Big changes coming

For the last three weeks Kevin and I have been thinking about the timing of selling our house in Utah, buying a house in Iowa (home of most kids and all grandkids), and buying a motorhome (required for long snowbird trips because, well, Iowa). We pulled the trigger last night. The Utah house is listed for sale with the first publicity and open house on 1 March. I am sending price requests to some big Tiffin motorhome dealers for a new 37PA motorhome, and we are checking out Realtors in Cedar Falls, Iowa. It isn’t as fast as it might seem, because we had been talking about the options for over six months, but it almost takes my breath away. The house timing is good. The Salt Lake City area market is fantastic right now for sellers, with multiple offers and top dollar being common. The market in Cedar Falls is solid, not spectacular, and homes are available. Rates are probably heading up, hurting buyers and sellers, so we might as well do it now. The motorhome has a floor plan very livable for us, and we can swing the price. So, off to the real work of clean up, paint, stain, and decluttering. We have a new housekeeper candidate coming to give us a quote (I was ready to fire my old ones anyway), another one with a quote in the next few days, plus a “staging expert” today. We bought boxes, and we are already packing things like clothes and stuff we know needs to be out of the house. Luckily we have a big storage unit to put stuff in. It is still rather breath taking.

Christmas with family

We left Utah on 20 December running out in front of a big snow storm. We did pretty good, 660 miles, and we spent the night in North Platte, NE at the the Oak Tree Inn. It was just ok. However the bad news was the forecast changed. We missed the front of the storm by about 100 miles and had to drive through snow and freezing drizzle for a while. After that it was pretty good, and we decided to just head to Cedar Rapids, IA where we stayed for 3 nights at Homewood Suites, a place I really liked. Two separate rooms and a little kitchen made it a lot easier to sleep well and have good coffee. We normally stay with my daughter in Marion, but one of my sons was staying in her spare room until he could move into his newly purchased house. We enjoyed our time with the newest grandson, 11 months old. We like our privacy anyway.

Christmas Eve we went to our oldest son’s house in Cedar Falls, staying until 27 December when we went back to my daughter’s house. My other son had moved into his house by then so her spare room was available. It worked out well because we were needed to babysit one day due to an emergency in her sitter’s family. We left on Friday, 29 December running back to Utah in front of a horrific cold front. We ended up driving to Sidney, staying at the Fairfield Inn. This was also a nice place though expensive.  The weather on Saturday was quite interesting. We left Sidney when it was -4 degrees with a bad wind chill. By 40 miles east of Laramie, WY it was 48 degrees! The temperature raised 40 degrees in 20 miles. Back home we have temperatures in the 40s so I hope to not experience low temps again this year.

Christmas itself was great fun. The kids all seemed to like their presents, and so did the grown ups. Of course the grown ups had all given us pretty detailed lists so it was fairly easy LOL! We were also able to pick up our mid-century maple dining room table at a shop in Marion, IA. They refinished it due to some damage it got before I inherited it, perhaps a hot pan a couple of times. The shop also modified the stretchers so it would take an additional leaf, p,us they made a matching left. I can now sit 6 people much more comfortably, and probably 8 in a pinch.

We are now getting an assortment of appointments done before we head off on our next snowbird trip south. Doctors, financial advisors, haircuts, etc. all get done in the next week and a half.

Iowa to Colorado to Utah

After Mark Twain Lake we headed back to Iowa to visit family. We got to have dinner with all the Iowa kids and grandkids and spent some time just wandering around the area. We even went to see a couple of condo/town houses to see what the market point looks like. Eventually we intend on moving back there so the kids can watch our house/condo while we are gone for months at a time LOL!

Leaving Iowa we spent the first night at a Walmart parking lot in Grand Island, NE. I really don’t like staying in parking lots, but I also don’t like spending $30 or more for a few hours sleep. We then headed to Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland, CO. We had hoped for stay 3 nights, visiting Rocky Mountain National Park too. It is a nice campground, but the gate attendant put us in a site only available for two nights. Rather than moving to another spot in the campground, we decided to go on our way. We had a great trip to Rocky, though for only one day. The weather was unseasonably warm and sunny. Trail Ridge road opened up to Rainbow Curve, and we drove up it as far as we could.

2855A5D9-D8B3-4B43-B646-21006FD08B1BThe scenery is always gorgeous.

