Monday, December 10, 2018

Transitions -- 2018

December 10, 2018 – Palmdale RV Park, Los Fresnos, TX

So, I have been reminded lately that I have a blog and it is not up to date. There are updates to be made for sure. It looks like the last time I posted anything was at the end of August. That was a long time ago and much has changed. As most people know, we have been in Texas since the middle of October busy redesigning our lives again. I’ve been sitting here trying to get my Christmas address list up to date and maybe actually print out labels since I now have the technology to do such a thing easily…. Once I learn how to use Office to make labels. I’m listening to Don and helpful friends work on putting up posts on the screen porch that they are building onto our new mobile home.

We’ve been living here since about October 20.

I will digress for a while and bring you up to date as to how we got to the place we are now. Last time I wrote, we had just returned from Camp Deer and were finishing up the sale of Kelly’s house. 
At the Cake Walk - Fall festival

First day of school

Hand stand

September was supposed to be nice and slow as we wanted to spend time with Edie. We did that. Each Tuesday we drove into the city to pick her up from school and take her to gymnastics class. We had a little time between school and gymnastics to spoil her with Happy Meals and the Mall of America. Those were fine September days. Whenever possible we found an excuse to spend some of the weekend with her family for Papa Murphy’s pizza or a cookout. When we weren’t doing that, we were busy finishing some details on the house.
Back at it's original parking spot

Kelly's House
The motor home did not sell this summer so a week before we sold the house, we went over to Lazy Days in Anoka and picked up the camper to bring back to Texas. The sales manager said that we could leave it in Minnesota and they might sell it in the winter. He said that the batteries might not freeze. That was a easy decision. Besides, we needed a place to stay while we traveled and for the first couple of weeks once we got here. It made moving stuff to Texas so much easier since we could move our clothes and household supplies back into the camper. So we used it for moving. Don pulled the trailer with the motor home and I followed in the car. We took about 10 days to get here stopping for a couple of days in Springfield, Hannibal and Lake of the Ozarks.

September 28 marked the culmination of our summer’s work. It was a little bit frosty when we got up in the morning and sugar maples were turning to yellow and gold around Kelly’s house. Our trailer was loaded with furniture and household goods thanks to brother Ludwig’s help a couple of days earlier. The house was empty as was the garage and shed except for the few items that homebuyers Scott and Jill said they wanted. We threw in that miserable Cub Cadet lawn tractor that we nursed through the summer. We donated a C-clamp and explained to Scott how to use it to keep the gas from leaking back into the engine between starts. We also gave him the name of the small engine guy in Stillwater who had been so helpful. The motor home was parked out front and ready to go. We had spent the night there. All we had was a few items left in the bathroom so that we could take our last shower before we took off. I took a nostalgic walk through the house checking it out to make sure it was as “neat and pristine” as I could make it. We have a lot of wonderful memories in this house, not just from this summer but from the years that Kelly lived here. So my feelings were mixed as we closed and locked the door for the last time. We hooked up the trailer to the car and I lead the way over to Hatfield RV Park in New Richmond where we wanted to empty our tanks and hook up the trailer to the motor home. That took some extra time as Don had to grind off our hitch to get it to fit the motor home.
Fixing the hitch
Once we finished that we moved everything over to Wal Mart on the other end of town where we thought we’d spend the night. We made it back to the closing just before Scott and Jill arrived with their family. Since we were not the sellers, we were left out of the actual transaction and our only reason for being there was to hand over the keys. We also had few minutes to visit with Scott and Jill who had become our friends through the process of buying Kelly’s house. Scott said that he planned to sit on his front porch and enjoy a beer at the end of this day. As a new Wisconsin resident we had introduced him to New Glarus Spotted Cow and left him with a couple of bottles in the refrigerator of his new house. We didn’t stay that night in New Richmond but decided to head down the road on to our next adventure.

9/28 – Tomah, WI at Wal Mart
9/29- 10/1 - Springfield Illinois at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
10/2 – Hannibal, MO, Wal Mart
10/3-4 – Home of Lee and Max Ellmaker at Lake of the Ozarks
10/5 – Marina RV Park, Waco, TX
10/6 – Kyle, TX – Wal Mart
10/7 – Los Fresnos, TX, Palmdale RV Park

We arrived at Palmdale on October 7 and went to work getting this place set up. It was delivered on October 17. Walking out of the park office and seeing our house coming through the gate was exciting. Given all our jokes about “valley time” and manana, I was never certain that things would happen exactly as we were told. But the mobile home pulled into the park 3 days later than planned just as we expected. The movers stopped and got out to figure out how they would get it over to Lot # 25.

