Travel cheat: We flew from TX to WA — but then promptly borrowed an RV

It’s true. And there’s probably a good joke here that starts, “You can take a couple of full-timers out of their RV…”

But didn't we look cute on our airplane?

But didn’t we look cute on our airplane? Sorry it’s fuzzy. I was probably giggling with glee!

With only 7 days to visit two different parts of the family — our son and his girlfriend on the Olympic Peninsula, and Tim’s parents, sisters and their families a couple hours north of Seattle — it made perfect sense for us to have our own mobile guest suite. Thankfully, Tim’s folks own just the thing, and were willing to hand over the keys!

Tim's folks made the bed, gassed/watered/propaned it up, and even stocked the pantry and fridge for us -- including homemade chocolate chip cookies. My in-laws are the bomb!

They patched a few leaks, made the bed, gassed/watered/propaned it up, and even stocked the pantry and fridge for us — including a bottle of wine and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
My in-laws are the bomb!

Tim's dad checked us out on all the systems before letting us leave the driveway. This thing is way easier to set up and take down than our fifth wheel, but...

Tim’s dad checked us out on all the systems before letting us leave the driveway.
This thing is way easier to set up, take down, and drive around than our fifth wheel, but…

... wow, is it petite. Excellent choice for short trips, but I don't think I could handle living in one full time. The bathroom is about half the size of ours, and includes sink, potty and shower. I did not think that was possible.

… wow, is it compact.
It suited our needs more than adequately for this short trip, but I don’t think I could handle living in a truck camper full time.
The bathroom is about half the size of ours, and includes sink, potty, storage cabinet and shower. I… I did not think that was possible. And I am not willing to downsize that much.

Boiling water for coffee in this old percolator made us feel like pioneers!

Boiling water for coffee in this old percolator made us feel like pioneers! (Yeah, we know. Pioneers had campfires, not auto-ignite gas stoves.)

And although this is truly a 1-butt kitchen, we bumped it a 2-butt to clean up after a big breakfast. Tim washed, our son's girl dried.

And although this is truly a 1-butt kitchen, we promoted it to a 2-butt to clean up after a big breakfast.
Tim washed, our son’s girl dried.

Our site at the Point Hudson Marina & RV Park came with a view of Admiralty Inlet.

Our site at the Point Hudson Marina & RV Park in Port Townsend came with a beautiful view of Admiralty Inlet and the mountains beyond.

Moonrise over the inlet

Moonrise over the inlet

And here’s why we went: our older son graduated from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding with an associate of occupational studies degree, and an impressive list of craftsmanship and engineering skills, such as planking, structures, fiberglass work, and handcrafted cabinetry. We are so stinkin’ proud!

That's him, sitting up there on the Chamberlain, a craft he's done a lot of work on during his time at the boat school.

That’s him, sitting up there on the Chamberlain, a craft he’s done a lot of work on during his time at the boat school.

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Not many school-sponsored graduation receptions include a keg. Was this place a good choice or what? And although this is not our boy's first beer, it's the first one his mama's poured for him, so like so many other milestones, we captured it with a photo. I'm sure there's a spot in the baby book for this somewhere...

Not many school-sponsored graduation receptions include a keg. This school was a good. choice.
And although this is not our boy’s first beer, it’s the first one his mama’s poured for him, and like so many other child rearing milestones, we captured it with photos. I’m sure there’s a spot in the baby book for this somewhere…

Later on, our son showed us around the boat yard in Port Townsend. This one bears a price tag of $5000 OBO. My best offer is oh hell no.

Later on, our son showed us around the boat yard in Port Townsend.
This fixer-upper bears a price tag of $5000 OBO.
My best offer is oh hell no.

I’ll leave you with three images of what the Puget Sound area is famous for: her picturesque waterways. No matter where you go, your journey will include bridges, tunnels, or ferries to get you from Point A to Point B, and the views are always worth the wait.

Deception Pass, looking west from the bridge...

