Day 19 of Isolation

Well, it happened.  We aren’t going back to work for the rest of this school year.  All California schools are shut until June 19th.  Why that random date?  I think because by then all schools will be officially out.

So now we have a new challenge – holding office hours virtually!  We also can’t teach any new content.  This will make office hours interesting!  I’ll keep you updated with some of the things my darling middle school students talk about during office hours.

I was able to figure out why I couldn’t hear anything when I was on a Google Meet.  I have the extension “Disable HTML5 Autoplay” installed on Chrome.  After spending about an hour searching online for a solution, one person of many in a thread mentioned their autoplay blocker prevented them from hearing others.  Disabled mine and VOILA! I can hear!  It is so much easier than using the phone for audio and computer for video.  John and I tested it with him continually saying “can you hear me now?”  Just be sure to refresh for the change to take effect!

Another thing happening in California (our county) is the recommendation that everyone wear cloth masks IF they must leave home for essentials.  So today was figuring out which sheet and pillowcase I was going to cut up to make them.  I also am using a water repellent boat cover that we happened to have in the garage as part of the design.

Here is the pattern I’m using.  Kaiser Permanente has on online pattern and video tutorial for making masks.  Thank you Kaiser!

It was an eventful day!

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Almost done cutting out the mask supplies. 

 

 

Day 18 of Isolation

6 years ago today I fell, fracturing my knee cap and tearing my meniscus.  Immobilized leg for 3 months, then the meniscus surgery with additional immobile time.  Another 6 months of physical therapy to be not quite back to normal.  Since that fated day, I gained 35 pounds!  Guess my activity levels dropped more than I thought.  In the last 17 weeks, I’ve lost 28 of those pounds!

Because we are watching more closely what we are eating, today I made homemade unsweetened applesauce to have with the BBQ pork loin and asparagus for dinner.  It was so easy!  Cut up, boil, and blend in food processor.  Start to finish was 20 minutes and then a few hours in the frig.  Didn’t even peel them.  Don’t want to lose those nutrients.

What foods have you experimented with during your self-isolation?

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Day 17 of Isolation

We ordered mulch and steer manure online and went to Home Depot to pick it up.  They even load it into the car.  Today was planter mulching day!  Grass seed and steer manure soon and then our yard will smell absolutely fabulous!

John also repaired the bench on the front porch.  Some of my honey-do list is getting done!!  Happy wife here!!

What projects have you worked on?

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Day 16 of Isolation

We had a very relaxing day after our Mai Tai party last night.  We might have had too many!

It has been so great having the Kiddo around!

Kiddo made a great lentil soup I have to rave about.  It was a Moroccan Lentil soup with lentils, garbanzo beans, diced tomato, cauliflower, celery, onion, and spices.

I only had dried garbanzo beans – they were so easy to make in the Instant Pot.  One cup of beans and 6 cups of water for 50 minutes.  Turned out wonderfully!

Day 15 of Isolation

Kiddo #2 is officially on vacation and coming home for the week.  She hasn’t been to the hospital in 9 days (not sure how that happened for her) so she feels confident she will not infect us.  She was supposed to leave this morning for spring break in Hawaii.  To celebrate, John made a batch of Mai Tai.  This picture isn’t ours – we didn’t have the fruit slices.

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And we also:

  • We debated where we can install the horseshoes game.  While weeding earlier in the week, we found a horseshoe.  Not sure how long it has been there since we have never played horseshoes at home (that’s a camping activity.)  We’ve lived here 30 years.  John’s hypothesis is that the previous owners had a horse in the yard and the shoe came off.  Barb’s hypothesis is that they played horseshoes on that side of the yard.  Who is correct? Barb, of course!  Why? Because I’m always right hahaha
  • Enjoyed the afternoon and evening talking with Kiddo and drinking Mai Tais.

Week 2 of Isolation Movies

Movies:

  1. Our Brand is Crisis

    food snack popcorn movie theater
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  2. Secretariat
  3. The Martian
  4. Romancing the Stone
  5. The Jewel of the Nile
  6. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  7. The Holiday
  8. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  9. Gladiator
  10. Man From Snowy River

Non-Movie Watching:

  1. Jeff Dunham comedy shows
  2. abandoned antique close up design
    Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

    newest episode of “The Rookie

  3. newest episode of “Bless this Mess
  4. newest episode of “Survivor
  5. newest episode of “The Walking Dead
  6. started watching “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix
  7. CNN10 news
  8. Jimmy Fallon at Home
  9. miscellaneous YouTube dark hole!

 

Day 14 of Isolation

I can’t believe it has been 2 weeks!  On one hand it seems SO MUCH LONGER!  On the other hand, it has gone by relatively smoothly. 

We are trying to find ways to keep ourselves entertained without leaving our property.  Our 9000 square foot piece of land (.2 acres; 836 square meters) doesn’t give many places to hide with a house on it!  I think our biggest challenge is finding some time alone.

How are you finding time alone with this “Safer at Home” order?

 

Today we:

  • made extra YUMMY pancakes with some of the sourdough starter – didn’t think to take a picture until they were all gone!
  • worked on Sudoku puzzles
  • GUITAR HERO!  Amazed our guitar still works!  I think it’s been over 10 years since it was last used.
  • naps and a very restful day

Day 13 of Isolation

Is it just me or is this never going to end?  I have a weird feeling that we aren’t going on vacation this summer.  Looking at the number of cases this morning seems to confirm things are getting worse, not better.

My principal sent an email this morning (midway through our spring break that’s already ruined by the pandemic) that we must check our work email HOURLY starting Monday.  Like I have nothing else to do (oh wait, I guess I don’t) but still!

They also want us to “interact” with the students starting next week.  Granted, we can’t assign anything that results in a grade and we can’t force them to “interact”.  They want all of us to set up a Zoom or Google Meet time so students have access to us.  Not sure how comfortable I am with this.  They can already message through the district platform and email us.  Is it so they can see us?  Be reassured by us?

Today on the homefront:

  • a few more weeds pulled out of the side yard
  • facetime with the kiddos
  • patio is ready for spring, I even had lunch outside today!
  • Declutter a shelf in the back bedroom so we can put our Wii stuff there.

My LadyBug friends while out with the weeds!  My social life is devolving!

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Day 12 of Isolation

This seems like our new normal.

Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Franklin D. Roosevelt

I am fearful that EVERYTHING coming into our home is infected.  And we aren’t going out often or ordering stuff.

  • John went to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables this morning at the grocery store.
  • Kiddo #2 ordered something from Amazon before the “Safer at Home” order here in California. [She will frequently use our address for deliveries since she has issues getting stuff delivered at her apartment.]  Everyone else must have been ordering the same gluten free soup.  It finally arrived today in a cardboard box. 

I was nagging John to be sure he sanitized everything including the box and bags along with all the door handles and other stuff he might have touched after he brought the stuff in.  

Please don’t misinterpret – I am a supporter of self-isolation and the statewide isolation order.  From a public health perspective, this and hand washing are the best ways to decrease the spread.  Our county currently has a 10% death rate.  This is nothing to mess with.

Anyone else having anxiety about infected stuff coming into the house?  I know we have all conquered our fears of clutter entering!

 

And the other stuff happening here today:

  • John made another loaf of sourdough bread
  • Barb weeded the side planter.  It was nice to sit outside and have time “alone” with my thoughts.
  • Catching up on blog reading.

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Day 11 of Isolation

Things are starting to settle into routines.  Laundry is getting done more frequently – doing yard work is clothing extensive!  We are having more dishes to wash since we are eating all 3 meals at home.  We have been experimenting with recipes.

I’m going to try to get up earlier rather than later.  My morning wake up time has been getting later and later.  Yesterday it was 11:30 and a kick in my behind that I need to get up earlier.  This morning was 10:00.  John has been “sleeping  in” too – this morning it was 6:00 when he woke up.  Way too early for me!

How is your new daily routine coming along?

Things going on today:

  • more yard work – does purchasing bark/mulch count as an essential?  We are debating a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s but not sure we want to risk it at this point.
  • no puzzle today – decided to read instead.
  • John baked gluten free sourdough bread!  It was so YUMMY!  We need to figure out something to do with the starter he has been maintaining.  I think waffles are on the menu for tomorrow morning!

Day 10 of Isolation

John went to the store this morning.  Our local grocery store did not have toilet paper – we aren’t out and he wasn’t going to buy it – he was just curious.

The health food store farther away in downtown had everything gluten free he wanted (baking mix to make homemade bread specifically).  They also had dry beans, quinoa, and hominy which the local grocery store didn’t have.  We are now set on those.

We made Mac and Cheese for lunch.  No baking!  Here’s the gist of what I did.

“French Onion Mac & Cheese”  Sorry no pic, it was just mac & cheese in a pot.

  1. Boil the noodles in just enough water so that when they are done there is hardly any water left.  I also added some beef Better than Bouillon to the water before cooking.
  2. While the noodles cooked, I caramelized 1/2 a large onion.
  3. I grated about 3 ounces of Gruyere cheese which we just happen to have in the frig and sparked this recipe.
  4. When noodles were done, I added a little bit of cornstarch to thicken the remaining water since we used gluten free noodles.  I would think with regular noodles you wouldn’t need to do this.
  5. Mix the noodles, onions, cheese together with a splash of half and half.
  6. EAT!  It was super YUMMY!!