This was pretty much the most exciting thing that has happened around here since the last house was brought in. People gathered in their golf carts and on bicycle to watch the undertaking. Slowly and methodically, the movers turned the corner, cutting across the lawn, placing sheets of plywood over cement patios so as not to break them and positioning the house so as to back it and place it behind 2 big palm trees. It was a remarkable undertaking and we had some talented people working for us. Once it was in place, we went out for lunch. When we returned, they already had the house pretty much tied down enough to keep it from being blown away in a hurricane.

Our new kitc
By October 20, we had our plumbing and electricity hooked up so we could sleep here on air mattresses on the floor. Our bed didn’t come until November 7. We are furnished enough so that we can live comfortably now. We brought a few pieces with us, bought some stuff new and some from the neighbors. We are looking for a dining room table at auctions and on Craigs List.  We are using lawn chairs and a fold up camp table for eating. Works well.

Reading to Grandpa

The highlight of our fall was our trip to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving with Kelly, Jason and Jett. We flew out on November 19 for 9 days and stayed in their basement. Each day we would wake up to Jett’s cheerful little voice. She has a lot to say but her grandparents are a little slow in learning her language. Much of the time we spent sitting around the house just watching her and reading whatever book she brought to us from her extensive library of toddler books.

On Thanksgiving we cooked copious amounts of food and Jason’s parents, sister and niece came with even more food so that we had enough to feed at least two more families. This included 7 deserts, almost one per person. Jason and Kelly took us on a tour of one of the many DuPont mansions (Hagley Museum) in the Wilmington area just down I95 from them. Besides that, we ate a lot of leftovers.

Some photos to show that it hasn't all been work and some of the best pictures of our beautiful granddaughters we have received from the kids.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

August Days

August 7, 2018
Twin Springs Update
We sold the house. Well, technically it’s not sold yet but we have a contract with a contingency for our buyers to sell their house. We are getting through all the inspections and stuff. It looks like we can remain here until October at which time we will be ready to go back to Texas and get our new mobile home set up for the winter. Things are going pretty much according to plan though we are still waiting for the motor home to sell. I’m sure there’s a buyer somewhere.

The clothes at Costco – August – summer
The other day when we went into Costco to shop for vacation supplies, the displays at the front of the store was of dark colored, long sleeved, cold-weather clothing and back to school wear. It came as kind of a shock since we came in from a blazing hot August afternoon. It kind of knocked me over with the suddenness at which summer comes to an end around here. In another month or so, we could have frost. But we still have a summer vacation planned with our children and grandchildren at a cabin up north and I’m looking forward to some more hot summer days. The place we are going is called Camp Deer. It is an old fishing camp that my Aunt married into 60 years ago or so and my cousins still run the place. We took our children there when they were little and it pleases me that my grandchildren will play there. It is one of the very few places that hasn’t changed much since my childhood. We will use our recently retrieved boat as a trailer to haul up our groceries to Camp Deer and then go fishing on it.

Napping on way to waterpark

Basic full-time attire with keys clipped to
belt loop and zipper pocket for cash and plastic

The Fat Chance Jug Band at Global Market

Siding Ludwig's garage

Peggy and Edie taking it easy at
our fish fry
At the wave pool at the water park

It’s not over just because there is a contract –
So we’ve had inspectors and appraisers walking around the place and checking everything out. Each one brings about a certain amount of stress as they examine the foundation, the well, the septic system and anything else that could be inspected. Of course they have found things, some minor and some not so minor but we will get through this and these buyers will be happy to own this house and to live in this place. One thing we’ve known but didn’t really know it’s value is the fact that the house comes with a free parking permit at the boat launch on the St. Croix River, about a half a mile down the road. We finally had time to get up to Brainerd and retrieve the boat that we gave to my brother and he has stored in his barn for the last 4 years. We outfitted it with my other brother’s motor that works and a new battery and brought it back here. Last week we cleaned it up, put some gas in the tank and took it for a test ride on the river. What a beautiful place and what a treasure for the new home-owners who have a pontoon boat.

