Thursday, June 28, 2012

We've Got Plans!

For so long it has seemed so far away...  However, I can now say we have our first actual plans (God-willing) to leave this house!  We have reservations beginning this Sunday, July 1st, at the Old Stone Village RV Park in McMinnville, Oregon!  We're hoping we can stay there for the month of July, while making plans for what's next.  Currently, we only have a firm reservation through the 23rd.
We won't close on the sale of our house until July 6th, and can't pick up our motorhome until after that, though they are planning for it to be available sooner.  There's still much to do before then!

We continue to make good progress on emptying our house.  Our living room has been empty for awhile, and as of Tuesday night our dining room is now empty also.  We still have some furnitue in our family room.  Consignment NW is to pick it up next week.  Though our bedroom set is staying with the house, our mattress leaves us this Friday, so we'll be sleeping in the trailer after that.

We began cleaning out the 5th wheel on Wednesday, and replacing it with things that we are keeping to move into our new motorhome.  The gas company is coming out today (Thursday) to install the safety posts by the meter, the washer and dryer left yesterday for their new home, along with some miscellaneous lamps, small furniture pieces and lots of Christmas decorations.

We went to bed early last night.  Having no lamps in the house means we might as well go to bed!  Sure, we could use the pot lights in the ceiling (not available in the bedrooms), but we decided to go to bed with the dimming of the sun instead.  We both need the extra rest!

Do you know about Amazon Prime?  It's been the coolest thing, though we are simply enjoying a free 30 day trial at this time and haven't had time to fully try all it's benefits.  We've been able to order some things with free 2-day shipping!  Our main reason for trying the service is because we can stream movies and television programming from my laptop to our TV once we are in the motorhome.  It's kind of a "netflix-like" opportunity.  Also, I can read some ebooks for free - it's a lending library kind of thing.  However, it's the free 2-day shipping that has been so exciting for me!  I don't have to wonder if something is going to get here in time - it only takes a couple days.  Too cool!  I got a new (smaller) crock-pot for just over $20 - and free 2-day shipping.  It just doesn't get too much better than that.

Taking our current 5th wheel trailer to McMinnville this weekend gives us a chance to finish emptying the house.  We'll be packed to the brim in the 5th wheel!  My parents have graciously allowed us to store several boxes temporarily in their garage. The motorhome has much more storage than the 5th wheel - something like 280 square feet!  Without that storage, we'd be having to downsize much, much further.
We got to go over and spend some quality time with "Moby" the motorhome, in the back of the Camping World West lot last weekend.  It really helped make it real for us.  We got to look in every drawer and cupboard, and I even got to read through the user's guide on the microware convection oven.  I have one of those at home, and have been feeling that I simply would not be able to live with that oven alone.  The motorhome currently has a cooktop with 3 nice drawers underneath it - no stove/oven combination.  I don't know about you, but I use my oven a lot!  Roasting anything and everything, and baking bread are two of my regular purposes.

In a 1.1 cu ft micro-convection oven, I'll never be able to roast anything bigger than a turkey breast or Butterball turkey roast on Thanksgiving.  I'm not sure if there's enough room for a loaf of bread to bake without touching the top of the oven.  And yet, if I can make it work, it will save us the added expense of having the stove/oven installed, and I won't lose the extra storage.  I'm thinking I'm going to try to make it work the way things are.  If this was a vacation home, I wouldn't be struggling.  But this is our new home!  Time will tell whether that was a good decision.  There are just some things that can't be decided ahead of time.

There was one disappointing item we noticed in our motorhome while visiting.  One of the bedroom closet doors had been broken.  It wasn't broken when we put money down to hold the motorhome, so we're assuming that it wasn't just left parked with our name on it.  We can't even imagine how a wood door splintered - even if they were still showing it to other potential buyers.  It's disappointing, but not the end of the world.  It just means we'll have to drive back to Beaverton to pick up the door in about 6 weeks.  Not exactly convenient, but hopefully we'll be a lot more comfortable driving by then.

We're still struggling with the logistics of picking up the motorhome weekend after next.  We will be driving up in the truck and trailer, which we are trading in.  They've told us we'll be able to park right next to the motorhome to make moving all our belongings more simple.  If for some reason we couldn't finish, they'd even let us spend the night on their property.  I can't imagine that happening, but it's nice to know.

