Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve - 2011

Just a few sunrises left until our view changes!

Wow! Did December go fast, or what? Come on now, we just had Thanksgiving dinner a few days seems. It's funny to think that I've spent the past few years trying to slow time down, unsuccessfully, I might add. For the first time in years I've been happy to let go of the coat tails of Father Time, and let him have his way for change. This past 11 months have flown by. I remember first broaching the subject of us moving into the Newell, and leasing the house to the kids in mid August of 2010. While our goal was to do just that, but in another year, Elaine was a little hesitant at first mention of my big idea. Like most people we know, the recession that started in 2008 put a serious strain on our finances. I wanted to salt away some more money for retirement, and there just wasn't enough to go around. I saw this as a chance to put a serious dent in cutting our living expenses, and direct a little more into savings.

I'm glad we had started to divest ourselves of a lot of the "stuff" that had overtaken our lives the past 25 years back in January of 2010. We had a couple of yard sales and really cleared out the garage, and closets of "stuff" that wasn't being used, and was just takin' up space, and donated what was left over to Disabled Vets. By that August a lot of the hard work had been done, so I just presented the plan, and then left her alone for about a month. Eventually she came to me and said she liked the idea and was ready to execute it! What a great wife, and partner! I then let the kids know our plans, and they loved the idea of having the house to themselves.

OK, that part was easy, but Elaine wasn't going to retire until September of 2011, so where would we live until then? Our initial plan had been to bounce back and forth between a couple of local county parks (Prado and Rancho Jurupa) every two weeks....each park has a 14 day maximum stay per 28 day period. That would have cost us around $750 a month......not bad compared to our mortgage payment. Then I had the idea of applying for a camp host position at one of them so we could just put down temporary roots, and stay in one place for FREE. Easier said than done.....I found out that the local parks had waiting lists, and turnover in camp hosts was low. Well, I put in one application at Rancho Jurupa just after New Year's 2011 thinking we should have done that a year before, but as they say "nothing ventured, nothing gained". Within 10 days we got a call from the resident ranger who asked us to drop by for a face to face interview. When we arrived she walked us over to the new "cabins" they had just put in (really what I would call "park models") and asked us if we would be interested in taking care of the cabins as our camp host job. Originally the County was going to hire someone to do that job, but due to budget constraints they decided to use volunteer labor. We, of course, said "YES!", and the rest is February 1, 2011 we had become FULLTIMERS! Neither of us has, for one minute, regretted our decision, and, in fact, we love our new life......of course you knew that, right?

So, here we are just a few weeks from continuing our FULLTIMING life, but now on the road. Tomorrow we will drive up to our oldest son's home in Rancho Cucamonga to exchange Christmas presents with his family, and our other children and their significant others. Tomorrow evening we will go to our traditional Christmas movie, which, this year, will be the new Sherlock Holmes movie. We started this tradition a number of years ago when the first "Lord of the Rings" movie came out.

We took a nice bike ride on Wednesday to run a few's great when you have a wide open can just dawdle around from one place to the next with no time constraints, other than! One errand was to stop at Staples so I could get the 2012 calendar insert for my DayRunner, and then off to Target to get a video game for our grandson's XBox Kinnect, and then to Von's to pick up some filet's to grill that night. On our way back we stopped in at a local coffee shop we had not been in yet called "Back to the Grind".....kind of a cool place.....and then back home.....probably only about 15 miles round trip, but we took 3 hours to do it....what a very nice afternoon!

I have really been enjoying my new Kindle......I've read 12 books on it since I got it, a couple of months ago, and have 3 stacked up in the home page to read. Later today Elaine and I will spend some time in the trailer deciding what goes with us on February 1st, and what stays in the office warehouse, and what gets tossed.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all! Thank you for reading!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 17, 2011

The title of this new post has no particular significance other than to say that we can now see February 1st just rising above the distant horizon.....we are no longer counting months, but weeks now....less than 6 weeks until we pull anchor.....soon it will become days that are counted, and we will begin to feel the pressure of wrapping up all the loose ends as we finish our preparations for life on the road.

One of those loose ends is the installation of a solar charging system on the roof of our "home". We have chosen AM Solar to complete that task. They come very highly recommended, and we have been impressed with their communication so far. One of their authorized mobile technicians will be stopping by our location on December 19th to do a pre-installation inspection, and then on Fedruary 1st we will journey down to an Escapees park (Jojoba Hills) near Temecula, CA to have the installation completed.

On the home front I just finished my last soccer matches of the Fall Club season last weekend....seems like it was just September 12th (opening day) a few short weeks ago. I just finished the 3rd week of High School soccer and have done around 21 matches to date, with about 24 to go. My last High School match is January 31st, and that date will mark the end of an era for me. I did my first youth soccer match in the fall of 1984. Hard to believe 27 years has passed so quickly. I will truly miss the exhilaration of running up and down the soccer pitch, as well as the camaraderie of my fellow referees. Many players whom I coached, and whose matches I officiated over the years are now grown, and now I officiate their children's matches. That is a lot of water under the proverbial bridge.

In addition to that we will soon bid farewell to our home of the past year (Rancho Jurupa Regional Park), and most poignant of all, we will be saying goodbye to the many friends we have made here. I really do not like saying "goodbye". The resident ranger has agreed to keep us on the approved host list, so we can return. Frankly, if I had to pick a place to spend a few years at this would be my choice. All other future camp host jobs will be compared to this experience. I have read a number of work camping horror stories, so I know it is not all "peaches and cream" out there, however, our experience here has been nothing short of amazing.

The weather the past two weeks has alternated between severe Santana winds, below freezing temps several times, and major is now raining again as I write.....just 24 hours ago we were being buffeted by 40 mph winds.

Well, that's the update. Stay tuned for more posting as we edge toward our road trip. Thanks for stopping by!