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Weeks 5 - 8 (January 29, 2005 - February 25, 2005)
Saturday, January 29, 2005
House For Sale and Telling the Folks
Well we put the For Sale By Owner signs in the yard this morning - in the snow. We also decided to have an Open House on Sunday. Here we go.
So we are doing our Spring cleaning in January. Linda put me to work big time. We cleaned out closets and donated about a dozen bags of clothes to Goodwill. We filled another dozen trash bags with stuff that can't go on the RV and was not worth storing. By the late afternoon, the house was spotless and organized for visitors.
The it was time to visit my parents on their twelve acre mini-farm and break the news that we were leaving town. My mother is 72 and my father is 82 and though spry for their age, either one could have a serious health problem at any time.
We had a great dinner. My mother has always been a wonderful cook - I know, everyone's mother is a wonderful cook. They had also gotten some good news that day and were in a good mood.
After dinner I announced that I was retiring. My dad's immediate reaction was "You're crazy! You're too young to retire." My mom kind of knew it was coming and she was happy for us. She knows that if I am not working as much I will probably stay in contact more, and if she needs us we can come back on the spur of the moment.
After talking about our plans for a couple of hours, my dad came around and was also happy for us. All in all, it went much better than we expected. Telling them was one of the last big emotional hurdles to get over. Now we just have to get the house sold.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
First Open House Day
Trying to sell a house in our area in the winter is usually not a good idea. The winter weather along with the fact that we will try to sell it without listing it with a realtor and the fact that it is an upper end home with a much smaller pool of buyers makes the prospect of selling quickly unlikely.
However, we are encouraged somewhat by the fact that a similar home on our cul de sac has sold in the past couple of days for a very nice price. And there are a few others in the neighborhood for sale by real estate agents. Since ours is the first house you see as you enter the neighborhood, we can piggyback off the other open houses for a little while.
This is our fourth home to sell. The first one was listed with a realtor, yet Linda and I showed it and sold it for full price the first day. The last two we sold on our own and also sold them for full price though it took a little longer. I'm telling you that Linda knows how to prepare and show a house.
We actually had seven couples look at the house on the first day. Considering we have done no advertising and the sign has been in the yard one day, we were pleased with the interest and turnout. No offers, but it was a good start.
Monday, January 31, 2005 through Friday, February 4, 2005
Not Much Happening On The RV Front
The work week has pretty much been spent on work. There is a lot that has to be done before I am ready to leave. The primary goal is to make sure I leave all my offices in the position to be able to succeed without me. They can do it, they just need some teaching and some confidence.
Saturday, February 5, 2005
A Trip To Colorado Planned
I forgot to tell you something, so I will bring it up here since there is not much going on today. Back on January 7, the night before we went to the Cleveland RV show, we made arrangements to go to Colorado on February 17 - 21. We are going to a Bed & Breakfast (B & B) in Manitou Springs called the Red Crags Bed and Breakfast Inn to attend an Interim Innkeeping Seminar.
We are trying to obtain as many skills as possible before we hit the road to make sure we have the best shot at obtaining work when we need to. This trip is the first step in becoming certified as Interim Innkeepers.
What is an Interim Innkeeper? An Interim Innkeeper is someone who babysits and runs small inns and B & Bs while the owner/operators take a little time off or leave to go on vacation. Usually their inns are their only source of livelihood, so they cannot afford to just shut them down for long periods of time. Therefore, there is a certain demand for qualified people to take over while the owners get away to rejuvenate.
We figure that becoming certified would benefit us in several ways. First, it will give us an additional income earning opportunity. Second, it will give us the chance to get off the road periodically and stay in quaint, charming inns and get paid to do it. And third, it will give us the opportunity to see what running a B & B is like in case we decide to do that down the road some day - Linda has talked about it for years, so we can see what it is really like.
Here is a funny little tidbit. The hosts of this seminar are Howard & Lynda. We have had some fun with that, and Howard is a hoot. Sounds like we may have to clean some bathrooms and such, but other than that it should be fun.
Hopefully, we can finally start posting some photos along with our journal entries. By then I'll know what I am doing a little more and we will actually have something interesting to photograph.
The next thing we need to do is to get First Aid certified. This will also give us a leg up in finding work as park rangers and tour guides.
