Monthly Archives: May 2015

Day 512 of Life on the Road as a Family

IMG_7674A lazy day with a fire by the river for Nate and I, while Eliza tried to finish up school and Dan took a long ride with a local group.  Nate and I are both pyro’s, so it was fun to finally get to burn real wood.  I read a complete novel and barely cooked = perfect.  The debris on the other side of this river is from the 2013 flood and it lines the banks of the Big Thompson for miles.

Only 75 days left until our adventure is over.  I want to get the kids home to their friends, but I also don’t want to lose them to our busy schedules again.  It has been such a blessing to do this trip, and while it’s been harder at times than I planned for, it was worth every discomfort to have this time together.

Live your dream.  We are.  It’s heaven.

Day 511 of Life on the Road as a Family!

IMG_7575Hiking up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday, Eliza and I stopped long enough to put our handprints in the snow for posterity!  It was a beautiful day and we were supposed to be studying, but when Dan and I woke up to sunshine, we knew we had to get the kids up quickly and drive the hour to our beloved Rocky mountains.  The road isn’t open all the way over until this Friday or Saturday, but we drove as far as we could, then parked and hiked up to almost 12,000 feet.  It was so hard to breathe!  I don’t remember having problems with the altitude 14 years ago, so we’re blaming it on age. The kids were fine.  We were all a little cold when the road was exposed, but when there was snow 11′ deep on the south side, we were protected from the wind and it was actually too hot.

IMG_7585This view was well worth the hike!  We didn’t stay long, however, because it was COLD.  Eliza and I needed hats, Nate needed gloves, and you would think Dan would need pants, but he was fine.  There were other crazy men hiking in shorts, too.  There were only 7 of us up here, but as we hiked down, more people were hiking up. They probably slept in.

IMG_7654We took a different way going back to the campground, kind of a back road out of Estes Park, through another canyon that flooded in 2013.  This stretch of road is actually good compared to most of it.  The flood washed away the road for miles, along with houses and businesses.  Only 9 people died this time because they had learned a huge, horrible lesson from the 1976 floods that claimed 114 lives.  Around this bend was a very old fireplace, sitting without a house, and we just couldn’t stop talking about what it would be like to live in this beautiful, remote canyon, and be at Mother Nature’s mercy.  Could we trade the peace and beauty for a road to bike on, groceries and wifi?  Probably not.  Our little car was covered with muck by the time we were done and Nate and I were so proud – off roading with a Fiesta, hilarious.  It was a long day exploring, but we’re so glad we woke the kids up early and headed out!

Day 505, Life on the Road as a Family

IMG_7512Dan & Eliza & Nate in front of the Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado.  We moved campgrounds today, from Greeley to one up the Big Thompson Canyon outside Loveland.  The kids and I said we should never say it can’t get worse, because this one has NO cell service – and we’re here for 2 weeks!  After we got set up and I walked the dogs to wear them out, we hopped into the car for the 23 mile drive up the canyon to Estes Park.  We’ve all been here before, but the kids were really young, so we have to show them around again.

The Stanley sits on a hill overlooking the cute little town of Estes Park.  Built in 1907 by a man who had to come west for his health, it’s famous for all the celebrities that visit, the conventions and weddings they hold, and more importantly to this Stephen King fan, it’s the location where he wrote The Shining.  Dan and I stayed here years ago, pre-kids, and left the heat up in our room overnight, which led to bad dreams for both of us.  Checking out, we told the clerk and he said it wasn’t the heat – we had been in room 217, where King wrote the book!  So fun.  They were holding a beautiful Mother’s Day brunch, but I didn’t want to sit still that long.  View of the Rockies was covered with white wispy clouds, but none of my pictures look good, darn.  Will definitely be back here someday!

Day 500, Life on the Road as a Family

IMG_7470This is a perfect picture for Day 500 – Nate lounging with Lady and Jessica!  They will never leave him alone, and if he uses Lady as a pillow, Jessica has to get closer.  We love having them along, even though they are occasionally a pain.

We didn’t do anything special to celebrate the day because I was flat on my back sick all day while the rest of them went to the library to do school.  I was going to make a special dinner, but ended up with an easy Cinco de Mayo mexican one.   It’s my 3rd  day back in Greeley, Colorado with my family, and it’s nice to be home.  Home, a 34′ RV, but when you’re family is there, that’s all that counts.  Including the dogs!

Day 497, Life on the Road as a Family, on my own

IMG_7398Dad & I took morning hikes along the Deschutes River outside Bend, Or.  It smelled so good and the water is so clean and clear – just heaven to spend time with him doing something we both love.  I grew up hiking behind Dad and Jeff, hearing the reply “it’s just around the next corner” every time I asked “how much further?”  This morning I didn’t ask; I could have hiked forever!

Day 493, Life on the Road on my own

IMG_7376My dear friend Laurie took me out to dinner at Chan’s to celebrate that I passed my real estate exams!  Both state and national!  So fun to get to catch up with someone who means so much to me.  We almost closed the place down, and no, we didn’t eat 1/2 of those huge dishes of food!

