And the road goes on forever...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beachcombing Days at an End

We thought we might have the chance to extend our seaside stay here in Florence, where we’ve enjoyed great weather this past month but plans changed on a dime yesterday. The job offer Marc has been working on finally came in so very soon we are Wisconsin-bound! Yup, just in time for winter, ha! 

Actually, the company said they would like to see Marc be able to start within two weeks but that is cutting things awfully tight given that we need to return to Bend to pick up some of our stuff there and then make the 1200 mile drive to Yuma to further pack some things and thence 2000 miles to Wisconsin. We had hoped there might have been time to handle totally dealing with Yuma and getting it on the market this year but that’s just not going to be possible. As it is, it will require Marc to make two quick trips;, the first with the rig and my car and as much as we can stuff into the RV, then he will fly back out to Yuma, pick up the Dodge and his cargo trailer filled with household goods and tools and then make the return drive to Stevens Point, WI. 

Stevens Point sits approximately in the middle of the state and is a bucolic town of 25,000 on the banks of the Wisconsin River. It is a four year university town with good services, down-home 1800’s brick beauty, the Point Brewery, a flavorful farmer’s market, and a pleasant mix of vintage and new housing. The company has indicated they can provide temporary housing for as long as we need in the form of an unfurnished two bedroom, two bath apartment with a garage and all appliances, including washer and dryer, so we will likely rent that to begin with. It is nearby in the village of Amherst, the location of Marc’s new office.
Blog posts could be few and far between for awhile since we will be so pressed for time and also without dependable internet connection. Off to a new life; it all starts tomorrow.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Marc has managed to luckily hit some fairly good clamming tides here in Florence so often goes out to get his limit. There is a very small state park wayside off a side road where he is mostly the only one clamming so it doesn’t take him long to get his daily limit. It’s just south across the lovely Florence Bridge and one foggy morning I accompanied him to take some pictures. Old Town Florence sits right across the bay.
The clam species here is Little Necks and they are much smaller than what we are used to digging in Coos Bay; but the upside of this is that they are much faster and easier to clean. More than likely they will also be tenderer. Clams freeze extremely well, lasting a long time due to their water and salt content I would suspect, so we are not eating them right now but putting them away in our freezer. These are not available in retail stores so the only way you get them is to do the work of harvesting them yourself. 

There is a definite art and trick to digging clams and if you see someone on their hands and knees doing it, that ain’t it! (As the gentleman in the background here is doing; he’s the little red spot behind Marc.) For reasons inexplicable to us, we see many who dig clams who never seem to get the hang of it despite how often they do it.
After clamming, we stopped by Old Town to visit the crab shack on the dock. Since we’ve had no luck catching crab we decided to splurge and buy two. We overpaid for a couple of thick live beauties, stopped by the farmer’s market to pick up some fresh vegetables and the most delicious tomatoes I’ve had in years, then went home to prepare our feast. Wow, was that good!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Heceta Head Lighthouse

On a splendidly clear morning here at the coast earlier this week, finding no fog upon awakening, we decided to take a little drive up Hwy. 101 and visit the local lighthouse. It is a short half mile walk uphill to view the lightkeeper’s house and a little farther along, the lighthouse itself.
The views were superlative; the ocean the calmest we have probably ever seen it, the smells sublime, and the exercise felt good. The lightkeeper’s house is currently used as a B & B so was not open for touring but towered prominently on a knoll affording a gorgeous view out to sea. It would have been a unique setting for life in the early 1900’s, although the trip into Florence was a day away by wagon.
We were there just before tours of the lighthouse started but we enjoyed the views and the fresh air coming off the sea. There are several large sea rocks which support rookeries, so there was a constant loud display of bird life.
From there we continued on in leisurely fashion to Waldport, checking out another RV park which didn’t interest us. We grabbed some deli sandwich fixings and then had lunch at a small pebble beach in Yachats on our way back to Florence. The ocean had remained calm and the wind was mild—altogether just the most gorgeous day we have experienced in ages.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For

Many fulltime RVers write that their plans are set in Jell-O and so it seems to go with us as well, even though we really don’t do all that much traveling beyond work-related trips. In my last blog I had written that we were attempting to purchase a lot in Florence but that in our heart of hearts, if not for winters, we really would love to live in Wisconsin. 

Remember what I’ve said previously about being careful what you wish for?

Out of the blue, Marc was contacted by a former work associate who heads up a large central Wisconsin firm. He led Marc to believe that they are searching for a possible Construction Manager to oversee their commercial division and he was fishing as to whether Marc might possibly have any interest. Given that this is a very stable firm and offers career positions, this took about a nano-second to decide. The firm was actually one of the subcontractors that Marc used when he did the Stevens Point assisted living project back in ’05.That’s quite awhile for them to remember him! 

Well, of course we said “YES!” 

Meanwhile, back here on the home front, some issues had cropped up on the lot during our seven day contingency inspection period. They were surmountable--“probably”, but had the potential to be very inconvenient and costly to us later. Given the recent development with that phone call out of the blue, we deemed it prudent to cancel our contract while we could still receive our deposit back. 

We are now in a holding pattern. We’re hopeful Marc will get some encouraging news from Wisconsin although there was no indication as to any kind of time frame that could be involved. It’s not a move we’d want to make in the dead of winter, that’s for sure! 

