shorts and sleeveless shirts will be all that we need, in spite of the predicted 80 degree weather in the southland.  I packed some long pants, some capris, some shorts, and way too many long sleeved shirts.  Mo did the same, but she is better at this than I am, packing quite a bit less. 

Food supplies are always another question, but this time I had plenty of time to cook and freeze.  For a week prior to leaving, I cooked big meals, and froze the leftovers, and we had nice containers filled with chicken enchiladas, bean soup, turkey soup, carnitas, and spaghetti sauce among others.  The little MoHo freezer was packed to the gills for the three weeks ahead.

We left as planned within minutes of 9am, not a bit of traffic anywhere.  On Sunday morning the freeway was basically empty, the skies clear and lovely until…ooops….as we drove south toward Ashland and the Siskiyou Summit, the fog settled in.  It wasn’t really cold, and there was no snow.  We had planned carefully.  Only the day before chains were required over this pass and over Mt Shasta.  We actually changed our departure date to miss the snows.  Lucky us!  Many times as we have traveled south for a winter respite we have had to drive through snow and ice and fog.  This time it was only the fog, and it was a piece of cake.

In fact the entire drive was a piece of cake, all the way to Lodi, where we checked into our favorite little park at Flag City RV.  It is clean, quick, a Passport America park, with level cement sites and everything we need for a simple overnighter on our way to and from the southern part of the state.

Within minutes of landing, we were hooked up and I had Mattie on her leash ready to go play in the wonderful, expansive, grassy dog park.  UhOh.  The beautiful expanse was now completely ringed by huge solar panels, so much so that the only place to walk was on the bottom of the storm water catchment basin, in the wet stuff at the bottom.  Solar is great, but geez it is ugly, and it was claustrophobic walking in there.  The person at the desk told me that they spent “millions” on the panels, and their power bills dropped from between $20,000 to $30,000 a month, down to $20. per month.  All those panels power just the RV park, without any extra to sell back to the power company.  She said they would recoup their investment in 3 to 4 years.

It was our first night out in a long time, and it felt good to be camping in the MoHo somewhere other than our front yard.  California deserts, here we come!

If you click on a photo and discover you are in an album from another year, it is because I had to cheat.  I didn’t take one single photo on this first day out, and a blog post with no photos is pretty darn ugly. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Let’s Go to the Beach!

Current Location:  The Sunset House in Grants Pass Oregon

Let’s go to the beach!  I suppose that is something said more often in summer, or even spring or fall, but probably doesn’t fall off one’s lips in the middle of winter, at least not in this part of the country.  But now that we are at last settled into our home, Mo and I have been itching to get the MoHo on the road, and the beach is just two hours west.  That was one of the reasons we chose to build our home in Grants Pass;  it is a reasonably easy drive to the ocean, without having to live in the salt air and summer fogs.

Is it surprising that once again we ended up in Brookings at Harris Beach State Park?  Probably not to readers who have been around awhile.  What can I say about Harris Beach that I haven’t said several times a year for the last 15 years?!  Brookings is the Banana Belt of the Oregon Coast, and is known for great December weather.  With a foggy inversion hanging around Grants Pass for the last week or so, we were definitely ready for some sunshine.

The beach complied with a great day of sun and temperatures in the 60’s.  At least that was the case when we arrived on Monday afternoon.  Packing up was a breeze, the MoHo was nice and clean inside and out, waiting in the RV shed, everything we needed for a simple two night stay took less than an hour to load.  We had to bide our time before leaving since we didn’t want to arrive too early.  Check-in time at the State Park is supposed to be after 1pm.  Perfect.

We left in fog, but by the time we reached Hayes Hill just west of town on Highway 199 the sun was so brilliant I had to find my sunglasses.  Ahhh.  The drive was gorgeous, as always, even with the water in the wild Smith River at fairly low levels due to the recent lack of precipitation.  Someday I am going to make an attempt to drive that road in a car and stop often enough to capture some of the beauty of the river and the mountains and forests through this part of the coast range. Taking photos out the window of a moving vehicle can’t begin to do it justice, and since I was driving that was even more of a problem.  I had the same thought today as we returned, and I wasn’t driving.  I did manage to get a photo of the snow surrounding us at the higher elevations, thankfully not right on the road, but real photos?  As I said, maybe someday.

When we first arrived, the front row appeared to be completely empty?  Really?  What a delight!  We didn’t have reservations, insisting to friends who asked that they were completely unnecessary at this time of year.  Approaching the park entrance, we had a bit of a shock.  The front row was completely empty because most of the park was shut down for a complete overhaul of the sewer and water system. 