The biggest logistics problem in my mind is my cat.  She has reservations to spend some quality time with my parents (they refer to Parsley as their "grandcat") while we get the motorhome.  But how do we get her there and then pick her back up?  My parents live in a beautiful condominium area in Beaverton.  They live on a short street with a culdesac.  Not sure we could get our truck & 5th wheel in and out of that street to drop off Parsley.  It's more likely we could come back to get her in the motorhome, in my mind.  Steve's not so sure.  It's going to be a somewhat stressful day - full of unknowns at this point...  But I've learned that things just eventually fall together.

Things are coming down to the wire, and one by one God has helped us with solutions to every obsticle.  I'm anxious to be able to look back and see how the rest of this falls together!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

God is faithful ...

Remember that one contractor we decided not to use, though he'd initially led us to believe he could save us money?  Well, we opted to use other contractors instead and, at current figuring, it looks like we'll end up well ahead of his bid, even using individual specialists.  The mold remediation is complete now, and we have 4 new vents up on the roof.  Every fan gets it's own vent now, and they aren't going to fall back off for the new owner.

Thinking the process of getting a post installed in front of the gas meter might become a time issue, Steve contacted several contractors via email early yesterday evening.  One of those contractors getting back to Steve, just happened to know the right person at NW Natural who can help get this task completed.  This NW Natural guy came out this morning to take a look at the gas meter placement and they agreed we need a safety "bollard" in front of it, and they will take care of it for free!  That was estimated to be about a $500 job, so we are SO thankful.  He is leaving on vacation and wasn't sure how soon it could get done.  Our prayer now is for the task to get done by our required date of June 29th.

All handyman jobs have been completed, and the roofer will be fixing our vent gaskets on the roof before the end of the day today.  How much time do I waste worrying each day unnecessarily?  God continues to bless us each and every day -   often through difficulties - yet He brings us through those difficulties too!  How cool is that?

I've begun packing up our Winter clothes, in those space bags that you vacuum the air out of?  Too cool.  I have most all our Winter clothing in one large container, all ready to store in the basement of the motorhome.  It feels like we are really going to do this!

We just got another call from NW Natural.  Seems the installer is on his way over right now to take a look.  Perhaps worrying about the time frame there won't be worth the trouble either?  All this is happening because some guy knows some other guy.  Almost like it's all being orchestrated outside of our own abilities, hum?   God loves to give his children good gifts and we are being greatly gifted.

For you non-believers who think this sounds a little "wack-o", trust me, it's real!  There is a God who loves us and even cares for our routine boring needs.  That's a God I am proud to follow.  Life isn't always great, in fact sometimes it's downright awful.  But I have faith that because I love God even all those awful things will work out for good one day.  I struggle with that sometimes.  I still don't know why we had to live through an awful day which resulted in our dear cat, Rosemary, dying in the back of our car in an awful way, on the way home from the vet.  But I will always believe God had a purpose even in that awful day.  That doesn't mean I don't cry over the memory often, but it doesn't shake my faith either.  Without my faith, what hope do I have?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Contractor Lessons

You may recall we had a seemingly long list of items our buyer required be fixed.  The vast majority were "handyman" projects.  We called to have the carpenter ants dealt with immediately.  It was nice to check something off the list quickly.  I fixed the door jams myself.  Steve contacted the roof contractor who'd roofed the house for the previous owner, but vent gaskets weren't warranted with the rest of the roof.  We had to call a contractor to handle the mold found in the attic, due to vents that had come unfastened from the roof.  Soon we'd found another contractor who was a very nice and had ideas to save us some money.  He was willing to handle everything left on the list.  He was quite a talker, very interesting and appeared down to earth and knowledgeable.  He was going to have his crew handle everything that was left.  He'd write up a good bid within a couple days.  We waited.  We waited longer.  On the fourth day I emailed him to see what was up.  He promised it would be here by the end of the next day.  Nothing.  It showed up the day after that, looking like a rough draft - and no $$ included.  It appeared perhaps this gentleman was just not comfortable using the computer.  However, it was also difficult to understand what he was saying in his writing.  Time to re-think this...

There's a principle in the Bible that came to mind - that being faithful in the small things is rewarded with being trusted with the larger things.  I think it's the parable of the gold bags in Matthew 25.  In any case, this contractor said lots of great things, but lacked in the follow-through.  And if he didn't come through in the early stages, what problems might have arose in the midst of the work?  In the end we lost a week of precious time waiting for him to fulfill promises.  It was time to move on.

Instead, we called a handyman we've used twice before.  He's not the fastest guy perhaps, but does wonderful work, and understands his own strengths.  He does good work, does what he says he will do, when he says he will do it, for the price he quotes us.  We decided to reward his behavior with any parts of the current job list he felt comfortable with.  Also, we'd stick with the mold specialists for that task.  We want it done right and want to minimize any chance those vents might become disconnected again.

