Monday, January 28, 2019

Celebrations and Surprises in Seattle






















For those of you who don't like cloudy, gloomy days and endless rain, all you would have to do to totally appreciate the Pacific Northwest is roll into Seattle on a sunny day. That's what our arrival day looked like when we traveled from Portland to Seattle in mid-November. ALL the mountains were out - Hood, St. Helen's, Rainier, Baker. Just stunning, and one of the things we loved most about living in the Pacific Northwest.

Unfortunately, we didn't get many of those days during our six weeks in Seattle. Instead, we got more rain than we've experienced in the past four years. I mean, that probably has something to do with our lifestyle being one of chasing the sun, but still, we were a bit annoyed at the seemingly constant deluge. How spoiled are we?


    This was pretty much our view out of Scoopy the whole time we were in Washington (mostly without the sun)


Family Affair
Weather aside, we had decided to spend the holidays in the PNW for a variety of reasons, but mainly so we could be with our oldest daughter, Zoe, during the holidays. She works at Sephora and as a retail worker, it is nearly impossible for her to get time off over the busy holiday season so we just decided to come be near her since she as unable to travel to Texas to be with us, as Zac and Tara have done every year since we began traveling. This year, Tara came to Seattle from San Diego and Zac joined us from Bellingham. This is the first Christmas we have spent together as a family since 2013 and it made me very, very happy.

Is There A Doctor In The House?
One of the most difficult things about going fulltime is giving up your established medical care. Since we returned to the PNW every year except one we try to see our personal physicians when we can. This year, we both managed to schedule our annual exams, as well as colonoscopies and a mammogram for me. I had my colonoscopy in June, Steven was looking so forward to his, he saved it for December.

With exams and bloodwork complete (all good!) and other tests scheduled, we headed out to the restaurant Bonefish to see what all the fuss was about. Zoe is particularly fond of their Bang Bang Shrimp. So that's what Steven and I ordered, along with a lovely glass of wine.

Steven had a bite or two and a sip before he became decidedly unwell. Was it gas or a heart attack? He couldn't tell, so off we went to the Emergency Room. One GI cocktail later, and he was fine. But just in case, they said, let's do a couple of EKGs. Uh, oh. Something was not right. Better schedule a stress test and see the cardiologist, they said. That's all well and good, except Steven had a colonoscopy scheduled for mid-week and had to do the prep, too. So they scheduled his stress test on Monday. So far, so good. Then . . .


    At the emergency room waiting on a diagnosis.

He failed! He failed the bloody stress test! So off he went to the cardiologist's office to see the doctor, who said he needed an angiogram and if blockage was discovered, then he’d need a stent. Of course, we were desperate to get all this scheduled before we had to leave Seattle but also before a new year's deductible went into effect on our insurance. It sucks when you finally meet a huge deductible in December, but it’s even worse when follow up appointments rollover into January!

After his stress test, Steven went to the pharmacy to pick up the prep for his colonoscopy. I couldn't believe the size of that container! It looked like he was going out to spray crops! It was gigantic. Mine wasn't that big, I only had to drink about four cups of stuff over two days, but wow! In any case, he had to start his prep on Tuesday afternoon and then drink more on Wednesday morning. LOL, just to make all this more exciting, I had scheduled my mammogram for 11:00 on Wednesday morning, thinking we'd just swing by and get it done on the way to Steven's colonoscopy appointment, which was in a different hospital. We hadn't taken into consideration the possible gravity of that prepping situation when we did all this planning, but oh well, he managed.

Of course, Steven was starving after his colonoscopy, and we had just enough time to eat dinner before he had to start fasting for his angiogram the following day at Noon. We had to arrive at the hospital at 10:00 am and ended up staying until nearly 5:00 p.m. But, after all that, all is well. Really, the best of all outcomes is what we got, Steven had no blockage at all. He was put on a tiny dose of blood pressure medication, and that’s it. All that hullabaloo for nothing, except of course, peace of mind. So, we're good to go!


    Complete with stylish hat and snack in hand, Steven enjoys the aftermath of his angiogram.

In between all the unexpected medical issues we managed to connect with friends. It’s always nice to spend time with Dan and Sherrie on Whidbey Island. The weather was picture perfect and we got in a long walk along the coast. We enjoyed lots of great food and wine and, as always, great company and beautiful views.