Even if nothing develops we’re glad we stepped back from the Florence purchase. There are other areas along Oregon’s coast we want to also investigate a little more fully and we’ve decided it also wouldn’t hurt to wait until we get our property in Yuma sold. More money always equals more flexibility in choices and we have the advantage of being able to store our stuff in our sea container on my mom's property for as long as it would take us to find another place. 

Meanwhile, we continue to have relaxing, salt-air filled days in this most beautiful place!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Beginning of New Roots—Life at the Beach

We left Bend for greener pastures at the Oregon coast about a week ago, to continue with our property search and to do some crabbing and clamming and general relaxation. We’re settled into Pacific Pines RV Park, a quiet place just off Hwy. 101 in the city of Florence. We decided to try here first so signed on for at least a month’s stay. 

I’ve carried on a marathon city-search in various states looking for a “forever home” as they like to say about foster children and animal shelter pets. Long ago I came to the conclusion that there is no perfect place, there are only lesser degrees of evils and better tolerance of some qualities of life offered by one place over another. Climate seems to be the major stumbling block to many locations we could have considered; not that all would agree with our choice of the Oregon coast as being an ideal climate! If we had a better tolerance of hard-core cold and snow we would have moved to Wisconsin in a heartbeat as we enjoyed our year there and the quality of life offered in the small villages better than anyplace we have ever been. 

Given my elderly mother however, we deemed it necessary to try and remain as close to her as we could. Despite the meltdown in pricing through the Great Recession, Oregon still remains a relatively expensive place to purchase property, so it’s been no easy task. We’ve always enjoyed the Oregon coast and all that there is to do here. Though rainy and windy, the temperatures remain some of the mildest in the entire nation. Since moving to Arizona we’ve particularly missed the availability of fresh seafood whenever we wanted. 

The coast in particular seems to have a minimum level of pricing just beyond our reach for anything suitable for our needs, which means “space”. Lots here are fairly small; communities are often restricted, gated, or bearing a burden of HOA rules and fees. We don’t fit into that mold in the least; we determined we needed the minimum amount of CCR’s possible and we needed at least a half acre, all usable lot, not something hung on a hillside offering no parking room for all our various rolling stock. In addition, we were looking for zoning that would allow both stick-built or manufactured housing since we don’t know what we will ultimately have money for, and allowed generous RV parking and hookups on the same lot.

I had made contact with a very experienced Realtor in this area before leaving Bend because one foreclosure in particular had caught my eye. That particular property did not prove worthwhile but at least it led us to a general area we both just loved. Called Ocean Woodlands, just beyond the city limits of Florence and cradled in the towering shore pines and thick rhododendron forest just before the shoreline dunes and open ocean, are actually several small subdivisions with a pleasant mix of well kept homes and manufactured homes and shops. Some even allow permanent RV parking. The streets are winding, well maintained by the county, and hardly trafficked. The area has a community water system, high speed cable internet, but no sewer system as yet so all lots require special septic systems. It’s rural in feeling yet within five minutes of Fred Meyer and the main drag Hwy. 101.
Quick diligence on the part of our Broker led him to find a newly listed ideal property. By the time Marc and I had a chance to check it out the following day however it already had an offer working on it. That didn’t deter us from making an offer and with two offers vying for the Seller’s attention; somehow we managed to come out Top Dog. We are set to close escrow later this month if all goes well with our due diligence of the septic inspection and information. The lot is so overgrown with coastal vegetation that probably only one third of it is cleared and available to use right now so it can’t be determined exactly where the drain field sits without driving to Eugene (county seat) for the plats. 

Currently there is a 1997 park model trailer that has been set up and used as a nightly rental connected to all utilities on the lot which actually will prove a huge advantage to us. This will save at least $15,000 in development costs over the bare lots with utilities only in the street. Another advantage is that it allows friends and family to stay there immediately after we close escrow since the trailer will come all furnished right down to furniture, bed linens, dishware, etc. Later of course, we will pull it off and offer it for sale—it’s a cute two bedroom featuring a dishwasher and washer and dryer. It’s the kind of park model which can be towed by a normal truck.
This lot being a flag lot, or what they call a panhandle lot here (meaning accessed by a driveway and sitting behind another parcel, putting if off the street), along with the thick vegetation makes it totally and securely private. We will literally not see another home or neighbor despite our neighbor in the front being such a beautiful home. And yes, another important factor for me—we hear the ocean from the lot. In fact, Heceta Beach is only about half a mile walk away! (big smile)
Florence is a small town filled with lots of retirees and older folks but Marc is already making inroads into finding the best clamming and crabbing sites from the locals. The Siuslaw River flows out to the sea here and the community has a small historic Old Town and beautiful bridge at its core. One of the reasons we choose Florence is due to its better access to the Willamette Valley towns; it’s only a little over an hour on Hwy. 126 to Eugene and I-5. I will be writing more about the community in future posts.

Right now we’re just thrilled, hopeful all goes well with the closing, and looking forward to this new adventure and undertaking. We won’t actually do much with the lot this season since we need to leave the coast by mid-September and it will take some major excavation work with equipment to clear sufficiently for us to get our rig into it, so all that will have to wait for next year.