Sunday, February 6, 2005 through Friday, February 11, 2005
Another Open House & More Concentration On Work
Well it is Super Bowl Sunday and ordinarily we would have a party to attend or would be throwing one. But not today. Today I am draining, cleaning, and re-filling our hot tub so that it sparkles for the second Open House. You see our new RV is going to be huge and luxurious, but there is no room for a hot tub, so it has to stay with the house.
It's a much slower day for showing the house on Sunday. We only show it to three couples, but all decent prospects. I rationalize that turnout is light because of the Super Bowl.
We do watch the Super Bowl. You see I have always been a sports nut. If it's competition and they are keeping score, I will watch just about anything. Linda on the other hand will watch almost no sports and hates football. I did get her to watch the Super Bowl - for the commercials. I was rooting for the Patriots and not really even sure why, while Linda was rooting for the Eagles (because she is a bird lover).
The rest of the week was spent concentrating on work issues and planning. It drains my brain and I have no creativity left for the RV adventure or the website. Hopefully, I can get back to the fun stuff and have something more interesting to post on the weekend.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
More Website Tweaking
For the first time in a while, I had some time to really concentrate on the website. I went back through all the pages and made notes of what I needed to add or change.
Also, it was time to start looking at adding some more links of general interest and some links that could lead to commissions from "affiliate" websites. Got to earn a little cash some way.
By the end of the day, I had made some changes, added some links (mostly on the Our Decision Page), corrected typos, and re-written a couple of paragraphs here and there. So you may want to click back through and check it out again.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
An Initial Travel Plan Develops
Since we announced our plan, almost everyone's first question has been "Where are you going to go first?" Our answer until now has been "We have no idea."
But now we have sort of a plan through the end of the year. It goes something like this.
For the first week of August we are going to find a campground in a Kentucky State Park somewhere near Winchester, Kentucky. We participate in an annual golf scramble and after golf party the first Saturday in August. We will use that time to get some practice at this RVing thing and to say goodbye to a lot of business associates and friends that will attend the golf and party.
Then we will spend the rest of August heading south through Tennessee and Georgia or Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia on our way to Jacksonville, Florida. We plan to stay about a week at each of three stops yet to be determined.
Then we will spend September in Florida visiting Linda's sister in Jacksonville, and visiting some friends of ours in Bradenton on the Gulf Coast. They just sold a farm in Indiana and recently moved to Florida and we have not seen their new place yet.
This will also give us some time to visit some of the wonderful people around the Tampa I have become friends with at my company. We will then head up the Gulf coast and around the panhandle of Florida taking our time along the way.
We will then arrive in Gulf Shores, Alabama around the middle of October. In Gulf Shores in the middle of every October and April a group of volunteers from the Hummingbird Society sets up nets to catch, weigh, identify and band birds that are starting their migration across the Gulf of Mexico (October) or are returning back to the U.S. (April). This is an opportunity to learn about birds from experts and even get to hold and release some. Linda loves sitting in the park at Fort Morgan and, as a regular, has become an unofficial volunteer that the the others love. I enjoy the bird banding too, but the golf is very good in Gulf Shores (wink).
After Gulf Shores we will head north to the Jackson, Mississippi area where Linda has a good friend she has not seen for a while. We will stay on their farm for about a week, before heading further north toward Oklahoma through Arkansas or Missouri.
We plan to be in Grove, Oklahoma in the northeast corner of the state around Thanksgiving to visit my birthmother (yes I was adopted, but that's too long a story to go into here) and brother. Grove is on Grand Lake about 2 hours northeast of Tulsa and boasts one of the highest rated campgrounds in the state.
Then we will meander back toward the east across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana to spend the Christmas holiday season with family and friends in Kentucky. After that, we will head somewhere warm for the rest of the 2006 winter.
Along the way we will need to try to pick up some work, so we are checking out various opportunities. Our travel plans may change depending on what we find, but hey, that's the beauty of our new lifestyle.
Well back to work on the website and our third Open House - it's a horrible day, so website work may be the highlight. And tomorrow is Valentine's Day so I had better start thinking - I have a certain reputation to keep.
Monday, February 14, 2005
A lot went on today, but nothing to do with RVs. So I am just going to give you a little taste of my last minute Valentine's Day effort. It will amuse some and maybe give some of you guys out there some ideas in the future.
