Done Gone and Moved Again

Done Gone and Moved Again

In the spirit of writing a blog post at least once a year (yes – I know that’s not enough), I wanted to let all 3 of my blog followers know that we have moved from our rental house in Sammamish finally into our own purchased house in the same neighborhood.

We received a notice from the landlord that the owners of our previous house were intending to occupy their house at the end of our lease – which was June 30th. Fortunately, they gave us about 60 days notice which set off a flurry of house hunting, budget planning, packing, and general sense of panic.

I had earlier been casually looking around to see what was available, and decided to stop looking and just renew the lease. But, of course that idea didn’t last. So now the search was on in earnest.

We started with what I felt was a reasonable budget for this area (which is still quite unreasonable when compared to Texas and even Virginia). After discovering that there were no properties at the desired price in our near area, we began looking further out. Yes, there are good properties for our budget, but they are so far away. The best house we found was over an hour commute each way to work and had a super small yard and tiny garage – two car, but SMALL cars.

After driving that distance several times to look at houses, we almost decided to buy in Monroe. On the last drive home, it began to hit me just how much more time I’d be spending in the car just driving to and from work. At this point, I decided it just wasn’t worth it to lose two hours a day more to driving.

We went home in sadness and with no prospects for a home in mind.

While we were getting out of the car, one of our neighbors stopped to talk to us and suggested we go look at one house down the street. This house was way outside the budget I had set for our house, but we went anyway. Once we got inside to look, we just felt at home – peaceful despite the price. While sitting there thinking about the possibility, it became clear that if we made some adjustments to our savings and other expenses, we could actually bump up our budget and possibly afford to stay in the same area.

So we made an offer and it was accepted.

But there were more hurdles to overcome.

The inspection revealed quite a few issues that needed to be addressed. We began to start making appointments for quotes and additional inspections. The owners responded with anger. At that point, we rescinded our offer and prepared to move on. We continued to look at houses, but this time with a higher budget in mind. There were many more options, but nothing out there that caught our eye.

After pulling the offer, the owner’s listing agent contacted us to ask for the inspection report. We gladly provided it to them – this meant they were serious and also could not claim ignorance on any seller disclosures. They immediately dropped the price, followed by a second price drop a week later. Soon, service vehicles were showing up at the house. We then began to think: “well, if they are actually going to fix things like we were going to ask, then maybe they will entertain a new more fair offer…”

So, we reached out through our agent to ask about what was going to be done to the house. Eventually, we reached a fair price – well below our originally agreed to price, and that included some of the more critical repair work already done.

So, now we were able to move ahead and close on the house in two weeks.

We are now moved into the new house, with boxes stacked all around. The most important part of this story is that we felt no peace anywhere else – we felt that God had placed us here in this area when we first moved in, and every time we attempted to find a place outside, we were just not able to find the peace to move on it. Once we made the decision for this house, the burdens we had felt for finding a place were just lifted off our shoulders – it was most certainly a “peace that passes understanding”. It made no sense to our minds that spending so much money would cause a peaceful reaction, therefore it must only be a divine gift that we are able to be here.

We are determined to make this house a place of peace and hospitality – to have friends and family visitors, and to use the house to make new friends and serve others. This will challenge us as introverts, but we will make every effort to share the blessing of this house with others.

Updates and News

Updates and News

You may notice that the web site is missing a few things… like all of the pictures. Well, apparently, this was a planned change that I somehow missed in my flurry of emails. The backend database that serves this web site on Azure was migrated off the service and onto a standalone hosting platform and then disconnected. They were kind enough to provide my the backup of the file, so I still have all of my archived data. What is missing, though, are my pictures which are still in the old directory structure, but not linked to the new location and posts. I’ll have to go through the links and download them… Lots of work to do … again.

And Now For Real News

Maybe not terribly exciting to you, but I’ve added yet another airport to my list: OGG, or the main Maui airport which we visited for a vacation a couple of weeks ago. I’ve updated the list and now have 95 airports on it that I’ve visited over the years.

Maybe I should add some pictures of Maui? Probably.

Trouble On Two Wheels

Trouble On Two Wheels

Yep. That’s me… again.

After putting it off for a long time, mostly for good reasons, I’ve finally acquired the motorcycle that I’ve always wanted. Granted, it’s the most current version of it – not the version that launched in the 80s when I were a wee child dreaming of cruising around on the latest two-wheeled dream.

