Officially Minnesotan

I can’t say that I have anything earth-shattering to share today.   We continue to give our new life a few tweaks here and there. 

I’m officially an Minnesota resident!  Woot-woot!  Last week I got myself down to the driver’s license exam office, took and passed my written exam.  That’s one more thing accomplished.  It was a bit nerve-wracking.  I mean, after all, I’ve been driving 40+ years, have driven coast-to-coast, north-to-south borders, in major cities like LA, Houston, Atlanta, etc., and towed our RV for 7 years with no mishaps.  Well, ya do what ya gotta do, so I just went and did it. 

Living room evening

The drapery hardware over the window on the left was not working properly, but one of the maintenance guys brought a replacement.  Now we can actually open and close the drapes on that window.  Yay!  Thank goodness for that. 

Lake by Sanford Center 05102017

We stopped by the South Shore area of Lake Bemidji last weekend while out toodling around.  Yes, it was pretty darn chilly and windy.  There’s a concession building of some sort behind us which you can’t see; I think it will be opening pretty soon, as the official start of the fishing season was this past Saturday.   This is down by the Sanford Center, which is our civic center here.   What you also can’t see in the photo is the bike station off to the left.  The station has an air pump and some of the stations have tool kits.  Cycling is huge here in Minnesota. 

Cycling the loop around Lake Bemidji is quite popular.  You can read about that here.

Some days we feel like we should pinch ourselves, that we’re really here.   At times during the dreaming/planning stages of this lifestyle change, we wondered if it were really going to be possible.  So far, we feel we made the right decision at the right time to make this jump.  I feel more that way about the car, the Wee Beastie,  (Ford Edge Sport) after having The Beast (Ford F-350) as part of our lives for so long.  The Beast sure was a great truck, but I am enjoying Wee Beastie.  Prowling around, exploring and parking are so much easier with WB, and it sure is a fun car to drive!

Our weekends now are relaxed.  There are no maintenance chores to be done, such as flushing the hot water heater, etc.  When the wind is howling, there are no slide toppers flapping accompanied by the concern that something might rip.  You get the idea. 

Seems like we have the time and energy to do a bit of exploring as above, to just chill out in our recliners watching a program on Netflix and to even doze a bit. 

Speaking of Netflix, we have been watching Shetland, and will wrap up the current series tonight.  It’s an excellent police drama, better than I expected.  Even if you’re not into the story, the scenery is worth taking a look at the program.

Lake 2 05172017

View of the lake today. How cool to be able to stop by the lake while out running an errand. Literally cool today again, in the 50s, misting rain and a bit breezy.  #smalltownlife #minnesotalife

Our communications company is a cooperative and next week is the annual meeting and Cooperative Celebration.  The fire department and a local grocery store are putting on a fish fry, and there will be entertainment for both young and old.  We’re contemplating attending, as we are members via having our internet service with the company.  Yeah, I know.  I can’t really believe it, either.  Us? At a community event?  We’ll see how things pan out, whether or not we go.

We’re still trying to get over to see my uncle, but either weather or colds (yeah, we’ve both got one) have been delaying that day trip.  It will be a nice run for the Wee Beastie and, who knows?  We might even sneak in a burger at the Thirsty Moose, which was a fave of ours when we lived in Hibbing.  Burger?  Pizza?  Decisions, decisions!  

Speaking of food, I want to make up some sausage kolaches and then it will be about time to put together the steak bridies for our dinner tonight.  The other nice thing about our life now is that it is cooler.  We’re running in the 50s-60s while Texas is heating up in the upper 80s-low 90s.  It’s cool enough here that cooking is actually a pleasure and, hence, I tend to think up more things to prepare – real meals again like when we were in Jersey.

My body really appreciates the cooler climate, and I feel much better. 

Ciao for now!

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay safe out there, okay?

“Let the person I serve express his thanks according to his own brining up and his sense of humor.” – Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman),Santee Sioux,1858-1939

Settling In

We departed the RV park in College Station, TX the afternoon of Tuesday, April 4, and arrived at our new digs in Bemidji, MN that Saturday afternoon.  Our departure was a bit later in the day, by the time we loaded the truck with our belongings from the rental travel trailer.  Besides that, we weren’t in a hurry.  We drove each day until we decided we’d best look for a hotel for the night.  We ended up staying in Ardmore, OK; Emporia, KS; Sloan, IA; and Fargo, ND. 

We were fortunate to have no issues on the road, although the wind was incredible every day. One day it was headwind, the next tailwind, and so on each day.  We were sure glad it wasn’t a crosswind!  We were able to find lodging every night with parking to accommodate our truck and U-Haul trailer within walking distance to restaurants.