First I sent Linda an Valentine's ecard that I customized and sent on the internet. In the afternoon I took off a little early to do some flower and dinner shopping. I had decided to cook some of the Sockeye Salmon we had left over from our Alaska trip last July. I just needed some things to go with it, so I stopped at a local market and picked up two large crab cakes and two large stuffed mushroom for appetizers. I also got a few chocolate covered strawberries and a small heart-shaped box of assorted Godiva chocolates. Then it was on to the florist - bad time to be going to the florist. I bought a dozen long-stem roses, a dozen red carnations, a table centerpiece with nine roses and six solid red helium balloons.
Once at home I tied one balloon on the front porch and then tied the others so that they led from the door to the kitchen for dinner and then to the patio for an after dinner soak in the hot tub. I cut the carnations down and scattered them along the same route leaving two to decorate our dinner plates. I then took the long-stem roses and put them in strategic places throughout the house, including one with the Godiva chocolates and a card on our bed.
Since the florist was overwhelmed, I was way behind on getting dinner together. I am not a cook, so anything that I don't do in the toaster oven or microwave is a challenge. I followed my salmon recipe and created the bread crumb coating and the dill sauce (improvising without a couple of ingredients). I got the salmon in the oven, prepared a salad, and worked on a mixed vegetable dish for a side.
Linda called and was about an hour ahead of where I thought she would be. I won't tell you what I said when she told me she was about 5 minutes from home. I made her go to the office for another 45 minutes.
Let me tell you how much I admire all you cooks out there that can get your dinners all together with perfect timing - that's a tough thing to do. So my salmon was done early, but I had not started my appetizers. Though I thought I would simple have to put them in the oven for a few minutes, it turned out I was supposed to bake the mushrooms and saute' the crab cakes. I burned the crab cakes slightly and smelled up the house. The fifty candles I had lit were not working fast enough to cover the smell. But it all got done and after preparing both of us a cocktail, I was ready.
Fortunately, Linda was not very hungry and my dim lighting helped disguise the presentation. But overall dinner was still pretty good, and after we both cleaned up the mess I made it was on to better things. Sorry, that is as far as this entry goes - talk to you later.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
A Beautiful February Day In Kentucky
Today was the first 60 degree day in several weeks. So after working a while, I could not pass up hitting the golf course. I played horribly and it was extremely sloppy, but it was nice to be outside for a few hours.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Howard Gets A New Toy and Buddy Visits His Soon To Be New Home
Afer work today I spent more money than I should have on a new toy for the road. I purchased a Nikon D70 Digital Camera, a zoom lens and a few other bells and whistles. But I love photographing places we go and things that we see. I just needed to upgrade to newer technology without ending up with too much camera and not enough skill. After some research, I selected the Nikon D70 for point and shoot capabilites as well as many other options that pros use that I can learn later. Since we are leaving for Colorado on Thursday for our Interim Innkeeper training, I couldn't wait any longer.
After Linda and I both got home, we took our only pet, a gray cockatiel named Buddy, to a friend of Linda's house. Patty and her husband Steve have agreed to take Buddy when we go on the road. We just cannot foresee a place for him in the RV and he is not the sweet bird he once was many years ago. Patty and Steve already have an African Gray Parrot, so Buddy should be easy for them. We dropped him off for his trial run, and he seemed perfectly content. It will be interesting to see how he does when we get back next week.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
First Day of Our Interim Innkeeper Training
After being on planes for a few hours, we arrived in Colorado Springs, Colorado around 1:00 pm Mountain Time. Flying into Colorado Springs the terrain was flat and brown and looked like nothing but mud. The Rocky Mountains to the west of Colorado Springs was a welcome sight.
After driving about 30 minutes west we arrived at our destination of the
Red Crags Bed & Breakfast
in Manitou Springs. If you recall, we are attending an Interim Innkeeper training class at the B & B.
Interim Innkeeping is a fairly new concept. The idea is that several bed & breakfast owners and small inn owners seldom get a chance to take vacations or get away from their work. Interim Innkeepers are folks who, for a fee, come in and run the B&B or Inn for a week, two weeks, a month, or longer while the owners get away. This way the owner does not have to shut down and therefore lose guest revenue and future guest revenue (since no one would ordinarily be there to sell future reservations).
We figured this would be a great way to make a little money on the road and also save some money as we would not have gas, food, or campground expenses during our assignments. It would give us the opportunity to break up the monotony of living in such small quarters and would also give us a taste of the B&B owner lifestyle in case we wanted to have our own B&B down the line.
