Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pioneers

Years ago, we made a decision that altered the course of our lives forever. We were sitting in our home in the country, the one Craig had rebuilt and added onto over the course of 20 years. We loved it, and finally it was exactly how we wanted. The boys were grown and gone...and here we were in almost 3,000 square feet of perfection, on over 5 acres. We could picture ourselves growing old there...sitting in our rocking chairs on one of 3 porches, and enjoying the beautiful country views. But...was that what we really wanted? Did we want to settle in and be porch rockers? Or did we want some adventure? We chose adventure, and what an adventure it has been!

Grant's wedding day
 

We sold the farm and moved into Eugene. Oh the comments we heard from our Junction City friends. "Eugene? You're moving to Eugene? Why, it's so...liberal. There are so many hippies and strange people! I could never live there!" We would smile and assure them that we were looking forward to a little diversity and adventure in our lives.

We found the perfect house, almost half the size of the farm house. But it had a huge back yard and total privacy, which was a must-have as we were used to our no-neighbor lifestyle. It was perfect! We bought bikes, and explored the bike paths by the river close to our house. We rode all over Eugene, exploring the neighborhoods and waving to those "strange" people we were warned about. We loved living so close to downtown and all of the culture...and great restaurants. We bought a hot tub for the back yard, and really settled in. Again. Until...the company Craig worked for closed down. What? Oh no!! There were no other jobs in the Eugene area, so we put our house on the market while he looked for employment, and found it, in Portland. Portland! Talk about a big move! What will we do? Get an apartment until we see if the job works out? What do we do now? Lord?


Our Anniversary on Sunnyside

   
Well, we had recently purchased a little 5th wheel for travel and camping, and there it was in our driveway. One day we looked out the window and thought "We could live in the 5th wheel!!" It was a brilliant idea. We would have our own space, and we would be able to scout out the land up north while he figured out if his new job would work for him. So, we sold our little house, bought a storage container and had it parked on a lot we owned, put all of our worldly goods in it, and headed up north to another adventure.


Our little Sprinter

We had driven around looking for RV parks in Portland...an expedition which reduced me to tears. Trust me, there was a bit more diversity than we were quite ready for. RV trailers with tarps for roofs, pit bulls chained up outside guarding the pile of empty beer cans. A lifestyle I couldn't quite imagine. But, I tried to be open to anything, and "I will do this if it is what You're asking of me, Lord..." became my mantra. Then we (literally) happened upon a beautiful RV park on the Sandy River. Someone had just vacated a spot right on the river, and we took it! Oh it was such a wonderful place to live! We spent the first summer enjoying the river...friends and family came to visit and enjoy it with us. It was a great time. Until...Craig's job started turning into a different job than he'd signed on for. He was working 12 hours in a sweat shop. This was not what we'd signed up for. He began looking for employment elsewhere.

The commercial printing industry in Portland seemed to be as dried up as Eugene. He broadened his search and found an opening in a little Mom and Pop shop in Medford Oregon. Medford? We had only ever driven through there on our way to California...what was it like? After taking a trip down to investigate, we fell in love with the area and he accepted the job...taking a huge cut in pay and benefits. We decided it would be worth it, and since we lived in a 5th wheel, we wouldn't need much.

Off we went to Southern Oregon. After staying a couple weeks right on I-5...(I mean, it sounded like we were parked in the median)...we found a beautiful little mobile home park near Jacksonville that also had RV spaces, and one opened up for us. Moving there was heaven after our time on the freeway. It was a 55 and over park, and we barely made the cut. We enjoyed a wonderful season there, exploring Jacksonville and Ashland and everything southern Oregon had to offer. Our little "camper" was getting a bit tight, so we bought a 40' 5th wheel. It was amazing...sunken living room, washer/dryer, big kitchen, two comfy recliners and a sofa bed for guests. It was everything we needed, and life was good.


Our 5th wheel upgrade

Still...we looked at real estate. Because that's kinda what we do. Oh how we love houses! We found a beautiful mid-century modern that reminded us of the houses we remembered growing up in California. The price was right, and we decided to go for it. What a great house it was! We had 3 guest rooms plus a basement apartment. We filled that house with friends and family. We settled in again...