 




Enjoying hanging and hiking and taking in the wonderful Puget Sound views with Dan and Sherrie.


    Catching up with Jennie is always fun! Happy Hour out with Rich & Emma was a blast!


    We even managed to go see Ina Garten at Benaroya Hall!

We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Zoe and Dan's place, and as requested by Zoe, we enjoyed Frito Pies. We typically open presents on Christmas Eve which makes for a fun and festive evening. Since Dan's big family gathers for Christmas Day dinner, we decided to have our celebration in the morning and have Christmas Brunch. It was different from our normal routine, but honestly, I loved it. Brunch is so easy to cook, we ate mid-morning and were home by the early afternoon. Zac came over and spent the afternoon with us as this was the last time we would see him before we headed south. What a great time we had with our kiddos!


    Zoe and Zac visit Scoopy and the famous Frito Pie we had for Christmas Eve dinner over at Zoe’s apartment.

 
   Christmas Eve at Zoe’s place! Tara looks particularly excited to open this particular present!

   
   What a joy to spend Christmas with my kiddos!

Steven and I had been working since Boise to downsize and get our stuff out of Scoopy. We were really trying to get rid of everything rather than ship it to the ranch and, in the end, the kids took a bunch of stuff. Bless them, they have bailed us out so many times taking stuff they really don't need or want. We lost about a week of work time with all the medical hoopla, so we extended our stay at Lake Pleasant until January 1st. In the end, we FedEx'd eight small boxes to the ranch and stuffed everything else into Toadie. She was filled to the brim when we finally hit the road!


    Scoopy enjoys a rare sunny day at Lake Pleasant RV Park.

NEXT UP: Goodbye, Scoopy! :(

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Teton Valley to Portland

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I think the longest I've gone between blog posts is about four months back in 2015. At the time, we were more in love with adventuring and our new fulltiming lifestyle rather than writing about it. Since I'm not looking to break that record, I'd better get going, right?

Speed Blogging

I'm going to speed by some of our stops so that I can get caught up, mainly because either we've been there several times and I've written about them over and over, or because we didn't do much worth writing about. I will, however, lean on Steven to include a fair number of his fabulous photos for your viewing pleasure.

The Big Eddy

What's this? Another Top Ten camping spot??! Indeed it is, and it's located in the Teton Valley just 80 miles south of Henry's Lake. I wasn't kidding when I said we've been here before and I've written just about all there is to write about the area. See here. Here. Here and here.

The special part about this return trip is that we were still traveling with Bill and Kelly and we got to show them all around our beloved valley and, of course, the fabulous Lot 5, our property. The Big Eddy was the perfect boondocking spot. I mean, really, what's not to love about wild camping in the foothills of the Grand Tetons? We stayed there for 18 days, visited Jackson Hole and the Grand Teton National Park, twice. We revisited our favorite restaurants in Driggs, Victor and Tetonia and celebrated Bill and Kelly's 33rd anniversary at Teton Thai - fabulous! We had a Great Horned Owl who entertained us endlessly, lots of eagles, hawks, ospreys and sandhill cranes squawking overhead. There were moose, deer, coyotes and cows. Steven enjoyed early morning photo shoots and Bill managed a couple of solar installs. Mostly, though, we just chilled in the shadow of the mountains and enjoyed happy hours, lots of good food and great company. This is the part we love most about our fulltiming lifestyle.

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Our side by side spots at the Big Eddy with incredible views of the Tetons.

What follows are some of Steven’s favorite sunrise and sunset (and some wildlife) photographs taken during our fabulous stay at the Big Eddy:

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With Bill and Kelly at one of the elk antler arches in Jackson Hole.

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T. A. Moulton Barn near Grand Teton National Park.

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This photograph embodies the fun we had together at the Big Eddy.

Parting Ways

From the Big Eddy we moved about 60 miles to the Juniper campground in Ririe, ID. I'd like to say that we spent our three days here out and about, but it turned really windy, so we were kind of stuck going back and forth between rigs. In some ways, it was kind of nice to just hang out some more before going our separate ways. But, after 39 days, three states, five campgrounds, countless happy hours, dinners and memories made, it was time to say goodbye. Bill and Kelly left to make their way south, while we stayed one extra day in Ririe before heading to Boise. It was a bit of a sad day but Kelly and I always talk about looking forward. In that sense, we both felt a lot of excitement. There's always something fun down the road.