 

Other happenings in our house:

  • Barb’s shoulders are sore today from working in the yard yesterday
  • finished another puzzle – I think it is time to move to reading for a while

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Day 9 of Isolation Ruminations

I’ve updated our day numbers.  We started isolation 2 days before the first blog post.

I haven’t left the house/yard since returning from dinner Friday 3/13.

On this day, I left for work and was dreading Friday the 13th at a middle school.  We had already had RAIN (you know that wet stuff that occasionally falls from the sky in Southern California), FULL MOON, and DAYLIGHT SAVINGS!  What more could happen??

Friday after lunch, everything changed.  The county was shuttering all school at the end of the day until 4/6.  By Tuesday morning, the closure was extended to 4/30.  John found out his school was closing until 4/6 on the same day I found out 4/30.  It wasn’t until Thursday that John received confirmation that his school was closing until 5/1.

I’m not sure if this is a positive or not, but we are not expected to provide specific lessons to the students.  Because some students do not have internet access, we can’t assign anything we expect to have completed and turned in digitally.  Some students have started the “assignments” I posted but not a majority by any stretch of the imagination.  The district also feels this is a stressful enough event without adding parents trying to guide/teach as well.

So now we have to “entertain” ourselves for at least 6 weeks at home.  Today we:

  • did some yard work, we were out there for 2 hours!  It was a beautiful morning here.
  • contemplated what we will do for student semester grades IF we don’t return.
    • Barb thinks we won’t go back
    • John is optimistic we will.
    • Can we just give a grade based on what they earned just before shutdown?
    • Can the state just say “No Grades”?  They’ve already said no state testing.
    • AP tests will still be given during May.  Not sure how this will look and how valid the test scores will be.
  • completed another puzzle – we purchased this in Yellowstone National Park.  It is OBVIOUS someone purchased it before us and returned it with broken pieces.  Glad all the pieces were included.  Would have been really annoyed if it had missing pieces.

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  • started another puzzle

Day 6 of Isolation

The state of California has its act together.

We filed our taxes Monday afternoon and this morning when I went online, the bank had already received our refund!!  Less than one week!  Not that we are going anywhere to spend it but we have it!

John also received his new Real ID license today.  He went last week on Friday to do the renewal.  One week to receive it!  Hope other aspect of state government are as efficient!

Meanwhile –

  • Our bathroom temporarily ran out of toilet paper.  Just a small panic until I realized there were 10 rolls in the other bathroom.
  • It was a beautiful morning here so we did a couple of hours of yard work.  The recent rains have spurred growth of grass and weeks.
  • I caught up on reading other blog posts
  • Naps
  • We played Wii Bowling again!

Week 1 of Isolation Movies

As we wrap up our first week of isolation/Safer at Home, here is a list of the movies watched this week.

  1. Contagion – and why not?
  2. Frozen II – and we don’t have kids here!
  3. Fast 5 – we still need to watch the most recent one
  4. Remember the Titans – one of our favorites!
  5. The King’s Speech
  6. The Rainmaker
  7. Hell or High Water – we’ve been on an underdog theme it seems
  8. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – personally I liked the first one better
  9. Seabiscuit
  10. CHiPs – Dax Shepard also has a pretty good podcast we enjoy on road trips
  11. Rango – although it is a cartoon, it is not a kid movie in my opinion
  12. Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken – interesting twist on Super Size Me.

No “TV” series at this point.  What have you been watching?  Any suggestions?

Day 5 of Isolation

Is anyone else finding that “normal” stuff is just taking you longer to complete.  For example, this morning my normal showering time is about 15 minutes.  This morning 35 minutes.  I actually left the hair conditioner in for the 3-5 minutes!  Most mornings, conditioner doesn’t happen.  I went down the YouTube rabbit hole when someone posted the Jimmy Fallon working from home 1st episode.  That leads to watching all of them for the week and many other things!

John started a sourdough starter and we watched movies.

Day 4 of Isolation

“Safer at Home”

Today our entire state is now ordered to stay at home except for essential outings (medical, food, essential employment.)   It has already been an interesting week following the news, but this is so surreal.  We watch movies/TV shows where things like this happen but NEVER expect it happen in real life.

So how did we occupy our minds and bodies?

We put together a 1000 piece puzzle!  We started it about noon; John quit about 8:30 and I quit at 10:30.   I woke up this morning to a finished puzzle!  Way to go hubby!

 

After standing at the bar most of the day, we definitely need to do something active tomorrow!

 

 

Day 3 of Isolation

I say this is Day 3 but it is really Day 5.  Somehow the weekend didn’t count when I made the Day 1 post.  Does the day number really matter?  Nope.  Especially knowing that I am looking at being off work for at least 47 days.

I weighed in this morning and I hit 25 pounds decluttered!  Guess the stress eating last week was what my body needed to get over the 23 pound plateau I’ve had for 3 weeks.  On the positive side, I didn’t gain anything for 3 weeks!  I still tracked my food intake but definitely went above what I should have been eating – not nearly as much as “old” me would have eaten.

Other things going on today:

  • more Sudoku for John
  • catching up on blog reading for Barb
  • we got out all of the old Wii stuff and set it up.  John is practicing driving at the moment before our big race later!  Update to follow
  • watched CNN10 for the week.  I didn’t realize it was still being recorded.
  • talked to the kiddos and mom.  Our phone calls sure last longer now that everyone is in isolation!

Day 2 of Isolation

Today is St. Patrick’s Day!  It’s weird not having 150+ middle school kids checking out your clothing to make sure you have green on.

So today I decluttered!  Guess I should have counted how many pictures I removed but totally forgot to do it – maybe a trip to the trash can is in order.

I went through an old box of photos, digitized the ones I wanted to keep, threw away many, and put a few into the small boxes for the kids.

No pics for this one – sorry!

Other things that happened at our house:

  • took the car to get looked at (see our Random Acts of Kindness post!)
  • went to work to pick up my scanner before the complete lockout at 2 pm.  The county has extended Barb’s out of school until April 30th.  All school buildings are off limits.  I needed the scanner to digitize some of the pictures.
  • watched “The Rainmaker” movie
  • John did some yard work as well as transplanting a bush
  • made Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potato dinner.  This has to be one of the easiest “holiday” meals to make!  We embraced our Irish roots with non-traditional Irish foods.  I seem to remember reading that Irish immigrants to the US started eating corned beef and cabbage because it was cheap.  Anyone know for sure?
  • John took a nap
  • FaceTime with the grandkiddo!  She is growing so much!
  • Talked with both Kiddos – kiddo #2 was venting that her noon conference was about potty training in midst of Coronavirus pandemic.  Guess they want the Pediatricians to remember parents will still have concerns about things other than Coronavirus.
  • Talked with both mothers.  They find it funny that we are both considered “elderly” when they first started talking about the age groups most vulnerable.  The media has lost the term elderly.  Guess too many people were offended being called elderly.

Hope everyone is taking time for mental health breaks in their day.

Random Acts of Kindness

This is an interesting time.  All of us are a little on edge.  Our school was supposed to be having a “Random Acts of Kindness” week.  Let’s all try to do this!

Let us know in the comments about a random act of kindness you gave or received this week.

We received a Random Act of Kindness on Tuesday.  Back Story:  Kiddo #2 had a nearly dead, car wouldn’t start, battery on Monday night when she was leaving work.  AAA came out and jumped her, then she drove towards us so we could trade cars about half way.  When you have a Prius, car not starting could be one of MANY things.

On Tuesday, John took the car to our mechanic.  He originally quoted us $50 to look over everything just to make sure it wasn’t something major causing the battery drain.  (Kiddo #2 didn’t think she left any lights on or doors open.)   The mechanic called a few hours later to say the car was ready.  We went to pick it up and the charge was $0.00!  He said they checked everything, plugged it into the computer to check for codes, and everything was fine.  He said with all that is going on, he didn’t want to be “that guy” who charges when everything is ok.

 

Day 1 of Isolation

 

Trying to prevent Cabin Fever!

  • completed and filed our taxes
  • Scanned a previous year of taxes to discard paper from the filing cabinet
  • shredded a pile papers
  • John cleaned the guns
  • deep cleaned the stove and oven
  • watched “King’s Speech” together
  • did 2 loads of laundry
  • completed an 8 part sudoku – John worked on his for a while
  • John took a nap
  • watched the news, “played on the internet”
  • tried a new dinner recipe (saute zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, and hominy with cumin)
  • talked to both kiddos
  • drove in to trade cars with Kiddo #2 – her battery died so we are going to get it replaced – we’re off and she isn’t.  We know it’s been about 5 years so it’s due.

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Coronavirus “Spring Break”

Well, it happened.  My school was one of MANY in California that is on a 3 week public health hiatus.  John’s district hasn’t closed any schools yet, but he is currently on Spring Break.  My principal made it very clear that since the health department is closing us, we are expected to isolate/self-quarantine.

Thankfully, we are not expected to prepare lessons for the students.  I posted a few things they will need to do when we return – hopefully they will do it since it is the family life unit.  It’s usually the one chapter of the book they look at!

Hope every one is staying safe and healthy during this unusual situation we find ourselves in.