The AmericInn in Fargo was our fave of the trip.  They boast of being “Rated the Best Hotel in North Dakota.” I have no arguments with that!  Flipping through the cable channels, we found the move Fargo.  Even though we’d seen it before, you know we just had to watch it being where we were!

AmericInn Fargo 04072017               Lobby of the AmericInn in Fargo. We enjoyed the lodge theme, which was found throughout the hotel.  Sitting by the fireplace for a while felt good!

After unloading and dropping off the U-Haul trailer Saturday afternoon, the process of unpacking and setting up our new home began.  All the boxes are gone now, and we’re awaiting delivery of some furniture tomorrow. 

Our home 04122017

We’re in a 55+ community, each building being a 4-plex of townhomes. Ours is a 2-bedroom unit.

The Monday after our arrival found us at the Ford dealership.  One of the truck batteries had gone bad and, while that was being addressed, we decided to look at cars while waiting.  We had plans to downsize in the near future, as we no longer needed our Beast – a Ford F-350 1-ton diesel – since we no longer had to tow an RV.  Well …

2014 Edge Sport new ride

Our “new to us” ride, a 2014 Ford Edge Sport with low miles

After about 5 hours at the dealership, we had negotiated an excellent trade-in value on our truck (everybody wanted the Beast) and a whopping deal on this Edge.  I had been doing research for a while on the Edge and a Honda CRV, with the Edge having … pardon the pun … an “edge” over the CRV.  The Beastie here has all sorts of electronic gizmos and systems, and I still need to get the owner’s manual out and spend time with it.  For now, I’ve got down the basics – syncs my phone, plays my Pandora, I know about the basic computer screens and systems, and can get us around.  It has heated seats and a sunroof.  I’ve never had a sunroof (and that feature wasn’t a factor in our decision), but it might be nice in the climate here.  Personally, a sunroof in Texas just doesn’t make sense.  Anyhoo, it’s fun to drive and handles well.  We certainly didn’t anticipate making a car deal on our 2nd full day here, but there it was, and we won’t have to do it in the future.  Cross off one item on the “to do” list!

Betty Paul and Babe 04102017

Requisite “touristy” photo with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

We both started back to work on Saturday, and are settling into a bit of a routine once again.  I don’t think either of us would trade the years we spent full-timing in our RV, but this is a welcome change. Everything here is nearby – a nice walk or short drive.

I step out on the porch in early mornings and smell pine trees. Eagle makes morning rounds, and gulls (yes, gulls because of Lake Bemidji), ravens, and Canada geese are seen and heard throughout the day. I saw a fox and a deer in the field nearby last night.

It’s such a relief to be in a small town and closer once again to Mother Nature.  My stress level has diminished greatly over the past week.

Evening view from office 04182017

Evening view from my home office

More later as we explore and settle into our new hometown!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be careful out there, okay?

Locked and Loaded, or Loaded and Locked

We rented a climate-controlled storage unit at the facility right across the highway when we began moving our possessions out of our 5th-wheel home last month.  Today was the day to pick up the U-Haul trailer and empty the storage unit!

At storage facility 04032017

The trailer size is marked on it as 6×12, same as I had when I moved to Minnesota in 2005. 

MN move 2005

Loaded for June 2005 move to Minnesota, with help from friends Jim  (left) and David (right) in Brenham, TX.  I made that journey as the only human in the truck, as my traveling companions were 1 dog and 2 cats.  What an adventure!

I tell ya what, though, it sure feels and looks smaller. Perhaps it looks smaller because back then I drove a Tahoe and now it’s a Ford F-350 diesel beast.   If this is the same size I had before, I have no idea whatsoever how I (friends who loaded it, actually) got so much more stuff in it than we have in this one.  We have no furniture; previously, I had a queen bed set, loveseat, kitchen table and chairs, coffee table, papasan chair, a couple of bookcases, not to mention boxes, vacuum cleaner, bike … I tell ya!  This one seems more like 12’ from the end of the tongue to the back vs. 12’ of box.  Guess that’s okay, because I think we’ve got it packed nicely.

Almost empty 04032017

Almost empty

Empty 04032017

Empty!

Ready to roll at Aggieland RV Park 04032017

We have the site behind us to park overnight

Dave chillin after loading 04032017

Dave  chillin’ afterwards, well deservedly!

It took us about 1.5 hours to load the U-Haul.  Then it was time to chill out, rearrange a few things in the cab of the truck, I got a load of laundry done, dinner, and more chillin’ now.  Yay! 

