Thursday, October 11, 2018

After the "Near Miss," We Scored a Hit!

The search for a new home had been spanning four months, (see the previous two entries) and now we were taking a break that nearly was disastrous, but fortunately averted.

The arrival in Ellensburg was several hours later than planned, after attempting to find a welder who could make some repairs to the RV hitch, but it just couldn't get done.

Kitchen is updated and easy to use.
Everyone was pretty glad to see us, realizing after hearing the story of the angelic guy who stopped us, how close we had come to a different scenario for the day.

After the party, we returned to the Vantage campsite (almost the same one we were at five months prior) and started reviewing properties in the local area, more as entertainment than anything else. One popped up as being a "For Sale By Owner" in Moses Lake. Only an hour from Vantage, Wayne suggested we just go for a drive and see the area the next day. We made plans with his son-in-law, Wayne Smith, to meet up in Ephrata, also near by.

Living room as seen from the kitchen. master bedroom is
seen to right down the hall.
So on Friday morning, Oct. 5, we drove to the property and the owners were outside working on the yard. We asked if we could walk around and they invited us inside, showed us everything, and we were surprised both at the size and the cleanliness of everything. After looking, we said we had some other places to visit and we drove off to view them. But after less than an hour, we were back, wanting to talk to the owners again about accepting an offer.

Master bedroom has an east-facing window.
Second bath, updated, too.
To shorten the story, here we are just a week later with a signed offer all the way around, the home inspection is tomorrow, we have preliminary loan approval and everyone is hoping for a closing mid-November.

One of the three bedrooms ...

Plenty of yard for Wayne's gardening...

Property is just under an acre of good soil.

An added bonus is a back shed for art or storage.
It started to rain so the house doesn't look its best here, but
its got three bedrooms, two baths and two bays of garage.

Back side of the house; porches both front and back.

We are pretty excited to have found a place that meets all our wants and needs, and all the children are relieved to know their dad will be living closer. We spent several days exploring Moses Lake, finding stores, getting the well tested, and enjoying some of the restaurants here. We will have square dance connections and know where we can ballroom dance once a week.

Moving to this area also means that our long-distance RV trips can get started more effectively without having to drive three hours off the Olympic Peninsula. Moses Lake is an hour and a half from Spokane, also from Yakima, an hour from Wenatchee and Ellensburg, and about three hours from Seattle.

While we will miss our friends in Sequim, Gardiner, Port Angeles, Quilcene, Forks and other places on the Peninsula, we can still visit them and they are more than welcome to come and visit us. We are just off I-90 and we have guest rooms!

And then... a very near miss!

This lavender rose is my absolute favorite. When we move,
it will go with us.
If you haven't read "We've Been Searching..." then I have to bring you up to speed with a four-month search for a new home. Basically we had made a serious offer, backed out, and tried to make several others which did not go anywhere leaving us discouraged. We stopped all searching for a week.

It was during this time that our Realtor was away for some training, so it worked out well. And then, a few days just before she was to return, we re-looked at one home we had excluded because the price was more than we had budgeted but they had just reduced it into our range.

Our agent's brother, the Broker for her company, agreed to meet us in Rochester but when we arrived, he said, "I've just discovered I don't have the MLS key." So he contacted the listing agent and she agreed to come out and open up the house for us.

South side of the home we looked at...
While we waited, we both walked around. Wayne paced out the pasture and determined there was indeed slightly more than an acre of sunny, flat land with no rocks.

I also walked around and noted the North-South placement of the home (Moss on the north side of one of the outbuildings was a good clue.) and could see that there were several places my roses would love.

Something about the location, the air, the feeling of openness was all we both wanted. Then once the agent let us inside, Wayne said, "I've already decided I want this house and land."

Wayne and Peaches are pacing the lot line to see how big
it is and to assess the quality of the soil.
There were the usual steps to determine if we could manage the higher costs and we made an offer which was accepted. But just as we were about to have a house inspection, our loan officer said it would not go with her bank because the house had been moved three times.

