And the road goes on forever...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Or should I say: happy Hallo-moon...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Does This Look Cold?

It didn’t seem that long ago that I was sitting in my lawn chair in the dry camping parking lot at Ft. Lewis soaking up the warm 80 degree sunshine and marveling that we had enjoyed such nice weather in Washington. Now look at it! Overnight temps are frequently in the mid 30’s and we have come to expect rain on three days out of four. It has slowed work on the duplex tremendously but Marc is finally tackling the roof. Fall is showing her last vestiges.

I have taken to walking a country lane just down the road from the Eagles Lodge. It’s quiet with no traffic but I did spot an interesting piece of property for sale so checked on it. It’s 4.5 acres listed for $63,000 which seemed reasonable until I checked the property tax rate, which was a whopping $3950. Given this piece is undeveloped with any utilities or improvements, not even a fence, I was quite amazed. Maybe we don’t want Washington property. Just down from this piece is a very nice field (at least 20 acres) with an old barn. I can only imagine what taxes must be like on that! I remember owning homes where the mortgage payment wasn’t as much as what many properties tax bill now runs a month. In fact, there’s just something downright wrong with that equation isn’t there?

Monday, October 26, 2009

This and That

Buckley, WA where we are now located, sits below the towering volcano, supposedly below the snow line and above the fog. Somehow that hasn’t seemed to impact the rain however. This town of only 4500 is strung out along Highway 410; a highway which continues its way into Mt. Rainier National Park and on over the pass east to the Yakima Valley. That portion of the highway is closed right now however due to a massive landslide.

Buckley is a heritage town, meaning it was formed in territorial days, 1888, with the primary enterprises of a railroad siding and timber. Once timber was depleted, the area became heavily agricultural which seems to be the main business today as well. The compact downtown two blocks are filled with a few formerly resplendent buildings and small shops, three of which surprisingly happen to be photographers. Who would have thought there would be such a need for photographers in such a small town? Upon exploration I came across one of those treasures you sometimes find, a combination thrift/antique store filled to the rafters with some great finds if only I had a house.

There is only a distance of four miles between Buckley and Enumclaw. Enumclaw is larger at 11,500 and the downtown has more of a presence and vibrancy to it. Its history is similar to Buckley’s from the same era, the mid 1880’s but always veered more towards the agricultural. A little known fact is that today the surrounding area serves as one of the largest thoroughbred horse-breeding and boarding areas in the United States.

Fall is a glorious time to enjoy the area. There is a marvelous walking pathway being developed called Rails to Trails which uses old railway beds for pathways. A walk around town brings me face to face with the most famous reason for Enumclaw’s existence—Mutual of Enumclaw. Who hasn’t heard of this insurance giant, housed in a rather drab smallish headquarters’ building on a side street? Despite the busy traffic, the downtown definitely reeks of small town America. It’s hard to keep a smile from my face as I walk around it with all the others, enjoying fall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Can You Tell We've Been Working (hard)?

My job is pretty much at a standstill until Marc gets more of his end of the carpentry finished. I stayed away the day he wore a professional level respirator mask to tear apart the laundry room which was filled with the black mold. He had to take it down to the slab foundation. It is amazing looking at the studs to see them so filled with the mold as to appear to be scorched from a fire. In addition, there was a thick coating of white cottage cheesy type mold—totally disgusting!

The culprit in this mess was a clogged dryer vent which was left to spew moisture and lint throughout the home (for years). The mold growing in this vent was an absolute horror show of contagion!

By now, the things that can be cleaned are cleaned; the baseboard, carpet and tack strips are ripped out; the cabinets, door and window trim are taped off ready for wall painting and Marc is waiting on some dry days to repair more of the carport roof. Once he rebuilds the laundry room he may have a sheet rocker in to repair that portion of the walls and we should be good to paint. The Freightliner did admirable double duty as a debris dumpster to the local land fill. Meanwhile, the apex of fall has arrived and is already going with all the wind and storms, so since I have the next few days off I hope to get some local color pictures up for my next post (if it stops raining long enough).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Autumn of Our Bodies

Oh, our bodies are aching from the sudden exertion we started expending yesterday in the clean-up of the duplex. We finally worked out the details with the owner and are moving forward on the project so we jumped in with both feet. Marc did a marvelous job on the windows by literally removing them all from their frames and washing them out in the rain on the lawn, blasting away the mold and crud. I have started tackling the stove but after one entire can of commercial strength Easy Off am still not sure if I will win the battle to save it. This is the before picture; you don’t even want to see inside the oven!

On a personal note, earlier in the week we enjoyed a marvelous time with our daughter and son-in-law home on leave from Afghanistan. Daughter determined Marc should show Brandon how to do the barbecued beer can chicken so the guys had fun attending to that. He has to return to duty again on Thursday so their time is precious and short. We hope she was able to put some meat on his bones; in three months in Afghanistan he lost 20 lbs.

