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Newly Empty Nesters buy Van to build into a Camper Van.

#vanlife

We bought a van. We’ve been looking at vans and talking about this for like a year. We saved up the money over the last few months and bought a 2013 Ford Econoline 150 passenger van. We plan to rip out the bench seats, the carpet, etc and turn it into a camper van. I think it will be a fun project to keep us occupied in the remainder of the Pandemic and my husband has been wanting a camper van for years.

The next steps include cleaning it out and planning a floor plan for the campervan. We aren’t quite 100% on the same page with the van but we are working on it.

Things we definitely want in the van:

  • Bed long enough for me (5’10)
  • Sink for hand washing/meal prep
  • Toilet
  • Window coverings
  • Good air circulation
  • Storage
  • Room to put a mountain bike
  • Lights
  • Fridge?
  • Ceiling fan?

I’m excited about all of the possibilities for this van. So much of the things that have been hard in a pandemic in winter and that includes not being able to be out traveling and enjoying nature. Also, I have been telling my husband I want to have adventure. We all know tomorrow is not guaranteed. But we have competing priorities so we say, I can to do that later. When the kids grow up. When I retire. When I have more time. And now, the kids are grown up and later feels like now to me. So adventures, here we come!

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So this is the New Year

And I don’t feel any different.

I find that the Pandemic gives me ups and downs.

Ups: my husband has now had 2 vaccine doses. We have no debt! We have a good savings. We both work. The kids are ok. One is moving to Canada! We could do lots of things with our future.

Downs: the country is a wreck. Half of the country voted for a wreck and I find those people unrelatable. Is there going to be more vaccine? Will we ever be able to travel? I am tired of being away from people. Are we stuck in this crappy present? How much longer do we have to do this.

I’ve been reading a ton. It’s been a good way to cut the bad. I’ve read a lot of books around WWII.

Last weekend we took a trip to a little cabin with no cell signal or wifi. It was a lot of fun. I read, hiked and wrote. I did nothing for a purpose, only for enjoyment. We had no news so it was like nothing bad was real for a weekend. Time was suspended. I decided to give myself a weekend of that every month. Maybe it will get me through the next few months while things possibly get better?

My husband has seemingly adapted to living here after 3 months. He loves it, he says. He’s buying a mountain bike. Me? I’ve gotten used to 40 degree weather, but 30s are hard. I’m still cold a lot. I try to get out and walk or hike. But I still feel like this is a place we are visiting. I’m not sure what happens after April.

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Here Comes Christmas

We got a tree.

I made it back from Sacramento just before they locked down even more than they already had. I did a pretty good job of avoiding people on the trip, getting food to go, staying mostly in my hotel room. The airports were pretty empty and I was glad I had missed the majority of the Thanksgiving folks. My plane strategy was to sit in the back so everyone would be facing away from me if they took their mask off to eat or drink or talk.

And now we’re are headed into the holiday season. And I know for all of us it’s very different. For us there is no annual dinner and a show. Normally we eat a nice out and go to the theater with the kids. We are talking about buying tickets for the online nutcracker. You can do that to support all of those ballet companies not currently touring.

We also are probably not seeing 2 of the kids. They were planning to travel over the holidays, but as the pandemic has worsened and hospitals have gotten more full, the kids decided to stay home. I am trying to come up with fun ways to celebrate despite being apart. Even tree decorations are something we do all together. We do have one of the kids here but it’s definitely harder.

Aside from trying to manage upcoming holiday changes, the weather is getting colder. We’ve been waking up to ice on the windows. Our friend suggested a mixture of alcohol and water, but so far we haven’t been in a big hurry so we just let it melt after we start the car.

Will starts working tomorrow. He has orientation full time and then is planning to work only a couple of days a week. Weekends are still ours for walks and hiking adventures. One thing I like here is that we are in between a lake and a bay. So we have lots of opportunities to see water. I hope you all have holidays full of love despite distances.

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I Forgot How to Fly

Travel is one of my favorite things. I love trains and planes and road trips. I also love airports for people watching. But the last flight I took was back in March. We were coming back from Mexico just when they started telling Americans to hurry home. Back then we didn’t know how serious the pandemic would get. We weren’t that stressed about travel but we starting to get stressed about what would happen when we got home. My work ended up keeping me home for a week before I could go back to work.