Sigh. Apparently the VA will not loan on manufactured homes with multiple moves, even with documentation. So we had to walk away from that most desirable situation.

Discouraged but not daunted, we continued to look and evaluate other properties. But really nothing seemed quite as nice as this one. We saw several places that, again, looked good in the sales websites, but when we drove up the driveway or street, it was considerably less than what was promised. Then a property we had bid on but lost out on was rumored to be coming back on the market. That excited Wayne because he loved all the big metal buildings that place had, but I was less enthusiastic.

"We said we would not settle, and we would not get something unless we both really liked it," Wayne reminded me.

It was time to get ready for his birthday and a party for the grandkids who have birthdays on his day and close to it in Ellensburg. We put all house hunting on hold and packed up the RV. Food and computers loaded, warm clothing, fishing rods, and at 8 a.m. we pulled out of Sequim.

In Tacoma, while heading for the exit to Highway 18, a young man in a truck starting signaling us to pull over. Once we were stopped he said, "Your tow hitch, the one attached to the RV, is coming loose!" If we had not been alerted, it could have been disastrous for us and for anyone nearby... a near miss that necessitated separating the Jeep and the RV and I would have to drive behind again, just like on our honeymoon. We were very, very lucky. Definitely felt like angels were working overtime for us.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

We've Been Searching...

After Wayne and I got married in May, we moved into my 1,100 square foot, two bedroom, two bath, mobile home in the Lazy Acres park and although he took over the little 10 x 14 shed out back, we still found ourselves needing more space both inside and outside.

Wayne is a big, tall man, with a history of being outdoors in massive timber country and my tiny backyard garden, although a challenge at first, soon seemed like a fish bowl for a salmon. I like to garden, too, and there just wasn't enough dirt for both of us.

Gardening is necessary for Wayne's life.
At first we thought we should look for a place to park the RV off the Olympic Peninsula so that we could have both a retreat and a place to launch ourselves on various journeys. As we looked, it soon became clear that any place we would be leaving the RV just wasn't secure enough to be several hours away for weeks at a time. And we kept finding places that had, curiously enough, too many trees.

"What will I do when we are here?" Wayne asked. He wanted to continue his farming life with sunny land and places for dahlias, roses, blueberries and raspberries to flourish.

We started talking about finding some land we might build on, or have a small house on, but then we realized we would be paying large sums of money each month for something that wasn't really an improvement over where we are now.

In July we redirected our focus toward buying a house with at least a half an acre, some sunny space, and close enough to civilization that I could make contact with other artists and quilting/sewing types.

We were drawn to Shelton in Mason County because of all the water near by. But we quickly learned that most homes with water views were far out of our price range, so we began to adjust our vision to include access to water within a short walk or drive. And we found a place.

House in Shelton we almost bought but then we didn't.
It seemed at first as if it was just what we wanted. But it didn't have everything on our list and more particularly, Wayne was adamant that the property boundaries were clearly defined. As we got further into the purchase process (inspection, appraisal, etc.) we discovered that the Seller, through no fault of his own, was using Mason County title information that was flat wrong. They were defining the property based on a lot that no longer existed and the Seller had built a fence along a lot line that was probably two or three feet off the real line, meaning we as Buyers would lose over 250 or 300 square feet of land before we even got started.

We bailed on the deal. And it was a loss, emotionally as well as financially, because of what we had invested in time (driving, gas, meals, etc.) as well as the costs of pre-purchase requirements. But it was the only choice because to go ahead would mean even more costs in trying to get the boundaries clarified.

And after a week of feeling discouraged, we were back on the site looking... and it seemed like every house we liked enough to visit was snapped up by other buyers before we could even make an offer. There was one that was just about to go to auction, a big house, but when we went to see it, it was clear there was foundation damage, roof damage, squatter damage and it smelled of too many unpleasant things to list. But it looked so appealing in the photos!

