Thursday, March 21, 2013

Balancing Act

Well we haven't done a lot of writing on our blog during the past week because we are in the process of holding our collective breaths while we await several major hurdles to be cleared.
We should know at the end of this week if the bank approves the home loan for the party interested in purchasing our house. We have been in sort of a holding pattern while awaiting the bank to send out an appraiser, and for the the official word that the $ is in place. We haven't felt comfortable enough to sign a short term lease, so our safe landing space won't be secured until very soon after we get the word that the sale is officially on the fast track towards closing.
At the same time, even though we have our sights set on a couple of very nice used B class RV's, we have to keep our fingers crossed that they stay unsold until we feel comfortable enough to go through with buying one of them outright.
Adding to that we have scheduled our movers for the week prior to closing, and we are in the process of moving out everything possible that we can tackle ourselves and making numerous trips to our storage unit. We have left just enough furnishings to either stage our house if the sale falls through, or to move to our new short term rental until we take off for our RV adventure. VERY MINIMALISTIC LIVING, but sort of freeing at the same time.
And so we wait...
Hurry up and wait...
And once the other shoe drops, unbelievably, our lives could become even more hectic if that could be possible. We would have to sign a short term rental for a couple of months while we prep for our trip, and I give notice at work. We would need to move the rest of our belongings to the rental and storage unit and then clean our house inside and out before closing on April 5th. (Exactly fifteen days away)
We will then reestablish contact with the used RV owners and take a weekend off to go check them out and to perhaps purchase if we like it. Then we would drive the RV home in time to go back to work, and then find somewhere to store the RV for the month or two before we head out.
Jerani also has knee surgery scheduled for April 18th, and will be rehabbing for several weeks afterwards. We need to find a one level rental so that stairs won't be in the mix. Post surgery she will need to heal and then strengthen her knee to
the point where she feels comfortable to travel.
I also need to give notice somewhere towards the beginning of May, giving my employers as much time as they need to find a replacement. Absolutely no one at works knows of our plans, so unfortunately for them it will come as a complete shock. There really isn't any other way to go about it as we have to hedge our bets in case the house sale goes south. It would be fool hardy to announce our intentions only to have the trip get put on long term hold, and then have my superiors decide to go in another direction. Even one word to a co-worker could result in the whole scenario spinning out of control.
This is a very narrow tightrope we are balanced on; one without the benefit of a safety net.
It doesn't get too much more pressure packed than this. I think we are both handling this period of elevated stress pretty darn well if I must say so myself.
Sure there are those moments of barely suppressed panic attacks, and the feelings of "now what are we doing again...?", but for the most part we are treating it as an adventure and new chapter in our lives. It's just too bad that the chapter starts out with so much damn angst and hard labor
In the end we figure the end will justifies the means; or is it an end to a means?
One way or another, we will know where we stand in a day or two.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Itchy trigger finger

Rocamadour Monastery in Central France
I can't wait to take pictures on our upcoming trip. I know it seems to be an ongoing theme on this blog, but photography is much more than just pointing a camera at something and pressing a button. It has more to do with actually being present in your surroundings than just capturing an image of something you have no connection to. We don't claim to be great or even good photographers, we just enjoy it. Here are some of our favorite pictures.
River Arno in Florence
Carcassonne France
Positano Italy on the Amalfi Coast
The River Lot France
Sarlat France
Brantome France at sunrise

Bruge Belgium

Brittany France

Friday, March 15, 2013

How David Dissed the Russian Mafia

David glossed over what was quite the exciting car sale experience. I put the ad up during the day and got a phone call in a minute from what sounded like a nice man trying to buy a car for his daughter. He said he was very interested and wanted to come and see it. I arranged for him to come around 4:30pm when I knew David would be home. At the same time we had the roofer, the realtor and the buyer all wandering around looking at various projects they were going to do if the house closed.
So at 4:30 a Kia Sorento rolls up and two guys get out. Swarthy I might say and one looked like the money bags. They started looking over the vehicle and speaking in Russian and I though oh my god- I'm selling a car to the Russian Mafia which may be a bit of racial profiling but a thought non the less. David was oblivious being very tired after work and perusing the computer in the office. As I watched them look over the vehicle I realized there were three more men in the back seat of the Kia. I don't know how they fit in there. Kia's aren't that big. And why bring five grown men to a car purchase and for that matter since when do 5 grown men drive around together unless it's something untoward? At this point I was a little nervous but put on a friendly face and didn't let them bargain me down one cent. That was quite annoying to them but they still wanted the vehicle so they wanted to immediately go to a Wells Fargo to get a cashier's check. I was to drive the Escape and go with them into the bank to witness the cashier's check actually being drawn up at the bank and not printed on a printer in somebody's back room. Well there was no way in hell I was going to go with them unaccompanied, so I rushed in the house to get David to drive with us in the van to take me back. As he was getting ready he asked innocently "How are they?" meaning are they decent people? And knowing David and all of his anxieties about different things I knew better than to say we were selling our car to a SUV full of Russians. So I said "Good" in my cheeriest voice so he would follow along.
Ah the manipulation. I know. After a three vehicle convoy on the freeway in rush hour traffic we finally rolled up to a pretty sleepy Wells Fargo in West Linn. David stayed in the van and I went in with the two main guys. As we walked into the bank I could see the poor tellers all tense up because really, we were an odd trio. And there were three vehicles that had just driven up and one was a white van with tinted windows with a guy lurking there (David) and the three other Russians piled out of the Kia and proceeded to light up cigarettes and look as menacing as possible.