This training is being conducted by - get this - Howard & Lynda Lerner. That's right. Howard & Linda being trained by Howard & Lynda. This should be interesting.
Howard & Lynda Lerner were the former owners of the Red Crags B&B for 10 years, but now just do interim innkeeping and train interim innkeepers through their company
We hope to learn a lot from them, but for today, we are just regular guests.
We are greeted by Brett Maddox who is the current Manager of Red Crags. He gives us a tour of the B&B, built in the late 1800s, and shows us to our room.
It is a beautiful day, so I take a few photos, we freshen up, head to dinner, and then go to bed since we have to get started early the next morning.
To see all of the photos from our trip
Friday, February 18, 2005
Interim Innkeeper Training: Day 1
It's early morning and we slept well in our large feather bed. But before we get to work, we get to enjoy breakfast in the soothing solarium. Since we were the only guests last night, we have our choice of spots. We chose a table in the sun from where we could see the snow covered Pike's Peak.
After our breakfast of poached pears and apple and pecan stuffed pancakes - yeah it was good! - we met Howard & Lynda for the first time.
We headed to the parlor, were given our manuals, and we proceeded to have classroom type discussions and question & answers for a few hours. We learned that we would be observing guest check-ins, observing the preparation of breakfast for the next day, and assisting with breakfast service the next day.
By the end of the day, we had learned a lot and met all of the guests staying Friday night. There are 8 guest rooms, but only three other couples besides us.
We went to dinner with Howard & Lynda and returned to go to bed early. After chatting with some of the guests, we hit the feathers.
To see all of our photos from our trip
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Interim Innkeeping: Day 2
We completed our "homework" of answering how we would handle several hypothetical B&B situations, and then we were in the kitchen by 7:00 am. Howard is the cook, so he and Linda (Linda with an "i") got breakfast going. Since much of it was prepared on Friday, baking and presentation were the lesson.
Lynda and I (yes, this was confusing to us and our guests) made sure all common areas were presentable, made sure all place settings and glasses were in order, started coffee service, and made sure juices and condiments were ready to be served.
After the guests enjoyed their breakfast of strawberries and cantaloupe, followed by a baked dish called It's Not A Fritata accompanied by fruit garnish and homemade bread, we ate leftovers and got to work.
We did some more classroom training, learned about the reservation system, and listened in on a few calls. By the end of the day, we were handling phone calls, making reservations, checking in guests, had Sunday morning breakfast prepared, and set up the 4:00 wine and dessert service. It was quite a job since all rooms were filled for Saturday night - 7 other couples, 14 people for us to take care of.
It was work, but we took to it and loved every minute of it. Howard and Lynda were comfortable enough with us by the afternoon to leave it in our hands. We even checked in late arriving guests with no help. And we prepared a small cheesecake (with birthday candle) and strawberry plate for a gentleman and his wife - he was celebrating his 60th birthday. It was our idea and our own special touch.
Afterward, we built a fire in the parlor fireplace and talked with a wonderful couple, Dave and Terry, from the Denver area for hours. Others joined as they returned from dinner. We enjoyed our talk so much, we skipped dinner and headed to bed.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Interim Innkeeping: Day 3
Again we were in the kitchen by 7:00 am. Same routine as Saturday except it was our show. Howard & Lynda were there to assist, but it was our job to get breakfast cooked and served - not so easy with 14 people to serve as opposed to the 6 from Saturday morning.
We served Howard's Green Chile Strata recipe. After the assorted fruit plate, we served this delicious baked and layered egg dish with homemade french bread and a chocolate raspberry bread. These folks know what they are doing.
We only had one major incident. In serving several salsas to go with the Strata, one particular one called Apocalypse was in a small Tabasco type bottle. One guest decided to try it, shook it a little, and --- it exploded all over him when he took the cap off. Ordinarily, I would have been rolling on the floor, but this was one of our guests!
Fortunately, he was a great guy and Lynda sprang into action getting his sweater cleaned up. We got through breakfast with no other catastrophes and had a chance to sample the delicious creations.
I then got a request from one of the guests, from whom I took a reservation the previous day for one night, to book another night in a different room. Not only did I get an extra night booked, but I figured out how to do a "split" reservation in the system. I was quite proud.