Deception Pass, looking west from the bridge…

... and east

… and east

Port Townsend Bay

Port Townsend Bay

As for what’s coming up next for us, it looks like we’ll be sitting here in San Antonio through the fall, and perhaps into winter. Some medical issues have come up, and they need to be taken care of. I won’t share the details here, mostly because we don’t have enough information yet to know what lies ahead for Tim, but once we’ve got a better grip on what needs to be done, I’ll spill the proverbial beans. For now, in my husband’s own words:

I admit this is not how I wanted to spend my fall months, but such is life. I welcome prayers, well-wishes, and good thoughts. 

Hell, some of you might even feel compelled to send large sums of money, which would also be just fine.

Now if you do choose to pray, please don’t get too serious. I think something like this would be appropriate: “Dear God, please help that sap get physically well soon. We all understand he is a lost cause mentally.”

Befores and Afters: House 2 is ready to sell, and we are ready to roll!

I wasn’t going to put all our home improvement photos on the blog because they don’t have anything to do with RV travel or living. But…

  1. I’m stinkin’ proud of what we did, even though I whined nearly constantly about having to do it, and
  2. It’s all part of Owning Less. Once this house is sold, we will own no property other than what we’re rolling around in, and both the BFT and The Toad are paid for.

(Confused about why we’re selling another house? That story is here, with a little more here, plus some NSFW ranting about it here.)

It took us

  • 7 weeks (out of a planned 4, and a hopeful 2)
  • more than 60 trips to big box and locally-owned home improvement/hardware stores
  • help from nearly a dozen friends who loaned us tools, garage space, sweat equity, and/or their grown sons who were eager to work for some summer cash (all three former Boy Scouts, and friends to our boys when we lived here)
  • around $10,000
  • and I don’t even know how many hours of our own labor. A million, maybe. We didn’t take many days off.

Witness the transformation of our 1912 Craftsman-style bungalow. She’s beautiful, and awaiting new owners to enjoy not just her charms, but also the best neighborhood we’ve ever lived in — and we’re a retired military family, so there’ve been lots.

Befores are on the left; afters on the right.

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She’s bigger than she looks from the street: four large bedrooms, giant eat-in kitchen, high ceilings, three full baths, 2237sf, detached garage

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The cedar shingles on the west side of the house looked like nothing so much as rotting, crooked teeth. We tore them all off, primed and installed new ones (about 2,000 — all by hand, but who’s counting?), then hired a house painter to paint all four sides plus all the ivory trim.

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Now to the back deck, where there were several rotting boards. I didn’t take truly corresponding photos, but these will give you an idea of the work we did. P.S. Prying up deck boards makes for an awesome core and upper body work-out — and I hope I never have to do it again.

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Lots of geometry involved in rebuilding the steps. I’m thankful Tim and our Eagle Scout helper did the math.

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And then a week later, we finally decided that leaving it with such obvious differences between new boards and old was probably not a good idea…

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… so we painted it.

The carriage doors on our garage showed significant wood rot and sagging. Rebuilt them both!

The carriage doors on our garage showed significant wood rot and sagging. Rebuilt them both!

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Inside of the garage: lots of mystery grime So we swept, vacuumed, degreased, scrubbed, primed, and painted.

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And it made a big, big difference!

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Here’s the front porch, which we’d last had refurbished in about 2008. It showed a lot of wear in the main traffic area to the front door…

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… and there were a few rotting boards that needed to be replaced. It was challenging because they’re made wider now, so Tim had to custom mill them using a friend’s table saw in order to get them to fit.

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Next stop: kitchen. The self-adhesive vinyl tiles we’d put down in 2009 didn’t hold up well. Many shrunk and separated at the seams, which then filled up with dirt.

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The new vinyl flooring snaps together and floats over the old surface, so there shouldn’t be as many issues with expanding or contracting. Helps to have a friend in the business! He told us what we needed to purchase for our particular situation, and then sent his team to install it. Bought them lunch, paid them for their labor, done!

So of course after we put in the new floor, we realized how awful the doors and molding look. Project creep: the struggle is real.

So of course after we put in the new floor, we realized how awful the door and molding looked.
Project creep: the struggle is real.

The only worker/contractor who didn't show up was the plaster repair guy. So Tim the tool man did it himself.

The only worker/contractor who didn’t show up was the plaster repair guy. So Tim the Tool Man did it himself.

Here we go again! Second -- and final -- house is now on the market. Come onnnnnn, buyers!