As we proceeded with the transaction I looked out the window and the two younger Russians were kind of dancing around with their cigarettes. It brought to mind the dancing that Billy Zane did in Dead Calm which is something that has always stayed with me. Eerily crazy and just weird. Later David said his eyes bugged out of his head when he realized there were 5 men in the car and even more so once he realized they were Russian and dancing crazy in the parking lot.
These are NOT the actual car buyers, but this was very close to the way they spread out and wandered about the bank while the tellers were trying to keep an eye on them. This is also a very close proximity to how they were dressed.
The teller that was drawing up the cashier's check was NERVous and I think she thought we were going to pull out AK47's and start blasting. The two guys kept muttering to each other about David not getting out of the van to come and meet them. They wanted to know why he was staying in the van. I said he worked all day and was very tired. I think the thought of a female selling one of the cars in their family was unheard of. They seemed to get more and more offended as the transaction progressed and by the time they walked back outside they were hurling insults and waving very condescendingly. Shouting "It was really nice to "meet" you David".
When I got in the van David was pretty rattled and sure that we were being ripped off somehow and our car was at that very moment on its way to an illicit chop shop. To be perfectly honest I wasn't sure we weren't being ripped off either but I was just glad it was over with. Of course we drove straight to our bank and deposited the check with no problems so far. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Everything's happening at once...

Check this out for an eventful albeit stressful week-

1.) Jerani gets her knee mri results back and it looks like she has suffered a meniscus tear. Her surgeon has scheduled her surgery for April 18th, which seems both too long to wait and way too soon at the same time.
 2.) Our home sale still seems to be right on track; papers are being filed, we have passed the home inspection with flying colors, and the owner to be seems excited to close. Our closing date is April 5th, which once again seems both too long to wait and way too soon at the same time.

3.) We put our Ford Escape up for sale and it sold in about fifteen minutes. Now we are very happy that we sold our vehicle for a very good price in such a short amount of time but wow, we are down one car before we really had time to think about it. It's just sorta weird because you always think you'll have a little time to ease into the ramifications, a little preparedness period, but nuh-uh, bam it's gone!
4.) *We have been searching high and low for a place to stay short term between our home sale and our departure for our "RV adventure with Pets". We know for a fact if everything continues to move forward with the sale that we have to relinquish ownership by 5pm April 5th, so we have to have SOMEPLACE to land that is pet friendly from anywhere from a week to two months depending on what our plans are. (Obviously we don't have a super duper plan at this point, but pressure tends to motivate the process and just may become the mother of invention.) To be continued...
 5.) At the same time we are searching for a property that we can invest some of our equity into and that can work for us while we're on the road as a rental. It would be great if this property could be used as our short term solution; someplace that would work both as that investment property, but also as a place to move into between our home sale and our trip. But at the same time, there are both time and financial constraints that dictate when we can start our actual search. We are firm believers in not entering into more than one transaction at a time. We don't like to leave any financial deal of that magnitude to assumptions. So what comes first, the chicken or the egg? We will wait on a property purchase until we find the right property. *(see short term rental #4 above)

6.) When considering a property to stay in until we head out we also must find something that is a single story, surgery recovery friendly abode. Jerani will be fairly incapacitated after she gets her knee scoped, so we have to find something that can accommodate her needs during her post surgery blues.

7.) At some point I will have to break the news that I'm leaving work. It can't be too soon, because you never know just how such news will be received. But at the same time I want to be fair in providing the company ample time when I inform them of my decision. It just feels a little weird though to be talking about future plans, decisions, etc., all the while knowing that I probably won't be around while most of them are implemented. I can't lie, it's a little stressful. Freeing at the same time, but odd. I like all my co-workers, and I've been heavily involved in this business from the ground up, so although I'm looking forward to moving on I'll of course miss some things and many people when I leave.
I'm sure there's a ton more that's happened this week, but I think you'd have to agree that just going through number one thru seven would tend to be a tad stressful, even for two people as well grounded as we pretend to be.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

We're getting excited!