We don’t anticipate an early start tomorrow, as we have to pack up and empty our “hotel room,” i.e., the rental travel trailer.  The mornings in hotels will be easier, as there will be less packing.   Too, I anticipate tomorrow being a slower day since we won’t pick up an interstate until after a while.  Although we know when we would like to arrive in our new hometown, we have no deadline, so we’ll just enjoy the trip!

For years, I haven’t considered a long trip starting in Texas to actually begin until I cross the state line!  Texas is big, ya’ll.  

Cheers to Matthew at U-Haul Moving & Storage at Texas Ave for fitting us out this afternoon and giving us a few extra courtesy days on the rental.  That location had great reviews, and I see why.

I continue to be grateful – very grateful – that things continue aligning nicely for us as we embark on a new chapter of our life together.   Well, I think that about wraps it up for tonight.  It’s almost 8:30, and it’s been a long day. 

Thanks for stopping by!  Ya’ll be safe out there, okay?

 

 

 

 

Dream Becoming a Reality–Lifestyle Change Ahead!

In my last post 4 months ago, I talked about how we were dreaming of and planning a lifestyle change and moving back to Minnesota.  Well …

Packing for MN move 03162017

No furniture to move, but there are boxes, bikes, and misc. items.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of putting our RV up for sale, packing, and finalizing other arrangements. 

With our Montana 03212017

Last photo with our Montana, which served us well for 7 years.

On Tuesday, we sold our RV – our home for the past 7 years.  I confess my eyes seemed to leak a wee bit a couple of times on the day of the sale.  We had so many adventures and shared awesome moments during our time as full-time RVers.  Memories were made that we will cherish always. 

While we enjoyed those years as full-timers, there is a feeling of relief and excitement as we begin a new chapter in our life together.  Relief in the form of selling our RV while it was still in good shape; of being out from under the responsibility, expense, and physical effort of maintenance and upkeep; and, honestly, the full-time lifestyle.  The excitement is in beginning a new journey and returning to the North and Minnesota. 

It’s just time.  Time to move on.  Time for a change.  Time to simplify our life.

Due to Dave’s work schedule, we will be here for just under 2 weeks.  After researching available accommodations here, it made the most sense – cost, safety, convenience, comfort – for our needs to rent a travel trailer from a local dealer we have patronized during our time here. 

Rental RV interim housing 03212017

Our “hotel room” in the same site where we have been.

While it serves our purpose of interim housing quite nicely, it certainly makes us appreciate even more the quality RVs we owned over the years – popup, travel trailer, and then the 5th wheel we called home.  We have items with us for interim living (cooking, etc.) and for what we’ll need during our trip to Minnesota (both warm and cold weather clothes).  The rest of our possessions are in a climate-controlled storage unit at a nearby facility.

With the “hard” items ticked off our “to do” list, we have this time to rest up in our comfortable routine of work and living until we get the U-Haul trailer, load it up, and hit the road.  We’ll downsize our truck to a “normal” vehicle once we are settled up there, so The Beast gets one more road trip!

To say that the past few weeks have been busy would be a gross understatement.  It.  Has.  Been.  Freakin’.  Crazy.

I wrapped up the last details of the sale today by cancelling our full-timers insurance and the extended service policy on the 5th wheel.

We’ll be going to a 55+ “cottage” in Minnesota, opting to rent vs. purchase.  Neither of us want to own property again, at least not at the present.  If something breaks … call maintenance.  Snow shoveling?  Nope.  It’s done by property management.  Sweet.  Simplification.

We’re not there yet, but well on the path.  At times we wondered if this was indeed just a dream, if it was even attainable.  At the beginning of this process, the logistics seemed totally mind-melting.  At one point, I just gave it all up to Spirit and The Universe – if it is meant to be, then it will be.

We are so grateful that aspects of this lifestyle change have been aligning, and that it does truly seem to be a plan that is unfolding very nicely for us.

I’ll repeat that.  We are grateful.  Very much so.

Thanks for stopping by!  Be careful out there, okay?

 

 

 

 

Another Week and More Cooking

So it’s Wednesday again already!  I’m grateful we made it through a week with no malfunctions of any sort.  Haha! 

I tell ya, my work is steady lately and for that I am also grateful.  Whew!  Keeps me hopping during the week.  As a matter of fact, I contemplated putting in some time yesterday or today (days off) but then thought, “Nope.  Not gonna get in the habit of that.  I need my time off.”  Thursdays are my “Mondays,” and catch-up days, so I know I’ll be hustling tomorrow.