There are two remaining items - flashing & gaskets on the roof vents, and putting a post in the ground to protect the natural gas meter in our RV parking area.  Walt (handyman) recommended we call NW Natural for a recommendation on the gas meter post, and call the roofer on the vent gaskets.  Steve called NW Natural and learned they actually have people who handle those things.  We're waiting for that call to be returned.  Steve also called the roofing contractor again who said he'd send someone out to handle the gaskets.  We're still waiting for the timing of those later things to be worked out, but it's moving ahead again!  As I write this, a contractor who will reattach attic vents and clean up mold has arrived exactly on time.  I love that in a contractor.

The lesson I've learned (again) is that saving a few dollars isn't always the best goal.  Sometimes it's worth a bit more money to reward faithful behavior.  For $19 more we got a year's guarantee from the pest control people.  That was a no brainer.  The lessons just keep coming.  Also, just perhaps......, we can be out of the house by the end of next week ...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Selling/Giving Away

Many things just fall into place around here, while others we have to struggle with.  Steve had a lunch with an old work friend today, so he could "gift" him with some more "engineerish" kinds of gifts.  So glad Steve knows some of those kinds of people!

My good friend came to pick up a leather recliner and a card table and chairs for her son and daughter-in-law.  She's hoping to purchase a couch and a chair from my living room too, if her husband approves.

Just before that friend came, I was working  in the garage - labeling boxes with my beloved label maker - when some neighbors and more recent "reacquainted friends" from my working days at Tektronix came by.  Just another of life's fun surprises.  They'd noticed our For Sale sign in the yard a week or so ago and had stopped back then to ask what we were up to.  They'd seen us while we were on a walk through the neighborhood.  When we explained what was up with us, they said it was very interesting as they'd just finished a major remodel on their vacation home on the Wilson River at the coast, and were reconsidering their decision to own two homes.  It's very fun to know people who are also just re-thinking their life plans.  It seems many people do get to a point at some time when they wonder why they are living the way they are.

Today those same neighbor friends came by to take a photo of our front water feature.  (They are thinking of doing one.)  Also, they had news to share!  Seems they've been talking a lot since we last spoke and are thinking they'll sell their house here and move to their coastal home and get a small RV to get back to camping again!  I can't tell you how fun it is to know others who share in some small way our desire to move into a more simple lifestyle.  It simply feels like we're not alone in this big life-altering adventure of ours.  My dream is that we will be able to reconnect with this couple over the years.  They've offered to let us park our "rig" in their driveway at the coast even. Imagine working with someone in your early 20's.  Around 30 years later I discover they live in our neighborhood, and now they are considering down-sizing at the same time as us.  Too fun!

I received a second email from a woman wanting to purchase one of my living room chairs.  The same chair my close friend wanted...  Before I could finish explaining to Steve how I wasn't sure how to proceed, the phone rang again.  Seems my close friend's husband wasn't as keen on the furniture.  No problem, since God is apparently providing me with another buyer.  This woman answering my Craigslist ad is in a wheelchair and says she needs my very comfy chair when she returns to the Portland area in a couple weeks.  Hopefully, her children will come get it for her soon and we will both be happy.

                           *                               *                                *                                *

I've been thinking this morning about how fast all this change is happening with us and how really short the time has been since we even first entertained the idea.  It's mind blowing, really. 

I had someone comment early on about what we were trying to do.  I'd mentioned that some people worry we might be making a mistake.  She said, “You two know yourselves. This is the right thing for you.”

It’s true! Not everything has to be thought of for a really, really long time. Obviously, liquidating one’s life, and the preparation for this change takes time anyway. I think all the challenges that present themselves are preparation for the end result. We work well together and know what’s important to us and how we’d like to live. We deal with challenges together, and always get to the other side united.  It's kind of like the trial by fire experienced when a young couple is engaged.  All that planning and getting things done is stressful!  Yet it prepares them for what they will face after the wedding too.  Truth is, Steve and I were only engaged for three weeks.  However, we had to face a lot of hurdles before and during those three weeks, and it did help prepare us for the next challenge.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about my motives in making this change. It’s true that we will not be avoiding problems. In some ways, moving does get us out of certain “ruts”.   But the relationship things with others we need to work through are still there.  In some cases I think our moving away is actually the thing that others might need! Sometimes getting out of the way helps others step forward.

We really hadn’t been thinking this thing through for a long time, but in hindsight, it’s been in the works for a long time -- we just didn't know it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Furniture Sales

It seems like every day is a mixed bag around here -- constant change, and constant unknowns.  However, every so often we have a particularly nice surprise.  Yesterday (Wednesday) was like that. 

