Life Happens

Life Happens

We are in between homes. Moving seems to be our knack. We just made our ninth move since September 2009. By the time we move into a townhouse in July, we will have accomplished ten moves in 12 years. Yikes!

Last year we arrived in Pullman on May 12, 2020, found a home to rent on May 14, and signed a lease on May 15. By May 20, we began living in the home having waited for the furnace to be repaired. There was instant appeal with one-level living, proximity to Jeremy and Michelle, and lawn care and snow removal included in the rent. We viewed this as a perfect scenario for renting during the pandemic and hopefully beyond. Although during that first night we were awakened by a shrill alarm, which was to the sump pump in the crawl space below. We quickly realized that we hadn’t lifted the trap door when we looked at the house. It was an oversight on our part, especially given the many years as home owners and facility managers.  Steve lifted the trap door to find a pool of water surrounding the sump pump. Hence, we live and learn.

Each day the sump pump ran off and on sometimes many times an hour. We were told by an HOA board member that there was likely a seasonal spring. A plumber was called several times over the year when the alarm went off.  There wasn’t much he could do except to make sure the sludge was cleared so the sump pump could work. Because the cause of the standing water was never addressed, the water just kept flowing into the crawl space. Our expressed concern has been, “If water is beneath the home, there’s a good chance that it’s impacting the home above.”

By December, a musty odor had developed inside the home. We placed Damp Rid containers in the bedrooms, kept windows cracked after showers, and ran bathroom and kitchen fans. We used two air purifiers in different parts of the house.  The humidity level in the back two bedrooms remained higher than the rest of the home. December and January brought snowfall, so additional moisture. In February, Diane began watching Craigslist and various rental apps, attempting to align a move to coincide with the end of the lease.

In early April we discovered mold on several window sills. We alerted the landlord, who when she saw the mold, and smelled the mildewy odor, indicated that she’d let us out of our lease early. We immediately began in earnest scouring property management and realtor websites for a different home to rent. The rental market is hot here, partly due to being a university town. Much of the available rentals were on College Hill. At this point in life, we aren’t up for living on College Hill or in an area with college students. Finally, we found a townhouse in another part of town and signed a lease on April 30! What a relief!

Move-in isn’t until July 8. To bridge the gap, we intended to extend our lease through mid-July. To remain out of the house as much as possible until then, we were planning several camping trips and a road trip to Denver. We had already begun packing up some boxes and moving them to the garage, which had a humidity level in the normal range since it was on a concrete slab.

On May 2 the situation took a dramatic turn when we discovered more mold, this time on an interior wall. The musty scent had become unrelenting in recent days with warmer daytime temperatures. A call to our landlord included she and us mutually agreeing that we needed to be out of the home immediately due to health concerns.

Scheduling a Move and Moving in 7 Days

Having been minutes away from retrieving the trailer for a camping trip when the mold was discovered on May 2, we immediately sat down and plotted out a plan. Obviously, we ditched the camping trip. Instead we began moving everything from the master bedroom, closets, and bathroom to the hallway, living and dining rooms. Our last night’s sleep was in our bed, now in the dining room.

Monday, May 3:

    • Visited the City RV Park to reserve four nights initially. Then added 11 more.
    • Pulled Tranquility the Trailer from RV storage to the RV Park.
    • Moved essentials into the trailer.
    • Packed boxes.
    • Began calling for a storage unit. Nearing the end of the university school year, both storage and movers are often difficult to find on short notice.
    • Searched for a moving company.
    • Steve set up a P.O. Box at the post office and mail forwarded.

Tuesday, May 4:

    • Exchanged calls and emails with storage companies and movers.
    • Packed boxes.

Wednesday, May 5:

    • Movers scheduled for Saturday morning at 9am.
    • Storage unit available beginning the morning of May 8, which was moving day.
    • Packed boxes.

Thursday, May 6:

    • Packed boxes.
    • Steve staged the garage to make it easier for the movers.

Friday, May 7:

    • Moved the trailer to Jeremy & Michelle’s driveway to “mooch-camp” because the RV park had already booked reservations for WSU graduation weekend.
    • Moved the archives and some fine art to Jeremy and Michelle’s basement.
    • Steve called the storage unit company confirming that the current storage tenant would in fact be out in the morning. Yes, the tenant would vacate the unit.
    • Packed boxes.