The season here has been marvelously changing before our eyes. We’ve been quite stormy lately but the deep, dark cloud cover makes the oranges, golds and reds pop. I wish I had more pictures to share with you but we just haven’t taken the time for any fall drives. Maybe next time....

Saturday, October 10, 2009


My desktop automatically flashes a slideshow after my computer has sat dormant for 10 minutes. Since I have ten years of fulltime travel on it I sometimes watch my past life flash past—envious. Like the lead-in photo. In it we were sitting camped along a northern CA beach free boondocking spot which has since closed down (on New Year’s Day 2000). I remember the weak winter sunshine, needing a jacket, but oh so happy to be ocean side in the sunshine after leaving Bend’s snowy weather behind. My daughter Rachael took the pictures and caught me sublimely happy.

In some photos I look so much younger. Or so happy. And I remember what those times were like when the world still seemed out in front of us as it always does when one is productive. There are things to be accomplished and time is almost meaningless. It no longer does. I guess aging does that to ya.

I listen daily or worse yet, read, the reports about how this depression is just going to go on and on and on for the unemployed. They are still predicting 8.6% unemployment in 2012 and 2013 for Christ’s sake! Those of you who are employed have much less to worry about; at this point probably most of you will keep your jobs. But the prognosis for getting back to work for those unemployed is the worst it has ever been since 1934. We’re among that listing.

Even though my body says nearly 60, my mind says I am still capable of being a contributing member of society. After all, I hold a B.A. degree plus another two years beyond that in college credits—everything from teacher, to real estate, to medical terminology and I can get around on a computer and many folks tell me I can write! I’m dependable and I’m prompt. I have integrity. I can’t run a marathon like my friend Mark, but I’m not so out of shape that I can’t contribute a hard day’s physical work as I just proved with the WalMart remodel, keeping up with the 25 year olds I worked with. I like to think I keep conversant with world affairs—as a geography and travel aficionado I can probably name many more countries, capitals, rulers, and their internal strife than the average college student. I can drive a car fairly well, having traversed thousands of miles myself since I was 19 years old on long road trips, all I might add, without one single ticket in my entire life! My health, as far as I know, is still fine.

So why can’t I get a job? Why can’t I even be called to interview?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We arrive for a night at camping at Camping World to attend to the recall on our Dometic refrigerator, which is to occur the next afternoon. The Camping World in Fife has an excellent person in service by the name of Dave, who really knows his stuff. It's so refreshing to find a person who was a pleasure to deal with, intelligent on all matters regarding RVs, and seems to love his job. The service manager at the desk however, is another story entirely, spitting out “attitude” with a hardly concealed snarl. Since he has been this way every time we’ve talked to him (several occasions) we chalk it up to “his” problem and an obvious “he sure doesn’t like his job”! Seriously, if you are in the Seattle area and need help be sure and ask for the tech named Dave and know that you will be in trusted hands.

Later in the day we arrive at the Eagles Club in Enumclaw, our next temporary home. Unexpectedly, all their water/electric sites are full, so we get to pull into the back 40 lawn area next to a pretty little pond full of cattails and off to ourselves. We will dry camp here for three days until our spot becomes available. By joining Eagles for $58 we cut the cost of our site in half. For $5 more we’ll buy the book which lists all their RV parks throughout the United States and likely be able to save more in the future. Like many fraternal organizations like the Elks, they offer low cost campsites where they can.

We’re here making plans to help renovate that duplex for a few weeks. More to follow on that. On another note, we found out that our bedroom slide seal is falling apart. Normally this wouldn’t be too big of a deal—just order it from Travel Supreme. Well, Travel Supreme has been out of business for about a year now and we’re even having difficulty getting in touch with an independent firm who took over much of their service. They too could be out of business. So Marc has to scramble to try and find a vendor who sells this seal stuff before the rains begin.

Oh, one other thing: I’m also wearing two black eyes in case you have trouble recognizing me. We had gotten all set up and into evening and had the screen door open it was so nice and then the sun started shining in Marc’s eyes so I thought I would be nice and go out and close the door. The door latches at the bottom to the side of the trailer to hold it open and there is a basement compartment right behind it and Marc had that door opened. Well, the latch on the compartment doesn’t always hold and the door flips down from a hinged top. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this: no sooner did I unlatch the main door, bent over to do so, when the hinge compartment door heavily fell suddenly right on the bridge of my nose! Ow, I thought it had broken my nose! Despite icing it right away and being up half the night in pain, it did not mitigate the huge black eye on one side and the slightly smaller black eye on the other and a lump in my nose which makes me look like a Roman. So I’m a fine sight this morning! I told Marc it serves him right; now everyone can figure he beats me up! Actually, I told him he needs to get a gate latch that can’t come undone for that compartment door and he asked me if we didn’t already look enough like the Clampetts?