When I was in my early teens, I subscribed to Cycle World – or maybe I just bought them at the 7-11 every month, I can’t remember. In one of those issues back in 1982, there was an article about the new BMW K100 – a radical new design for BMW which comprised of a horizontally mounted inline-4. Previously, BMW had built a motorcycle cult following with their twin boxer engine, and most riders saw BMW as a stodgy bike maker whose time had passed. The era of the Japanese high-performance motorcycles was dawning. I also had dreams of the new Interceptor (but I think that might have been later in 1984) or Hurricane, or Katana, but this BMW caught my eye. I was fascinated with how they had engineered it to ride in all seasons, and designed the fairings to channel water away from the rider when riding in rain. But, since I was not even a legal driver, I knew it was not going to be mine – at least for a long time.

My friend Darren and I used to dream out loud of riding motorcycles on a tour around the country after we graduated high school. This dream never happened and I forgot about it for a while with college and life happening at a furious pace. Eventually, I ended up with Laura – exactly where I was supposed to be.

She, fortunately, had a little bit of a “biker” in her past, so when she suggested we ride away from the wedding on a motorcycle, I was more than eager to comply. My father had recently bought his own motorcycle, a Honda Shadow 1200 with a beautiful orange flame tank. I would go over to their house and practice riding the bike a few times a week. I took longer and longer rides until it was time to practice with a passenger. Laura was happy to help.

We were able to ride away from our wedding on the motorcycle and got some great pictures – but by that time, I was already hooked. We even took the course and got licensed together.

My father took a job working overseas, and I graciously offered to care for the bike while he was away. Bikes must be ridden regularly, after all. Someone has to, right? I put quite a few miles on that bike for him.

Eventually, I took a new job in Virginia and we were relocated. At the time, we were trimming expenses to cut our costs and had sold off all but one car. When we arrived in Virginia, we needed another vehicle. I of course suggested a motorcycle – out of the purest of motives I assure you. This was in 2005.

BMW had just released a new version of the K-bike: a K1200S – beautiful blue and white or black and yellow paint combinations and the latest technological advances were applied to that machine which grew from the K100.

When it came to purchase one, since we were still paying off my substantial debt, I couldn’t quite swing the price of the BMW. I even drove to Maryland to test drive one, although I knew I couldn’t afford it. It was wondrous. However, reality set in and I only had so much money. So, I ended up with the second in line: the Honda Interceptor. This was a great bike and it took me over 30,000 miles in just a couple of years as my primary vehicle. But, it wasn’t the “dream bike” that I had intended to buy. We called it the “interim bike”.

After using it as a daily driver, riding lost the thrill and I found myself dreading those hot, sweaty rides to work in stop and go traffic. My project had changed and my commute switched directions from out of town to into the beast of the DC area. It was no longer a pleasure to ride to work. We eventually got a second car and the Interceptor sat in the garage for a while. I still rode, but not as much. I eventually sold the bike with the expectation that eventually, I’d get “the one” that I’d been waiting for.

Then, life got in the way again. Crazy work schedules, business travel every week, a new job, relocation, dealing with selling the house in Virginia, and when it didn’t sell, renting it out, and finally selling it again all got in the way of seriously planning to get the new bike. I had for the last 3 years or so been subscribed to the CycleTrader mailing list searching the nation for just the K1300 bike I wanted. At first, I thought I wanted the K1300GT. They stopped making them in 2011, so they are hard to find with low mileage. But, I also kept coming back to that “S” model. The original one that first made me want to go out and buy it right away. So, there was a local one. I went and test rode it. Sure enough, it was the one I wanted. I even toyed with the R1200RS – a bike with the boxer engine, but I could not shake the K from my mind.

Then, after we freed ourselves from the house and were in a position to do so, after much discussion, I was able to locate a 2015 K1300S Motorsport edition (it matches my car since I have the M Roadster). It was in Boise. Only 4100 miles on the bike – practically new.

So I bought it. I flew down and took it home. It felt great to ride. Smooth, powerful, solid, and stable – everything I wanted and had hoped for. The safety features and technology advances since I owned the 2002 Interceptor were substantial. I have ABS, traction control, tire pressure monitors, electronically adjustable suspension. The works. The bike was so solid on the road, that when the winds were whipping around me in eastern Washington on my ride back, the bike didn’t budge. I was almost blown away, but the bike was a rock.