The Love Shack
The Berkeley house in Medford



But after a couple of years of Craig's being laid off every Friday, our savings was about gone and we knew we had to do something. We were nearing retirement age and needed to be planning for our future. He began to look for jobs again, and found one in Vancouver Washington. By this time we had already sold our big, beautiful 5th wheel because it was taking up precious space in our driveway.So when he found a job in Vancouver Washington, we decided we needed to find another RV to live in. This time we wanted to try out a motor home. Craig happened to find one about a mile away from where our kids lived in Springfield Oregon. We bought it, and began again the arduous process of drastically downsizing into an RV.

Winnebago

Our soon-to-be home again


We made our way up north, and back into the RV park on the Sandy River. But alas, it was winter, and while we were familiar with the high winds that can whip up through the Columbia River Gorge, we weren't prepared when one day the wind blew a wooden picnic table into our RV. Craig came home from work and saw that it was blowing the roof off, and we had to quickly pack up and get out of there!

Coming over the river into Vancouver, we stayed a couple of nights in an over-packed RV park while we looked for another option. We settled in a motor home park which had a few RV spaces. Craig worked, I walked and prayed and we looked at houses online. It took a long time, and finally our search brought us to our beautiful little home right across from the Washougal River.

Washougal house


Washougal River


We have enjoyed just over 3 years here in Washington. Our little house has been perfect, hosting many gatherings with family and friends. Once again, we are living what seems like the "good life." But wait. Just when we got the house like we wanted it, we started to explore the possibility of "early retirement"...could it be possible for Craig to retire at 62? How would we live? Would we have enough money?

We explored the possibility of an RV lot at the coast. We love the ocean...but alas, the cloudy wet days do get to us.

One day, while my hubby was perusing properties for possible retirement, he happened upon a little town just outside of Yuma, Arizona, called Wellton. And he also happened upon a great deal on a little house there. That week, the very week before Christmas, just a few short months ago...we flew to Arizona on a whim, and checked it out in person. It was perfect, so we bought it. Wait, did that just happen?

Casita in Wellton


OK, so now we have a place to live in AZ for the winter months. Where will we live here? Everything is so expensive! Are you thinking what I'm thinking? What about we live in the RV while here in the summer? We have properties we can still develop. We have rentals to manage. We have friends and family. It won't be so bad. Let's put our house out there and see if it sells?

It sold. We listed it on Thursday, and accepted an offer on Monday.

And now...here we are. We have to be out in just a little over 2 weeks.

After our house sold, we discovered our new adventure is going to require a lot more than we first imagined. We discovered that there must be waaaaay more people choosing to live this "snow-bird" lifestyle now than there were last time we did this 4 years ago. We discovered that there are no long-term RV spots available in Washington or the Portland area. We have 2 cars, a truck and an RV to transport somewhere. We have stuff to put back into storage. We have stuff to take to Arizona in the fall. We have stuff to cram back into a not-so-big RV. Stuff, stuff, stuff...(how did we accumulate so much stuff after downsizing so many times?)

We discovered that there are soooo many little details to take care of...like Post Office box, change of addresses and mail holds, insurance, moving stuff, selling stuff, transporting vehicles, selling vehicles, deciding if we will be driving the motor home to Arizona when we go, or a car, or flying, figuring out what we will need there and here, guest accommodations since our little casita has no spare room, wondering how we will live with no income until we get SS in October, what to keep, what to sell, what to buy, what not to buy, where to go in our RV, needing a tow car, bedding, towels, clothes (do I get rid of all my winter clothes? Will I ever get to wear my boots again? What are we doing have we totally lost our minds?????)






Craig's last day at work is next Friday. Wow. This man who has worked 12 hour days, 2 jobs, too many weekends, and faithfully provided for his family the past 40 years is going to be jobless. This is a first.



There is a great big huge unknown stretched out before us. We have learned a few things over the years. Life is an adventure. Truth is, we all have big unknowns stretched out before us. Sometimes when we are secure in our jobs and houses, we think we have things handled. We think we are in control. I'm not sure we ever really are. But adventures make great stories and our lives are all stories...each one wrapped into the bigger story being written by a great big God who loves to lead us every step of the way. We have learned how good He is. We have learned how to hear him, and that He is a trustworthy guide. We have learned that the adventure is worth the work, and worth the risk. We're excited for this next leg of our journey!!! (What am I doing here, I need to get busy!!!!!)








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