Saturday, May 8:

    • Movers arrived at 9 a.m.
    • Couldn’t sign the lease or SEE the storage unit until Saturday at 9 a.m.
    • Diane arrived at the storage unit company, signed paperwork, and was assured that the prior tenant had vacated the unit.
    • Diane drove across town to the storage unit only to find a lock on the door. The previous tenant hadn’t vacated. 
    • Frustration was vocalized by Diane. She and Steve exchanged places. Scrambling ensued. Storage company located tenant. He moved his car from the storage. A fluid spill was cleaned by the storage company. 
    • Steve purchased protective sheets for the floor due to potential seepage of cleaners used on fluid spill.
    • Within an hour, the movers unloaded the household into storage. They were diligent in wrapping the furniture, loading, and unloading. Needless to say, we have contracted with them to move the household from storage to the townhouse in July.
    • Later that evening we finished clearing the house of any other last minute belongings.

Sunday, May 9:

    • Enjoyed brunch and a relaxed visit with Jeremy and Michelle plus a call with Stephanie for Mother’s Day.
    • Moved the trailer back to the City RV Park for an 11-day stay.
    • Finished moving the last of the household to storage.

Monday, May 10:

    • Cleaned the home except for the carpets. Wanted to avoid dispersing any additional mold or mildew spores into the air.
    • Climbed into bed exhausted from this wildly intense move.
    • It was nice to officially be out of that house!

Thankfully, we’ve been able to cover many expenses due to the last month’s rent, part of May’s rent, and deposit refunds from the landlord.

The Two-Month Interim Period

Fortunately, we’re in a position to be fairly flexible. Last week we worked through the calendar leading up to our July move into the townhouse and put together an itinerary. With the increased popularity of camping since the pandemic hit, it’s become quite the exercise in securing a campsite reservation, especially with short notice.

Over the interim, we’ll camp at Pullman’s City RV Park as part of five different stays.  We view these as “stay-cations”. We also have reservations at Dworshak State Park in Idaho and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington. We’ll make a 17-day trip without the trailer to Denver. It will be such a relief to finally see our Denver family. Thankfully we’ll position ourselves back at the City RV Park to provide extra ease in getting into the townhouse.

We count our blessings for Tranquility the Trailer and having Spring as a good camping season. We now feel relaxed. The lack of stuffy sinuses, the cessation of minor headaches, and more restful sleeps, remind us why we needed to leave the home. We now feel relaxed. This little abode-on-wheels feels like a natural for us having been home for the better part of two years when we were full-time RVing.

“Life is a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Onward to adventuring we go!

Diane & Steve

2020 Annual Holiday Greetings

December 14, 2020

Greetings from Pullman, Washington!

We hope this greeting finds you remaining healthy during 2020, an unprecedented time during our lifetime. Here we are in the midst of holidays, as several faith traditions observe deeply meaningful remembrances and touchstones. May your observances bring you hope, comfort, love, and joy! For us, our creche is displayed with the Holy Family anticipating the arrival of Christ. Our New England Christmas village is on display. In place of a Christmas tree, we have decorated a priceless, 125 year-old, weathered, wood-crafted, porch column from the farmhouse that Diane’s great-grandfather Patterson built in 1895. It’s donned with an artificial pine bough, a strand of lights, and 20 ornaments!

As many of you know, we are fairly new residents of Pullman, Washington. During the first two weeks of March, we were enjoying Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona along with a special visit from Texas friends for a few days. Soon after they left and we were able to seek out reliable Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage, we read breaking news that COVID-19 cases were increasing. The next morning we learned that state park campgrounds were closing in New Mexico immediately. It became quickly evident that we needed to consider whether to continue full-time RVing or to hit the pause button.

Our “Unforgettable 2020” Photo Collage:
– Stephanie & Shane on a Colorado hike.
– Jeremy & Michelle on a Pullman walk.
– Steve & Diane and the last campsite  as full-time RVers.
– An Easter Zoom chat with the six of us “sheltering-in-place”.