Yesterday was errands-and-chores day, and I did accomplish everything, including a late afternoon boogie to H.E.B. for groceries.  I like to get all the errands done in one day, so the next day I can just be here at home to cook, chill or whatever, “whatever” being a blog post, crashing in my recliner in front of the TV . . . taking a day at a slower pace.

When returning home from the post office in the early afternoon yesterday, I overshot the exit to the park.  Was just grooving along in the truck with tunes cranked up and, next thing I knew, I was passing the park.  Contributing to that overshoot is the fact that the exit for the park is closed due to construction, so one has to get off the highway via the exit right before this one. 

Oopsies.  It was just one of those days when I was digging the drive and could have driven from here to . . . Iowa.  Ha!

Keeping in mind the new routine I want to establish of giving the truck a workout now and then, I just said, “Why not?” and kept on going.  Turned my sights to Hearne, a small town about 20 miles north on Hwy 6.  Cranked up the music and settled in to enjoy the drive.  Engaged the cruise control for a while just to make sure it still works.  It does. 

There’s not a whole lot in Hearne of interest from a quick glance, excepting perhaps the Ace Hardware store downtown.  Small-town Ace Hardware . . . love ‘em.  I tried to think of something I might need as an excuse to go in and wander around, but came up short.  So I went around the block and pointed Truck toward the barn.

Me, Truck, highway and tunes.  Bliss.

When I did arrive home about an hour later, I realized I felt bit more relaxed.  Thanked Truck for some much-needed windshield time.  “Me” time.  Sweet.

Dave got busy this morning and washed our awning.  He did a great job and it looks soooo much better!  We were able to leave it deployed for a while, but then the wind intensified and we had to retract it.  He clocked 30 miles on the bike after taking care of that maintenance task.

Wednesday cooking ensued while he was away – sausage kolaches, a beef-and-wild rice casserole and then cinnamon rolls (not from scratch, sorry).  Dog fed and walked, dishes done and dried, and now steak fries are in the oven which will accompany the burgers I’ll make in a bit.

Whew!  There are 40+ work emails awaiting my attention, along with routine end-of-week tasks and current special projects. 

That DIY project I alluded to recently?  It’s still in the box here in the living room.  I’ve eyeballed what needs to be done but need 2-3 hours of dedicated, uninterrupted (quiet) time to tackle it.  Hopefully soon.

Yeah, right.  Ha!

There are other things I’d like to talk about, but it’s just about time to put the burgers on. 

Perhaps next time, whenever that might be!

Thanks for stopping by!  Ya’ll be safe out there, okay?

It’s Wednesday, So It Must Be Cooking Day

Seems like our days off are just as busy as work days lately.

The weather cooperated and the planets aligned, so Dave was able to get in a couple of hours of much-need bike time, a mental health break for him.  I got our laundry done, did some vacuuming and other little chores while he was gone.  Once he returned, we ventured out to run an errand and get groceries.  Next up, it was time for dinner, and I admit I was ready to eat after hustling about most of the day.  Home-cooked burgers and home fries hit the spot.  With us and Maggie fed, it was finally time to chill out a bit. 

We caught up on Bates Motel and then started watching the second season of Happy Valley, both on Netflix.  Whew!  There’s so much going on in Happy Valley this season!  Often gritty and never pulling punches, Happy Valley is another excellent British crime drama. 

Interestingly, there are two actors from Downton Abbey in Happy Valley.  You may remember Siobhan Finneran as character O’Brien and Thomas Barrow’s ally in the early days of Downton.  Season 2 sees a character portrayed by actor Kevin Doyle, aka “Molesley” in Downtown

With errands (all of them for this weekend) and chores (well, all the ones I’m doing this weekend) done and the weather being gloomy, it’s the kind of day to just be at home.  That must mean it’s a cooking day.  I like to have at least one main dish, such as a casserole or pot of soup, prepared for Dave’s meals (so he has something decent to take to work for at least most of the week) once our work week kicks in again on Thursdays. 

Yes, I’m here during the week but also working, so there’s not really a lot of time to spend putzing around in the kitchen.

A bright spot in my week was a pleasant, catch-up phone chat with friend Phyllis.  She and husband Len are also full-timers.  We actually met in person a few years ago when they boondocked in the parking lot of the mill up in Jersey (where we were working as a security team).  They are back in Texas for a bit.  We weren’t able to hook up for an in-person visit this time, but at least Phyllis and I had a fun phone call; it was good to hear her voice and trade some stories and laughter.  You can follow their adventures over at My Own Highways in My Mind.

We haven’t heard word on the truck yet, but I’m really not expecting anything until tomorrow or perhaps late this afternoon at the earliest.

With all this talk of food and cooking, I’m getting a bit hungry.  Think I’ll walk a few steps into the kitchen and get a lazy day off late breakfast.