PL #2 – Hodge Rd Outdoor Shooting Area

We ventured to our second Public Land recently.  This one is the Hodge Road Outdoor Shooting Area near Barstow, California.  I’m not sure which agency has control over this area.  We originally thought BLM but now think it might be the county of San Bernardino.  BLM website says it doesn’t have any designated shooting sites.

We were VERY DISAPPOINTED!  We would NOT recommend this location.

We didn’t arrive until about 2pm.  It was a very spur of the moment outing – a discussion that there was an outdoor shooting area near Barstow at breakfast with friends, deciding we had nothing else to do, gathering all our stuff, and driving out.  Those who know us know this is very normal behavior for us!

It was windy and very crowded.  As we drove along the hillside to find a place to set up, we encountered a group who actually had all their weapons set up on one side of the dirt road and their targets on the other side.  As we approached, one of the men waved us through while a kid about 10 was holding a rifle.  When the kid turned towards us, he had it pointing directly at us!  Needless to say, this was a common sight – the mishandling of the weapons by kids – thankfully not all were on opposite sides of the road from their targets.

We finally found a place not too close to others but quickly found out why – a tire was burning/smoldering.  We used all of the water we had with us to douse it.

As we were setting up a table, someone near us yelled “Cease Fire”.  In my world that means stop shooting and even putting your weapon down.  Not here!  People on the other side of them kept on shooting.  How do you replace your targets if people near you keep shooting?  This was the deciding factor for us – we don’t belong here and need to leave!

We left and went to Cracker Barrel for a late lunch/early dinner!

Pictures:  The hillside had a TON OF WASTE!  We aren’t talking just a little, we are talking about so much that is was disgusting.  These pictures were taken farther in than most people travel.  It was even worse closer to the interstate.  Shell casings were EVERYWHERE!  Burned up cars, furniture, targets, lots of glass shards, and shot up propane bottles is a sampling of the stuff left behind.   Don’t people know the mantra “LEAVE NO TRACE”?

 

 

 

old work stuff needs to go

As a teacher, we hoard all kinds of teaching supplies.  Last weekend I went through a cabinet in the hallway that housed OLD teacher editions of textbooks (copyright 1993) and associated supplemental materials.  We are in the early stages of adopting a new textbook and these are at least 3 adoptions ago!  I couldn’t tell you the last time I looked at them.

The text bank book even mentions that IF you have a computer to contact them and they will send you a disk with the text questions.  I’m assuming it is a 3.5 floppy!

So here are the pictures of all the supplemental materials I got rid of.  The actual teacher editions I took back to school just in case anyone wants one. (doubtful, but you never know)

Why do we keep things like this??  Any other middle school science teachers have these still?

decluttering the medicine shelf

So after yesterday’s spice cabinet shelf decluttering, I was inspired to tackle the medicine shelf.

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after the decluttering

 

9 containers were removed or consolidated.  The large extra strength “Tylenol” was used to refill the smaller container here, in my purse, and in the car.

The fish oil was almost empty (4 left) in the opened container so it was consolidated with the new one.

The old prescriptions were for pain meds we barely used.  Discarded the meds (not down the drain!) by mixing them in a ziploc bag with leftover bacon grease from breakfast.  I sure wouldn’t want to sift through that!

And I thought we were done decluttering!  8 more items decluttered!

the darn spice cabinet

I’m not even sure why I opened the spice cabinet this morning.  It still hasn’t come back to me.  But when I opened the cabinet, there were 4 new bottles of spices lined up across the opening.  John went shopping!

But then I inspected them more closely.  All 4 bottles were for spices we already had plenty of!

First thought – “OMG How much did that cost?”

Next thought – “This cupboard is a disaster!”

Imagine the “heated” discussion we had about the purchase of spices!  After decluttering the cupboard, we have a lifetime supply of ground cumin, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, Old Bay, ground ginger, poultry seasoning, and whole allspice.  All are duplicates of full bottles.

So in all, I decluttered 6 bottles of consolidated spices and old stuff (Fruit Fresh anyone?  And how about an old Mrs. Dash?)

I was able to consolidate the Old Bay and garlic powder.  Both had a large container and a small container.  (Note:  Our Old Bay large container (6 oz) is nothing compared to that found in the cupboard of a Marylander!)

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Sorry not before and after pics of the cupboard but here’s the bag of duplicates.  They are going into the pantry with the new understanding that John is not allowed to purchase spices without “prior approval” (or at least making a concerted effort to confirm a duplicate doesn’t exist.)

 

PL #1: Grand Canyon National Park

Public Land #1 – Grand Canyon National Park

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Us and the Canyon!

We visited Grand Canyon National Park over New Years.  This is not our first visit to the park.  We usually stay in Flagstaff or Williams when we visit just about every year, sometimes more than once a year.

It was the first time we actually stayed the night in the park.  We were talking about where we wanted to go over New Years a few weeks before the holiday and John said he wanted to stay IF we could get a room with a canyon view.  Lucky us!  I went online and there was one room available in the Kachina Lodge!  Thankfully we have a flexible schedule during the holiday break.

We spent 2 nights in the Kachina Lodge.  This lodge does not have a lobby or restaurant and is only 2 stories with no elevator.  There is a sitting room with a view of the canyon.  You check in at the El Tovar Hotel.  The room was very comfortable and had a great view of the canyon.  Do you notice all the people???  It was amazingly quiet with few people walking along the icy walkway.  Maybe because it was New Years Eve??

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View from our 2nd floor room.

We ate in both the Bright Angel Lodge and the El Tovar Hotel dining rooms for dinner.  We enjoyed the view and food at the Bright Angel Lodge better than the El Tovar Hotel.  Both lodges were about a 5-10 minute chilly icy slippery walk from our lodge, especially the trip back in the dark.

We brought oatmeal (just add hot water) and fruit for breakfast so we didn’t have to go out early in the cold on New Years Day.  There was a coffee maker in the room but no microwave.

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Our dinner view at sunset from a window table. Weird lights are a reflection of the chandelier.

We woke up our last morning to new snow.  It wasn’t much but this Southern California girl thought it was beautiful!  Glistening snow!  On the drive out, we saw elk chillin’ under the trees.

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Elk in Grand Canyon National Park
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John cleaning off the snow!  It wasn’t much but enough for us!  We even cleared off the windows of the truck next to us.

 

Our 2020 Goals

We are a little late in posting this post!  The idea of 20 in 20 is from Melody over at The Minimalists Next Door.

Goals for 2020

  • declutter 2020 items in 2020
    • I doubt we will hit this amount but we will give it a try!
    • go through all the pictures
    • tackle the garage again
  • visit 20 public lands, hopefully spend 20 nights
    • national parks, national forests, BLM lands, state parks, county parks, etc. count.
  • do 2020 squats
    • there are plenty of squat challenges out there but with our bad knees, doing hundreds at a time seems unreasonable.  We figure we can average 5.5 per day for the year.
  • lose 20 pounds each
    • we joined WW (formerly Weight Watchers) so this should help.  We weren’t very effective without the accountability.
    • Barb has already decluttered 11.8 pounds in 2020 and John is at 8.7 pounds.  (20.5 pounds together so far in 2020!!!)
    • maybe we should check these off as decluttered boxes at the end of the year

So what are your goals for this year?  Let us know in the comments!  You might just inspire us to add a new one to our list!

After 30 Years, it’s being Decluttered!

I have finally hit that section of the garage I’ve been dreading.  We found a box labeled “Pictures” and ” Fragile” taped up.  When we opened it, it was indeed pictures, in frames, from our old house that we moved out of in 1989!  Wonder what other boxes have been sitting out there for 30 years??  I’ll let you know if I find any!

Now I bet you are wondering how I know it was that old?  Several clues:

  • It was still sealed and it definitely wasn’t from the great flood of 2015
  • only newborn pictures of kiddo #2 (born in 1989)
  • only my brother’s first 2 kids (born in 1983 and 1987), no other nieces or nephews
  • WE LOOK SO YOUNG!
  • A lot of pictures of us before we had children!

And here’s a picture that definitely sparked joy when I saw it!

matulich john Barb abt 1983 resize
sometime between 1979 & 1984

 

 

Decluttered in 2019 Update

Can you believe 2019 is over???  We did continue our decluttering journey this year.  Every so often you open a drawer or closet and realize it’s looking “full” and messy.  In straightening things out, some stuff just has to leave!  Here are a few things that we shoved under the bed, in the dresser “junk” jar, the bathroom cabinet, and kitchen drawer.  It sure would be nice to get rid of the “junk” jar – or rename it!

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This year we removed at least 884 items.  Why did I say at least?  We were not as dedicated to the counting aspect this year.  We began the year by saying we weren’t going to count and then felt an overwhelming need to count.  Go figure!

Here is a surprising set of numbers:  Since we began counting in 2014, we have counted and removed 16,951 items from the house!  Since the average house has about 300,000 items, we figure we can work on 2020 items in 2020.

Decluttering Update 12/2019

I finally decided to start working on decluttering the photos.  The first box held pictures from my aunt.  I think she must have been decluttering for me to end up with them!

I took a picture of each picture I wanted to “keep” – digitally of course.  Put them into a folder temporarily name “photos from the shelf” and renamed each one with the name(s) of the people in them and an approximate date if the date wasn’t on the picture.  Some were easy – me as an infant.  Others were more obscure – grandma in the 1960’s.