Here we go again! Second — and final — house is now on the market, a mere 3 months after we closed the sale on the first one.
Come onnnnnn, buyers!

Full list of what we did:

  • Replaced cedar shingles on west side of house
  • Had shingles painted on all 4 sides, plus trim, front porch, and front door
  • Refurbished back deck, front porch, and garage doors
  • Replaced rotting framing on 3 windows and above garage doors
  • Repainted garage interior, and several ceilings inside house
  • Had kitchen flooring replaced
  • Repaired HVAC disconnect switch
  • Refreshed mulch beds on 3 sides of house
  • Repaired cracks in plaster walls in living and dining rooms
  • Fixed like a hundred other pesky small things, like busted outlet covers, cabinet door hardware, window screens, etc., etc., etc.

Sacrifices to the cause:

  • 1 canopy
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of fitness capris
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie

Also, a bird pooped on me on Mother’s Day, and our dog died.

I could have done with a little. less. character building.

Interested in the house? Of course you are. At the very least, we know you want to see the asking price because everybody wants to know the asking price, so visit our real estate listing here. (The virtual tour wasn’t available as of this posting, so check back again soon if you want to see photos of the interior.)

Tomorrow, we roll. First stop: Northern Virginia for a few days, to visit with Air Force, Marine, and Navy friends from prior duty stations. After that, it’s westward ho, with a stop in Chicago on Friday to pick up our younger son for the remainder of our summer travels!

Other posts on this topic:

  1. How it all started
  2. Getting things started
  3. Bye, Lola.
  4. Coping Inappropriately

1 job of our own creation + 1 from Mother Nature = 1 hot day on the roof

Job 1:

It all started when Tim said, “Honey, I’m ordering a new antenna, and it will be the solution to all our internet connectivity problems, and by golly, you will never suffer service interruptions again!”

OK, that’s not what he said. It’s just what I heard, because I didn’t understand a single word of all the techno-jargon he used after “antenna.” Also, he never uses the phrase “by golly.”

New antenna means wires. Wires need a place to go. And there's a void on top of this cabinet, which makes it a perfect place to drill through the roof. I can now say that Tim has drilled through walls in every home we've owned, for the sole purpose of boosting our connectivity.

New antenna means wires.
Wires need a place to go.
And there’s a void on top of this cabinet, which makes it a perfect place to drill through the roof.
I can now say that Tim has drilled through walls in every home we’ve owned, for the sole purpose of boosting our connectivity.

Taping the wires to the roof...

The new antenna is in the foreground. We used aluminum tape to affix the wires to the roof, and you can see the entry point behind him. It’s now all sealed up with two different kinds of caulky stuff to keep moisture out.

And now our router sits right there on the shelf above my cookbooks. Don't worry. He'll find a way to make those wires less obtrusive. Or else.

And now our router sits right there on the shelf above my cookbooks.
Don’t worry. He’ll find a way to make those wires less obtrusive.
Or else.

Job 2:

Mother Nature slammed San Antonio with an intense hail storm late Tuesday night. We’re talking national news-worthy baseball-sized stones, and those babies were loud from inside this here tin can. More than 16,000 damage claims were filed with our insurance company alone.

By the light of Wednesday morning, Tim and I went outside to inspect the BFT & the Toad, and were relieved to find only a small cluster of dimples on the roof of the truck, and a couple of cracks in the skylight above our bathroom. Nothing had shattered in the night but our nerves!

Knowing it’s far better to prevent a leak than to wait for one to surprise us at a more inconvenient time, Tim ordered a new skylight, and we got to work today, since rain is predicted for tomorrow, and we’re hitting the road on Tuesday (more on that next week).

I don’t appear in any of these photos because I was taking them, but I assure you that in between all the clicks, I really was helping (and sweating, and swearing, and wishing one of our kids were here so that it could be Rohrer & Son RV Repair instead of Rohrer & Wife RV Repair).

It's kind of a skylight-within-skylight deal. The interior one just needed a quick cleaning and re-taping. The exterior one was pried off and flipped to the ground below.

It’s kind of a skylight-within-skylight deal. The interior one just needed a quick cleaning and re-taping. The exterior one was pried off, flipped to the ground below, and taken to the nearest dumpster.