I had announced to Steve that I needed to take pictures and get some furniture listed on Craigslist.  We finally feel like we can go ahead and sell the furniture pieces we're living with.  It appears the house sale is going through as planned, and though we don't have to be out until July 6th (about 3 weeks from now), we'd love to be able to surprise our buyer by being out early.  It would be a good thing for us too!  We can't do that without emptying the house.
About the time I finally got to sit down with the computer, intending to write some ads, the phone rang.  It was my friend calling to say they have a son & daughter-in-law in need of furniture.  There were perhaps 3 pieces in particular.  Then she said if one chair was the right green, she might be interested in it for herself.  I was delighted, of course, and went to go take pictures to send them to her with prices.  I'd barely stood up when the phone rang again!  This time it was our realtor, telling me that our "buyer" was interested in purchasing some of our furniture.  I held my breath, thinking certainly she'd want furniture that someone else had already expressed wanting.  Instead, I heard she wants our entire bedroom set (5 pieces) and our kitchen table & chairs!  Sold!  I can't believe we not only don't have to work at selling those pieces, but we also won't need to haul them away either.  It's all heavy furniture.  God is so good.  Even when things don't go perfectly, but yesterday's news was definitely an easy-to-spot, wonderful, good gift.

I've just about completed the sorting, tossing and packing of my sewing and crafting room.  A few pieces of furniture need to be sold from that room also, but at least most the packing is done.  The Goodwill has received many donations from that room.  I'm trying not to think of the amount of money I spent on temporary hobbies over the last 19+ years.  Instead, I try to focus on how happy someone else will be to find inexpensive supplies for their own hobbies at the Goodwill.

We continue to look forward to some peaceful down time in our new motorhome.  God-willing, the day is coming!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rolling Right Along!

I love getting things done!  I mean, just making a few phone calls these days feels like an accomplishment.  I'm a list maker - I love my lists for one main reason:  I can check things off and see that I actually finished something!  For instance, I can tell you that today I finally dusted the house.  It was looking pretty nasty.  After living in a "museum quality" home for the whole 9 days it took to sell the house, we both got a bit lazy about our chores.  It felt good not to have to anymore.  However, today I dusted and I feel so much better.

I sold the big picture from the family room today too - to long time friends.  I love knowing my "stuff" has good homes who will enjoy it.

The contractor item completed today was spraying for carpenter ants.  It was easy and done.  We have a receipt that says it's warranted for a year to give to our buyer.  Peace of mind.  We decided to go with a less traditional company called, "Nature First".  For $16 more than the traditional company's bid, we don't have to tell the buyer she needs to repeat every 3 months.  And, it wasn't over treated, which I guess is a tendency (if a little is good, more is better theory?) of traditional pest companies.  I don't actually know any of this first hand, but I feel peace about our choice.

The mold guy came today too.  I have another contractor who will bid on the same thing tomorrow morning, but I suspect we'll go with the first company.  It's one of those things I'll just feel better about if I know we had it done right.  The news wasn't good.  It seems BOTH vent pipes were disconnect from the roof vents.  We had no idea,,.  That means all the moisture inside our house - from the shower also - have been venting into the attic space.  That's why mold was found on the North side.  It's more than the inspection reported, but we're going to have it all taken care of.  We'd do it if we lived here, and I'd never feel good leaving something not handled well for the new owner.  That should all be taken care of next week.

It occurred to me at church Sunday that we will only be here 3 more Sundays, unless we are able to vacate early.  Time is marching on.  We're making good progress, yet there is so much more to do!

I did a lot of packing in my sewing/crafting room today, while Steve was finishing things up with his hobby items.  I'm so surprised and amazed at how few bins his hobbies now fit into.  I truly never thought this day would come.  I suspect there are other things he's not counting - a computer kept "just in case", or that kind of thing.  However, it's still miraculous in my view!

My sewing (minus a sewing machine and serger) appear to be fitting in just 3 bins.  Five pieces of fabric, some interfacing, lots of notions and buttons, and the patterns I truly think I'll use. Knitting and crocheting take 2-3 smaller bins.  Steve says we have room in the "basement" for at least 18 larger bins, so we're doing well.  I have a couple bins of decoration-type items - holiday and seasonal.  I have to do some kind of decorating!  Having special things around makes a house a home in my view.

All our large pictures and mirrors have been removed from the walls to allow for spackling and paint touch up.  Steve's taking care of those details.  It's starting to look more and more like we're moving.  Once the main furniture begins to go, I think things will go quickly.  So far, we have an empty guest bedroom and a few furniture items have been sold but not picked up.  I can't wait to see how things have changed by the end of this week!