This is the first house Wayne lived in with his grandfather.
He would have bought that one if the owner was willing to
sell it, but that was not an option. Sometimes hard to compete
against memories like this.
 It didn't take us too long to begin to recognize phrases like "Needs some work," really means, "Take out your check book and plan to spend a year bringing this place into shape." Or "Has wonderful water views..." meant that the view was the ONLY thing to recommend it.

But each time we toured a house or drove by we got a clearer idea of what we really could not tolerate and what we must have. There was one in Hoodsport we loved, but there seemed to be some strange thing going on with the Seller and his Agent about actually accepting an offer. And another one near a lake we put an offer on but were immediately put in back-up position (if that offer fell through, they would consider ours... as the weeks would roll by...) and so it went.

There were some fun aspects of looking. We would text or email MLS numbers for the other one to look at, and then we'd take a day and drive two hours away to see if the house in reality was anything like the pictures. We talked, we argued, we sulked, we cajoled, we laughed and finally after so much action and no results, we took a break for a week - no Internet searches at all.

Lazy Acres garden was a challenge, but not
for long. Less than half of what he once had,
he made the most of it, but Wayne wanted
more space and more sunlight.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Fishing in Washington by Going Through Idaho

I am exceedingly blessed to have married someone with lots of relatives and many of them enjoy fishing. What is singularly amazing is that the two brothers Wayne is most connected to live in Washington State, but to get to their homes we have to drive through Idaho first.

Wayne and I at the undisclosed beaver pond.
Yesterday we connected with brother Mick and his wife Lisa and began a trek that lasted well into the afternoon. I cannot tell you where the fishing hole is because we took such a circuitous route to it that even leaving breadcrumbs on the dusty road was ineffectual.

The light on the beaver pond at mid-day.
And what a gorgeous day! Sunny, but not too warm, a slight breeze but sadly not enough to keep all the deer flies and other biters off our skin... scratched a lot when I got home.

We left the fish with Mick who was going to smoke them.

And we almost left Peaches at the pond because her hearing has gotten so bad that she was sleeping when we started to leave and was unaware we were packing up.
Mick moved over to another edge for a better cast.
The location is a beaver pond deep in an area called "The Bear Paw" which is sort of south of Priest Lake (the gem of Idaho lakes) and near some of the rivers that either flow into it or out of it. Found it on a map yet?
Lily pads probably make nice shade for the fish.

Before we headed out on this trip, I bought myself a fishing pole and got to use it for the first time. I only caught one fish, about 8 inches, but Wayne caught at least six. Lisa caught a couple, too. Mick spent so much time putting worms and bobbers on my pole and Lisa's that he was way behind in the totals.

There was a lot of brotherly rivalry about the achievements and plenty of ribbing making it a fun day.

Along the way back, we saw some interesting mushrooms and some moose droppings. I kidded Wayne that perhaps that was as close as he was going to get to a moose this trip.
Wayne is pointing to the pile of moose droppings.

It was an interesting drive from the secret pond to the very un-secret Priest Lake, a huge body of water in the northernmost corner of Idaho, bigger than Lake Coeur D'Alene. But the filtering in the sky did not set the lake off to its best colors. Still it was impressive.

Another day we might have the chance to see it as the real jewel it is of the Northwest.
Priest Lake from the eastern side; miles and miles of waterline.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

37 Years Ago

It seems hard to believe that 37 years have rushed by. Today, 37 years ago, I gave birth to my son and surprisingly, given some of the risky experiences he's had, he's still alive and presumably surviving. At least, I think he is.

Last year, just before Christmas, I turned up at my home in Florida to begin discussions with him about selling it and getting it ready for the market. I intended to share some of the benefits with him because I thought he was taking care of the property.

What I found was a dump. I had been conned, tricked, manipulated and convinced by my son that he was truly managing it by mowing, trimming, taking care of issues - all the things one has to do to keep a home livable. But he was not doing anything.

And he was undoubtably using drugs and alcohol again, totally against our agreement, as I saw garbage strewn from the back door to the street with bottles and other trash.

