September 14, 2014

Now, We're Really Full-timers

Tim flew back to Colorado on May 8, and it was so good to see him.  We drove back to Estes Park from the airport, and he was able to say his final “Good-bye” to the house.  

We met the women who were purchasing the house the next morning at the walk-through.  Such delightful women!  They were so complementary and appreciative of what we had done to prepare the house for them.  I will always try to leave a house in the condition that I’d like to receive one – nail holes filled, paint touched up and carpet cleaned.  But most of all – as clean as possible.  We told them about the quirks of the house and its systems and then headed for closing.

Closing was easy, pleasant and friendly.  We took photographs, and our realtor said that was a first for him.  The four of us just wanted a little something to remember the occasion.  We signed the last of the papers, and Tim and I were officially homeless.  No, that’s not true.  We were officially full-timers.  What a wonderful feeling.  We were free.

Everyone's Happy Today

Every Closing Should Be this Fun

Just like the last time we left Estes Park, we didn’t go far.  We drove back down the mountain to Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland to catch our breath, finish a few errands and celebrate.  Boyd Lake was our home for a bit longer than planned after a freak Mother’s Day snowstorm slammed the area.  Hopefully, this will be the last white stuff we’ll see for a long time.

We're Getting a Bit Tired of these Weather Adventures

What a Difference a Day Makes

A False Start, But We're Not Complaining

Now that I’ve brought you up-to-date on our summer in Colorado, I’ll pick up from the post of June 12 where I left you hanging so long ago.  As you may recall, Tim and I had just listed our house for sale and had left Estes Park on Tuesday, April 9, to start our full-time RV adventure.  We were planning to head to South Dakota to establish our new domicile and had made plans to drive to Texas after that for Tim’s consulting project at Big Thicket National Preserve.  I closed that post with the following sentence:

Well, you know what they say about those best-laid plans.  I’ll tell you in the next post.

Well, here’s the much-delayed “next post.”

After leaving Colorado, we had a beautiful drive along the western edge of the Sandhills of Nebraska and made a quick stop at Carhenge, an unusual roadside attraction.  Carhenge was designed as a replica of Stonehenge in England.  However, as the name may suggest, old cars painted gray were used instead of the original’s monolithic rock pillars.  I had wanted to visit Carhenge for years, and it was as quirky as I had pictured.

Carhenge, Not Stonehenge

"Do You Have Anything Else on the Back Lot?" 

We arrived in South Dakota and visited our new “home,” a personal mailbox at Americas Mailbox, our mail forwarding service.  We picked up our mail, acquired our new drivers licenses, registered the RV and the car, registered to vote and transferred our insurance.  Everything went smoothly, and we returned to the RV to spend Friday night before our departure the next morning.

We Made It to Our New Home State

Our New Home - A Personal Mailbox

We Are Officially South Dakota Residents

On Saturday morning as Tim and I were eating breakfast, his cell phone rang.  It was our realtor.  “Are you sitting down?” she asked.  She then proceeded to tell us that she had an offer on our house.  Great, we thought.  But, this was not just any offer.  It was a full price, cash, close-in-30-days offer!  Can you say that we were speechless?  As soon as we recovered from the initial shock, we said “Yes!”

I had read blogs of several full-timers who had sold their house within the first day or two of listing it.  I had secretly hoped that something similar would happen to us, but I hadn’t even voiced that wish to Tim.  We knew that the house looked good, and should sell quickly, but in this still-evolving real estate market, you just never know.  

So, we had to quickly rethink our plans.  We were already scheduled to head back to Colorado that day, so we had some time to think while we were driving.  We stopped for the night at Cabela’s in Sidney, Nebraska, where we had stayed on the way up.  A major snowstorm was forecast, and we wanted to be off the road.  We filled the propane tank and planned to wait out the storm.  We were warm and toasty in the RV, but freezing rain and ice caused the water pump to freeze and we had no water.  That’s ok.  Nothing could dampen our spirits.