There were only 2 sites along the front row that were useable and as we continued around the C Loop (most of the back side of A and most of B loop were closed) we saw that C4, one of our favorite sites, was open with a reservation scheduled for late December.  Score!  A big rig followed us in, and gave up and left the park, shaking his head at the vacancy sign.  Vacancy doesn’t mean anything is useable for big rigs or that the available sites would actually have hookups.  Most of the vacancies were tent sites.  The park volunteers let us know that the work was supposed to be completed by mid June of this year.  We will see.  But I don’t imagine we will try to get back to Harris Beach any time soon.  Loeb Park is open, and is only $24 per night, but it is up the Chetco River, and is some distance from town and the beach.

Thanking the RV gods for our good luck, we were in our spot and set up in no time.  One of the nice things about C4 is that it still has the tall trees and overgrown bushes that used to make Harris Beach so charming and private. The new thought for the park is to take down many of the trees (they aren’t native), and trim all the hedges into nice even rectangles.

Much of the privacy between sites is gone, and while the views of the ocean are accessible, so are the views of your next door neighbors.  I miss the old overgrown feeling of the park, but I don’t imagine we will give up camping at Harris Beach in the future.  It is just too convenient to town, to trails, to wonderful beach walks, and to home.

The sun was still out, and there was very little wind.  We knew the forecast for the next day called for 100 percent chance of precip with high winds, so we quickly set up camp and headed down to the beach.  It was so wonderfully warm, with no wind at all, and our light jackets were almost too much for us.  We walked north from the main beach parking area where we can let Mattie off leash when no one is around. 

She had a great time tearing around in the sand.  That little dog loves to run and is sooooo fast!  It was impossible to catch her in a photo since I didn't bother to lug the camera with me and only had the phone.  We sat for a time watching the water and the sky, and letting Mattie play as the sun began to go down over the waves.

There was more entertainment on the agenda that needed to be enjoyed on an evening without rain.  The annual Nature’s Coastal Holiday was once again lighting up Azalea Park with over 500,000 lights.  We attended the show in 2013 and didn’t want to miss it. We thought a fish and chips supper before the show was a great idea until I started searching and found most every fish and chips place in Brookings and in nearby Harbor are closed on Mondays.  Note to self, bring food for Monday nights in Brookings!  Luckily I had some great chicken enchiladas in the fridge so we didn’t go hungry.

It was completely dark by a bit after 5 when we paid our nominal $2.00 fee to enter the park.  The show was breathtaking, even more wonderful than we remember from our visit four years ago.  I have never seen so many lights, wrapped around every bush and tree and even spread over the ground to look like flowing water.  The pathways around the park were lit, the gazebo on the hill was a beacon that could be seen from most every vantage point, and the music was pure Christmas, with Bing Crosby crooning, and of course, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.  I think the only light show I have seen that could come close to this one is the Christmas light show at Silver Springs in Ocala, Florida.  I have no idea if they even still do that show now that Silver Springs is officially a state park and no longer a private amusement venue.

Everything was so lovely we had to walk around more than once to take it all in.  Somehow all those lights and Christmas music are what makes the holiday the most fun for me.  I am so glad that we went.

Afterward, we stopped off at Fred Meyer, the main shopping place in Brookings, and lo and behold out walked Doni, from Quilting and Life in General, a blog I have read for years.  I had never met her in person, but recognized her face instantly.  I can only imagine how it must feel to be leaving the grocery store and have some stranger accost you with, “Doni?!  It is YOU!  I have read your blog for years!”  Doni is a quilter, and I found her blog through Paulette of Rick and Paulette from the very old days of early blogging.  Such fun.  And such a small world.

Yesterday we woke to hard rain and very dark skies.  Somehow breakfast slipped in at almost 9am, unheard of for the two of us who are usually such early risers. The winds were high and wild and the rain was blowing sideways for most of the day.  We decided it might be a day for a book instead of a walk, and wandered off to the Goodwill store in search of something used to entertain each of us.  We also thought a stop at my very favorite local quilt store was in order, and imagine my sad surprise to find that the store was closed and the owner had retired last summer.  I was heartbroken, but I guess after 30 years a woman can get tired and want to let it go.  Our favorite bakery still had hours listed from 6am on Friday mornings through Sundays only, so I was glad I brought a stash of Christmas cookies that I baked last week to keep us fortified.