The grief and anger I felt at that moment was tremendous along with the huge disappointment of discovering what a liar my son had become. It affected my relationship with my boyfriend at the time, who has had years of dealing with ex-cons, and who tried to help me understand what had been going on. But my rage got directed at him and we split up for awhile.

In time, now over six months since that day, I have come to accept that my son is troubled, and that I can no longer fix him. He is an adult who is entitled to make his own choices, which does not include getting help. Many times in the past ten years I have encouraged, cajoled, pleaded, even threatened all to no avail.

But more than that singular event, which was a turning point in my life, there are all the wonderings and wanderings that I have done since then.

As parents (or aunts, uncles or cousins) we see a child growing and have no idea what life choices will be presented or how the path will unfold. And we don't see how we may play a part in that drama  and sometimes because the life is foreshortened the stage is quickly cleared.

It has not been pleasing to see how many peers of my son have not made it to 37. Some have died from being enlisted to fight a war, some fighting wars on home turf, some from despair, some called accidents, and a few were the consequences of a high school celebration gone horribly wrong.

Ten years ago in Everett, WA during SeaFair when things
appeared to be going along better.
So to celebrate this achievement of one child surviving 37 years, I am making a donation to a local fund that provides hope for young men and women to better themselves and to realize their full potential. And I hope there is someone somewhere who is donating to a similar charity that will benefit my son, wherever he may be. And if he should read this, I want him to know that nothing stops a mother's love and prayers for his protection.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Hood River Honeymoon

I tried to include both the wedding (which was small) with the honeymoon trip in one blog but there were too many pictures to have it all make any sense. So here is part two with what I think are some good photos of an awesome part of the western countryside.

First we drove around Mt. Hood. Our final stop on that tour was to visit the Timberline Lodge, an heritage site, because of the uniqueness of the construction and the age of the building. It reminded me of Sun Valley and I think it was of the same era when using vehicles for transportation to tour was considered a huge adventure; the 1930s and 40s.

We began our day trip from White Salmon/Bingen, WA on
the Highway 35 loop, taking us around the base of the post-
volcanic 11,239 ft. Mt. Hood.

It was warm enough
in the sunshine.
The tallest mountain in Oregon, it receives about 420 inches
of snow each year. We were on our way to the Lodge
Snow runoff creates temporary lovely waterfalls along the road.
Standing outside the Timberline Lodge, an historic landmark
and at 6,000 feet offers four-season skiing, the only area in
the U.S. to do so. 

Timberline Lodge was built in 1937 as part of the Works
Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression.
A popular tourist attraction for over 80 years!

Friends of the Lodge, a non-profit organization, has helped
to keep the Lodge fresh and vital with renovations,
restorations of fabrics, landscaping and other projects.
Rough-hewn timbers make the
Lodge a solid structure, and an
appealing tourist stop or stay.

The open concept offers guests both the cozy feature of a
fire along with impressive views inside and out.

The Lodge inside...
And the view to the outside from the Lodge's lounge.

Vista House, a great vista point on the Columbia River, OR.
As we concluded our drive around the mountain, we stopped at the Vista House, taking advantage of the sunshine and planned to drive to the various falls. However, the road to Multnomah Falls was closed off, due to the damage caused by the Eagle Creek Fire last September (2017). Over 50,000 acres of forest was burned, included bridges on trails in the area. The ground is unstable without trees and roots to hold things together, and landslides and tree falls are common now.

The historic road is narrow, curvy and now, in some places, downright hazardous because of the damage from the fire. We were not able to get up to Larch Mt. for this reason.
Standing at the Portland Women's Forum Overlook point on
the drive up the historic Columbia River Highway.
View upstream of the Columbia River from Vista House.
View looking downstream on the Columbia River
Latourelle Falls have an easy access from the parking lot.

Honeymooners at Latourelle Falls
Looking at Vista Point from Women's Overlook downstream.

In this photo of Vista House, you can see how much timber
has been burned from the Eagle Creek fire; all the brown
spots should be green and that is where the falls are.
Loved the lighting around the base of Latourelle Falls.