429D7253-5CA7-4045-A84A-773DE39B8349I particularly liked this rock at the Bear Lake Trailhead.

07B1900F-37DF-4900-AE80-67CFEC285C65A Gray Jay came by to see if I was sloppy with snacks (I wasn’t). I walked a little of the Bear Lake trail then went to enjoy the sunshine while Kevin walked around the lake.

D5D96B7C-CB19-4A39-8B83-B24F0F51F193Looking across Horseshoe Park is always lovely.

14ACA446-0C08-447E-B933-A714B43715B4There was certainly snow in the high country.

After leaving Loveland we headed south on the Peak to Peak Highway. It was slow and lovely, well worth the extra time. We eventually got to I-70 and headed west. We spent Tuesday night at Colorado River State Park in western Colorado. It was lovely and mostly empty this time of year, though I think it would be almost unbearably hot in the summer. The park ranger seemed lonely and was happy to see us! He said the park has sites open all year and even has water in the winter available at the entry office. We will definitely remember this place for spring and fall trips.

23B1E647-5881-4A9E-876B-2E32E432F31EI love the cliffs.

24DD15C9-9520-4384-B3B8-DBD47A3A36EEThe cottonwoods were a brilliant gold.

6E9F2108-9669-4ACF-B3E6-B72535A8ACB0There was a nice path along the the river. We road our bikes around and around the campground and along the river.

We finally got home on Wednesday (yesterday). I love travel, but it sure is nice to be home. Kevin got a bad surprise this morning though. As he was getting the propane tank off the trailer he noticed two shackles were broken on an axle! The RV place couldn’t get us in time, so he found an axle specialist who says it can be done in time for our next trip in a week. I hope!

Into Nebraska

We left Iowa this morning. Yesterday’s baptism went really well. Darling Clay slept through much of the service, but he woke up when the pastor poured the water over his head! Isn’t he adorable?

Dad, GS, Mom, and the two pastors.

You can see the long skirt that buttons onto a romper. There are actually three sets of pintucks, each 7 rows.

The romper part of the baptism outfit.

The romper has 13 sets of pintucks down the front.

Regarding Iowa, I said I would post some wildflower pictures.

To give some help with scale, the yellow rockets are higher than my waist.

These pictures were taken on the bike path at Pinicon Ridge County Park, but Squaw Creek (where we camped) was the same.

We decided to head toward Gros Ventre campground in Grand Teton National Park. We also decided to not head out on I-80 but instead take Hwy 20. I must admit it is not the scenic path, but at least it has the advantage of newness. We are now camped at Carney City Park in O’Neill, NE. What a lovely little place!

Shade, concrete pad, electricity, and water.

There are quite a few sites available. It is on a voluntary donation system, so we left 10 dollars. We won’t use any facilities except the electricity so it seemed fair.

In Iowa

We made it into Iowa. We are spending the night at a city park in Casey, IA, about 50 miles west of Des Moines and only a couple of miles off I-80. It is a classic small town city park with playgrounds and a covered pavilion. It also has a few electric RV sites in a grassy loop, most with lovely old shade trees. The sites are very unlevel, but the price is definitely right at only $10! We stayed here before, but I can’t remember when. Looking it up in my old paper trip journal is too painful, one of the reasons I prefer the current electronic version.

The animals have been interesting on this trip. Minou, our older black cat, is calm and collected. Nothing much bothers her. We put her in the truck, she comes for some petting, and then she goes to sleep in one of the cat towers in the back seat. Lily, the calico cat is definitely an Anxious Annie. She gets all wound up and starts crying when anything changes. Slow down? Rough road? Lots of curves? Out she comes screaming! She also wanders all over the truck. Eventually she will go to sleep under the passenger seat or I  one of the cat towers (but not the one Minou is in). Lexi, the dog, is very mellow. She is older too (12) and she just goes with the flow. She mostly just sleeps on the back seat, but occasionally something will be interesting enough to make her sit up.

Inside the trailer we have an adjustable pet gate with a tiny door for the cats to move through. It lets the cats have their food available without Lexi getting into it. We take it down when we travel.

Other than the hassle with the pet gate, traveling with Lexi added to the menagerie isn’t too bad. She sure does leave a lot of hair clumps though. When we get to our campsite in Marion we are going to have to sweep and vacuum, something I normally don’t get too worried about. The trailer is really a mess though with clumps of black dog hair all over the small amount of carpeting we have. The rest of the dog hair is in the corners of the vinyl flooring!