Here’s our 2020 rendition of our annual greetings! Perhaps Diane has too much time on her hands?!

A: Archives are where you’ll find Diane working on projects these days. One project is transcribing her Dad’s letters home while stationed during the Korean War in Japan and Korea. Another is creating family Google albums to readily share with family. Diane will not run out of projects as a family historian and photographer! She also is the primary poster to Instagram highlighting travels, photos, memories, and life. She plans the menus and puts together shopping lists.  Apps make aspects of our life easier, especially ordering groceries through Walmart and Safeway.

B: Baking is what Steve enjoys between baking biscotti or cookies. It’s perfect for the Cookie Monster tendencies that we both have. Steve LOVES working the daily New York Times Crossword or their Spelling Bee, while sipping coffee and having a biscotti. He’s a master at making pancakes on our portable Coleman griddle or yummy dinners on the grill. He keeps the coffee brewing! Steve’s taken the Chief Financial Officer role for our household. He is our home barber and stylist, wielding clippers, shears, and thinning shears! Diane’s last hair salon visit was in February in Tucson, Arizona.

C: COVID-19 speaks for itself with the loss of life, numbers of cases, agonizing impact on families, schools, workplaces, hospital systems, industries. Curbside, drive-thru, or walk-up options for grocery shopping and some other services enable us to stay safe in Pullman. We rely on on-line ordering and delivery for items that we’re unable to purchase locally. Coffee! Formerly spending oodles of time in coffee shops across the country as a place to make travel plans, write, and edit photos, we make coffee an essential part of our morning routine and sometimes afternoons too.

D: Downsizing has resumed. It’s what we have done for 12 years! Gulp! The goal is to use this time to reduce the size of our household again. You never know, we could put things in storage and RV full-time again! Plus it will position us to be able to move to a smaller abode should we opt or need to do so.

E: Essential workers across industries are our 2020 heroes who give tirelessly of themselves:  Thank you so much! Election 2020. Ahem…it’s been a journey for everyone, no matter one’s political leaning.

F: Faith in Our Creator’s agape love! We cling to our faith despite not being affiliated with a church. Families, we admire you as you juggle work, home, teaching your children or partnering with teachers, and keeping your family safe! Our Ford F350 truck gets very little use, doesn’t fit in the garage due to its height, takes up our part of the shared driveway with the neighbors, and awaits towing the trailer.

G: Grief has grabbed our hearts this year with the passing of family and friends. We experienced grief at having to quickly shift gears to Plan B to shelter-in-place and then Plan C to hang-up-the-keys on full-time RVing. On March 18, we began cancelling 52 stays, some with family and friends, already reserved for our carefully planned 12-month tour. We are deeply grateful for the 22 months where we traveled full-time in our RV. It was a dream come true and one of life’s highlights!

H: Hope sustains us as humanity moves through so much pain to hopefully a better tomorrow. Hospitality was graciously extended by Barb & Joel so we were able to shelter-in-place at her Denver-area home for 52 days (March 18-May 9) during their winter stay at his Alabama home. Hiking was SO much fun in Arizona from January through mid-March. Cattail Cove State Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, Picacho Peak State Park, Tonto National Forest, and Kartchner Caverns State Park provided many amazing trails and fantastic campsites. Since June, in the Palouse Region, we have hiked at Washington State University’s Arboretum, Moscow Mountain, Paradise Ridge, Kamiak Butte, and Heyburn State Park, all among gorgeous stands of trees native to Washington and Idaho.

I: Idaho is the state where we spent our last full-time stay for a week at an RV park in Moscow, just 10 miles from Pullman. We had two Idaho camping trips in September with four days in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest near Headquarters and a week at Heyburn State Park near Plummer. Instagram keeps us connected around the globe: family, friends, other RVers, other photographers, and other travel writers.