Another view of Latourelle Falls; bright spring colors. I am
thinking another trip in the fall would be gorgeous.

A Stellar Jay stopped by to visit us on the trail to the falls.
The next stop was Bridal Veil Falls. It was more of a hike on some pretty trails and a fair number of folks were going there. There is another falls en route, Shepherds Dell, but we decided to invest our energies in the Bridal Veil adventure.

With all the wedding planning, moving Wayne's stuff, going to his son's wedding, etc., we have not been going out and walking as much as we probably should have. While I enjoyed the hike, my back did not and I was off to see my chiropractor as soon as we returned. Now I am 'back in alignment.'

Bride and Groom at Bridal Veil Falls; wish the photographer
would have used the flash as I suggested.
The next day we had planned a trip to Portland/King City to see a dear friend of Wayne's, Ralph "Al" McFarland, and we got to meet his new partner, Jezebel. Unlike most cats, she was pretty eager to see who the new folks were and wasted no time in being coy.
Jezebel; enough said.

Al and Wayne are both widowers and they were, with their wives, couple friends. Al moved away and then was faced with a double loss of his wife and his long-term friendships. Spending the day together was sweet and lovely, like the flowers we bought and bittersweet with end of a day we all enjoyed.
Al, Wayne and Al's daughter, Gwen in front of their most
favorite garden store: Al's (not his, just the same name).

Friends are so important; we must 'water' them like our garden to keep them flourishing in our lives.

I don't think I can ever have enough blue things growing in
my garden; but here are the blue and golds of our wedding.
These were all the flowers left at the store after Wayne got
through buying...

Gwen told me this is red clover... so pretty to see on the road.
Plenty of work to be done when we return home!

After a long day of flower buying, we stopped at Shari's and
enjoyed a meal (with some memories) together.

Another day we spent doing some ancestry research for Ratcliffs in Oregon. We did find an old pioneer cemetery, after driving about a new development several times following GPS instructions: "your destination is on the right." Finally found it by contacting the veterinary store and it was behind it, hidden in the trees. Fortunately someone is taking time to keep it cleaned up but it's a little too late. Many of the graves are now "unknown."
Crossing the narrow metal bridge over to Hood River, OR.
Mt. Hood looms over the valley.
Wayne cleared the headstone and we took pictures for his
ancestry work.
We went to the Idyllwild Cemetery to locate MOSES RATCLIFF, as Wayne is very involved in ancestry. There were other Ratcliffs in the area, but no phone calls were ever returned.

Back at our campsite, the eagles were plentiful and very
'chatty' in the mornings.

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We took a tour of the Bonneville Dam and fish hatchery on our way to have lunch with friends of Wayne's from his days in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

From Wikipedia: "The dam is located 40 miles (64 km) east of Portland, Oregon, in the Columbia River Gorge. The primary functions of Bonneville Lock and Dam are electrical power generation and river navigation. The dam was built and is managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. At the time of its construction in the 1930s it was the largest water impoundment project of its type in the nation, able to withstand flooding on an unprecedented scale.[6] Electrical power generated at Bonneville is distributed by the Bonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Lock and Dam is named for Army Capt. Benjamin Bonneville, an early explorer credited with charting much of the Oregon Trail. The Bonneville Dam Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1987."

Geese and their goslings on the Dam grounds; watch where
you step!!
The alternate (and current) route to the Multnomah Falls is best accessed near the Bonneville Dam area, so we included that as part of our trip to Cascade Locks. It is every bit as impressive as the postcards, but there is something pretty special about seeing it for real.
Multnomah Falls from top to bottom.
People were pretty helpful about taking our
picture when we asked.

Bridge of the Gods near Cascade Locks, OR is one of the
oldest bridges spanning the Columbia River.
Our last night in Hood River the mountain gave us a rosy
peek from our campsite.
After two weeks away from home, it was time to head back and see how the garden was doing, pick up Peaches (Wayne's dog) and see what it would be like to not have random days and nights just cruising along. I was looking forward to getting back to painting some of the places we'd been... until our next adventure!