46 pictures gone!  plus 6 items from around the house this week.  52 things gone!!

Couldn’t resist – picture of me at age 4 had to go on top!

Christmas Cards “Decluttered”

I have had Christmas cards in the hall closet now for at least 5 years.  I know this because I’ve not sent them out since before the Great Flood.  They were packed up during the repairs and put back into the closet.

I decided to address those cards today!  Some people will be surprised I did so.

Is it wrong that I was contemplating how many to mark off on my 2019 in 2019 sheet while doing so?  Is it 3 (boxes) or 39 (number of cards used)?

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SMART Weight Loss Goal

Nicole’s recent post “Dec. 1. Almost 2020” over at Prosperity and Calamities inspired me to start my weight loss journey sooner than 1/1/20.  Those darn New Year’s resolutions!  They never work so why not just set a goal now and get started.

Kiddo #2 was home when I read the post and we had an interesting discussion about personal goals.  In the work place SMART goals drive me crazy because they always mean I need to do more.  I hadn’t really thought of them for personal use.

As part of our discussion, weight loss came up.  It was so easy to use the SMART goal method for this!  Why didn’t I think of this sooner??

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S – Specific – Weight loss didn’t seem specific enough.  I decided on an average of 0.5 pounds per week.  To help with this,  I went online and joined WW (officially not called Weight Watchers any longer).

M – Measurable – I’m pretty sure the scale (which I dread) will help with this.  Something like “pants aren’t tight” didn’t seem as measurable.   By the end of the year, the goal is to lose 26 pounds.

– Attainable – I think if I stay on track and record my food and exercise, this goal is attainable in 1 year.

R – Relevant – How could losing weight not be relevant to my life and health.  We went to the scale and I realized I was 2x my previous WW goal set 30ish years ago.  Between the 2 kiddos, I was able to reach lifetime member status.  The weight has been gradually creeping up since then.  I only have data for the last 20 years and it has averaged about 4 pounds per year.  It was very eye-opening to realize this.  A little bit per year has done significant damage to my body.  She also had me do a fasting blood sugar test (using John’s blood tester) and it was 110.  Not diabetes but not good.  Losing weight will help with this too.

T – Timely – A year seems like a reasonable time goal.  If I’ve gained 4-10 pounds a year, I can lose that amount (and more likely more) in the same time frame.

Tomorrow marks one week following the WW blue plan.  I’ll occasionally be posting about this journey.

 

 

Surviving Fire Season

This has been an interesting fire season for us.  Our town had 2 wildfires while the Santa Ana winds were blowing last week.

Day 1 had an evacuation area that surrounded the school I work at.  Literally our side of the street wasn’t evacuated but directly across and to the west of us was under mandatory evacuation.  It sure did make releasing students interesting!

Day 2 had an evacuation warning at the house.  We got the cell phone alert at 3:30 am.  Thankfully it wasn’t mandatory.  I think they do that in case the wind shifts, which it didn’t.

Hopefully that is the end of it for us for a while.  Our last mandatory evacuation was about 25 years ago.  Flames got within 100 feet of the house that time.

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Picture from the hillside looking down at the fire.  Not sure of source – from CNN.com

Canceling Protection One/ADT

ARGH!  We decided to cancel our home security monitoring through Protection One.  How difficult is this, you ask?  VERY!!!!!

We recently had our cable-based internet router die – just straight up quit working one day.  We spent the evening returning/exchanging it at the local office.  They also gave us an updated wireless modem.  After setting it all up, we realized our landline wasn’t working (service provided by our “cable” provider.)  After another hour on the phone with them, they claim all is perfect.

3 days later – count that – not 1, not 2, but 3 days later we can’t set the alarm when we are ready to leave the house.  Evidently our backup battery for the cellular backup option died because the system was unable to use the landline.

A technician came to the house a few days later after being told we needed to have a software update.  John took the afternoon off the deal with this.  The technician arrives, does the update, yet still can’t get the landline option to send a signal for the alarm system.  The “only option” is to upgrade to cellular for “ONLY” $5 MORE PER MONTH.

So now our monthly bill is up to $67.  We have a discussion after the technician leaves and decide that is just too much.  We can probably get a different alarm system cheaper and technologically more advanced.

I call to cancel and they remind me that we have been “loyal” customers for over 10 years.  Yep, we know how long we’ve had the alarm system and still want to cancel.  Now starts the drama!  I forgot about the 30 days notice requirement.  I assumed they would cut us off at the end of the pre-paid month.  NOPE!

Website says you can’t cancel online – you must call and have them convince you that you are putting your family at risk by cancelling.  Then, get this, you have to send an email to cancel.  Cancel date is based on when they receive your email/written request (which they don’t tell you).  Thankfully we emailed as they told us we needed to email.

Can you believe we “missed” the cut-off for canceling at the end of the billing cycle by 2 days??  (According to our contract, we need to give a 30 day notice.)  They then claim that our contract states that we need to give notice prior to the next billing cycle and that our cancel date won’t be in 30 days (Nov. 7) but Dec. 5th because of the billing cycle requirement.  They also have someone call multiple times trying to offer us a 36 month contract for $50 without updating any of the technology.  They did eventually offer no monthly payments until 2020 but with no upgraded equipment.  They finally agree after a week of emails and phone calls to cancel at the 30 day mark (Nov. 7).

How hard is it to just stop monitoring the system?  They claim it is very difficult.  My guess is all that happens is they “flip” a switch and we are off.  Anyone know anything about this side of it?

The icing on the cake is today we got a bill for $15 for the cellular upgrade.

Now what do we do with the ancient equipment?  What will happen when we try to disconnect everything?  Will the alarm still sound?  Can they remotely wipe out our system?  Will that mess with the landline?  Not looking forward to Nov. 7th.

When to Declutter Work Obligations

This is something many of us struggle with professionally.  When do you draw the line and declutter an obligation?  Are you willing to risk it professionally?

John and I are teachers – he is at high school and I am at middle school.  So far this school year, I have missed 9 school days because of professional obligations.  Keep in mind, we have only been in school with students 41 school days.  Those who have taught understand the time obligation required to miss class – substitute teacher plans have to be prepared and then the “cleanup” after a sub has been in your class.

So back to my initial questions:

Am I willing to risk decluttering the obligations?  Sort of – the closer I get to retirement, the easier it has been to eliminate voluntary obligations.  I’m not resume building anymore.  Odds are nothing is going to affect my professional reputation if I “quit” the voluntary stuff.  But what about those obligations we are volunTOLD to do?  This is harder to do when every one on your department (grade level) team is voluntold to do something.

Mine right now is finding ways to make a “meaningful impact” on student achievement.  Without going into details, this is taking HOURS every week without much evidence we are making progress.  It is also affecting the amount of content that gets covered because we are obligated to “try” something new all the time.  This doesn’t occur just in education – many are voluntold and our professional reputation could be on the line.

When do you draw the line to declutter a professional obligation?   Anytime it starts interfering with my health is an obvious answer.  When is that exactly and how do you get rid of a professional obligation that is part of your job description?

Stress has a weird way of acting on our body.   What are the symptoms that make you decide enough is enough?  I’m a union representative for our school.  Nothing major has happened but I’m feeling it’s time to let this go – union rep, district curriculum writer, “impact” department.  Time is starting to feel crunched (guess this is my symptom) and something has to go.  It is a voluntary obligation and I’m sure the other 4 reps at our site can handle things.

Guess the conclusion I have reached after actually “verbalizing” all of the above is we need to take care of ourselves!  If we don’t, it will start affecting our health (physical and psychological), relationships, etc.

I would love to hear your thoughts for these questions.  When do you draw the line and declutter a professional obligation?  When are you willing to risk it?

 

Summer 2019 Part 1b – OK to WV

The next leg of our journey was travelling from Oklahoma to West Virginia. These were long driving days (500+ miles each).  We did experience a few things along the way.

Our night in Oklahoma was at the Elk City KOA.  After a weird driving day from Amarillo via Lubbock, this was a nice stop!  Upon entering the office to check in, we see that they have a mini diner and bar!  John looks at the menu and is convinced that we deserve a drink (Margarita) and their Frito Chili Pie for dinner.  After dinner, John purchased the t-shirt.  They were not cheap with their alcohol!  We both had a great night sleep.

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When we returned to our site, this was parked next to us.  That is what we need when the Zombie Apocalypse occurs!  Too bad they start at $490,000.  Manufactured by EarthRoamer.

 

Here is a view of the playground.

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Welcome to Missouri and Illinois.  So many of the rivers had high water levels.  The area north of St. Louis was flooded when we passed through.

 

Another long driving day.  View of Louisville and some horse stable/farm.  You can’t really see the horses but they are there!

 

And now into West Virginia.

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Summer 2019 Part 1a – to Oklahoma

This post will focus on a few of the things we saw/experienced along the way to Massachusetts.

Other posts in this “series” include Summer 2019 Travel Part 1 with the map getting to Massachusetts,  Wall-E’s Travel Map UpdateTow Dolly – not loving it, Tow Dolly – not loving it Part 2, Tow Dolly – not loving it Part 3, Not the Tow Dolly this time.