We purchased our motor home on August 9, 2014 and on the 10th, we drove it up to the Minnesota Blue Grass and Old Time Music Festival (MBOTMA) where we slept in it for the first time. At that time we knew very little about what we had. Don and my brother pushed buttons and tried a variety of things to get the fan to work and had given up, figuring that was one of the things that needed to be fixed. At that time, I came in and suggested that maybe they could turn on the switch. They did and it worked. There never was much wrong with the motor home. It was and is a superb machine. So each year since then we’ve taken the camper to MBOTMA for 4 or 5 days during the festival. Last year we had finally earned a site in “reserved camping” which had full hook-ups. That was special. This year we just went up for Saturday night and stayed up on Old Wash Machine Hill, a no-generator zone, and stayed in a tent by my brothers. This is where we always stayed in our pre-camper life.

Homeless goal reached - The end of the slow lane
Saturday while we were going to the bluegrass festival, we drove by Shoreview RV (Now Lazy Days) and looked over to see if our motor home was in the place that we left it. It was but we could see that the lid over the engine compartment was up. Don said, “I bet they found a buyer.” Sure enough, about 15 minutes later we got a phone call with an offer. We told the sales manager we’d like to get more if he could get it and he got some so we accepted the offer. Today, we will hand over the title to the motor home and we should get a check in a couple of days. The buyer is coming from North Carolina to get the motor home. Sadly, that is how it ends. Without much fanfare. So this is the end of Life in the Slow Lane. There will likely be a new blog with a different title in the future. Our daughter once described our pre-retirement life as “constant industry”. After this summer I know it won’t be that though the next year promises to be pretty industrious as we put together our mobile home and build on a sun-room (Texas room). We’ll see where life takes us. The next year or two will be a time of transitions.

I wrote too soon. This morning we learned that the buyer came from North Carolina and wasn’t happy about something minor and he turned around and went home canceling the sale. So we are back on the market. Stupid buyer.

August 26

Camp Deer - Effie, MN

Baby Jett
Greg on his paddle board enjoying Deer Lake

Kelly and Jason with Baby Jett
Greg and Edie watching the sunset
More time has passed and we have now returned from our week at Camp Deer. I should probably just go ahead and post this because every day our situation changes and the news I just wrote about is now changed. Greg took many pictures with his new camera and now I have to figure out how to get pictures from Drop Box onto the blog. Nothing is ever easy. We had a wonderful time Up North. The weather cooperated and everyone stayed healthy and we all returned home with no problems. I’m a worrier and that tends to be my criteria for a good vacation. But much more than that. As Edie pointed out on day 2 of our vacation, “There is nothing to do at Camp Deer but fishing and swimming.” So that is what we did in addition to cooking and eating and watching that amazing sunset over Deer Lake. We went for walks. And some went to Big Fork to get more provisions and to go someplace where they could get a phone signal. And during that time Baby Jett slowly warmed up to us so we could hold her and Kelly could get 10 feet away from her without her crying. She also took her first steps. Edie demonstrated her swimming prowess and we played 1-2-3 Bellyflop in the lake. Don and I had “The Big Cabin” which has 4 beds and during the week my brothers and sisters came for a day or 2 here and there. We saw Elaine, Byron, Doug, Ludwig and Bob. Dick had rented a cabin and Ken, Lori, Colleen and her girls Helena and Paige were there for a few days. Elaine’s daughters Aleatha and Allison came up for our first weekend and Aleatha caught a nice bass to take home with her. She has a great husband who kept her 2 toddlers so she could get away for a couple of days. Greg brought his stand-up paddle board which I tried standing on but immediately fell backwards in the water. I intended to try again but never did. It was really more fun just to watch him out floating on top of the water. We did not catch enough fish for a fish fry until the last day when Dick, Ludwig and us were the only ones left.

On day 2, I took my phone up the hill to check to see if we had any phone calls from the RV place. There was none but we did have a text from our home-buyer saying that they sold their house for the second time and wanting to know if we could close on September 6. That disturbed my peace of mind as I thought about what we would need to get done to be out of here by then. But then yesterday when I found a signal we had another message that basically said their buyer canceled the sale and never mind. While it would be good for Kelly to sell sooner rather than later, it was a relief for me to not be homeless quite so soon.

Edie starts school on Monday. Our job for the next few weeks will be to pick her up from school on Tuesdays and get her to gymnastics class on time.

Note: These are not Greg's pictures. His are much better but getting from Drop Box not so easy. I will continue to try.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

At Home in Wisconsin (trying not to become a Packer fan)

Today, June 16, is the day that we have our first open house trying to sell Kelly’s place here in Houlton, WI. I haven’t written since we were in Louisiana back in the middle of April. Where to begin. Probably with trying to reconstruct our travels. I left off my last post in Louisiana at Indian Creek Recreation Area near Alexandria.