Trying to scrape off all the old caulking was a chore. Hair dryer to the rescue again!

Trying to scrape off all the old caulking was a chore. Hair dryer to the rescue — again!

Dry placement to make sure the new skylight is gonna fit...

Dry placement to make sure the new skylight is gonna fit…

Fresh caulking going down...

Fresh caulk going down…

Affixing it with brand new screws...

Affixing it with brand new screws…

And finally, sealing the seams and screws with more caulk. Best part? It's on the roof, so neatness does not count. Which is good, because both of us are pretty lousy at this.

And finally, sealing the seams and screw heads with more caulk. Best part? It’s on the roof, so neatness does not count. Which is good, because neither one of us is all that competent with a caulking gun.

And guess who got to lie in the grass and “supervise” the whole operation. Yyyyup. Good-for-nothin’ fur ball.FullSizeRender 8

 

Nobody puts us in a corner. We’ll walk there our own damn selves.

Today’s adventure: the very outermost tip of the Olympic Peninsula, accessed by the Cape Flattery trail. It’s only 1.5 miles, round trip — easy for us. But we made the long drive because that little trail leads to a unique, wild, and beautiful spot: the northwesternmost point of the continental U.S.

Cape Flattery: the northwesternmost point in the continental United States

That’s it. That’s where we went.

From the Washington Trails Association, “Here, where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific, Cape Flattery protrudes into a sea of tumultuous waters. A land of dramatic headlands, sea stacks, and deep narrow coves, Cape Flattery exhibits sheer rugged beauty. Scores of seabirds ride the surf and scavenge the sea stacks. Watch for whales and sea lions too… [from] the final viewing platform, teetering on the edge of terra firma.”

Other than a few of those seabirds, and 7 (seven!) bald eagles, the closest thing to wild animals we encountered on the trail was a pack of White North American Unwashed Hippies with one of their young. Wow. Reeking of weed would have been an improvement. All part of the adventure…

The forecast was not completely true. We got sunshine! Lots of it! But, that wind chill part was for real. Brrrrrr.

The forecast was not completely true. We got sunshine! Lots of it! But, that wind chill part was for real. Brrrrrr.

On the way to Neah Bay, we saw a bald eagle fly under this rainbow. It was indeed a harbinger of breathtaking scenes to come.

On the way to Neah Bay, we saw a bald eagle fly under this rainbow. It was indeed a harbinger of breathtaking scenery to come.

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Oh. Canada! (Those mountains across the water are on Vancouver Island.)

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Welcome figures at the Makah Museum in Neah Bay. We spent over an hour there, learning about the Makah tribal history. For nearly 4,000 years their people have occupied the Olympic Peninsula.

These figures welcomed us at our starting point, the Makah Museum in Neah Bay. We spent over an hour there, learning about Makah tribal history. For nearly 4,000 years their people have occupied the Olympic Peninsula.

$10 permit required to explore tribal lands, including the trails we hiked today. Seems a pittance, considering...

This $10 permit is required for exploring tribal lands, including the trails we hiked today.
Seems a pittance, considering…

At the Cape Flattery Trail Head, walking sticks provided by the Makah. Free for use-and-return, $5 to take-and-keep.

At the Cape Flattery Trailhead, we found a pleasant surprise: walking sticks provided by the Makah. Free for use-and-return, $5 to take-and-keep.

I chose one!

I chose one!

Next several shots: scenes from our hike along the Cape Flattery Trail. It's only 3/4 mile, but oh, where it took us!

Next several shots: scenes from our hike along the Cape Flattery Trail. It’s only 3/4 mile, but oh, where it took us!

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No tufted puffins today. Sorry, Maria. Wrong season.

No tufted puffins today. Sorry, Maria. Wrong season.

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At the end of the trail, which feels like it's at the end of the earth, we had a crystal clear view of the Cape Flattery Light, on Tatoosh Island, about half a mile from the coast.

At the end of the trail, which feels like it’s at the end of the earth, we had a crystal clear view of the Cape Flattery Light, on Tatoosh Island, about half a mile from the coast.

Here we are. Top left corner of CONUS. Check!

Top left corner of CONUS: check!