After leaving San Bernardino, CA Camping World, we traveled the 215/15 Interstates to I40 in Barstow, CA.  This is the beginning of the Interstate in California.  We have actually traveled the entire route of I40 before to Wilmington, NC.

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Into Arizona!  I probably have 100 pictures of this sign!

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Into New Mexico – please ignore the dirty windshield!  I love looking at the bluffs!IMG_5270

Leaving New Mexico for Texas.  One of the few states proclaiming “You are now leaving…”

Our campsite in Amarillo, TX.  We stayed at the Amarillo KOA.

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The Leaning Tower of Britten, TX.  Every time we drive by, we expect to see it gone.  I don’t know how much longer it will last.

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If only every rest area, especially those in California, we this amazing and empty!

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And finally into Oklahoma after a trying day fixing the trailer.

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Summer 2019 Travel, Part 1

Finally getting aroung to writing about our summer vacation.  The first part of our vacation was getting to Massachusetts.  We were focused on getting there, not sight-seeing.  We had a “minor” detour to visit Lubbock Camping World to deal with the trailer ratchet issue. 

Over the course of 8 days we traveled 3303 miles to get to our Massachusetts location from Camping World in San Bernardino, California

 

I think I’ve mentioned this before – we really like to stay at KOA locations and fill up at Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers (truck stops).  I really need to take photos of our stops!

Day 1 – 251 miles Kingman AZ KOA

Day 2 – 474 miles Albuquerque NM KOA

Day 3 – 286 miles Amarillo TX KOA – severe wind from Albuquerque so we stopped early for safety reasons & discovered trailer ratchet issue

Day 4 – 416 miles, 264 miles round trip to Lubbock Camping World to fix tow dolly and 152 miles to Elk City OK KOA

Day 5 – 569 miles to St Louis West MO KOA

Day 6 – 505 miles to Huntington/Fox Fire WV KOA

Day 7 – 421 miles to Jonestown/Hershey PA KOA with a detour to Todd Judy Ford in Charleston, WV to fix radiator hose.

Day 8 – 381 miles to Minuteman Campground in Littleton, MA

Working on the Backyard

We’ve been working on the backyard for about a year now.  Here is a before pic and the current pic.

2 years ago, while California was in a pretty severe drought, we were highly encouraged to stop watering lawns.  We did our part and it all died, allowing the weeds to take over.  When we returned from vacation last year, this is what greeted us.

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before the weeds were removed.

 

We decided to put in pavers to extend the patio, make flower beds along the side and make a divider around a fruit tree.  2 loungers were purchased recently and now we can look at the night sky in comfort (It is still too hot to be out there during the day.)  The chairs on the new patio were on the original patio by the sliding glass door.

We purchased the Lyman Whitaker wind sculptures last summer – one more needs to be installed.

 

Decluttering Update

We decluttered 186 items in July, most items were from the garage so the tow dolly can be parked in it.  This is pretty amazing since we were gone July 1 – July 21.  We are up to 688 items this year!!

So far in August we have decluttered 32 items.  26 of those are recipes from the recipe box that I have NEVER used, many from when we got married 35 years ago!  I also found 2 bottles of stuff that had gone bad when looking for something in the pantry.

Here are some pics of the stuff that left our house.

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Caught Up!!

I am feeling very accomplished this evening.

  • I’m all caught up on my blog reading!
  • All of my grading is finished for tonight
  • AND my lessons for the rest of the week and next week are ready to go.

And it is only 7:45 pm.  Guess I need to catch up on my blog writing!

Not the tow dolly this time!

Now that you know all about our tow dolly issues, I bet you are thinking nothing else could go wrong on this trip.  Well, you would be so wrong!

Between Lubbock, Texas and Buffalo, New York we had to make an emergency stop at the Ford dealership in Charleston, West Virginia.

As we were beginning our day, John noticed Winnie was running hot.  Thankfully we were near Charleston and they had a Ford dealer.  They don’t have the facilities to work on RV’s but took pity on us and looked to see if it was something “easy” to fix.  A hose had wiggled loose with all the crappy roads we were traveling on, burned a hole in it, and we were out of radiator fluid.  They were able to order a part to fix the hose.  Thankfully everything could be accessed from under the rig and through the hood opening.  Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to help us at that location and they are the “largest” one in the state.

$493 later we were on the road again!

Tow Dolly – Not Loving It – PART 3!

Yep, there is more to this story.

Can you believe this??  After leaving Buffalo Camping World, we arrive at Hogback Lake, Indiana KOA the next evening and decide to check the bolts.  Keep in mind, every time we stop at a rest area or for gas we are checking for them and the ratchets.

I bet some of you are psychic!

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image from https://www.rvtravel.com/rver-horoscopes-for-may-2017/

One of the bolts they replace is MISSING!  Of course it is a Saturday evening and most service departments are closed on Sunday.  Monday morning is another phone call to Camping World in California.  They are shocked we are calling again – as are we with a few other emotions brewing.

They run interference for us again and now we travel to Indianapolis Camping World.  They scheduled an appointment for 2 pm but we show up at 12 pm.  They finally get us into the service bay about 1 pm.

We stroll their store, spend some money, and finally are on our way about 5 pm with all of our bolts in place.  Just another day of vacation!

 

Tow Dolly – Not Loving It – PART 2

So now that everyone is thankful their vacation hasn’t started like ours, it just keeps getting “better”.

About an hour after our last post about tow dollies, I was sitting at the picnic table at just the “right” location and noticed that there are 2 bolts on the right side of the dolly but not on the left.  John inspected and we were missing 2 bolts from the bottom and one from the side that hold the ramps in place.  We got ready to leave the next morning to go to Camping World and found that the light fixture they installed was not working again! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS???

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Do you see those 2 bolts?  How I managed to see them still amazes me.
The next morning we call Camping World in California and thankfully get to talk to the same person we talked to about our previous issues.  He makes arrangements for us to take it to the nearest Camping World in Buffalo, New York.

It feels like our vacation is a tour of Camping World facilities!

We get there and they say it will take a couple of hours.  After a “relaxing” lunch at Red Robin (YUMMM), we take a drive to Niagara Falls.  Someone forgot our passports (cough Barb cough) so we stay on the US side.  It was a nice diversion while the tow dolly was being repaired.

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I love this picture of the falls!  We paid $1.25 per person to go up the observation deck to get this photo.

They called us about 4 pm to say that they “fixed” it – they replaced the bolts but they didn’t have a light fixture.  They also said one of the bolts had broken off in the permanently installed nut and that it probably happened while they were assembling it. Great!  What else did they screw up??

We return about 5 pm after a stop at AutoZone to pick up a trailer light.  They install it for us and we are finally back on the road about 7 pm.

Bet you are wondering what happened next!!

 

 

 

Tow Dolly – Not Loving It

As you saw in our Crazy Car Drama post, we had to purchase a new tow vehicle.  After much consideration, we purchased the same thing we had before, just 11 years newer.

Italics are John’s comments.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a place to make it flat-towable before we wanted to leave SO we purchased a tow dolly.  Instead of buying a used one, we went for a new one through Camping World.  (I know – we could have found it cheaper elsewhere BUT they are nationwide and if there was an issue, they would be able to take care of it.  We assumed it wouldn’t happen – little did we know!)

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First, we ordered it and it took a week to arrive at the local Camping World.  They call on Monday and say it will be ready for pick up on Thursday.  WHAT??  What can possible need to be done that it takes 3 or 4 days??  (The wheels and ratchets need to be put on.)

Keep in mind we were planning to leave on Monday or Tuesday so what’s a couple of days??

John finally gets the call about 3:30 on Thursday that it is ready to pick up.  By the time he gets home, the right rear light has fallen off.  He calls camping world and they say to bring it in.  On his way home from Camping World, he stops at Autozone and picks up a new rear light, just in case!   And on his way home about 1/2 mile from the house, John turns the corner and there is our light – broken, but found!

On Friday morning, we finish the last minute packing and head out, assuming we are quickly going to leave Camping World.  When we arrive, they say they will have to order the light (which we purchased for $8!) and it will be about a week.  Well, NO!  You are going to use this one we purchased (they never offered to reimburse us for this.)

As we are standing there, I ask “Aren’t there supposed to be ratchets for each front wheel?”  Sure enough, there is!  One of them was either stolen while at Camping World OR it also fell off.  We were going for stolen.  These are bolted on, how could it fall off???

They modified some ratchets to work on the missing side and agree to order and overnight ship the replacement to us when it arrives.

So we finally leave Friday afternoon after spending 5 hours at Camping World.

We travel along and get to Amarillo, Texas on Sunday afternoon.  We are finally starting to feel like it is a vacation.  As we pull into the campground, the trailer ramps are dragging really noisily.  We get to our site and THE OTHER RATCHET LOST A BOLT and the left CAR WHEEL WAS PARTIALLY ON THE RAMP!!  So now we know it wasn’t stolen!

We call Camping World and they recommend taking it to the nearest Camping World – in Lubbock 125 miles away!  I quite forcefully tell them to call and make sure they can help us.  “Oh, we’re sorry, they are closed until tomorrow!”

So on Monday morning we take off for Lubbock and before we arrive I call them and they happen to have the same trailer in stock and will be able to replace both ratchets!

Lubbock Camping World had us on the road in about an hour!!  They also used some sort of solution (Hold Tight Thread Lock) on the bolts to make sure they wouldn’t loosen.