Then it was back to work. We observed the staff cleaning the rooms and watched the difference in how checked out rooms were handled compared to stayover rooms. Fortunately, Howard & Lynda told us that most B&Bs that can afford to have an Innsitter are large enought to have a housekeeping staff. Therefore, it would be rare that we would have to clean -- that's what I wanted to hear. We might have to clean one or two rooms, for an additional charge, but most often there would be a staff.
After the cleaning lesson, our classroom work was interrupted by four young Mule Deer bucks that had wandered into the yard. For pictures of the deer and the rest of our trip
After the deer and finishing up the classwork, Howard & Lynda said that we had done so well that we finished early. They gave us our completion certificates and we could go back to being guests for our last evening and last day.
But before that, we got to go visit two other B&Bs in the area so that we could see them from an Innkeeper standpoint rather than as a guest. That was quite interesting and the two B&Bs were charming as were their owners. Although Howard & Lynda were quite the taskmasters and were very particular about how things were done, we really got more out of the training than we expected. Plus, it was fun.
So then we got to relax for the rest of the evening. We did greet the new guests and chatted with them. Actually, we talked two of the couples into joining us for dinner. It was a great meal and we had a wonderful time. That is what B&Bs are all about - meeting wonderful people in a relaxed atmosphere.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Our Last Day in Colorado
Since we had a late flight, we knew we had some time to do some sight-seeing. We had hoped for good weather and we were blessed with bright blue skies and moderate temperatures.
After our breakfast of fruit, Belgian waffles and sausage, we said goodbye to the other guests we had met. We packed up and bid farewell to Brett, the Manager, and to the housekeeping staff. We headed less than a mile down the road to a Colorado Springs city park called Garden of the Gods.
With the gorgeous weather, the color contrasts of the red rock formations were beautiful. Check us out.
For the rest of our photos of this magnificent, free public park
Obviously I am not a professional photographer, but I aspire to be. My new camera helps correct my errors and some of the shots are pretty darn good if I do say so myself.
Well that about does it for our Colorado adventure. We are already having a great time in terrific places, and we are still months from hitting the road. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, February 22, 2005 through Friday February 25, 2005
YIKES!! The RV Is Going To Be Ready Early!
Today we got a call from Sirpilla RV, the dealer from which we ordered our fifth wheel. Mike, the salesman, said it would be ready the first week of March!
Considering we thought it would be delivered to the dealer in early to middle April and we could pick it up by the end of April, another wave of "oh my God, we are really doing this" crashed down on us.
The urgency to sell the house quickly picked up again. Oh, and we were expecting our Ford F450 pick-up truck to be ready the first of April. Sirpilla has graciously said they would keep our Cambridge on site through the end of March, but if we don't have a truck to pick it up with, then what?
Linda asked if we could rent a truck. Now I admit I don't know much about this towing stuff yet, but I don't know of any rental company that will bolt a hitch into the bed of one of its trucks so we can pick up an RV.
So, on Wednesday I called Barry at our Ford dealership and explained the situation. I had remembered correctly that we were looking at the first week of April for delivery. Barry agreed to see what he could do to push the dates up. We will keep our fingers crossed.
Other than that, not much happened RV-wise the rest of the week. I did get a very sweet email from one of the guests at the Bed & Breakfast over the weekend. She had been to the website and was very complimentary. She and her husband were great - I hope they stay in touch.
Mostly this week was catching up on work and worrying about my elderly mother that had to go into the hospital on Thursday. She is 72 and went in with pneumonia. Her lungs are so bad from years of smoking - which she finally gave up after years of begging - it does not take much for her not to be able to breathe.
I am not going to get up on my soapbox, but if you smoke, please, please, please find a way to quit. Do it for yourself and your friends and family.
Well, that is it for another week. Let's see if the weekend holds anything more interesting.
Go to Weeks 1 - 4 (January 1, 2005 - January 28, 2005)
Go to Weeks 9 - 12 (February 26, 2005 - March 25, 2005)
Go to Weeks 13 - 16 (March 26, 2005 - April 22, 2005)
Go to Weeks 17 - 20 (April 23, 2005 - May 20, 2005)
Go to Weeks 21 - 24 (May 21, 2005 - June 17, 2005)
Go to Weeks 25 - 28 (June 18, 2005 - July 15, 2005)
Go to Weeks 29 - 30.5 (July 16, 2005 - August 2, 2005)