J: JEREMY AND MICHELLE probably never saw the day coming that we would live less than a mile’s walk from them again! The last time was when all six of us lived in Batavia, Illinois. The four of us adhere to a buddy bubble, which gives us the safety to gather for coffee, a meal, and conversation most Saturdays. With both of them working at home, it’s been easier to have a buddy bubble. We gathered on their deck or our yard until the autumn temperatures changed. Now we meet in our living rooms. We had our first Thanksgiving ever with Michelle this year and the first in many years with Jeremy. Christmas Eve will be at our home and we’ll have a Zoom chat with Stephanie and Shane over Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza (shipped from the Chicago area). Christmas will be at Jeremy and Michelle’s. We have joy as we welcomed a beautiful grand-niece, Jordyn Rose, to Diane’s side of the family this year. She’s a cutie based on the photos we receive!

K: Kindness can be so contagious! We bought t-shirts that have Be Kind printed on them. Eric of Clumsy Crow Baking welcomed us to Pullman with some fresh baked bread. The staff at Roost Coffee greet us at their walk-up window with hellos and welcome to Pullman. Joanna, the director of Neill Public Library, greeted us with an exchange of emails and recently a quick masked hello when she brought us our book at walk-up check-out. Our new medical providers and dental office, our credit union, and State Farm insurance agency have all extended kind words of welcome.

L: Love one another as faith traditions place love at the center of life! Living Life with Love, Laughter, and Lifting one another up! There are so many needs in our world. We pray that each one of us is in a position to brighten the lives of others.

M: Moving during a pandemic isn’t recommended, but we had no other option. We know of numerous people who opted to make moves to place themselves in a better situation. Thankfully we had the support and encouragement from Jeremy, Michelle, Stephanie, and Shane during the rapid, two-day decision-making process. More details are in our blog! We miss our family & friends terribly! Memories abound of visits with so many dear ones and of the country’s beauty as we traveled with our trailer. Moonlit nights and unsurpassed star-filled skies while camping in Arizona were magnificent.

N: Our “new” abode is a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1-car garage condo built in 1979 with 1,500 square feet. We are renting, which includes lawn care and snow removal. NO, we don’t miss caring for the lawn. Although clearing the truck of snow is another story!

O:: OOO for hugs! Online commencements for our nieces were a way to celebrate with them!

P: Peace lessens anxiety as we strive for a better tomorrow! We ask for prayers for loved ones dealing with ongoing health concerns, financial challenges, and difficult decisions. Pullman has been a wonderful place to land. As we traveled the country, we tried to envision where we might live for a spell or longer. Over the seven years of visiting Jeremy and Michelle in Pullman, this community felt like a perfect place! We are situated in the Palouse Region in Southeastern Washington. It’s 10 miles west from Idaho, 70 miles north from Oregon, and 200 miles south from the Canadian border. The Rocky Mountains in Idaho have the Clearwater Mountain Range, a 15-mile drive from us.

Q: Quietness seems to be part of our daily routine as we get absorbed in our activities. Perhaps full-time RVing prepared us for this time at home.

R: Reading brings us joy whether books, e-books, the local newspaper, news apps, emails, etc.. Resilience strengthens humankind as we adapt in the face of adversity during this pandemic.

S: STEPHANIE AND SHANE are in Denver busy working and living along bustling University Boulevard. They try to get away from the sounds of the city and their sixth floor apartment for walks, hikes, or mountain getaways. We last saw them on July 30 when they came to our campsite at Chatfield State Park in Littleton, Colorado, the night before we returned to Pullman with our household. We miss them and Steve’s Mom Lois greatly. We look forward to when we can travel to Denver. Smiles sure beat frowns. Keep smiling, even behind your mask to reveal your beautiful smilin eyes!

T: Tranquility the Trailer is parked in RV storage awaiting 2021 camping in the Pacific Northwest and perhaps a trip to Colorado. It sure looks lonely, but it’s in good company with other rigs.

U: U-Haul helped with our umpteenth move! We retrieved our household on a 10-day self-contained trip with the trailer to Denver in late July. Using the truck, the trailer, and a 20’ U-Haul, the rest of our belongings moved to Pullman. University communities usually are a welcomed buzz of activity. Here, Washington State University resumed with on-line classes this fall. There has been no buzz of activity.

V: Vaccines are coming for COVID-19! Today was the first vaccination in the U.S. We patiently await our turn, as it’s important for essential workers and those folks most vulnerable to receive vaccines first.

W: Walks most days take us around Pullman with its four large hills. Leaving our home, we either go up or go down. Pullman has a great sidewalk system, paved trails, and quaint footpaths along hillsides.

