Tuesday, October 11, 2016

California to South Dakota

I couldn't get in the truck fast enough to escape the August heat of Palm Desert, we got a late start around 2pm and stopped for the night in Mesquite, 2nd stop was in Idaho Falls and we were ever so close to our friend Blas, and did connect by phone but too far for a body hug.

We found a brewery with vegan food walking distance from our dumpy little motel so we got to get out and explore a little bit. The next day we had a very long drive to C'oeur d'Alene but we were going to be stationary for 5 nights with good friends so it was worth it!

Good friends, Derrel and Pam, Texans have managed to meet us at some of our favorite places while traveling so I've really been able to call them my friends, as well. Cora and Mike were traveling this summer in their new rv from South Carolina. And Raz and Cathy we've visited both in C'oeur d'Alene but also in Depoe Bay. All of them had been in the Philippines together and shared many infamous memories. They were a super fun group and I just knew we'd have a great weekend. And we did!
Willie and Raz

I found this in the local liquor store
and it became the weekend drink!

We got there first and scored the cute little cabin with a spectacular view

Last time we were here we were still living in our big motorhome and couldn't make it all the way down to the lake. It was also in the 90's - Raz put in a 50amp hookup for us so we could plug in up the hill by his "shop" aka MAN CAVE, so we were set, but it was much more fun being where the action was down by the lake.

We were soon joined by the  remaining cast of characters and a fun time was had by all!
Thanks, Raz and Cathy, for hosting!!

From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump up to Hope, ID, where our friends from Baja - Ed, Elissa, and Kelly summered. Elissa owns the floating restaurant at the Marina and I've really wanted to get up there and check out the area. Elissa heard we were going to be in the area, only an hour away, and invited us up to join them. What a great town! We just spent a day, and a night - dinner at the restaurant was awesome, and she went out of her way to make sure we had some vegan options, and we just had to play pool in Ed's "man cave" with Kelly, or we couldn't even call it a visit! 

We left early the next day to begin the arduous drive to Rapid City, South Dakota. We recently changed our state of residency to South Dakota, and not only for tax purposes, although that was a huge part of it. We have not actually LIVED in the state of California since 2010, but have been paying taxes to that state as if we have. South Dakota is one of three states that are advantageous for nomads to live in. Not only does it have to do with the fact that they have no state taxes, but they have very good policies regarding jury duty, vehicle registration and sales tax rates make it super easy for us, as do Florida and Texas. The reason why we chose South Dakota is because the mail service we use in Mexico uses the mail-forwarding service, My Dakota Address in South Dakota, so we already had a South Dakota address and the service there was super helpful in registering our truck and to vote. We also had a lot of help from them figuring out all of the documents we needed to get our driver's licenses. That was the one thing we had to actually go there for. And we had to spend one night in the state - providing the DMV with a receipt from the motel. The DMV is quite used to us nomads and it only took about 10 minutes and 20 pieces of documentation and we walked out of there with our actual licenses!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Mom's birthday celebration

We had an uneventful journey down the state and delivered all of the antiques back to my parents. The next day I packed up my mom and with my angel of a husband watching my dad for two days, we set off for Los Angeles. My mom was born in LA and she still has a large majority of her family there, to say her favorite thing in the world is hanging with her family would be a large understatement. We spent two nights in Beverly Hills with good friends, Don and Anita; we spent lots of time with Justice and Lauryn, and I even think I was able to babysit for a couple of hours.

Mom and her cousin, Carl, one of her favorite people!!

Baby Justice looking like such a big boy at the table!

The little family

Mom's favorite, coconut cake.
The birthday girl!
Mom had a great time, and I'm just sorry I didn't get pictures of everyone who joined us - Cher, Don and Anita and Judy, Carl's wife. We left the next morning and while we traveled south, Bill was busy packing up the truck as we wanted to join in the Labor Day festivities being planned in C'ouer d'Alene by our friend Raz...Derrel and Pam, from Texas were joining us as well as Cora and Mike from South Carolina. Idaho is kind of on the way to South Dakota, right??!! Another one of our great ideas (NOT!) was to drive to South Dakota to get our driver's licenses. We had recently changed our residency to South Dakota, for tax reasons. Earlier in the year we had registered our truck there and now it was necessary for us to be licensed drivers in the state as well. Just why we thought it would be better to DRIVE there I cannot tell you...something about, oh, we'll go camp in Yellowstone, or some such nonsense....once we looked at the temps in the 30's that wasn't happening! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The best laid plans...

My mom's favorite saying to me as a kid, "man plans and god laughs," I've always been a planner - must give me some small feeling of being in control and I really worked hard to make sure we didn't have a summer like last summer, where we were on the road, crashing at friend's homes here and there, but even the best laid plans...