In response to our buyer's inquiry, we told our realtor we are still just hoping to close by July 6th.  It still doesn't seem possible that we could be out of here earlier than that.  We're trying, but will just have to see how it goes.

Back to work!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Things are Looking Up Again

I sure wish I would get to thinking positive a lot more quickly than I do!  All that whining and complaining about some inspection stuff yesterday, and the day before, seems so petty today ...  I guess I'm only human.  I sure wish I was a bit more Christ-like instead though!  It would've saved me a lot of stress, and Steve would've had a more pleasant wife to live with.  I thank God for a husband who will listen to all my negative thoughts, letting me vent until I find a way to deal with them ... and he still loves me.  I'm married to a saint!  No wonder I love him so much.  He is truly the one person I can absolutely be myself with, while trying hard to be better than myself.   He accepts me unconditionally.  That is a miracle from God himself!

Now it's Saturday and I got a good night's sleep last night.  Those nights are rare these days.  Today just feels more positive altogether.  I'm also looking forward to an evening with friends!  I made a chocolate cake with peanut butter glaze to share.

Friday afternoon, our realtor came by and we discussed how to handle the inspection items.  By then Steve and I had decided we weren't willing to do anything that might cause this house sale to fall through.  We are going to do everything she wants, get it all signed off, and get on with liquidating our belongings.  This is just another little blip in the process of trying to become fulltime RVers.  We'll deal with it and move on.

I began making calls to various contractors, as did Steve.  Steve's waiting for a call back from the roof contractor (we have a 10-year warranty) to fix some cracking roof vent gaskets.  I am expecting to see three contractors on Monday.  One will look into the carpenter ant issue, one will deal with the possible mold & venting issues in the attic, and the last one will handle all the handyman projects we let him have - the attic stair issue, the post in the cement by the gas meter, etc.  I was tickled to death to have found 3 names on Angie's List online and had them all get back to me on the same day!

Have you heard of Angie's List?  It has been a God-send for us over the years.  When they first came to the Portland area we lived at the other house, and there was no end to the projects needing to be done.  It was a free service then, while they began compiling customer reviews on various contractors, etc.  When I went to use them after moving into this house, they became a pay-for service, and I declined until this past year.  It's been worth the $40 or whatever it was for a year of access to proven contractors.

Our carpet cleaner - Jeff Curtis - I found on Angie's list.  He owns his own business, and works out of Tigard.  He does a wonderful job, is very reasonable, and so pleasant to be around.  Angie's List has certain awards which mark the best of the best.  Jeff Curtis received the Page of Happiness Award, or something like that.

All the contractors I called Friday had received Superior Service awards, because of the great reviews they've earned from people just like us who have used them and were pleased with their service.  They are rated on value, punctuality, quality, etc.  If you haven't checked out Angie's List, and have projects you need to hire out - try it!

I am excited to meet with all the various contracters on Monday.  It will really feel like we're accomplishing things, which is so exciting to me.

Today we took a few "treasures" to our neighbors across the street.  I got to visit my brass and white marble bed which is now their guest bed.  It makes me happy to see someone else enjoying it.  We love our neighbors here.  They are reading this blog, and it's always fun to go visit them and realize they already know everything.  What a hoot!

I guess it's time to go pack up some items in my sewing room.  I'm curious to see how many boxes would be needed for the things I expect to be able to take with us.  I don't see how I could live without a sewing machine and serger anymore...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Inspection Struggles

We got the inspection results at last yesterday.  I'd like to say we read the list of items and declared, "No problem!".  We weren't that mature about it.  I have to admit, I took it personally.  I know that's wrong.  The buyer has hired people to take care of her interests.  I'm just disappointed to the degree she wants her interests cared for.
The list is rather lengthy.  Some dead carpenter ants were found, a piece of siding that's curling at the bottom, some vent seals cracking, a small area in the attic might be mold, they want insulated vents for the laundry and bathroom fans, they want a safety door on the attic access, some pipes aren't wrapped under the house, the dishwasher drain line should be attached to the cabinet up higher under the sink, install an additional carbon monoxide detector, a shrub should be pruned away from the house, etc.  The most irritating request was wanting face plates adjusted on bedroom doors.  Please!  Either we got a really poor inspector when we purchased the house, or the house has definitely gone down hill during our 6 years of living here...

I let Steve react first.  Then when he settled down a bit, I went ahead and had my immature moment.  Then we began to regroup.  We went over and over the list, got some initial ideas on how to proceed, and then decided we'd wait to see what our realtor suggests.