The closer we get to actually closing on our house sale the more our RV adventure with pets becomes a reality. What began as a "Wouldn't it be neat to drop everything and travel around North America in an RV...?" daydream, has evolved into a very non-abstract reality.
Sure, we still have about a million things to iron out before we can actually break away. There is always the distinct possibility that the house sale could unravel for some unseen reason; this is a real estate transaction after all, so nothing's a sure thing until all the I's have been dotted and the T's crossed. Then there's the little matter of finding someplace to move to in between the sale of said house and the actual beginning of our trip. That as yet unknown departure date is affected by any number of circumstances such as the state of Jerani's knee (have we mentioned that we've been seeking medical attention for what very well could be a cartilage tear in her knee?).
We are in the process of finding out what exactly is going on inside that knee, but until we get that sorted out and find a solution to her discomfort, we will have to make sure we don't just dash off willy-nilly.
Another thing I still have to deal with will be breaking the news to the management at the grocery store where I work that I will be leaving and then we will have to work out the length of stay needed to transition a new person to head my department. I will want to give them as much time as needed to find a replacement.
Business as usual in the Meat and Seafood Department. Grade 1+ Ahi Tuna from Hawaii.
Then there's the issue of actually purchasing the "RV" that we would need to make our "RV Adventure with Pets" a reality. Without it the whole trip sort of lacks pzazz, wouldn't you agree?
We will have to follow up on some leads we have on late model used Pleasure Way RV's. This is one of those which came first, the chicken or the egg sort of scenarios. Obviously we can't leave for the trip until we have secured a great RV, but at the same time we can't really go out and look for an RV until we have about fifty other ducks in a row. All we can do right now is follow leads to quality RV's for sale and then stay in contact with the thought of pulling the trigger just as soon as everything else falls into place.
We also would like to put our money to work for us while we gallivant across North America, so today we will start our search for a house to purchase with the hopes of renting it out during our extended road trip.This could also be the answer to our "Where in the heck are we going to stay after our house closes in less than a month?" question. In a perfect world we would find a move in ready property that we could move to while sorting out the above mentioned priorities.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What's smaller than a house but larger than a closet?

Yep, you guessed it, A STORAGE UNIT!
Jerani and I are in full packing mode now that we've had an offer on the house. We are seasoned pros when it comes to deconstructing our lives and sealing it away in a cement and aluminum time capsule. This isn't our first rodeo we'll have you know; we have moved something like twenty times during our adult lives. Once we get the green light we are pretty good at moving forward and divorcing ourselves from our current habitat, even ones we have really enjoyed living in. It's all about mentally moving forward and coming to terms with the changes we are about to make.
I take pride in my ability to pack, but you'd never know it from this photo. My goodness, it looks as if Jed Clampett organized this load.

 Looking eerily similar...
We see it as a win/win situation. If the house sale doesn't hit any snags and works out, then we are miles ahead of the game with most of our possessions already tucked away in a storage unit. This leaves us with only the essentials to get by on, which helps to ready us for small RV life while hastening our longing for new surroundings. Now if the house sale should fall through, we are still happy because now we can stage our house to give the effect of more room with less clutter; allowing us to make a seamless switch to a full out blitzkrieg home sale with all that entails. We still are living without so many of the trappings that hold you to one spot, so we are still primed to sell the house and move on. Win/Win.
Our 2000 Ford Windstar with only 83,000 miles and all bench seats removed. This has been an invaluable form of transportation when making several smaller moves back and forth to a storage unit. We will be parting with this workhorse soon when we sell both our vehicles and purchase a class B RV, It has served us well, but still should make another owner happy for many years to come.

Jerani did a ton of work researching all the storage units in the Portland area. There were several that were promoting new lease specials, but when she checked them out they all seemed a little sketchy. We don't know where we used to turn to for pertinent information on services before people started having the capability to post online reviews, but they sure are helpful. We aren't so naive as to blindly agree or believe everything someone writes online, but when you get enough critical responses to a single business, the old adage "where there's smoke there's fire" usually holds true.
This is the sort of thing you're trying to guard against when choosing a storage facility
 Anyway we finally decided on one that wasn't close to our home, but very close to the store that I work at. This allows me to make storage runs, check on things, or get things from the storage unit on my way to and from work. On top of that the facility is brand new, sparklingly clean and well cared for, and run by a couple who seem to really care about what they're doing. Another selling point is that every one of the units have individual security alarms that are only deactivated when you punch in your access code to the gate. Our unit is located indoors and at 10'x15' it should be the perfect size for our pared down hoard.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Inanimate Objects

We love taking pictures of architecture, landscapes, and other interesting inanimate objects during our travels. This gargoyle guarded the small cathedral within the walled city of Carcassonne, France.
Vegetable stand on Rue Cler, Paris
Ancient gate near Sarlat, France
Time slows down during your travels when you start to search out photo opportunities. Things begin to take on new meanings when looking through the view finder of your camera. You really begin to actually see things you might have otherwise passed by without another glance.
Roots in the Sarasota, Florida Botanical Gardens
 The sky was an amazing color of blue which made for a great background for this photo on the Island of Capri, Italy.
This picture was taken in a forgotten graveyard in Bonn, Germany on a bone chillingly cold and rainy day.
Who knows what's going on here on this ledge outside a residence in Brantome, France?
Sometimes you're just really happy you took the time to capture an image such as this photo taken inside Sacracour Cathedral in Paris.
A Sea Holly flower in our front yard 

Tent Rocks New Mexico