Not sure if I had mentioned it here or not, but last fall, right around this time, I found a great AirBnB in the Crestline Area (close to Lake Arrowhead in southern California). We wanted to be close to my daughter and grandson, in LA, but not be in LA...preferably something within an hour and a half so that I could drive down for the day, once a week, and help out my daughter with some babysitting. We had booked the place for 4 months and asked if they would put wifi in for us as the internet in the area totally sucks. They happily agreed since we were doing a long-term rental, we exchanged a few emails and I paid them the first months rent, plus fees - 10 months before we were to rent in June. Once we decided to build our little casita we realized we didn't want to be gone for so long and I asked them if I could change the rental to 3 months, starting July 1st. They agreed but asked if we could start it July 6th so they could rent it out over the holiday - not a problem, we were all good. Then in early June I got a message from AirBnB telling me that my reservation was cancelled, the reason being that the owners didn't want to put in the wifi. Well, our rental was not conditional on that fact and now, right before the summer, and less than a month before we were to leave, all of the rentals were twice as much, and guess, what, so was their place. They must have realized they could get a lot more for their rental at this point, so cancelled us. I couldn't find anything in the area we could afford so we started working on Plan B. We had a few friends reach out to us, through Facebook, offering places to stay, mostly short-term, but late in the game a friend actually had a connection to a very reasonable place in SoCal for a couple of months, but by this time we had made all kinds of other plans. Not sure that we wanted to start all over again with the planning, we basically found ourselves in the same position as last year. 2 nights here, 2 nights there, 2 weeks here, on the road...traveling, traveling...something we're very used to after living in our motorhome for 4+ years, but this time around, all we had was our truck, Bessie.

Bill and I really wanted to throw in the towel and just stay home, we felt it was important to be home that first summer after building to see what happened to our place during the rainy season. But we needed to get up to Tahoe and empty our storage unit. When we moved into our motorhome in 2010, from our 2800 sq ft home, we sold and donated most everything we owned, except for my parents antiques and a few other pieces of furniture and other items we felt we could not part with. I mean we had no idea if we were going to be rv-ing 6 months or 6 years. But alas, it was now 2016, 6 years of paying storage fees that we needed to stop. It wasn't a fortune at $500 per year, but we also wanted our stuff in one place. So we stuck to the ridiculous plan I hatched up and off we went, albeit with great trepidation...

We made it up to Tahoe and the lovely Suzanne provided us with a fabulous place to nest while we traveled up and down Kingsbury Grade daily dealing with our storage unit in Minden, Nevada.
My work set up at Suzanne's
Daniel threw us a great welcome home happy hour and all our Tahoe folks stayed well into the wee hours, just like they always do, 
and got to see my son a couple of times.
One of several visits to Sidellis Brewery

Pool with Jacob at The Cue...
Our best buds Maria and Brian, made it up the hill to hang out for awhile, there were beach get-togethers, concerts, dinners, and brewery visits. 
Poopa traveled to both Tahoe and Nevada City for beaching and hashing!

Our friend Brown offered us her garage and yard when we decided we just had tooooo much good stuff and must have a garage sale - she lives in our old neighborhood in Tahoe, which is an awesome location for this. We did great and had very little left to give away. 
Daniel and Tuesday joined in the garage sale fun

And Flea stopped by to entertain us!
We sold a few pieces of furniture to one buyer on Craigslist, who picked it all up from our storage unit - everything went swimmingly well! And we were WIPED OUT!!!!!!! But we had a schedule to keep! We had to get down to Palm Desert to deliver all of the antiques to my parents and for me to take my mom to LA for a birthday celebration weekend! AM I FREAKING CRAAAAZY?!! Oh and then we were supposed to be in Coeur d'Alene for Labor Day Weekend....we were leaving Tahoe on August 25th!!

.....to be continued

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hurricane Prep

One of the things we do have to deal with down in the Baja is the real threat of hurricanes. While we were building our casita the number one issue that Bill wanted addressed at every part of the build was "where will the water flow?" In our palapa this was especially important as we didn't want the floor to be completely level, but to gently slope out. We were lucky that we had a little storm come through as we were building the additional palapa connecting the main palapa to our house, and saw that, not only were there leaks around that addition, but there was standing water in front of the kitchen sink. We had them tear out that portion of concrete and redo it so the water would flow. Now that we've had our first big storm of the summer we are anxious to hear/see how it fared. Our friend, Monze, is keeping an eye on our place while we're gone and I have an email out to her to get a report.