4/11/18 is a mystery. Neither Don or I can remember the campground other that it was 50 miles or so south of Pine Bluff, Arkansas
4/12/18 – Wal-Mart, North Little Rock, AR
4/13-15/18 – Downtown Riverside RV Park, North Little Rock, AR
4/16/18 – Pea Patch RV Park, Branson, MO
4/17-19/18 Guests at Lee and Max Ellmakers in Gravois Mills, MO at their beautiful home on Lake of the Ozarks.
4/20-21/18 -Parked camper at Lake Paradise Resort in Lone Jack, MO while we visited Don’s sister Eileen and her husband in Ottawa, KS
4/22/18 – Jester Park, Grimes, IA
4/23-25 Dakotah Meadows RV Park at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, MN
4/26-5/2/18 Hatfield Park, New Richmond, WI

The camper back where we began
5/3/18 – We moved out of the motor home and into our daughter Kelly’s house in Houlton, WI where we have prepared the house to sell. We will remain here until Kelly sells and closes on the house.
Kelly's House
Now that we have the house ready to sell we will get the motor home cleaned up so we can put it on the market. Once we sell that we will be homeless until our mobile home is delivered at Palmdale in October.

So there you have it. But I’m not done yet. I have to write about our trip north and our summer so far. It’s definitely a summer of letting go and moving on to kind of an unclear future unlike when we started all of this with a clear plan. We were focused back in 2014. Not so much today.
We’ve just completed the second open house today. We had one 1 family who looked at the house and no one has called with questions. This in a market that has been described as “hot”, “a seller’s market” and the inventory of available real estate is low compared to the demand. But then today was a pretty nice day and around here when the weather is like this people just go to the lake. Maybe tomorrow when it is raining.

Kelly and J
Since we arrived here the first week of May we have done an amazing amount of work transforming the place into what it is today. The pictures on Zillow show that. We started the process with an invitation to all our relatives to come for a work weekend on May 9. Kelly was here for a week with Baby Jett and we laid out a list of what we wanted to accomplish.
More Kelly and Jett
The tenant's move out

Bob and Sam.... Sam came!

The garden gate

Elaine at work.

Jett Shopping for paint
Eating on the porch

Bob supervising

Stasha - painter
Andrew - painter

We had 15 family members here to help paint the inside of the house and Kelly provided a barbeque banquet for the family.

Many stayed overnight and worked for 2 days. Once they were gone, niece Kelsey came several days to do the hard work and brother Dick came on weekends. We painted the exterior, cleaned and painted the front porch and back deck, pulled up the flooring in 3 rooms, had new flooring installed, cleaned and cleaned, and hauled stuff away, replaced some light fixtures, outlets and faucets and made sure that everything in the house is in good working order. So now we await a buyer.

Mother's Day gift
The week that Kelly was here was a treasure as we got to hang out with her and get to know Jett who is growing beautifully. On the weekend, Peggy and Edie were here so we had the pleasure of playing with both of our granddaughters together.

A new roof

Kelsey at work 

I tend to start writing about the present and then go backwards in time so now it’s time to write about some of the highlights of our trip north. When I left off my last post we were in Louisiana after some trying times. After Louisiana things got a lot easier. We stopped in Little Rock for a few days. Back when we started this trip in 2014, we spent some time in Little Rock and looked up some old friends we hadn’t seen in 30 years. It seemed appropriate that as we were winding down our full-timing life that we would touch base with them. So we contacted them and we enjoyed an evening out with them.
With John and Linda in Little Rock

We spent a night in Branson and then headed up to Lake of the Ozarks where we spend a couple of days with Lee and Max Ellmaker, our Palmdale friends.
I don't know what it means that
 I took pictures of Lee's shed but not of their beautiful house

Lee's shed

 While we were there we parked the motor-home by Lee’s shed and slept in their guest quarters above their garage, very nice accommodations at their beautiful home. We enjoyed some great meals and a tour of the dam. After we left there, we headed for the Kansas City area where we spent a couple of days with Don’s sister and her husband.

Lee and Max with Maloney
By then it was nearly the end of April and was finally warm enough for us to head north to Minnesota. We arrived in Minnesota on April 22 and spend some days at Dakotah Meadows RV Park and then came over to Wisconsin. We couldn’t move in here until May 3 so we parked the camper in New Richmond for a few days which is very handy as that is where we have our stuff in storage.