Fish and Chips are an important component of any visit to the coast, even a short one.  We have spent several years passing by the Crazy Norwegian in Port Orford.  Sometimes we pass because we are on our way somewhere coming or going, or the place is closed (probably a Monday).  Nina talked  about it often when she and Paul were staying at the lighthouse in Cape Blanco, and other bloggers have waxed poetic about the fabulous food to be found in the tiny establishment.

In spite of the driving rains, and high winds, we thought a 55 mile each way trip up the coast along Highway 101 would be a good way to spend part of a rainy day, especially with good fish and chips to reward us.  The Crazy Norwegian turned out to be a great little place, with everything fresh and homemade.  I loved the chowder especially, not too thick and homemade with some kind of herb that didn’t appeal to Mo but really tickled me.  I think it was tarragon.  The cod was from Alaska, and on the menu it stated that the supply of good fresh cod from local sources was too undependable, hence the Alaska version.  It was moist and tender and done perfectly, as were the fries.  The coleslaw was different, and the waitress said the secret ingredient was horseradish.  It wasn’t my favorite.  Coleslaw should have mayo in it!  We were really glad we made the trip, glad to have tried out the Crazy Norwegian, but also decided that in the future we might be perfectly happy to return to the Sporthaven Marina that we found last time we were in Brookings.

Back to the RV in the rain, we settled in for card playing, skipping super since our two o’clock lunch held us over just fine, and reading our new books.  I found a new author, Martha Grimes, and I am loving the book, “Dakota”.  I think I’ll have to search out some more of her writings.

We watched the weather report, listening to the winter storm warnings for the coast range and for the Cascades, hoping that things would clear out by the time we had to leave at noon.  I checked the weather channel this morning, and we played more cards while waiting for the snow to melt that covered the roads at the Oregon California border.  I didn’t relish the thought of traveling Highway 199 in the snow.  That road along the Smith is gorgeous and treacherous as well, with steep mountains formed from slippery serpentine rock that slides easily, and narrow lanes that drop directly to the river sometimes a hundred feet below the tiny almost non existent guard rail.  Just ask Judy about that road!  Ha!

By the time we left however, the temps were in the 40’s, the rain showed no signs of scary snow at least as far as Patrick Creek, and the road had no ice to mar our journey.  Mo drove and I did manage to get a couple of photos out the windshield of the snow around us, but thankfully not on the road.  When we got home, the sun was shining through the clouds surrounding Grants Pass.

Within a hour of arriving, we had dumped the tanks into our own RV dump, unloaded everything, and had the MoHo all backed into her shed, safe and sound.  I made another batch of Christmas cookies, we ate our leftover fish and chips (of COURSE we had leftovers), I processed photos, and wonder of all wonders, here I am writing the blog!  Photos probably won’t go in till later since tomorrow morning I am off to see daughter Melody and her family just two hours north in Eugene.  So excited!  Two hours isn’t that far, but it seems a long way after two years of having Melody living in the same apartment building with Mo and I.  I really do miss having her close by and seeing the kids come and go and getting hugs on a regular basis.  I’ll have to catch up on hugs tomorrow for sure.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Home at Last and Travel Plans

Current Location: Grants Pass, Oregon 30 degrees with icy fog

We are home.  We have been living in our new home for just over a month now.  Time has a funny way of shifting about, and it feels like we have been here forever, and yet it also feels like only a moment.  I still find myself reaching on the wrong side for the toilet paper, or sliding my hand up the wrong wall to find the light switch.  A few days ago I stomped near the base of the toilet to flush it.  Yes, RVr’s will recognize that one.

We spent much time in the Moho parked here on the property from March through September, but we lived pretty much full time there from mid September until November 7th, the date that our furniture arrived from Klamath Falls. We still have the apartments in Klamath Falls, but wanted to be here for the ending details of the build. Finally, after two and a half years of moving around, fixing up places, selling places, moving stuff from one home to another as we made the shifts, all of everything we have is here, in one place.  It feels a bit strange. 

I somehow completely lost time and inclination to blog the building process.  I photographed extensively, and my calendar is jammed with deadlines, appointments, contractor schedules and such.  I will always have the opportunity to go back and look at the progress and the completion, but no way could I even begin to keep up with writing about it as it was happening.

The last six weeks was much different than the first few months.  Instead of big exciting progress, the work moved forward in what often seemed like tiny increments.  All I can say is, if you ever build a home, it is most important to be right there.  I can’t count how many times a knock on the door of the MoHo meant one sub or another needed a small question answered, questions that Gary might not have really known how to answer without speaking with us.  Being 2.5 hours and 130 miles away at the apartment wasn’t really an option.