So how do we feel about the tow dolly?  Ask us when we finish vacation!  (It is definitely more work to load the car and get ready than flat towing.)

May 2019 Decluttering Update

So with all that has happened, you would think we wouldn’t have time to declutter.  Not only did we declutter 81 items but we went camping one weekend with friends and babysat for a 3 day weekend.

Grandkiddo got to do things with us she NEVER gets to do with parents – watch Finding Dory with Deda, ride in the back of the shopping cart, and pet a bear (granted it was dead at the Wildlife Center)

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Crazy Car Drama

I think the crazy is still following us since our last post.

We borrowed Kiddo #2’s car (the Xterra) to make a trip to the landfill.  Kiddo #2 was driving our car in downtown Los Angeles and was hit by a driver making a left turn in front of her on April 25th.  She is not at fault but now the car needed to be repaired.  Thankfully we pay a little extra to have a deductible of $250.  The insurance company said it may take a year to get it back since they will have to deal with the other driver’s insurance company.  We used Caliber Collison and they were AWESOME!!  They even delivered the car to Kiddo #2 when it was completed at her apartment!

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John was in an accident on May 5th – of course the extra car was with Kiddo#2!!  Someone got a new mail box and fence from our insurance company because of this one.   It is moments like this that make you glad you have insurance.  It took them until May 13th to decide they were going to consider his car A TOTAL LOSS!

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Now keep in mind, his car was the one we towed behind the motorhome.  We also were due to leave on May 30th.

After much car and soul searching, we purchased a 2019 Nissan Sentra on May 19th – just like his old one, but newer and dent-free!  Getting it ready to travel is a separate post all its own!

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Feeling . . .

We are feeling a little overwhelmed emotionally.  Sometimes life throws lemons at us and it feels impossible to make lemonade.

Barb’s mom started having medical issues in January requiring surgery, rehabilitation facility, hospital again, rehabilitation facility, and hospice diagnosis in early March.

John’s uncle passed away in early March the same week Mom was put on hospice with a funeral on March 23.

Our brother-in-law (John’s sister’s husband) committed suicide on April 2.  We are still feeling shock, anger, and guilt at not noticing anything out of the ordinary.  Services are next weekend.

Discussing and putting all of this in writing made us realize we’ve had a lot happen in a short amount of time.   We know things will get better, not on our timeline, but on His.

 

Decluttering Update March 2019

I can’t believe another month has passed!  We’ve been taking little trips and really need to write about those.  This has got to be the best part of a decluttered home!

Cleaning hardly takes any time.  Laundry is now put away when it comes out of the dryer.  (I am guilty of leaving it in the dryer longer than I should!)  This almost seems like it should be a separate post!

On the decluttering front, we removed 28 items in March.  Our 2019 total is now 392 items!!

Some of the stuff removed:  holey shorts, holey tshirt, DVD player, receipts, loofah, calgon (really, when was the last time I took a bath?), empty lotion, candy found under the bed, empty box found under the bed, empty docking station box (from John’s work, why under our bed??),  book (yes, I know I already took a picture of it but it came back!  Why do people return things when you say they don’t have to??), tea strainer, weird spork.

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Some Weeks Should Never Be!

This was one of those weeks which should never be experienced by any homeowner!  To those of you who recently mentioned you love being a renter – I agree with you when stuff like this happens!

Our hot water heater decided to spring a leak Monday afternoon.  John had to take 2 days off for estimates and replacement.  He received estimates for both a traditional water heater and a tankless version.  Needless to say, traditional water heater got installed on Wednesday.

Thursday evening, we heard a weird noise – almost a gurgling sound.  When we went into the master bathroom, the toilet bowl had very little water and there was a weird coating on the floor of the shower.  Yep, the sewer line was backed up.  A call to Roto-Rooter was made – $500 minimum charge to come immediately or $250 to come in the morning.  John took Friday off!  It seems the main sewer line has a crack and roots entered and blocked the flow of YUCKY stuff from our house.  Roots are now gone but a decision needs to be made about the cracked pipe.  Maybe next month??

$2500 later we have hot water AND our sewer line is cleaned out.  Gotta love home ownership!!

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Mojave Narrows Regional Park

We spent last weekend at Mojave Narrows Regional Park camping with friends.  This is a hidden wetland/small lakes gem in the middle of the desert.

We would recommend this county park during the fall and spring.  The temperature varied from a low of 25 to a high of 42 during our visit in mid-February.  There was a storm passing over and we received some rain and plenty of wind (about 20-30 mph).  A couple of days after we visited, they received a couple of inches of snow.

There were a fair amount of birds in/near the lake:  pelicans, canadian geese, turkey vultures, and ducks.  We did not see any mammals or reptiles.  Many fisherman were catching fish – not sure what type – with crows hanging out near the fishermen.

They have a decent play area for kids.  The water feature is only available during the summer months.

Many of the sites during the winter have no grass.  It seemed like our site (#14) was in a low area with rain runoff pooling in the area.  We didn’t have any issues on the paved part of the site.  Picture taken showing our site and a view south showing location of restroom/shower building.

Location:  Victorville, San Bernardino County, California  It is about 7 miles (about 15 minutes)  from the I-15 and Bear Valley Road exit.

RV sites:  there are about 40 RV sites with full hookups.  There are a 8 “dry” RV sites as well as about 30 tent sites.

Wifi/cell reception:  wifi is not provided.  Our ATT phone had 3 bars and LTE the entire visit.

Negative:  The train tracks are close by.  In our site, I only felt the rumble of the trains once all weekend.  They blow their whistle several miles away and some might hear them.  In the RV at night with windows/vents closed, the trains did NOT wake us up.

Cost: $40 per night.

Bug Update

Well, we survived the weekend.  John was miserable until Sunday afternoon – 4 days of misery – but seems to be over the fever part.  He still has a cough that doesn’t seem to be getting better yet.  I vaguely remember that it will last weeks, mentioned it to him and he was NOT HAPPY to hear it.  On Monday he went to the doctor and they prescribed another cough medicine.  They took a chest x-ray because of the way it sounded.  We haven’t heard anything yet (Wednesday afternoon) so I’m assuming he is ok.

I came down with a fever, achy hips (why my hips?  they don’t lie) and a killer headache Saturday about lunch.  It was like having a migraine with body pain.  My head hasn’t hurt like that for MANY years.  Had to get up Sunday night to watch the 1/2 season premier of THE WALKING DEAD – does that sound a little obsessed with a show??  I could barely make it through the episode!  Went back to bed and finally got up again Monday night to write sub plans.  I am so glad we had Monday off as a holiday!  I stayed home Tuesday with no fever but exhausted.

Now to survive this week so we can enjoy a three day weekend!  The flu kicked our butts but we won!!

“The Bug” Hit Our House

Is it a cold or the flu?  Who knows and who cares when it makes you feel yucky.  Based on the chart below, it seems like it’s the flu.

John woke up this morning with a cough, headache, and fever.  After going to school to prepare sub plans, he is home resting.

A phone appointment with a doctor means Barb gets the honor of driving to the pharmacy to get him cough medicine and antibiotics.  Not sure he really needs the antibiotics but they prescribed them based on his symptoms – even Dr. Kiddo questioned them (but she isn’t his doctor!)

Sure hope he is the only one who gets this “bug” – Murphy’s Law says I’ll get it since this is a 3-day weekend for us.  Hope all of you are staying away from this!

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www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm

Declutter the Desk Drawer

I know I started the filing cabinet BUT I opened the desk drawer for something and decluttering the stuff kicked in.

How many of you have correction film and no typewriter??  Well we don’t any more!

And how many small worthless sharpeners do you have?  We had 5!  Being the person I am, I had to test the three sharpeners I thought I might use (those that catch the shavings).  The scientist in me set up an experiment – sharpen brand new pencils (I have 41 to pick from) and twirled them in the sharpener for 20 turns to compare the effectiveness of each.  Results are shown below.  Conclusion: NONE WORK worth a darn and need to be decluttered.

10 more items gone!!

Declutter the Filing Cabinet

Here’s a friendly reminder to declutter your filing cabinet!

So I had a few “minutes” to spare today.  Why not declutter something, since I need to catch up to Melinda @ PurpleSlobInRecovery.com

I went to the filing cabinet and decided to tackle a small section of work-related papers.  I pulled out this pile of stuff I hope I never need again!  (Sure hope I don’t change grade levels before I retire!)

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There are 165 double-sided pieces of paper and an unknown number of single-sided.  I think it is probably close to 300 because the single-sided pile is about twice the size of the double-sided stack after sorting.  The double-sided are going into the recycle bin.  The single-sided are going into the scratch paper reuse pile.

165 items gone from our house!!

How Many Miles Have I Walked in 2018??

As you may recall, I got an Apple iWatch Labor day weekend.  I’ve been faithfully wearing it to track my steps.  The only drawback I have is that the app that comes with it (Activity) doesn’t calculate a total for the month or an average for the month.

To solve that issue I use the Accupedo app.  It records all the stuff from my watch/Health app but also totals the steps for the week, month, and year into a nice graph.  Love this app!

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Unfortunately I still have to add up the miles manually using the “History” information.  Easy enough to do, just annoying.  You can also tell when I changed from using my phone as my pedometer to the watch.

