Friday, January 23, 2009

A Trip Into the Old West

Monday we took part in a Denver tradition dating back over 100 years--the National Western Stock Show. Ranchers and farmers--both commerical and youth in 4H and FFA--from all over the country take part in the exhibition of the best cattle, pigs, sheep, rabbits and fowl in the country. Cowboys from around the country also compete in the rodeo--including regular competition, several days of a Mexican Rodeo and the Martin Luther King rodeo for Black cowboys on MLK Day.

On our way in, our grandchildren, Kylie, 9, and John, 3, had a staring contest with a Bramha bull. I think John was afraid the bull might eat his hat--or knock it off.
Here's our whole group (I'm missing. Someone had to take the picture.) John, Liz, Kylie, John and Eric.

John wanted to see some cows, so we checked out the cattle judging arena. Kylie used the camera she received for Christmas to take some pictures.

John really studied the cattle.
It looks like the pigs like to cuddle a little as they nap in the pig barn. Aren't they sweet?

As the rodeo begins there is a lot a very loud music and a laser light show. I really enjoy the lights as I cover my ears to muffle the sound.

What would a rodeo be without some cotton candy? Nana likes it almost as much as John, but she was careful not to eat too much.
I couldn't take photos of the rodeo events, like bronc riding, calf roping or bull riding, but I could get some of the entertainment events, like this stage coach with a six-horse team.

We also saw monkeys riding dogs, herding sheep. It was quite a sight.

Family time is what we value most about our time here in Colorado. But after a fun afternoon with our son and his family, we were soon back hard at work sorting, storing, selling, getting rid of and packing everything we own so we can go on the road full time in another week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

        We've relived lots of memories over the past couple of weeks as we have sorted and packed and thrown out things so we can go on the road full time.


        I reread some of my mother's letters written while I was in college.  She talked about how she and Daddy quoted poetry to each other as they washed dishes.  When she was writing to me about my upcoming marriage to John, she talked about the depth and importance of her relationship with my dad.


        I found something I had written two days after our second son was born and remembered what a tremendous event that was for John and me to share.


        We have met two of the nicest people as we worked at selling some of our antiques.  We walked into an antique co-op in Denver and the man at the front desk welcomed us, showed us around, and discussed how to put a value on some of our things.  He suggested we email some photos to Judy, one of the women who is part of the co-op.  Days later she came to our house and we instantly made friends.  She bought some things, agreed to share our photos with another member of the co-op and gave us the name of another dealer who might consign some newer furniture.  As it turned out, the other co-op member was Steve, the first man we met.  He, too, has come to our house and bought some things.  Both people gave us advice on how to price what we want to sell at our moving sale.  And they are both wonderful people. We feel very blessed.


        John fought tears as he dismantled his HO train layout.  He was thinking of all the time he has spent playing with the train with our grandchildren.  And how they play with the train and remember him when they come with their parents to check on our empty house.  Now it will be rented out.  We hope the train set can make it to heir house, but it will be different.  The more we are gone, the more we miss out on knowing our grandchildren.  That is the only real downside we have found to traveling the country in our RV.


        The ugly part of all this is the total mess in the house, the growing emptiness and the huge piles of trash.  All of this brings us closer to being on the road.  But it certainly has its ups and downs.  And it is a lot of work.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Getting Ready to Go Full-time

Since 2003 we have been traveling in our 5th-wheel trailer for five or more months a year. This fall, as we were returning to Colorado, we decided we would put our furniture and other stuff in storage, rent our house, and go on the road full-time for a couple of years. For the past few years we have felt it wasn't good stewardship of our largest asset to pay for it all year and only use it a few months. The current state of the stock market makes it an even better idea to use that asset to bring in income.

We returned to the house on November 4 and since then, except for the time we spent decorating for Christmas and celebrating the Christmas season, we have been packing boxes, sorting through files and trinkets and selling furniture and the other "stuff" we don't need. We are keeping family dining room and bedroom sets and our living room furniture. But we are trying to get rid of a lot of the rest.

We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. But I guess I didn't realize how much time it would take. We have to work on the project every day. We will have a moving sale in about a week and a half. Our basement floor is covered with all sorts of things—mainly small things—we don't need any more and haven't used for years. We had a lot of clothes we hadn't worn since we retired. After sorting through them, we gave about 15 bags of clothing, three upholstered chairs, several lamps and probably 20 coffee cups to the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) Thrift Shop.

We have sold a futon, two printers and a scanner on Craigslist. We have sold furniture and silverware to antique dealers and have another antique dealer coming by Sunday to look at some old oak furniture we would like to sell. We hope to consign some other things. Then there is our 1993 Buick sedan we hope to sell.

Since 1975, when we moved from Boulder to Castle Rock, we have been carting around boxes of files and memorabilia—Boulder to Castle Rock to Oconomowoc to Granby to Grand Lake to Denver to Centennial. Finally we are going through those files. And, are you surprised?, we are throwing away most of it.

Most of this has not been too hard for me. For the past two years I have looked at all our "stuff" as an albatross, tying us down and demanding care and concern. Sometimes, I find it difficult—even impossible—to get rid of some things. Our son and his family are probably getting more than they wanted from our house. But on the whole, except that it is a lot of work, it hasn't been too hard.

It has been more difficult for John. He has always been a collector. If he found something he liked, he wanted two, just to be safe. He didn't want to throw anything away. He might need it some day. The last few years have made it more apparent to him he doesn't need it. But it was still hard to start giving things away or selling them. But the more he does that, the more he reports feeling liberated. Tonight he said, "Why should I be controlled by all this stuff?"

We hope to have movers put our furniture in storage and have the carpets cleaned before February 1, so renters can move in—if we find a renter by then. But since our son is handling the rental of the house, we want to be on our way to Arizona on or about Feb. 1. And as soon as we get somewhere warm, we will sit and do nothing for a few days to recover from all this work.

Don't let anyone tell you it easy to become a full-time RVer. Good, exciting, yes. Not easy.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Overview of 2008

After eating and sleeping, there are three constants in our lives--daily Bible reading and prayer, travel and physical exercise. Today I looked back over 2008 to see what we had done in the last two areas. In our travels from March 23 through November 4, we drove the truck 10,700 miles. The last time I read a statistic, the average driver puts 15,000 miles a year on a vehicle. Before retirement, we probably put on about that many miles in a year and most of mine were driving to and from work. It is much more fun to drive those miles exploring New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, as well as a little bit of Colorado.

For most of my adult life I have walked for exercise, but I really wasn't fit and after quitting smoking I put on 25-30 pounds. In 2002 medical research showed that older women should not take hormone replacement therapy. My mother had osteoporosis and I was a devout believer in HRT to keep my bones strong. But studies showed the medication increased the chances of heart problems. So I quite taking the hormones and started doing weight training to keep my bones strong. That new focus on fitness helped me loose 35 pounds. John resumed his weight training and he lost 40 pounds. Then two years ago we began jogging three times a week, usually running 3 miles.

Today I checked and I ran 436 miles in 2008. I'm really impressed with myself. Last week and today we did 4-mile runs. Unless you are a runner, you can't understand how good that feels.We have been back at an alititue of about 6000 feet above sea level for over two months and it is getting easier and easier to run. My cardio-vascular conditioning has really improved. Our physical exercise has helped us feel better, helped us enjoy each day more, and prepared us for many of the workamper positions we have held. We hope it helps us to live longer. It certainly helps us live each day better.