X: XXX for kisses! X for how we criss-cross a street when we want to socially distance.

Y: Yellow blossoms covered the hills of our Palouse Region this June. Known for lentils, canola, wheat, etc., the rolling hills of the Palouse are gorgeous! We had a yellow tinge to our atmosphere for a week in September due to hazardous air quality from wildfire smoke coming from California, Oregon, and Washington. Atop our tree is our yellow felt star that we made for our first Christmas in 1976!

Z: Zoom has been a life-line to having video chats with family, friends, and Diane’s taking Clan McLennan webinars. Let us know if you would like to have a Zoom chat too! It’s easy to do!

May you find FAITH, HOPE, PEACE, LOVE, JOY and KINDNESS today and in 2021!

Our love to you and yours,

Diane & Steve

Trip to Denver: Household Retrieved

While we had settled into the condo as best we could by the end of May, we needed to keep our sights on a trip to Denver. As mentioned in prior posts, the bulk of our household left from our 2018 downsizing was in climate-controlled storage with CubeSmart in the Denver area. It would take easily ten days to make the trip and move out of the storage unit.

Our first step was to discern the size of a moving truck i.e. U-Haul or Penske that we would ultimately need. Diane revisited the household inventory list and photos of numbered boxes. One of the reasons we rented a climate-controlled space was because of family heirlooms, artwork, archives, and photos that were more sensitive to temperature extremes. Some of these items would ideally ride back to Pullman, Washington in either the backseat of our air conditioned pickup or in Tranquility the Trailer, which is nicely insulated. While our CubeSmart unit was 10 feet X 10 feet, we hadn’t packed it to the ceiling. 

Next we confirmed with our daughter, Stephanie, and son-in-love, Shane, in Denver, their availability later in the summer. Steve began to research moving truck rentals based on dates. We estimated that we would need at most a 20 foot U-Haul truck with an “attic” over the cab of that truck. Bingo! Steve had some dates for us to consider.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we weren’t keen on staying in hotels, eating in restaurants or fast-food places, or using public restrooms. Instead, it made good sense for us to travel with our trailer in order to remain self-contained. This decision led Diane to reserving campsites for ten days. The key reservation was for the Denver area. There aren’t many options for camping except at two state parks. Both are extremely popular and weekends especially, book a year in advance. We were in a unique situation where between our truck and trailer combo, we are 53 feet in length. AND, we wanted to fit the 20 foot U-Haul in our pull-through site. Nabbing a reservation for a four-night stay at Chatfield State Park outside of Littleton, Colorado, beginning on a Monday and leaving on a Friday, worked out well. Using Google maps’ satellite view, Diane was able to locate a campsite to easily accommodate all three vehicles. 

For the trip down and back, we opted to reserve sites at KOA campgrounds. Especially along this particular route, we’ve stayed at several KOAs before. Reaching out to each KOA by phone first was helpful. A caveat to our return trip would be traveling with an additional vehicle. We needed to ascertain if there was an overflow parking area where the U-Haul could be parked without incurring additional fees. A few phone calls later, we had reservations in Butte, Montana; Buffalo, Wyoming; and Cheyenne, Wyoming going to Denver. On our return we only stayed in Buffalo and Butte. The fantastic news was both of their KOAs had an overflow lot where we could park the U-Haul at no charge.

Steve reserved the U-Haul for a one-way trip from Denver to Pullman. For the distance, we could have the truck for five days. We knew that the truck needed to be unloaded and returned to the U-Haul in Moscow, Idaho on Monday, August 3. It meant that we’d have to really push ourselves on our return to Washington, but we were open to that plan. Our trip schedule was finally determined, leaving on Friday, July 24 and returning to Pullman, on Sunday, August 2.

Leaving Pullman, Denver Bound

The trip to Denver was non-eventful. Although the best part was being back on the road, towing the trailer, and watching the beautiful landscape unfold across Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Our stay in Cheyenne, Wyoming was a perfect pause. On Monday, we were able to time our arrival through Denver to avoid the glut of afternoon traffic.