While some of the details were a bit tedious, there were also big moments that were absolutely thrilling.  The day the granite was delivered and installed was one I won’t forget.  Our choice turned out to be perfect, even more beautiful than we imagined once it was installed.  The perfection of craftsmanship and fit was amazing to us.  I don’t know how they do that!

Seeing the paint colors for the interior and exterior materialize into reality after studying and choosing colors for a year was nerve-wracking.  What if we had picked colors that didn’t work?  We agonized for a few days over the accent color on the upper exterior walls before finally deciding. 

Later, a neighbor asked how I managed to match the bark of the madrone trees with that color.  Huh?  A complete accident, but a lucky one.  We really love our colors.  I thought I was matching the red clay dirt all around the house.  The red was also a nod to the sweet little cottage that stood where this beautiful home is placed.  Once of the best decisions we made was to bring in several loads of decomposed granite to cover the sticky red clay that is on this property.  That clay stained everything in its path, including the sidewalk, and the workers always had special shoes around for working here.  Everyone is very happy that we no longer have to worry about the clay.  We will landscape more next year and add some soil and shrubs, but for now at least it is all nice and clean.

The interior color is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.  The color is all over Pinterest and HGTV.  I succumbed to current style and was really worried that after all our warm earth tones of years past it might be really hard to get used to “gray”. 

It turned out to be our perfect choice, and all the reviews that say the color goes well with warm and cool, and enhances furniture and floors to perfection isn’t an overstatement.  It never looks the same, and each wall and room somehow glows differently. 

Another exciting and surprisingly stressful time was when the hardwood was installed.  Jared, the incredible artist that does this work is also a guitarist, and we went to see his show last week.  His craftsmanship was amazing to watch, but when I first saw all the dark knots in the wood I was appalled. 

The sample was different, with very few knots.  We basically freaked out, called Gary and the flooring people, and for a few days all was a bit of a kerfuffle.  In the end, we were able to hand pick the best boards and set the rest aside.  Thanks to Lipperts for great customer service.  I am used to the knots now, and feel much like others have said, it gives the floor character.

Vinyl went in with more incredible craftsmanship by Ted, who also installed our carpets.  I am so very grateful for the soft touch of vinyl flooring in the bathrooms and glad we didn’t succumb to the trend to tile everything.  After three months of ceramic tile floors at the Running Y I knew I didn’t want that in my own home.  Too dang hard and cold! 

Painters came and went several times to touch up and repair tiny flaws until I can honestly say that the paint inside and out is very nearly perfect.  Joel, the detail oriented, meticulous wood worker, spent many days perfecting the trims both inside and out.  The best moment came when the three of us, Joel, Mo, and I, figured out how to design the arch across the front porch.  It was our idea, but Joel completed it to perfection.

We had great fun with the cement contractor, who took time to install some of our antique Batchelder tiles in the sidewalk, and even showed us how to press some of our Oregon coast stones into the back step. 

Jared, the wood guy, was also the tile master who installed the Batchelder’s to perfection in the foyer.  Mo and I installed the tiles in front of the fireplace, a reasonably simple job, but we hope to have Jared return next year when we are ready to complete the backsplash in the kitchen with more tiles. It will be a big project that we decided to put on the back burner rather than have it hold up completion of the house.

Cupboards were the biggest hassle, with several frustrating moments.  Paying as much as we did for custom cabinetry meant we expected things to be perfect.  They are now perfect, but it wasn’t without repeated visits by the cupboard guys and lots of intervention by Gary. 

What stands out most during the last few weeks of the build was the dedicated work by the builder, and most of all his foreman, Gary.  We were incredibly lucky to have chosen the builder we did.  Everywhere we look is evidence of the commitment to high quality and paying attention to what we needed and wanted.  Gary was always there to intercede with subcontractors on our behalf to be sure that everything was attended to properly.  Dave and Gary have an employee, Levi, and we aren’t exactly sure of his official title, but Levi was a constant presence.  He handled so many miscellaneous jobs, doing all the little things that needed attention, from digging holes for drains to cleanups day after day, to installing the door knobs and so many other details. 

Gary and Dave Adams went through the house with us on the last day, checking off every single detail, making sure all was perfect.  When Gary handed Mo the keys officially, it was an exciting moment.  On time exactly, November 1, as promised way back in March before the cottage was demolished.  And on budget as well, with no surprises with the final invoice.  I am curious how often people have such a great experience with a contractor.  Ours was superb, thanks to Mo’s great choice of a builder.