They’ve discontinued this model now, but that just means it’s all the more rare and I’m pleased that I get to own one of the last ones made.

We’ve taken it out a few times together, and I’ve even found a few riding buddies at work and in my neighborhood. I only ride when I want to so I don’t burn out. I also don’t have to ride in the rain and snow like I did in Virginia. This make Laura happier.

This bike was definitely worth the wait.

European Travel Visas?

European Travel Visas?

It seems that political stupidity is global. The EU has recently voted to end visa-free travel to EU nations for US citizens. What this will mean is that Americans wanting to go to any member EU countries will have to apply for an entry visa before travelling to the EU member countries. How long before and what the process is, I don’t know. Nor do I know when this is supposed to go into effect. What I do know is that this will have enormous repercussions for both the US and EU – especially economically.

How many people who are simply used to flying to Europe will decide not to visit since they have to apply for a visa for entry? How many people who will travel to Europe for work visits will simply not go, or put off the trip and do video conferencing instead? The European hospitality industry will suffer indeed as fewer Americans will want to bother with the additional paperwork.

Also, there will likely be US retaliation for this action by requiring the same reciprocal action from EU citizens travelling to the US.

Check here for a good perspective from a non-US travel blogger about the wider implications of this and related EU actions.

These travel policies have been going on for some time, several years in fact, so they have nothing to do with the new administration. However, I would think that in light of the present administration’s tendencies to act somewhat precipitously that some tactful diplomacy on the EU’s behalf would have been warranted.

This Barren Land

This Barren Land

It has been quite some time since I last blogged. in fact, it’s been since our trip out here to the land of mountains and rain. But it’s not this area that’s barren – it’s my blog.

Yes, it’s been a while but I have been busy: busy with the new job and getting oriented to a new way of working. I have a team now, and that’s new for me – no transitioning in and out of a project never to see them again, no flying to and fro. It’s been a real change for the better I feel. I will be starting in a new office this coming Monday. We moved one building over and now I have a window in my office. I’ve also been busy trying to orient to the area and learn where things are, where the good restaurants are, where the stores are.

Fortunately, we just decided to extend our lease when the current one is up. We’ll get to live in the same house for a couple more years while we deal with renting and then hopefully selling our Virginia house.

I’m really glad that we moved our blogs to the cloud: our server was down for two months while we moved from apartment to apartment to house. Now, we’ve been able to cut down on the number of computers I’ve been using in the house. Previously, I was using 5 computers just host the home’s “infrastructure” and web sites. Now, we’re down to 3 which should save us a bit of money on power.

Now, my next task for the sites is to clean up what little data remains on my old web server, make sure it’s on the blogs, and then shut it down.

Most are done, but one more site remains.

Soon.

Road Trip: Day 8 – Pendleton to Redmond

Road Trip: Day 8 – Pendleton to Redmond

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Or Woodinville, WA in our case. For now, anyhow, since the corporate apartment is there.

Yes, I know it’s now two weeks late, but I’ll give you the update now.

We have arrived in Woodinville, WA after a shorter trip than most days we’ve been spending on the road. We left Pendleton, OR in the morning and drove a little over an hour to Walla Walla, WA. Somewhere along the way, we crossed the border into Washington State.

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Stopping in Walla Walla, we had breakfast at a local place called the “Maple Counter” which was supposed to have much gluten free stuff. However, there seemed to be a miscommunication about whether or not they had GF waffles or not in the restaurant and the service we received was somewhat lackluster. My food was excellent, however, and after the meal, we spoke with the management and they will be making some changes in the future to make the GF experience better. We will certainly be coming back to check. 🙂

Once again, we were on the road – this time, to the Greater Seattle Area. First, of course, we must clean the bugs off.

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The road ahead changed from arid to heavily forested almost immediately over the next major rise. Tumbleweeds to pine trees – well, almost. We never actually saw any tumbleweeds, although in many places it seemed we should have.

Our goal at this point was to head straight into town, pick up they keys to the corporate apartment, head there, unload the trailer and turn it in. There were a couple of missteps with this plan. First, I got the wrong key pickup location, which cost us an extra hour in drive time to go pick up the keys at the new location. This, combined with the stairs at the corporate apartment and unloading time, pushed our trailer return time past the closing time of the local U-Haul place. This added a level of stress. Secondly, as mentioned, there were stairs. I suppose I was spoiled by the last corporate apartment which had an elevator. This one was a low-rise and therefore only had stairs. Third, it was HOT. And I mean in the 90s. That made for a very sweaty, uncomfortable unloading.