With Tatoosh Island behind us

With Tatoosh Island behind us

Since we finished at Cape Flattery by 1:30, we decided to make the most of the sunny skies (and our 3-hour drive to get there) by driving down to the Shi-Shi Beach Trail, which took us on a ridge above the Pacific Ocean.

Since we finished at Cape Flattery by 1:30, we decided to make the most of the sunny skies (and our 3-hour drive to get there) by driving down to the Shi Shi Beach Trail, which took us on a messy but really rather glorious walk along a ridge above the Pacific Ocean.

"Beach access in Olympic National Park is by steep trail." By which they mean there are actual ropes tied to trees to help you descend. At that point, we were short on both daylight and patience, so we skipped the potential cliff tumble and turned back.

“Beach access in Olympic National Park is by steep trail.” By which they mean there are actual ropes tied to trees to help you descend.
At that point, we were short on both daylight and patience, so we skipped the potential cliff tumble and turned back.

Two miles out, one mile of which was mud. Two miles back, same mud.

Two miles out, one mile of which was mud.
Two miles back, same mud, but tired feet.

I tried really, really hard to avoid it...

I tried really, really hard to avoid it…

But lost the battle on the way back to the trailhead.

It didn’t go well.

Yeah. That was a deep one.

Yeah. That was a deep one.

But definitely...

But definitely…

worth...

worth…

the reward.

the reward.

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We even saw a little frosty snowy stuff on the walkway.

Thank you, Makah tribe.
Your land is a treasure.
We showed it utmost respect by leaving only bootprints, and taking only memories.

Trying to embrace the beauty of a PNW winter, but mostly just drinking more

Scenes from our soggy week, with unmitigated gratitude for in-laws who share wine.

Our campsite overlooks Padilla Bay, with a view of several of the San Juan islands. Every 25 hours, it turns into something like 8,000 acres of mud flats. I literally can't even.

Our campsite overlooks Padilla Bay, with a view of several of the San Juan islands. Every 25 hours, the tide goes out, and the bay turns into something like 8,000 acres of mud flats. Mud. Flats
I literally can’t even. Also, nobody would buy shoes called mud flats.

Regardless, I stepped into my big girl boots (Not my cowgirl boots. OMG, not for this), and took a walk down to the shore when the tide was in. This is a typical Washington beaches in winter. Want to know what it looks like in summer? Keep staring.

Regardless, I stepped into my big girl boots (Not my cowgirl boots. OMG, no. Not for this. For this I’ve got an old pair of snow boots.), and took a walk down to the shore when the tide was in.
This is a typical Washington beach in winter. Want to know what it looks like in summer?
Keep staring.

I kept staring. And as if to slap me with a big old neener-neener lesson on life, Mama Nature rewarded me with this bit o' magic. Sorry, Puget Sound. I get it now. Again. Temporarily.

I kept staring.
And as if to slap me with a big old neener-neener lesson on life, Mama Nature rewarded me with this bit o’ magic.
Sorry, Puget Sound. I get it now. Again. But probably only temporarily, I’m thinking.

Later that day, look what else I found!

Later that day, look what else I found!

But the sunshine shut down 15 minutes later, and once again I was back to, "Seriously, why did I even bring these?"

But the sunshine shut down 15 minutes later, and once again I was back to, “Seriously, why did I even bring these?”

That's fine. We get it. If I had to clean a public restroom, I wouldn't allow pets in there either. But...

Meanwhile, back at the park: a common sign to which I have no objections.  If I had to clean a public restroom, I wouldn’t allow pets in there either. But…

... look what's conveniently located outside! Now *that's* dog friendly. I wish more public places would offer hitching posts for pets. Thanks, Bay View!

… lookit what’s conveniently located outside! Now that’s dog-friendly.
I wish more public places would offer hitching posts for pets. Thanks, Bay View!

We have no Christmas tree inside. Plenty outside, though! And thanks to Tim's mom, we've got a string of lights there across the front of the house. All is calm. All is... OK, mostly it's *gray*, but the twinkles help. A little.

We have no Christmas tree inside. Plenty outside, though! And thanks to Tim’s mom, we’ve got a string of lights there across the front of the house.
All is calm. All is… OK, mostly it’s gray, but the twinkles help. A little.