Thanks for stopping by!

Well, That Was Exciting

Dave reported the Check Engine light on the truck was on while he was going to work Friday.  Same thing was happening on the return trip, and I took a look before he turned off the engine upon arrival home.  I had already talked with College Station Ford, and was told I could bring it in the next day (Saturday) for a code check.  Took Dave to work yesterday (also Saturday) and then stopped in at the Ford place.  We had also been noticing a “moan” when the truck was at low speeds, so asked them to see what was up with that, too.

After about an hour, the Joe (the tech) came back with the verdict.  Here’s the condensed version.  The Check Engine light was due to a code P1335, which is failure of the EGR valve.  This has to do with supplying air to the cooling system and engine.  The “moan” was the power steering pump beginning to fail.  Complete failure of that, of course, would affect steering and even brakes.  They also found that the 4×4 axle seals need replacement.

I think I must have asked Alan (service rep) if I needed to sit down about a dozen times while he was working up the estimate.  He first said, “Probably,” and when done said, “Maybe. Come take a look.”  It is definitely four figures, but better than I anticipated.  Of course, labor is the major part.  According to Joe, they have the parts on hand and can begin work Monday.  We’re looking at possibly Wednesday or Thursday for completion of the work.

One of my numerous questions was about drivability.  After talking with Joe a bit, we agreed the safest thing to do was to leave the truck there.  (I think he and Alan were relieved I decided to not drive it.)  While the truck might have been fine (and it wasn’t acting strange, at all) either of the first two items could completely fail without warning at any time and . . . well . . . the least would be towing charges and the worst could be disastrous.

So.  I needed wheels.

Saturday afternoon after 3 PM, and these guys are working overtime with me.  The dealership’s rental cars were all out, so Alan called around to see if a rental place was open.  No luck on a Saturday afternoon with the exception of the airport.

Great.  Rental agencies at the airport, I just have to get there.  How in the world am I gonna get to the airport?

Turns out . . . Joe will take me!

I was told to take my time and get anything out of the truck we might need.  Dave’s work hat.  Check.  His tennis shoes.  Check.  My phone charger.  Check.  Alan found a plastic bag for the shoes and hat.  One parting pat and reassuring words to Truck and I hopped in Joe’s truck for the airport trip.

At this point, I have to say thanks so much to Alan and Joe for going above and beyond, especially after hours.  I guess I must have had that “deer in the headlights” look a bit, but these two guys were great and really stepped up to assist me in a predicament.

The airport is small and the rental car counters are right at the main entrance.  I stopped first at the Hertz counter and the gal there was really very sweet; however, I wanted to check out the others for price and vehicle comparison.  At this point, a few bucks here and there do count.  Chase at the Avis counter gave the best deal on a small car (no, I don’t need a Lincoln Town Car, thanks other agency – not Hertz, but another).  He was friendly, helpful and patient.  I hadn’t rented a car in several years and was still in a bit of shock over the truck.

Before long, I was making my way out to the lot and a blue Ford Focus.

Ford Focus Rental 03262016

Our ride for the next few days

Good heavens.  Missed Truck as soon as I got into this wee spaceship.  Took me several minutes to orient myself to controls, etc.   Made it home safe and sound.  Tired, mostly mentally but physically a bit, too.

Worked until 10:30 PM, at which time I headed off  to pick up Dave from work.  Found out the Focus has a backup camera.  Hahahaha!  A backup camera for this wee bit of a car?  Seriously?  Too funny.

I’ll be taking Dave to and from work while we have the rental.  No biggie, as I’m up when he gets home at night anyway.  Just rearrange my work schedule a bit.

Our bank account is not at all pleased about these repairs, but this is Life.  Our truck is our lifeline for work, Life and moving our home.  We have to keep it in safe working condition.

I’ll say, too, that in the seven years we have had Truck, it has never left us on the side of the road.  Good Truck.  Good Truck!  It has taken us and our home so many miles, up and down mountains, across flat prairies, through slush and snow with like a faithful horse.  We want to keep it that way, so we spend the bucks to make it right again.

We’re both tired these days and slept until almost 10 AM.  Of course, lights out was around 2:30 this morning.  I’ve made salmon patties, wild rice and broccoli with cauliflower for Dave’s meal at work and for my dinner later.  I’m thinking leftovers tomorrow.  That’s a good thing.

Won’t be long until I boogie off to take Dave to work.  Then it’s back here for a few housekeeping items, pay some bills and go to work myself.

Whew.  I’m looking forward to our “Friday night” tomorrow night!

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Easter!