For me, it's just one more area of the system that kind of stinks.  We escaped the appraisal problems that would've arrived had we not received a cash offer.  That's huge!  That would've been really disappointing to deal with.  The rules, as I understand them, are that you can't sell a house based on how much it's worth to the person buying it.  Instead, you have to sell it at a price based on what others in your neighborhood (the comps) sold for.  We had someone down the street go through a foreclosure this past year, and another house was put on the market extremely under-valued.  It sold in 1 day with multiple offers.  It all lowers the value of our home.  But I digress ...

Our buyer is, thankfully, paying cash, which removed us from having to deal with the appraisal business.  But she apparently wants a 1988 house to be like brand new.  We just have to deal with it. 

I think back on the condition of our 1977 home which sold in 2006 at the peak of the market.  If they had purchased that house with the same expectations of this buyer, we would've had to pay them to take it off our hands!  Their expectations, thankfully, were much lower.

I imagine we could tell this buyer no and probably loose the sale...  That would not be good!  We'd loose our motorhome and be starting over selling the house to some degree.  We had two other interested buyers, but perhaps they've made other plans now?  We don't want to go there.

I don't really have a problem with fixing roof gaskets, pruning back a shrub, even checking out mold and carpenter ants is okay.  But indoor bedroom door plates?  They all closed fine.  How could there be a problem?  We played with each door trying to see what they thought the problem was.  Seems 2 of the 3 doors they mentioned could be pushed open after they latched.  We don't know what could be wrong with the third door.  Who tries to open a door without turning the handle?  No wonder we didn't know there was a problem.  Naturally, their inspector tried it.

I sound a bit "whiny" again, don't I?  I think I'm just flashing back to yesterday's immature moment ...

Today we will come up with a plan and just get through it.  We remind ourselves that we only have about a month left before we face new adventures.  We just need to close the book on this one first.

RV Park Possibilities & Homebase Oregon

A few more details are beginning to fall into place.  God continues to be extremely good to us.

Steve and I took off in the Buick on Tuesday morning for a day.  We thought it would be a good change of scenery and a chance to cross a couple things off our "to-do list".  We felt like we were kind of becoming my parents for the day, in a fun way.  We stopped at McD's for a sausage muffin with egg -- something to supplement the rice krispie treat we'd had with our coffee much earlier.  We don't normally do McDonald's, but my parents find healthier things to eat there, so we tried that.  Then we headed over to our Title Company to drop off some initial information papers we'd filled out and signed.  Then a brief stop at Goodwill to unload some items from the back of the Buick.  It wouldn't be fun to listen to rattling all the way to the coast and back!  Finally, we were off.

First stop -- McMinnville.  We wanted to check out the RV parks there.  The first one was the Wine Country RV Park, or something like that.  It was the biggest and looked great online.  Not too great in person though.  I think they lied.  It was supposed to have rules about not having junk piled around your RV, and they couldn't be older than 10 or 15 years, etc.  The reason for those kinds of rules have to do with the limited storage in RVs.  Some smaller trailers just aren't built for living.  Subsequently, owners might be inclined to pile things around their trailer, under tarps or not.  The next thing you know, you have a junky looking RV park.  The trailer age limit is more concerned with appearing well-maintained.  We found, to our dismay, that there were several run-down, junk piled trailers in the park.  It was contrary to everything they showed online.  This led us to a quick retreat - and on to the next, smaller, park.

The Olde Stone Village RV Park was much more to our liking.  Just nicer maintained overall.  Coincidentally there were several larger motor homes staying there also.  The rates are pretty much the same, and it doesn't appear they have to do a background check on us.  We can just make reservations when our plans firm up.  One item crossed off the list!

From McMinnville, we drove toward the coast, vectoring off on hwy 22 to avoid a few miles added by driving into Lincoln City and then heading up hwy 101 to Tillamook, our destination.  The road was one of those less-used, a bit more curvy roads, but probably did save us a good chunk of time, which was rapidly going by.

We arrived in Tillamook around 1:30ish, and then drove toward Netarts to find Homebase Oregon Mail Forwarding Service's location.  I'd called ahead to make sure we could check out the facility which could potentially be handling our mail forwarding needs.  We knew we were to get to Netarts, and then turn left at the Sea Lion.  We assumed it would be a statue, a sign, or something - but obviously, how could we miss it?  Apparently it was quite possible, as we were headed out of Netarts before we realized it.