Skip to Dec 1st. 9 months later and you’d think I have ever flown post 9/11.

I had to take a trip for an appointment. I had to go to this appointment and it was one I worked to get way back at the beginning of the year. And even though I tried to get it as a virtual appointment, I ended up having to book a flight back to California. I wish I didn’t have to go, but it is what it is. I would have driven but that would mean 4 days of driving, multiple hotels, and a lot of missed work.

It’s a little disorienting at first. The set up for TSA is a little different in keeping people six feet apart and plexiglass around TSA folks. Disorienting enough that it took an extra second to figure out where to go when. And that extra second I looked like had never flown before. Where do I stand? Where are the bins? The TSA agents were like come on lady, get it together.

I think there are going to be a few post pandemic experiences like this in our future where we will definitely be disorienting. Things we previously loved like travel. Or even simple things like eating in a restaurant.

How is the airport? Mostly empty. People wearing masks. And like every where we go, some people wear their mask like a chin strap. I just tried to stay away from everyone when possible.

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We’ve Arrived, now what?

Anyone else ever move across the country in a pandemic?

No?

A guide to relocating in a pandemic would be good. How to find a new dentist via email because you just can’t walk into a place and chat up the receptionist guide. Or how to get to know your new neighbors from a distance with a mask on but still seeming friendly guide. How to find your favorite neighborhood coffee shop when half of them close for the next month.

The bay at night

Luckily a lot of people here are friendly. But that’s a lot of what you get, friendly strangers. I am not sure how it moves past that without time near people. We did attend our first feast. Feast is like church for Baha’is. We hang out every 19 days and pray, go over the business of the community, and then do the social portion. Of course feast was on zoom. The social portion was in break out rooms. We did meet someone whose mom lives in Pasadena. That might be an avenue for meeting people.

But we are also a little uncertain about how long we will stay. We have a 6 month lease. But will we be able to go to Canada if it’s still a pandemic. And also, I prefer my work from home life over hospital life during the pandemic. Today Will and I were talking about hanging up art. And he said, if we aren’t staying should we even bother? I say yes because I care about what I am surounded by.

The unhung print I got as a gift in Israel for my husband

Those are the kind of questions we have when we aren’t working or trying learn how to exist in the rain. Teddy seems to be getting used to the rain somewhat. But if we take him out in it I worry about how cold he is. How do you know if it’s too cold for your dog?

I watched a video on snowshoeing on you tube. I’d like to try that out. It seems less intimidating than skiing.

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Weather

I knew that weather would be the hardest part of this move. I usually tell people I am allergic to frozen water. I hate the snow. I’ve lived in Southern California for 20 years. I don’t know how to live in actual winter. But here we are.

Before we left we did things like scheduled maintenance on our cars and replace the windshield wipers. Do you know how often we used our windshield wipers in SoCal? When we drove long distances and bugs were dying on the windshield, we would turn them on with wiper fluid. That’s basically it. It rains like 5 times a year. So they were sunbaked and cracked. I also bought a gortex rain coat and trail runners that are water proof. I knew I’d have to get used to existing in rain that lasts days. I also got some smart wool socks. I basically shopped the clearance at REI.

While I was unpacking, I realized I have like 3 long sleeve shirts and like 25 tank tops. And the long sleeve shirts are either for hiking or dressing nice in an interview. I have like 3 pairs of pants that aren’t capris or leggings. I don’t actually have very warm clothes. And now that I am here, I am feeling it. I’ve been trying to layer up but I also find myself working in my office with a blanket on.

And today when we got up there was ice on my car and it was 35 degrees. And I realized it’s not even as cold as it is going to get. I knew this but I was pretty focused on the rain aspect that I forgot about the cold aspect.

I know, I am being dramatic. It’s not that bad. I will live. People live in winter, right? But it is definitely an adjustment.

A 35 degree morning. Berries on a path near our place.
The wind was so cold on this evening by the bay.
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Welcome to our new adventure!

We made it to Washington state. It’s been a hectic move, but when is moving across states not hectic?

Will was driving his car and had to replace his tires on the second day of our move. Something fell into the road and he ran over it. It even scraped the underside of his car barely missing his gas tank. I was ahead of him a bit and he ended up 3 hours behind me in reaching Oregon.