But, I had asked for AC in the apartment, so it should be okay, right?

Wrong.

There was AC in the apartment… which hadn’t been turned on. And, it was one of those portable units and incapable of cooling the entire place. I was very upset when confronted with this as I had specifically requested AC since we were to be there during one of the hottest months of the year. So I was grumpy, exhausted, tired of driving, hot and sweaty that night – which is why I did not want to write this blog entry. Plus it was not properly installed. They had put it in the living room – blocking the sliding patio door. We had them move it to the bedroom, and even then it was bad.

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As you can see here, there is a piece of the machine that is supposed to go in a window to exhaust the hot air. Only they used tape and didn’t fit it properly into the window. I had to fix it. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The next morning, which was Sunday, we decided to sleep in a bit but we still had to get up and return the trailer. Now, we were finally and officially “done” with the road trip.

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We were able to negotiate a little with the relocation people to find a better place with AC. More on that next.

But – we have arrived and the road trip is complete. All 3,560 miles of it.

Road Trip: Day 7 – Tremonton to Pendleton

Road Trip: Day 7 – Tremonton to Pendleton

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Today was a long day. Long because we wanted to have a short last leg tomorrow.

It started very well… until a great chasm was opened in the pancake-like plains of Idaho. We only had a handful of miles left in Utah, so they passed quickly.

Now apparently, the state tree of Idaho is an orange barrel.

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They seem to plant these along the side of every road. In fact, I don’t think we saw a road without one. This began at the state line and didn’t end until… well, the other state line.

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After taking this picture, we were unceremoniously chased away by an irate construction worker. We fled the scene in dismay.

Now that we had become accustomed to the flashes of orange streaming by our car in regular intervals, we were lulled into a sleepy trance by the gentle, rolling flatness of the surrounding area. We had heard that there were some waterfalls in the area, hence the name “Twin Falls” and were attempting to find them. When, much to our surprise, we see the chasm mentioned above. It was also known as the Snake River Canyon

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We dallied here a few moments before attempting to find more of said waterfalls.

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Here, Laura located a rare (apparently) road-trip rainbow.

After moving on from here, we made a few stops at other places, we crossed the state line into Oregon. Soon, we refilled the car with gas and cleaned the windshield, as is our normal routine: pump the gas, use the restroom, clean the bugs off.

Only, this time, not five minutes from the gas station – not even yet to the freeway, our windshield was plastered with numerous bug carcasses and their fluids in grotesque splatter patterns across our field of view. This made taking pictures as well as driving somewhat difficult, as you might glean from the picture below.

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While taking a cross-country road trip sounds romantic and fun, and certainly it has it up-sides, there are some drawbacks, some “realities” that make it not picture perfect.

We have enjoyed the trip so far, but now… we’d like to be done.

Signing off in Pendleton, OR.

Road Trip: Day 6 – Laramie to Tremonton

Road Trip: Day 6 – Laramie to Tremonton

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Today, since we got to a late start, we made some plans while dining at the local McAlister’s deli where my niece works.

Say hello to Brittany:

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The long journey across Wyoming was indeed long and full of strange sights for people used to the Virginia hills. There was a definite theme, however, to the landscape: flat mixed with strange outcroppings or sudden drop offs. The wind was atrocious in many places. At first, it was fine since it was pushing us along, but later it shifted to the side and made us and all the trucks lean to the right. Maybe that’s why there are so many windmills along the way. This is certainly a good place for it.

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Towards the end of Wyoming, the sun began to go down and we then crossed over into Utah. We had been seeing mountains towards the south with lots of snow on them for a while, and Laura pointed out that they were part of a national park in Utah.

The scenery changed drastically with the border and the freeway began to roll down into a valley lined with cliffs of multi-colored stone. Much grass and other green plant items covered the hills – very unlike Wyoming. The road began to curve more and we eventually arrived in a small town called Riverdale for dinner. Soon after, we were back on the road unable to see the Great Salt Lake right next to us.

We must now sleep. We are in Tremonton, UT in our hotel. Tired.

See you tomorrow.