We turned the car around and headed back to town intent on figuring out the mystery of the Sea Lion.  There it was!  A small, blue, old motel called the Sea Lion Motel.  Why is it that those old little motels always seem to be painted blue?  We turned in to their parking lot, and sat there.  Having no clue where the building we were look for was.  An older gentleman was walking across the parking lot.  I rolled down my window and asked if he lived in the area?  He asked "What?".  I repeated, "Do you live here?"  He said he had lived here for 65 years.  I told him I was betting he'd know the answer to our questions then.  He thought he probably would.  We told him what we were looking for, and he pointed over the parking lot to a manufactured home.  He said he'd tell Kathy we had arrived.

We parked at the motel, which turned out to be owned by Kathy, and headed through a gate and down the steps to the manufactured home.  There sat Kathy, having a cigarette break on the front porch of this older run down manufactured home.  She was probably 5 feet tall -- if that -- and hunched over.  I'd guess her to be about 70-75 years old.  It was clear she was probably a chain smoker by the look of her weathered skin.  She asked if she could finish her cigarette first?  We agreed.  She explained she owned the motel and the mail forwarding service.  Finally, the operation of a mail forwarding service was clear.  It was really quite simple.  She collects and holds your mail in a cardboard box on a shelf until you call and tell her what you want done with it, or she'll process it regularly, if you choose that option.  She had a postage machine, a computer with a good sized monitor, and various envelopes and postage paid cardboard envelopes.  Very straight forward.  Perhaps too straight forward for our comfort level.

I waited until we returned the car to say I didn't think we'd be having our mail forwarded to this service.  Kathy was a very nice lady, and had things well organized.  However, she didn't have anybody she was working with.  She said she's always there, and if not, has an answering machine.  However, with the exception of a daughter she said would step in, there were no backups.  Also, no security.  Everything was out in the open.  Obviously, she'd had no problems so far, but it was just beyond our comfort level.

We headed back home via Hwy 6.  It was a mixed day.  What I thought would be a nice break for us, while checking off a couple action items, just didn't accomplish it all.  Also, it didn't seem to be a break.  We received phone calls from the finance guy at Camping World, and Good Sam RV Insurance, just keeping things moving and providing quotes.  We're realizing what a huge change of life we are dealing with.  So much going on, and no relief.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The House Inspection

Monday we had to leave the house by 11:30, in order to let the inspection happen.  It's the last of the "hard parts" of selling the house, I guess.  It's somewhat uncomfortable for me to know that strangers are wondering around my house - looking in cupboards and drawers, in closets.  This time they even crawled through the crawl space, looking for something that might be wrong with the house.  Funny, I never really thought much of it when we had this same house inspected when we were the purchasers!  I recall only being excited to get to snap pictures of our new home-to-be.  I could've been more sensitive.

Parsley at Grandma & Grandpa's house
When we'd been gone from the house for over 3 hours, we called our favorite neighbors, Don & Nancy, to have them look out their front window to see if the inspectors were gone.  It's great to have neighbors willing to spy on your house for you!  Don and Nancy are the best.  Though it was apparently winding down, they still weren't gone. Nancy reported seeing the shaking of hands -- we knew that was a good sign. It must have been a very thorough inspection.

This morning, Wednesday, they are supposed to "scope the sewer line".  Kind of a colonoscopy for the house, I guess!  Since there are no large trees anywhere near the sewer line, I'm not sure what they expect to find.  I guess you can never be too safe.  They also have the right to do a radon test.  I haven't heard anything about that being scheduled.  We're supposed to get the inspection results today, so perhaps they've waived that particular test.  Funny thing, but when we moved in we didn't have the sewer scoped, or a radon test.  It was a different world even 6 years ago.

Everybody loves electronic devices!
We've had a couple emails from the buyer -- through her realtor, through our realtor and then to us.  Mostly just normal stuff - information about the homeowners association, service records on the hot tub, age of roof, furnace, a/c, etc.  Then they emailed wanted to know if we would share paint colors.  It was very complimentary, which was nice.  Recently, they asked about our utility bills - highs and lows.  I've decided enough is enough.  Why would we want to scare her before the results of the inspection come in?  This isn't a "green" house.  Pot lights through the interior and lots of landscape lighting, in addition to 2 water heaters and a hot tub.  Not so cheap.

My favorite question to date involved the landscape.  The buyer wanted to know the name of our gardener!  I have to say I really enjoyed that one! I don't even know anybody that has a gardener!  I've only lived around people who do there own, with just a bit of assistance on the larger projects.  I guess things are different in California.