The Tobacco Root Mountain Range of Montana in the distance.
The Bighorn Mountain Range near the Montana & Wyoming Border.
A pause for bathroom break provided this view of the Big Horns in Wyoming!

On Tuesday we drove to CubeSmart storage and began our work of dismantling the archive shelves, packing loose items into boxes, and loading items that could ride back to Pullman in the trailer. 

Prep work included breaking down shelving and packing up loose items.
We’re organized and ready for loading in the morning!
Our photo collection & albums were stored in the antique cupboard.
We filled cubbies and closets in the Trailer with heat sensitive and fragile items.

Fortunately, the weather was nice so that we could take walks at Chatfield State Park on two evenings. We’ve stayed here on numerous occasions and love the setting.

This familiar view greeted us at Chatfield State Park, Colorado with Chatfield Reservoir and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
We enjoyed a couple of evening walks at Chatfield. The trails are near the campground.

On Wednesday evening we picked up the U-Haul truck. We immediately drove to Stephanie and Shane’s apartment building where Steve, Steph, and Shane moved the sofa, loveseat, and two lamps. The apartment manager gave them permission to hold the elevator in order to get two loads down to ground level. Whew! 

Early risers! We were masked and at CubeSmart Storage early on Wednesday morning ready to tackle more organizing and moving smaller items to the trailer.
After getting the 20′ U-Haul, we drove to Steph and Shane’s high-rise apartment building in Denver.
Using the elevator, Steve, Shane, and Stephanie brought down furniture to the U-Haul.
The sofa and loveseat were a challenge in the elevator! Whew! We were grateful for everyone’s muscles.

Thursday morning had us up early so we could arrive at storage by 7am. We sensed that a Thursday wouldn’t be as busy as weekend days, plus the earlier the better to avoid as many other people as possible. We were worker bees for five hours. Diane rolled carts to and fro while Steve loaded the carts and unloaded them into the U-Haul. We were two very exhausted “puppies” by the end of the day.

Up early again, we were at CubeSmart to load the U-Haul.
And, the U-Haul is packed! It took us five hours. Thankfully there are elevators and dollies.
And, the pickup truck bed is packed!
And, the backseat of the pickup truck is loaded.

The toughest part of this trip from an emotional standpoint was not getting to have the typical time we so enjoy with our family due to COVID-19 and respectfully taking precautions. We were able to have several visits with Steve’s Mom over morning coffee and lunch. Seated apart on her driveway with her in the garage worked out. Stephanie and Shane came to our campsite at Chatfield State Park on the last evening. It was nice to share a meal with them and have conversation. Yet still, it wasn’t enough!

Stephanie & Shane joined us at our campsite for dinner.

Up at the crack of dawn, we set off just at sunrise. Steve drove the U-Haul truck. Diane drove the truck-trailer combo. Despite trying to avoid traffic, we ended up in the thick of it for an insane stretch AND the sunrise was right in our eyes. Yet, once we shifted from I-70 and were a few miles north on I-25, the traffic seemed to settle into a manageable pace.

Up at 5am and off we go at 5:30 from Chatfield State Park.

The drive to Buffalo made for a VERY long day. We tried to switch driving vehicles for 60 miles or so, but Diane’s back wasn’t pleased. Needless to say, Steve had quite the ride with the U-Haul, which struggled on inclines, had no cruise control, and when the engine RPM increased, the air conditioner decreased.

Late that afternoon we arrived at Buffalo KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Two more long days with a night in Butte, found us back in Pullman on Sunday afternoon. Once Jeremy and Michelle knew that we were at home, they immediately drove over to lend their support. In about an hour’s time, they completely unloaded the U-Haul and helped Steve with the pick-up bed. 

We took plenty of stretch breaks across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
We arrived home, taking up 80′ along the street curb.
Let the unloading begin!
Jeremy & Michelle completely unloaded the U-Haul in less than an hour’s time!

Aww! Now we’ve become fairly settled. We will let the COVID-19 pandemic play out, hopefully with good health and a future vaccine we can resume travels to visit family, friends, and special places in the U.S.

In the meantime, be well. And, if we encourage you to Subscribe so that you’ll receive an email notification when we have a new blog post.

Diane & Steve

Living Life at the Speed of Sanity….even in one place!