The proctors said they had never seen anyone so sick take the test, and they were very kind as I tried not to pass out as I worked online.  When I hit the button to find out if I passed, I paused and took a deep breath.  I had gone over everything 3 times, and had done the best I could do, but I NEVER wanted to take this test again, so I was praying that I passed.  I had guessed on 15/50 questions on the state test, and 18/80 on the national test, so I wasn’t feeling too confident.  The screen instantly flashed PASSED on both tests, and I sobbed.  Walking out to the proctors in the other room, they thought I was crying because I hadn’t passed, and then they printed out both test sheets.  I gasped when I saw that I had just passed the state one with a 75%, only to have one proctor direct me to my score in the next column- 50/50.  Whew.  On the national test I missed 5, but they couldn’t tell me which ones, so I am let loose in the real estate world not knowing what I think is right, but isn’t.   I am somewhat content to have passed, however.  Never again!

It’s a rotten test,  and I will work someday to get it to be representative of what you actually study to take the test, and what you will use as a broker. A little common sense would be nice for these real estate/financial field tests.  “Everyone” says it’s just a rite of passage to get to be a broker, but right/smight – don’t waste my time studying stuff unless you test me on it!  Very poorly written and left a bad taste in my mouth, which I will have to fix someday…

Day 492 of Life on the Road as a Family, but I went solo…

IMG_7359 This beautiful view of the Three Sisters and the rest of the Cascade Range greeted me as we flew into Redmond late Monday night.  My 6 hour flight from Denver to Redmond had turned into a 16 hour day of “please get me on a flight, I have to take a test tomorrow”.  The plane’s de-icer for the co-pilot’s seat had broken the day before, and the crews had been working since 1:30 a.m. to get it fixed.  Or so we were told.  Parts were to come in on another flight, United wouldn’t give the part to Alaska – it was all just a big mess.  I was already sick from not sleeping the week before – tornado warnings tend to keep you up – and then was nervous for taking my state and national test to get my real estate broker’s license.

Plus I had to leave my family that I had just spent 491 days with non-stop – that was the hardest part.  They didn’t go with me back home to Bend because I needed to concentrate on the test and interviewing real estate companies, the kids were still doing school each day, and the expense.  They all said that had they flown to Bend with me, they wouldn’t have wanted to leave, they are that ready to get home.  I had to remind them that we have one last summer together as a family, to hike and bike the southwest and enjoy our time together, before heading back to 2 careers and a new house and a huge routine again.  That made them feel a little better.

So the day was a long, crazy one.  I met many nice people along the way, including a new friend, Virgil, who saw me as I started crying, (knowing that I was missing my flight, connecting flight, and all that I had scheduled that day), and was kindness personified.  We spent the day watching each other’s bags, learning about each other’s families, and pulling other strangers into our new circle of friends.

My direct flight to Redmond was on a smaller plane, and I was sick the whole time.  My ears were plugged, my throat was sore, and after getting sick early on, I could barely hold my head up.  But when I walked down the steps into the clean Central Oregon air, I knew I was home and everything was going to be just fine.

Day 489 of Life on the Road as a Family,

IMG_7256It’s the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas!  We drove 322 miles this morning to get here in time to get our twine from the town library and add it to the ball.  It’s not quite what I expected, but it is HUGE and it smells great.  The website hasn’t been updated since 2012, that should have been my first clue.  We pulled into town and parked right across from it.  The little town was like a ghost town and so sad looking.  Boarded up buildings, broken windows, broken streets, and no one out and about on the main street.  I had contacted the lady in charge before we arrived, and since she was going to be out of town when we were there, she said she’d leave the twine for us at the library.  When Nate and I went walking through town to find the library, we stopped in at a beauty parlor, the only shop we could see that was open.  She said she thought the library was down the highway further.  Google Maps was telling me the same thing, but I didn’t believe it because we had just driven by and I didn’t see the library.

We found it right where it was supposed to be – a tiny sign indicated “Library” and a tinier sign said “closed”  Dan had driven like a maniac this morning, so we arrived too early for the library to even be open.  We went next door to City Hall and the two kind women called the lady in charge of the twine and she told them where it was in the library. While one went next door to get it, the other told me of the town’s dire circumstances due to the years long drought and how her husband was going to be furloughed soon.  His company was nice in that they continued to pay medical benefits for people, but they would have to do make do without his income.  We saw this in Oklahoma, too, and it makes my heart sick. Depending on Mother Nature to plant or bring in a crop is a tough way to live.

With twine in hand, Nate and I returned to the big ball and Dan tied on one end for Nate to tie the other, while Eliza tried to do her piece.  I had Jessica on a leash and ended up not putting the twine on – and I was the one who wanted to come here and do something so wacky!  Isn’t that always the way,  this Mom is last.  I’m going to change that…IMG_7281The best part of Kansas is the people, but these views are pretty good, too.  As far as the eye can see there are very small rolling hills and a big huge sky.  Really fun to drive this road.  I even got my hands on the steering wheel again and enjoyed the view the whole time.

IMG_7305Dan has been hyper vigilant about the weather while we’ve been in tornado country, so we switched our plans and headed to Goodland, Kansas.  While out walking the dogs I found this 60′ van Gogh painting and couldn’t believe my eyes.  They had more huge artwork around the little town, but the storm was getting closer, so I ran back to the rig.  The campground owner had a storm shelter in his basement and we were to go there if we needed to, but we lucked out once again and it went south of us.  Two tornado’s did touch down in Lucas, where we were going to stay.  So glad we changed our plans!