When we arrived to our rental, the previous tenant was still there. We were pretty disappointed and ended up having to clean the kitchen and bathrooms because they weren’t clean. He got all of his stuff out pretty late at night. It complicated our first day because we had been driving for 3 days, we had a dog and it was raining. Oh yeah, and there is a worsening pandemic.

Then we found out that our stuff which had gauranteed arrival for Friday, won’t be here until Monday. We wanted a Friday arrival so I could set up my office before work on Monday. Unfortunately that won’t happen. We are basically camping in our house with an air mattress and camping chairs. But we do have my computer and wifi set up.

Some great things about the move include me having my own bathtub. I haven’t had a bathtub in my bathroom for over 5 years. I was so excited to have a relaxing hot bath and bought some lavender bath bombs and a book to read and spent a whole hour lounging.

We’ve had fun exploring some new neighborhoods and some parks. We did a 4 mile walk along a creek to the waterfall. We saw sea otters in the bay. We love the water everywhere.

The fall colors are amazing.

Moving is definitely an unsettling experience. All of your routines and norms are thrown off. There’s no order to your things, your time, and your calendar. But there is also a lot of opportunity and possibility in that space. A chance for new hobbies, new habits and new experiences. We are looking forward to them.

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On the Road Again

Today is day 3 of driving. Day one included visiting all of the kids and their dogs. We had dinner at a restaurant for the first time in 8 months. Not take out, but eating at the establishment. We sat outside and we were the only people there so we felt better about it. It was good to see the kids and I definitely am starting to realize it will be hard to be further than a 6 HR drive away.

The second day was our longest day of driving. And it was complicated by a flat tire for Will. He ended up having to take 2 1/2 hours to get new tires. I guess Subarus and the all wheel drive means you can’t have varying tread on the tires. So that was an added $670 spent. He did get a good discount on them. We got to our hotel in Oregon at 6:30 and Will arrived at 9.

The drive through Northern California and Southern Oregon is really beautiful though. It was nice to see all of the fall colors.

One more day of driving to go!

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Exhausted

You too?

Whew. What a week. Yesterday I was excited all day. I was ready to have a reason to celebrate so Trump losing and a female VP was a great one. I played celebratory music all day while packing up to move. There’s a lot more to say about the politics of this country, but I don’t have the energy for that in this post.

But today, I’m stressed about packing. We’re realizing we can’t fit everything and that we have way too much stuff. So it’s time to toss some things. We already filled up the trash for our condo. 😬 And I’ve been feeling like we are pretty wasteful to have so much stuff and to throw it away. Why do we need so much stuff?

And it’s not like we weren’t throwing out stuff before. A few weeks back I started tossing stuff and still I find myself surounded by too much stuff. In this big move, I’d really like to live a little lighter and a little leaner. At the begining of this year, I planned not to buy new clothes, only used. And then I was like, well, I will buy new socks and underwear of course. And then one day I was headed to an event with no sweater and it was cold. And then the pandemic hit. And going to thrift stores to look for clothes was too hard. I know you can by them online, but sizing is so hard online. And like everyone else in the pandemic, I gained weight. And moving to Washington requires a raincoat that effectively keeps out rain. So that new year plan didn’t quite work out.

2 more sleeps before we hit the road.

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And I Already Missed a Day

It’s only November 5 and my idea to blog everyday has already faltered. Yesterday after work I was trying to catch on all things re: moving. Every day after work, we have some task to do. Today I need to pick up Teddy’s records from the vet. And I already got behind on some tasks. The lab for my annual labs is only doing appointments and they don’t have appointments until long after we are gone. But at least I got my mammogram done. I was trying to hit all of my health providers before I move so I have some time before I need to find a new one.

And every day we are packing a little more.

One of the things you do is tell a lot of people that you are moving. And we have heard a lot of people say things like, “everyone is leaving California” or talk about how better it is outside of California. And I get it, everyone has their own feelings about California but I really don’t feel the same way they do. I love California. I love it’s nature, it’s weather, it’s food, and I love some of the progressive things we do. I am not leaving because of taxes. I pay mine and I like how we have a higher minimum wage, state disability, etc. I am definitely aware of it’s issues but I am going to miss California.

It’s one of the hardest things about this process. I don’t know how much I will like Washington (it is temporary) but we definitely picked an area based on some of the things we love like Trader joe’s, college town, liberal views, etc.

5 more sleeps!