After our furniture was delivered, we emptied the motorhome and I spent some time getting her all spiffed up in the inside while Mo spiffed up the outside.  In early November the world was still sunny and warm in the afternoons.  We had stored much of our furniture in the RV shed, and decided to move all our packed boxes from the move into the garage, so we had a full garage, a full RV shed, and a very nice, clean, spare new home to work with.  The beds were set up, the furniture in place, everything we needed was here, so it was not too difficult to work a box at a time, deciding exactly where the contents should be placed and which contents were ready for the Goodwill bin.

The packed shed and garage seemed like an impossible project.  There was so much STUFF.  We had the older furniture from the little cabin at Mo’s home in Rocky Point, the older furniture that we had used in the Cottage, many things that we had stored from my house on Painter Street and moved to Rocky Point and then moved here to the RV shed two years ago.

It was just a matter of doing it, of starting what seemed like an impossible project.  We decided to cram everything we could on one side of the garage, and keep only one car inside.  With that, we hoped that there would be enough room to get the MoHo safely parked inside the RV shed.  It was amazing to watch, to realize that things weren’t as bad as we thought, and last week not only did we get the MoHo back in her big safe building, but we got BOTH cars inside the garage!  I took many boxes to various donation sites, and this week have learned that with a bit of effort and work, many items can be sold through the Facebook Marketplace. 

With our beautiful new home, and all its great angles and windows, there is less room for furniture, and we both have had to let go of a few loved old pieces because there just isn’t room for them.  Both of us want to keep the new house looking like everything in it is put there on purpose.  No jamming stuff somewhere just because we can’t let go of it.  I put things on Craigslist and Facebook, and Facebook by far has been the most successful.  The nice thing about Facebook is that I can look at a buyer’s profile before I let them come anywhere near the house. It has worked incredibly well and we are paring down.

I had no idea I would have time to actually decorate for Christmas, thinking that it would be impossible to get everything moved, settled, unpacked and still decorate.  It hasn’t been a problem at all. Especially with the help of my grandson Matthew, who lives across the street, helping to get lights on the high gables of the house.  The ladders weren’t tall enough so he climbed up to the roof and did it all from there. 

He has also been a big help preparing things to put on Craigslist, and even blew all the leaves off the roof and out of the gutters for us.

Even after only 2 weeks in the house we had Thanksgiving for the family here. Daughter Melody has moved to Eugene with her family, and they came south for the day, just a 2 hour drive.  Daughter Deborah lives just an hour away and with Matthew across the street, they joined us as well.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving with only 9 people.  Perfect for the table of six and three on the new counter.  The “kids” all love the swivel stools so didn’t mind at all being relegated to what amounted to the kid table, even though they aren’t really kids any more ranging from 18 to 34 years old.  LOL

I managed to finish a gift quilt that will go out in the mail this week, dove into my card making supplies to begin making some Christmas cards, and look, I am actually writing a blog!

Mo and I are excited about getting on the road again, and have plans to leave for our desert sojourn sometime in late winter. Just yesterday we decided to take the very long way south, following our old route west to Brookings and traveling south along the coast to Southern California.  We will then hang for a time at Catalina Spa to check out the new remodels and hope that our pools are as wonderful as ever.  I am hoping for some time in Anza Borrego before we go for some white hot nothing on Ogilby Road near Yuma and on to Tucson to visit friends and do some hiking in the Catalina’s.

We also have plans for a week in Cancun, thanks to daughter Deanna’s offer of a week at their timeshare condo on the beach there.  Air miles are a great thing, so it will be a nice vacation for us.  Other plans are in the works, and I think we will return to our old schedule of heading out somewhere in the MoHo at least once a month. It has been two years since we have been able to do that.

One more very exciting bit of travel won’t include Mo.  I am taking my daughter Deanna to Italy for the one mother child trip that I am trying to do for each kid in my old age.  I took Melody to Eastern Europe, Deborah chose the famous Blues Cruise to the Caribbean, and now Deanna and I have chosen Italy.  It is the first trip I will do on my own, doing the planning without a tour group. We will be spending three weeks, mostly in Florence and on the Amalfi coast beginning late September. I have to thank Erin for all her inspiration on that level since she is probably the most accomplished traveler that I know. 

Life is good.  The house is warm and comfy, everything is clean and organized in ways that haven’t been possible for a long time.  Those close to me will know how much I love that part.  Life is beginning to settle down and the routines of everyday living are filling the space with love and beauty.  I am so so so lucky.