When this buyer initially came forward, and I learned she was a single woman, I seriously was concerned for her.  This house is a lot to take care of.  The house itself isn't that bad, once you know all the parts.  However, the house is on a .25 acre lot, which is pretty good sized.   We have a hot tub, two water features, raised vegetable gardens with a drip system, a large brick walkway, sprinkler system, landscape lighting, etc.   I wondered how a single woman could take care of the whole thing.  I don't know what I'd do without Steve to help.  I guess she'll have to figure it out like we did, though I'd be glad to give her more information than we had.  We just didn't know what we didn't know!  The first year was a learning experience for us living here.

Truly, my intial fear about the landscaping was because I knew a single woman with children had owned this house just prior to the owners we bought from, and the extensive remodel they did.  The house was considered the "armpit of the neighborhood".  One kind neighbor told me she thought the poor woman had all she could handle with the kids, and never got around to the yard maintenance.  I was fearful another single owner might not keep it up and there would go the neigborhood.  I just wouldn't want that for our neighbors - who all keep up their yards.  But now I know this single woman has some financial resources.  I only pray she uses them on the landscape.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mail Forwarding Services

I've started researching mail forwarding services.  I've dabbled into the subject a few times, but this time I got serious.  We need to find one and get signed up fairly soon!

It's amazing how many companies there are out there forwarding people's mail, accepting their packages, etc.  Mail forwarding services aren't just used by full time RVers.  There are people who need a USA address to forward things from other countries.  There are the "snow birds" who follow the sun in their motorhomes and want to receive their mail while they are away from their "home base".  There are business travelers who are out of town a lot and don't want their mail piling up in the mail box.

A mail forwarding service can provide us with an Oregon street address once our house is gone, and we have no "stick & brick home".  That's what they (full timers) call homes made of traditional wood and stone.  Sometimes it's just referred to as a "stick house", I've learned.

Steve and I have decided to retain our Oregon residency -- at least for now.  We have the option to declare our "domicile" in another state at some point.  There are lots of options there and just as many reasons for choosing them.

We are both Oregonians - me a native, and Steve a very long-term resident.  We've worked here, lived here, and pay taxes here.  Our cars are registered here.  We both have made Oregon our home.  When we finish traveling, I would imagine at this point we would return "home" - Oregon.  Perhaps, however, things could chnage for us.  If so, assuming we wanted to, we could get a new address in, say, South Dakota, and declare our domicile there.  We would then vote there, register our cars there, have drivers licenses, and license plates on our cars that said "South Dakota".  South Dakota's advantages might be that they have no income tax, low registration fees, low excise taxes, and no requirement as to how long we need to live there in order to be considered residents.  We might decide to do that one day.  When you don't have a house that is attached to a foundation, you have options.  But, for now, when we are in the middle of so many changes, we have decided to remain Oregonians.  It's hard to imagine considering some other state our home at this point.

With that decided, I started hunting for mail forwarding services in Oregon who could provide us with an Oregon street address and a good set up for gathering our mail and getting it to us whenever and wherever we want it.  I actually found there are several mail forwarding companies in Oregon.  There are some that are very much home based kinds of companies.  I found one in Jefferson, Oregon, which happens to be down around Corvallis.  We found another, more professional looking one, in Tillamook.  I emailed them yesterday and learned that they will let us come down and see their operation.

Don't know if I've mentioned that I am married to "Mr. Safety" (my name for him, at times).  He needs a lot more assurance than I when it comes to trusting strangers.  I think we'd both like seeing how things work before we just change our address, though!  I mean, we are new at this!

Lots of online full timers use forwarding service.  The Escapees RV club has their own, Good Sam has one, etc.  They tend to be based in the more popular states for residency - those states without income taxes are popular.  I believe South Dakota, Texas, and Florida come up most frequently as I check out various forums online.

We hope to head down to Tillamook soon to check out Homebase Oregon.  Perhaps after the inspection this next week.

Recipes Worth Saving

As cooking and baking tends to be a big part of my life, and I absolutely love sharing recipes, I have added a new tab to the top of my blog.  Click on "Recipes Worth Sharing" to find just that.  So far I've only added a couple recipes ... but more will be coming!

Note:  Please be patient as I try to figure out how to lay out my blogs to make
 them more simple to use...  It's not intuitive for me...

My first shared recipe for Black Bean Soup is to die for!  I've made it with black beans - all pureed up with my hand blender, but I've also tried it with navy beans and vegetables, leaving it as is (chunky).  Both were wonderful.  Just the right about of kick for our taste.  Doesn't hardly taste healthy, but it is.

Israeli Lentil Soup is also a great soup.  We love lentils!  I'll be sharing more of the recipes in the future, to be sure!