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Our cozy and somewhat picturesque site in Ririe.

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We had an amazing time with Kelly and Bill and it’s sad to say goodbye.

Scratch That

Sometimes what you find down the road isn't fun at all. For example, when your two-day stay in Boise turns into a two-week stay at Camp Cummins. It's a long story, but suffice it to say that Scoopy got a new fuel pump and a new hydraulic motor. It was the latter that took a bit of searching to locate and get it to Boise. In the meantime, we were just hanging out in the parking lot with water, 50 amps and gorgeous sunsets. It's not like we had any pressing matters to attend to, so we were actually quite happy there. We took the time to begin our downsizing and dropped off several loads of household goods to Goodwill. We also purchased a bit of gear for our upcoming hike in Spain.

As we were finally preparing to leave after our two week stay, the mechanic took Scoopy out for one last spin. A dog ran in front of him and the impact knocked out our drive light! The poor dog was transported to the local vet's office, our mechanic was devastated and our departure was delayed. We still do not know the fate of the dog, because they found a drive light and by the next morning we were on our way. We did ask before we left, but they did not yet have an update. So, even though our stay in Boise morphed into an unexpected lengthy one, we were quite content. That said, our overall contentment with our stay at Camp Cummins does not include the final bill, of course, but as my Mom is fond of saying, "Oh, well."

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Sunsets and sunrises galore made for a not so bad stay at the Cummins parking lot.

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While waiting for Scoopy’s parts, we managed to catch up with two for our favorite peeps, Dustin and Laci.

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

We made our way from Boise to Sherwood, OR, just south of Portland. We had planned to stay a month and were only a couple of days delayed by the time we arrived. We like to travel with lots of wiggle room and it really paid off for us this time.

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The photogenetic gazebo at the Sherwood Elks Lodge.

We made a beeline for REI where I purchased a new pair of hiking boots. Steven had gotten his in Boise, and at the time, I chose Salomon Trail Runners. We did a couple of walks and I never stopped agonizing over my choice. The day before we left Boise, Steven returned them. I just couldn't commit to trail runners, and certainly not those Salomons. I went back and forth, trying to decide if I wanted sturdy boots or trail runners for my Camino. Either way, a decision had to be made because we needed to start walking and break in whatever shoes we were going to take with us to walk 500 miles. Still, it's no willy nilly decision.

Once at REI, I ended up choosing the same hiking boots that Steven got in Boise, OBOZ Sawtooth Low Shoes, not quite a boot, more hearty and supporting than a trail runner. Then, we started walking. And walking. We were settled into the Elks Lodge in Sherwood, which was surrounded by hills. We scoped out a six mile path through woods, parks and the cute downtown area, which we walked three or four times a week.

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Training for the Camino along a trail in Sherwood.

Overall, we've put about 120 miles on our new boots and while Steven loves his, the jury is still out on mine. Well, I love the shoes, it's the size I'm worried about. I got them one size bigger than usual because feet swell when you walk 15 miles a day, so that's the advice. I hope they work out, time will tell.

Portland Peeps

The main draw for us to stop for a while in Portland is our friends, the Vegans, and their neighbors, the Vegetarians (mostly). Steven likes to say we are meat-eating vegans, but regardless, we eat very, very well when we are with them. I think I say this every time we visit, if Kris would cook for me, I would become a vegan. Well, maybe not 100%, but close, and by close I mean about 50%. That would be good, right? Steven says the thing about becoming vegan, it's like anticipating a new Star Trek adventure and then finding out it's all about the Klingons. That made me LOL when he said that, because I get it. The thing about going from being a carnivore to a plant-based eater is that I'd have to learn to cook all over again. Even though I am a pretty good cook, I find that kind of intimidating. That said, our move to Europe opens up a slew of opportunity, so we'll see what happens. LOL, y'all don't hold yer breath, though. :)

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Kris and Glenn joined us along the Sherwood trail.

Next Up: Seattle