A Bit of a Weather Adventure

The weather cleared, and we were able to leave the next day.  Although we considered the possibility of finding a nice campground to stay in for a few weeks, we ultimately decided to just head back to the house in Estes Park.  Our new life as full-timers only lasted a week.  But we knew it would just be a temporary delay.  Because it was still winter in Estes Park, we made the decision to have the RV winterized again.  Didn’t we just have it de-winterized?  Better safe than sorry.

We also decided that Tim would fly to Texas for his project.  There was no way we could take the RV there.  I would remain at the house and finish packing and moving those things that were going into storage.  Tim would fly back to Colorado the day before closing, which was scheduled for May 9.  Since we had already downsized and had gotten rid of everything we were not planning to store or give to family, I though this part of the moving process would be fairly easy.  NOT!!  I really do hate moving – I don’t know how people move every few years.  Even with very few possessions, it’s not an easy process.  Packing everything we planned to store in as few boxes as possible to conserve space in the storage unit made things even more challenging.

Moving day finally arrived on May 7, the day before Tim would arrive back in Colorado.  Of course this was the only day that week that it rained.  I had mapped out the storage unit to determine the best way to arrange the boxes and furniture to maximize the use of the space.  It was like completing a 3-D puzzle to cram everything in just so.  With a few modifications, the movers made it work.  The move was over.  The house was empty.  I could relax.  I drove back to Estes Park and moved into the RV.  I was home.

September 13, 2014

Getting Back to Normal

As you may have figured out by now, I lost my motivation to update the blog following Tim’s surgery earlier in the summer.  I’m hoping to rectify my long, long absence starting today and finally get this blog caught up-to-date.

Tim did very well during his recovery from neck surgery, and his surgeon released him on July 29.  Next on the agenda was a course of physical therapy to strengthen his neck and shoulder muscles in order to protect his spine.  Tim was able to find a wonderful physical therapist in Fort Collins, Colorado, and we moved to the Residence Inn in Fort Collins to be closer to the facility.  Most weeks he was there for three sessions, and he seemed to improve every day.

It was a very hot summer in the Northern Colorado foothills, and we were not inclined to get out and do too much.  The focus of our summer was Tim’s health and getting him back to normal.  We did take a few day trips, however, including one to Pawnee Buttes northeast of Greeley, Colorado.

Pawnee Buttes

Although we were away from the RV, we enjoyed our stay at the Residence Inn because of Natasha, our housekeeper who made our stay very special.  Natasha fell in love with Kitty the day we checked in.  She spoiled her with new toys and played with her almost every day.  Natasha was so much fun to be around, and her affection towards Kitty meant a great deal to us.

Since Tim retired in March, he has been interested in providing museum services contracting for national parks.  His first contract was in April-May at Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, and his second was at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado, where he volunteered for a week during our first month as full-timers (I’ll write about those experiences in future catch-up posts).  

At the end of July, Tim received an offer to provide museum services at Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma.  The project was the completion of the park’s annual museum reports, which were due the first of September.  What was he to do?  Tim was interested in the project, but he would be going through physical therapy, and that was his priority for the month of August.  Was there a way he could make both things happen?

We put our heads together and came up with a solution.  Tim could work remotely at a National Park Service office in Fort Collins and fly to Oklahoma for a week of hands-on work.  If he left on a Wednesday and returned the following Tuesday, he could still manage two physical therapy sessions each week.  Since this travel would take place near the end of his course of treatment, his physical therapist bought into the plan, as it would show her how far he had progressed after being away for almost a week.

Everything came together as planned, and Tim flew to Oklahoma City, stayed in park housing, completed the annual reports and flew back to Colorado to complete his final therapy sessions.  Amazingly, everything worked out, and Tim was released by his physical therapist on September 5.

We left the hotel in Fort Collins, and Colorado, two hours later!  It was time to move on with our lives and get back to our definition of normal.  It felt so good to be back on the road!