So here are my totals for 2018 since getting this awesome “pedometer”:

I can’t believe I’ve walked 235 miles!  If 4 months was 235 miles, a year would be 705 miles.

GOAL FOR 2019 is 1,000 miles!

Declutter the Desktop!

I cleaned off my desk yesterday and removed 128 pieces of paper and other random stuff – mostly work related!  It just sort of piles up in a corner quietly and stealthily.  Some things in the pile were – gasp – put back where they belong.

I also removed 2 items from the bedroom closet (an old jacket and dress shoes I know I haven’t worn since Labor Day 2008 – our niece’s wedding) and John is getting rid of a raggedy belt.

131 items gone in one afternoon!!  Feeling accomplished!

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Hello 2019!! Here’s a Decluttering Update

It’s been a while!  We ENJOYED THE HOLIDAY SEASON without the usual craziness of house cleaning!  This is our first weekend home in a month – more on that to follow.

Decluttering update:  in 2018 we removed 548 items from the house.  We aren’t quite ready to get rid of counting – we think it keeps us accountable for the stuff coming into the house and “forces” us to examine what needs to leave.

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On that note, Barb decluttered one shelf of the refrigerator this afternoon.  It is embarrassing to show this pic BUT it needs to be done.  We are pretty certain this stuff has been in there since before Christmas, oh my!  Time to get back into Decluttering the Stuff!!

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Decluttering mentality is following me to work!

Last week I walked into the copy “room” – it’s really more of a closet – only to find a bunch of stuff all over the place and I was unable to make it to the copy machine.  I moved a few items, made my copies, and then went over to the office to find the principal or assistant principal to vent to.

AP came over to look and said “oh my”.  That was it!  Not a “I’ll get someone to clean” or anything similar.

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On Wednesday I met with Principal and AP (along with the 3 other union representatives for our school – yep, I’m a union rep!) and mentioned the copy room issue again.  Safety was my primary concern.  Having to step over the stuff can’t possibly be safe!  AP said she would have it taken care of.

Today, Monday, I walked in again only to find someone left a bag of bottles for recycling right in front of the copy machine!

I spent about 1/2 hour straightening things up – some boxes were moved to the shelves, some needed to be restacked, empty crushed boxes removed from the room, bag of bottles moved out, chairs stacked.  The leaning tower of boxes was because some brilliant person stacked other boxes on top of empty boxes!  OH MY!

Now I can get to the copy machine!  Feeling accomplished!  I’ll let someone else conquer around the corner.

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Now the big question – how long before someone adds more stuff??

It’s Been A While!

I sat down this afternoon to write a quick post about the couple of things we decluttered recently and to catch up on reading blogs I follow.  I realized it has been about 3 weeks since I wrote a post and even longer since I did any post reading.  What have I been doing????  It doesn’t seem like we’ve been busy.

  1.  We went camping 2 weekends – 11/2 thru 11/4 and 11/9 thru 11/11
  2.  We went to the desert for Thanksgiving, leaving on 11/17 and returning home 11/24 – another weekend away.

Well, no wonder it seems like we haven’t been home much lately to read blog posts!  3 of the 4 weekends we were gone.

Since we decluttered the stuff from the house, all of those weekend chores have been reduced!

  1. Cleaning takes SOOOOO much less time.  Who knew cleaning would be quicker and easier if we decluttered the stuff?  Ok, maybe a lot of people but we are slow learners!
  2. Yard work has been streamlined.  Having the state impose strict watering requirements was an incentive to streamline by removing grass and replacing with slow-growing drought-tolerant plants and pavers.

AND NOW WE HAVE TIME TO HAVE FUN!!

October Decluttering Update

On the decluttering front, we removed 6 items from the house.   It seems silly to report this BUT we are finally accepting the idea that we are at a decluttering end point and will not count decluttered stuff next year.

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Here are a few ways we’ve decreased the inflow of stuff:

  • We filter/trash the minimal amount of mail the moment we remove it from the mail box.  No more mail piling up to declutter later!
  • We have transitioned to digital statements for most accounts.
  • We are not saving the digital statements on the computer hard drive since most companies allow you to review at least a year’s worth online.  And really, when was the last time you looked at that statement from 9 months ago?
  • We no longer get magazine or newspaper subscriptions
  • Barb uses the library instead of purchasing books
  • We have gradually been spending less money on random stuff, really thinking about purchases before we make them.
  • We have quit accepting “free” stuff.
  • I decluttered the Halloween gifts (coffee mugs and decorations) from students by placing them in the staff lounge instead of bringing them home.  Someone else is getting “joy” out of those items!  All the things were gone by the next morning!  WIN WIN

 

Still Can’t Believe We Did It!

This falls into one of those “I can’t believe we did this!” situations.

And “I still can’t believe we did this!” a second time.

A couple of months ago, a couple friend invited us to the shooting range.  We agreed, figuring what’s the worst that will happen – if we hate it, nothing in our life changes.  If we like it, it is another activity we can do with this couple.  This is the first “I can’t believe we did this” moment.

Even though I grew up with a father who hunted, I was never allowed to go with him or to even think of touching one of his guns.  My father had a very “Guns are for guys” mentality.  (Actually, a lot of things were for guys and not girls.)  I had never touched a gun, John hadn’t touched one since basic training in 1975.   I’m a pretty hard-core gun control person – I don’t have a problem with people waiting to make purchases; guns should be locked up at all times; you name it, it probably applies to me, or really close to my beliefs.  John has always wanted to have one while we travelled but I resisted.

Well, we had a great time shooting the “twister” target.  I was surprised I even hit it!  K brought 5 different guns and his wife, K2, brought her 1.  We spent about 2 hours at the range shooting all of them.  K is extremely knowledgable and has a concealed weapon permit in California so I know he has been checked out and tested.   K2 took the CW course with no intention of carrying, but wanted to know all the laws and procedures just in case something happened while her husband was carrying his.

Here are my first 2 rounds.  Evidently, this makes me a good shot.

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A couple of weeks later, we went with them again.  It was just as enjoyable!  Maybe even more so since I knew I would be able to hit the target.  It was an exciting adventure!

This last weekend, we went with them for a third time.  After breakfast we went with them to the gun shop, figuring we would purchase the ammo they were replacing since they have provided everything thus far for our outings.

Now for another “I can’t believe we did this!” moment.  We purchased a gun.   John is happy we will have one with us while we travel.

We are not the least bit annoyed/disappointed/angry we have to wait 10 days before we can pick it up from the gun shop.

  • Please check my background!
  • Make me take a test!  We both took the California gun owner test (and passed!)  Why did we both take it?  I wanted to be sure we both could pass!
  • Make us wait 10 days!  Not a problem here.
  • Make us wait 31 days before we buy another handgun – OK by me!  How many do you need at one time??
  • Prevent me from carrying it all the time – another OK by me!
  • Monitor how much ammo I’m purchasing – another OK by me!

I don’t think there is a single gun law in California I disagree with.  Will being a “gun owner” change any of this?  Probably not!

 

Finally a “pedometer” I like!

Years ago, I purchased the Jawbone UP.  It worked perfectly until it didn’t!  The company sent a replacement for it since it was under warranty.  Again, it worked perfectly until it didn’t.  I liked it so much John got the UP24.  I upgraded to the UP2 that latched and then that one failed.  Trying to replace the new one coincided with the downfall of the company and they never sent a replacement (so sad – it really was a decent device.)  We both like the app and features offered.

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John was getting tired of his UP catching on things and wanted to upgrade.  With all the UP drama,  John opted for a FitBit Surge.  It has been a very dependable device for him.  John recently upgraded to a FitBit Versa and LOVES it!

Sorry no pic of his watch/tracker.

I tried finding a pedometer app for my phone that had many of the features I liked on the UP.  I have tried too many pedometer apps to document.  They all have slightly different features.  The downfall is that you need to carry your phone with you for every step since they use GPS tracking.  Now the search was on for an armband.  This also didn’t work as well as I had hoped.  Something about doing EVERYTHING with the armband on was annoying.

But I think I have found my favorite activity tracker – an iWatch 3!  I really didn’t want a fitbit when we were making the transition.  It seemed too ugly and big.  So here I am with a watch face that is definitely larger than the fitbit but so much more versatile.  It’s comfortable too!  I also picked the Sport Loop band instead of the traditional Sport Band.   I’m so glad I waited!

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I’ve had the iWatch for a month now – purchased on September 1 intentionally.

I walked 55.79 miles in September.  121,617 steps according to the Accupedo app (that’s a separate post)  I moved about 4053 steps a day.  Not perfect but it gives me a baseline to work with.

Now to get back up to my 10,000 steps a day!

 

All The Kid Stuff We Saved

If you are like us, you saved TOO MUCH kid stuff.  While we have decluttered the stuff, we found boxes of kid clothes.  Now keep in mind, our babies are currently 29 and 31 years old.  We still had infant stuff!

Most of this kid of stuff has been decluttered.  Now the challenge will be all the boxes of  school stuff.  How much should we keep to give to them?  I was thinking of dividing it into 2 boxes and letting them decide but that seems cruel!  My mom recently gave me a school box and I trashed all my report cards – it really wasn’t something I wanted and I’m assuming the kiddos will feel the same way.  They are less inclined to save things already.