We have also been listening  to audiobooks on this trip. So far we have done two by Faye Kellermann. This last one had a back story about diamond merchants so I think I will pull out my Dick Francis audiobook that is also about gem sellers for our next book.

Southwestern Iowa and warmth

I did have some good news regarding the last post. The water pump is fine – no more weird noises. It must have had a bubble or something in it, because everything is fine now. Also the new mattress still feels great.

We did travel on Valentine’s Day, and we made it to a lovely state park in far southwestern Iowa named Waubonsie. We have been the only campers here, and the weather has been really nice with blue skies, light breezes, and highs in the upper 40s/low 50s. The stars are gorgeous since it is a long way to anywhere with light pollution, and the owls and coyotes have been very noisy at night. During the day we did laundry (how exciting) and just relaxed. Last night I made roasted potatoes and onions, then pan grilled some turkey sausage. Yum. Tonight I baked a pasta casserole in the Dutch Oven. It was ok, but it definitely needed more seasoning. It was nice to just do things more camping related.

Here is the campground. Not much green but lots of vegetation. The campsite we are in is only $11.00 a night right now since it is off season, but it has electricity and water.

We sat around a fire in the evening, propane instead of wood because it is so much easier to adjust. Kevin doesn’t always look so dour! We have a sunshade-type shelter we use to keep out of sun and wind occasionally, and this time we have used it both nights to reflect the heat from the fire. It made it much more comfortable. Notice the box wine on the table and the light from the trailer behind the shelter.

We may be the only people here, but there are lots of birds and animals. Lots of geese heading to and from the nearby Missouri River make a racket, multiple owls beginning at dusk and continuing until we go inside hoot at us, plus coyotes are talking to one another. We have also seen turkey and deer plus a number of birds. It is lovely to heard the night sounds while gazing into the fire.

Pretty nice for a propane fire pit!

Tomorrow we will leave here and hopefully make it to somewhere in northern Oklahoma. It is nice to not have a schedule. We will decide somewhere down the road where to stay and how long. Retirement does have its advantages!

Soon to be traveling again!

Today the part for our truck’s recall notice came in, and Kevin is getting it installed now. He is also going to get an oil and fuel filter change for the truck, so it will be an expensive day. The recall issue is obviously free of charge, but oil and filters on a diesel pickup are pricey. Luckily it doesn’t have to be done often.

I am having an issue with the trailer water pump though. It sounds awful when I use it, noisy and rough. The water level is low, so I tried to fill it. I couldn’t get water to go in though! I have no idea why, so I am just going to leave it until Kevin comes back. It is well above freezing, but the wind is nasty and wet. I had forgotten how much colder a wet wind feels than the dry winds we get out West.

Ooh, but we do have good news too! We bought a foam RV mattress to replace the barely adequate coil mattress we got with the trailer. I really like foam, though this is a bit softer than I prefer. It is thicker than the old mattress, but the quilt I made still fits, so I am glad of that! Many RV mattresses are odd sized; ours is a “short queen”, six inches shorter than a regular queen. That means special mattresses, special sheets, etc. Quite a pain! I made the quilt that is on the bed now, and I love how nice it feels. It is with quality cotton fabric and a luscious wool batting so it drapes well yet is comfortable in a variety of temperatures. I like using wool batting in quilts for adults, but I use cotton batting in quilts for children or ones I know will be washed a lot. The wool can be machine washed and dried, but it does take more care than cotton.

I am spending a lot of time reading since we are stationary and it is cold. I am working my way through Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries, and having a great time. My public library has an ebook system, and I have been able to get quite a few. I am trying to read them in order, but number 5 was checked out by someone else, and I accidentally checked out number 19 (and read it). I am now on number 10, “Death Before Wicket.”  I will check out a few more before we leave the campground here.  My library ebook system only works on real wifi, not my phone’s hot spot making it something I have to plan for. I loved the PBS series, and it turns out to be a quite faithful adaptation. There are only a few character modifications, but the Miss Fisher in the show is the same Miss Fisher in the books.

Tonight we will have Indian food with my oldest son and his family, then we head out tomorrow. I am so in need of warmer weather! We have 3-4 weeks before we intend on being home, so we have lots of time to dawdle along the way. No specific plans, just heading in the general direction of south.