Our hurricane preparations included sinking a portable water storage (tinaca or pila) into the ground and hooking it up to the city water and our house. It has a pump and will refill automatically; we can get water for our entire home as usual if the city water is shut off, albeit with some major conservation as it's only 1100 liters (~300 gallons). In addition to this we purchased a 7000 watt generator and installed a direct hook-up to our home so we can run our whole house, including one air conditioner if we do not have electricity. We also purchased several gas cans and filled them up with an additive for fuel storage. Unfortunately we realized a little late in the game that it would have been wiser to purchase a dual propane/gas generator instead of just gas, but eventually we will switch this out. For now we've tested everything and it seems to work just fine.

Top right corner you can see the pipe for the water that is flowing into the pila.

In addition to the above we had covers made for all of our appliances in the palapa. Eduardo who has a little open-air shop down the street from us came over and measured, several times, and made us fabulous water proof covers for our fridge, stove, washing machine, island and sofa - which, was too large to get through the door of our casita to store.

Fridge cover complete with a zipper down the middle so we
can get inside if we're there during a storm.

Washing machine

Cabinet - he did a great job on this - the corners are gathered to fit tighter and
he made a flap that goes over the wall, which we have tied down
to a cinder block to prevent "flapping"

You can see the sofa and island covers here. He made gathers to go around the feet of the island and Wayne
told us to put it and the sofa up on cinder blocks. The sofa also has a large piece that comes
from the back and goes underneath and velcros completely around the front and sides.
We covered everything we could with tarps and sand bags.
And last, but certainly not least, we had wooden shutters made to go on all of the windows, except our sliding glass door which has permanent metal bifold doors that can lock from the inside or outside, in case we are there during a storm.

Our friends, Mandy & Jasper, had similar shutters made and we admired them so much we
had Sr. Gabriel make us one too! Eventually we'd like to have these on all of our windows. 

Michael made these shutters for our windows, they are a blank slate for some murals, me thinks!

We were advised the importance of "being there" our first summer to see exactly what happens with our property during a big storm, but we had to get up here and clean out our storage unit and spend some time with my grandson, which took precedence. Next summer we will stay at home and are really looking forward to it.

This year we stayed until the end of July, which is the latest we have ever stayed. Last year we left the first week in June. The town really empties out and just has this peaceful buzz to it that we loved. It got hot, for sure, but we'd find ourselves at the beach most afternoons and it was delightful.

Sarah and I at the violins for kids fundraiser

Hanging on the beach with Suzanne

Blas always "makes a good picture"

The gang all hanging out at the beach - Sasha, Monze, Suzanne, Sarah, Bill and moi

Monday, August 8, 2016


Well we did it....built our little casita in about 4 months! We moved in at the end of March, right smack dab in the middle of tax season. Unfortunately, I got a really bad bug that was going around and was laid up for 2 weeks right at the end of our move. The kitchen was all unpacked but Bill had to do the majority of the moving himself, especially the clean up of our old place. But we made it through and almost immediately we were both commenting to each other how much we LOVED our little spot of heaven! A few months later and we are still saying that. It fits us perfectly and when the weather got hot and sticky we had a super comfy chill space. I was even doing my batch cooking outside in the palapa in 90 degree heat, but with the fans and breeze it was ok.

Towards the end...no doors yet and the wall isn't finished

Looking at the outdoor palapa kitchen & family room from the casita.


Entrance to the casita with the storm shutters.

Front door

Itty Bitty Paint Brush party to paint the gate.

Just one of our fabulous sunsets, oh and check out the purple we painted on the gate.

Comfy chairs and TV!!

Farewell dinner by Sasha at Caffe Encinalito

El baño

A peak into the shower

Utility room.

Garden beds all ready for planting
Digging the hole for the tinaca (back-up water tank)
Many of these beach days with Mike and Cathy

We are now in the USA, spent a little time in LA with my adorable grandson, Justice, and hung out with our friend Susan in Marina del Rey. Bummed I didn't snap one pic of Susan the entire time we were there. But she did join us for this sushi dinner - not exactly relaxing with an 8 month old, but super fun!

Justice flying through the air from one parent to another!

On our way north we stopped to spend a few days with friends, Peace Blossom & Cuco Man in their new home in Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz). They invited our friends over to hang out and it was so great to see hasher/burners Pix, PT, Lumina & Griffin. 

On the streets of Santa Cruz

 We spent the last week in Nevada City pet-sitting for Chris & Christina, Baja friends. We absolutely love it here - got a free week at the gym, hit the farmer's market and went to my first "Dead Revival!" I could live here in a minute - we will be coming back to pet-sit again for 3 weeks in September.

Out for Thai 
Bill photobombing his doppleganger, Chris (who's house we are at)

Next we head up the hill for a couple weeks in Tahoe where we'll be working hard to clear out our storage unit, oh joy! But I'll get to see my son and our friends, and just being in Tahoe is the best 

OK one more of Justice!