They haven’t looked at it or missed it in all these years.  I haven’t looked at it or missed it in all these years.  I sure could use some simple advice from someone who has boxes of kid school stuff they’ve decluttered.  What kind of things did you keep?  Did your kids want any of the school stuff?

 

A few California population statistics

So yesterday’s rant about people who rant about California got me to thinking about population numbers.  Here are some statistics:

Los Angeles county has about 10,163,507 people in 2017.  This is more people than 41 other states!

Los Angeles county represents about 25% of California’s population.

If you combine to form the greater Los Angeles area (Los Angeles county,  Orange county, Ventura county, Riverside county, and San Bernardino county), the population is about 17,877,006 people based on the 2010 cenus.  (*I included Riverside and San Bernardino counties because a majority of their populations are within 60 miles of downtown Los Angeles.)

Only 3 states – Texas, Florida, New York – have a population larger than the Greater Los Angeles area.

The Greater Los Angeles area now represents about 45% of California’s population.

If our state/area is so horrible, why do we have so many people here?????

 

Sources:

http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-counties/ca/los-angeles-county-population/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Los_Angeles

California Population. (2018-03-14). Retrieved 2018-08-1, from http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/california/

Visitors and No Stress!

I had several coworkers over this morning to prep for the new school year.  It is the first time we have done this and I VOLUNTEERED to have everyone meet at our house.

Just so everyone knows – over the last 3 years we have decluttered about 20,000 items from our house (some were from the garage as well.)  We rarely had people over before we began decluttering because the chore of “cleaning” for company was overwhelming to us.   With so much stuff gone, cleaning is so much easier – I still hate to do it but at least it can get done.

All I had to do to prepare for this was purchase a few snacks and beverages.  I also vacuumed and made the bed (the bed fairy was me this morning!!)  Everything else has been so easy to maintain that I really didn’t need to do anything extra to prep the house for visitors.

One person commented “I thought you said you had a small house.”  I replied that our house is about 1300 square feet (about 120 square meters).  [We have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, kitchen/dining/family room.  She replied with “Oh, it seems so much larger than that.”  Is it because of the decluttering?  I’m going with YES!!

Feeling like decluttering the stuff has been worth it!!

Rant about people who rant about California

So this is a sorta rant post.  With the recent news that California is now the 5th largest economy in the world, why do people outside of California think that Californians want to hear how horrible our state is?

  • California has about 12% of the nation’s population.  Shouldn’t we get 12% of the electoral college?
  • Why should our environmental rules be reduced to federal levels?  We cleaned up our horrible pollution by enacting stricter than federal levels.  While we don’t have  the cleanest air, we have made great strides.  Anyone remember Los Angeles during the 60’s?  Buildings across the street were obscured by smog.
  • Why does everyone assume we are granola eating Birkenstock wearing hippies?  Ok, we eat granola regularly in our house and we wear Birkenstocks but I would never classify myself a hippie.  When our youngest went to college in Maryland and wore her Birkenstocks, other college students actually commented that they didn’t think of her as a hippie.
  • And not every Californian is a celebrity, knows a celebrity, or wants to live like  scripted “reality” shows.  These shows do not show Californians as we truly are.  Don’t judge me based on the state I live in.
  • Homelessness and drug use is a problem in many communities in the nation.  Why bash ours without looking at your own?  It is so much easier to “blame liberals” in California than to accept that this is a national issue.  Poverty, homelessness, and drug addiction is found in ALL STATES!

I think this in enough for today.

What would you like people to stop commenting on based on where you live??

Summer 2018 Update #11 – CA to OR

How many of you do this kind of stuff?  We got home from the mountains on Tuesday evening, spent Wednesday getting haircuts, doing laundry, sorting through the mail, etc to get up Thursday morning and leave the house at 5 am to avoid the Los Angeles morning commute traffic to begin a drive (in the car this time) to Oregon.  Flights were too expensive so we decided to drive – crazy, I know!

Our niece was getting married on Friday in Bend, Oregon.  Since San Francisco is (sorta) on the way, we stopped on Thursday night to have dinner with kiddo #1, her hubby, and the grandbaby!

(I so wish I had taken a picture or 2!  I would probably have to crop it so much you wouldn’t be able to tell anything about her!)

We got up the next morning to finish our drive to Bend.  Arrived about 4:30 pm and all the festivities were at 6.  And we were worried we wouldn’t make it on time!

Sorry, no pictures of the wedding – respecting their privacy!

Our hotel in Bend was the Best Western Premier – I would NOT recommend this place.  The other 2 nights we stayed in a Holiday Inn Express and the BW was the same level as these.  The Holiday Inn Express even has a better breakfast!

  1.  What’s so premier about it that you charge $270 per night?  It was just like any other hotel we’ve stayed in.  Nothing special.
  2.  When you reserve with a fireplace and a view, you expect a fireplace and a view.  We “got to” change from a king room to a 2 queen room with a fireplace and “view”.
  3.  The view of the parking lot does not qualify as a view.  From our room the distant mountain tops were obscured by trees and cell phone tower!  Guess the 3rd floor isn’t high enough.  Maybe they should consider that when they market it as having a view.
  4. the fireplace was an electric wall heater with a computer screen in front of it.  It was a virtual fireplace!  You click a button on the remote to change the color of the “flames”.  Talk about a disappointment!
  5. After being moved, John lifted the toilet seat and it was obvious the rim and under the seat had not been cleaned.  Called for housekeeping to come and finish cleaning the bathroom.  Disgusting!!

Saturday morning we got up and began the drive home.  We stopped in Fresno for the night.

Now I know there are some who are wondering why we took the 99 instead of the 5.  We HATE the I5 through the central valley of California.  We avoid it at all costs!!  Limited services being one of the reasons, 2 lanes the entire way with too many trucks and crazy drivers trying to get around the trucks being another.  It only adds about 5 miles to your trip to Sacramento taking the 99.  Even when we go to San Francisco we take the 99. Worth it!!

Got up Sunday morning to drive home, stopping in Los Angeles to visit kiddo #2 – what we thought would be a “quick” lunch stop turned into 4 hours.  She was having computer issues and we worked on that for a chunk of the time.

Driving the car for this distance was so different than driving the motorhome.  We definitely made better time in the car but it was weird!

Our only pic of Bend.

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  • driving distances:
    Thursday – about 435 miles
    Friday – about 475 miles
    Saturday – about 595 miles
    Sunday – about 280 miles

So now we are home for the rest of our summer vacation, unless we do an unplanned trip.  Who knows what will happen!

Summer 2018 Update #10 – AZ to CA

We left Sedona, AZ and made our way to Rock Creek Lake area in the Inyo National Forest in California, specifically staying at East Fork Campground.  This was about 700 miles from Sedona.

On the way, we stopped in Phoenix, AZ and purchased lunch to go at Jason’s Deli.  Another one of our favorites!  The nearest Jason’s to us in southern California is in Phoenix or Las Vegas.

We did 10 nights off the grid – no hookups and nearest cell reception was about 10 miles away.  It used to be about 20 miles, but the have added a tower, not that we ventured away often.

This is the view from our motorhome table.  I was eating breakfast and this was my view!  And the video doesn’t do the sound of rushing water, birds chirping, squirrels squirreling, chipmunks chipmunking any justice!  (what do you call the sounds the rodents make??  chirping??)  Thankfully, no bears in the campsite this year!

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John went fishing just about every morning in the nearby lake, catching the lone fish in this video!  We read 4 novels between the 2 of us and completed 3 puzzles (our evening entertainment!)  We also took daily “hikes”.  It was so relaxing!

Here’s a short video of our camp site.  Enjoy!

Summer 2018 Update #9 – Sedona

After leaving Williams, AZ, we spent one night in Flagstaff (doing the fun thing called laundry!)  This is about a 35 mile driving day!  Wake up late, quick trip, relaxing afternoon doing laundry.  What more could you ask for???  The BBQ and “fire pit” were provided by the campground.  Figured we should use at least one of them!

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Cocktail Hour!

The next morning we then ventured down to Sedona, AZ.   Another easy driving day of about 62 miles.  We took the recommended directions from the Rancho Sedona RV Park of staying on I17 instead of taking the more mountainous Hwy 89 which adds about 20 miles to the trip.

We got to go to one of our favorite places to eat – Picazzo’s!  They have some of the best Gluten-Free food we have ever eaten in a restaurant!  So sad that the Flagstaff restaurant closed.  We actually ate here 3 days in a row, we think they are that good!  2 lunches, one dinner.  Over the course of 3 days we ate the following gluten-free items:

  • Cheese bread
  • Natural Chopped Italian Salad
  • Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad
  • Sweet Potato Pie Pizza
  • Vortex Pizza
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza
  • Spicy Thai Peanut Fusilli
  • Bianca Bigoli
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • New York Style Cheesecake
  • Hot Apple Crisp

This is beginning to sound like we are getting paid to write this – which we are NOT!  They are just that good!

We also took a drive to Jerome, AZ.  Only pictures:  a warning to stay out of someone’s property and the view from the town.

 

We also bought ourselves a couple of the Lyman Whitaker wind sculptures we saw at a Renee Taylor Gallery in town.  Can’t wait to post pictures of them installed in our yard!  They should arrive around the end of July!!