“Thunk” Brings BIG Change

The Big RigOk, things are changing in our corner of the world. If you know us, you already know that. We are saying goodbye to the Big Rig and hello to the next phase of our adventure.

Hmmm.

Here’s the thing – change is tough – we’re good at change – but it’s still tough.

We made the decision in 2014 to let go of 90% of everything we owned. It took us 9 months from the decision point to handing the house keys over to the new owners. What a crazy 9 months that was.

Everything we owned, and I mean everything, had to be handled and a decision made about its future. The choices were: Pitch, Gift, Donate, Store, Take. Not much made the Store category and even less made the Take category. It was quite a project. We dubbed it Curate the Crap.

The goal of the Curate the Crap project was (obviously) to clear the crap and embark on our Big Rig adventure as crap free as possible. We left Ohio on November 7, 2014 with an agreed upon time frame of one year. That’s right. We got rid of most everything we owned with a one year plan. Lots of people thought we were crazy. Some of our friends even made bets on how long we’d last. Maybe we were crazy, but we didn’t care. The blog name came from our initial timeframe – Open Road 365.

The time frame was for my benefit. It’s what I could get my head around. I couldn’t face actually leaving the area – for real – but I could face leaving for a year. Other Half humored me (he’s good at that) but said from the beginning we would need more than 365 days. He was definitely right. He loves that.

So here we are into our third year. So much for 365 days. We’ve been on the road living in the Big Rig for 875 days. By the time we move out it will be well over 900 days. On one hand, that sounds like a lot – on the other hand – not so much.

Depends on who you ask.

The Big Rig is good sized. It’s close to 40’ long and sports 4 slide outs. All totaled we’ve been living in about 350-ish square feet. Of course, that’s not counting the great outdoors – which certainly adds considerably to our living space.

I won’t pretend living this close hasn’t had some challenges. It has. We’ve made it work but sometimes just the other person breathing can annoy the crap out of you.

But here’s the thing. We’re here because of – what we call – the Thunk Test – and we’re leaving because of the Thunk Test.

The Thunk Test is a way to recognize how you really feel. When I say how you really feel – I mean that deep down feeling that doesn’t go away even if you ignore it. When we embarked on this adventure – it was because we both felt the thunk.

Here’s how it happened. We found ourselves empty-nesters in a 3200+ square foot house. This wasn’t a total shock. The house had been a 10-year plan and right on schedule it was time for our next move. But what should that move be? We considered several options – small house, condo, apartment – and what area – snow or no snow?

While I realize how fortunate we are to have options — every option left us with a thunk — that is until we hit upon living in the Big Rig. Now that was exciting. No thunk there. That’s how we made our decision. Once the decision was made the craziness began.

Now, 875 days into our 365 day plan, the thunk has struck again. Only this time it hit one of us while the other was ignoring the signs. I’ll let you guess which one thunked and which one ignored.

So here we are – letting go of the Big Rig and looking at sticks and bricks in a community in Southern California. SoCal is not where either of us expected to land, but it’s all good. Let the craziness begin…again.

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Feeling Like Locals at Caliente Springs

View from Caliente Springs

The views from Caliente Springs are amazing.

We’re starting to feel like locals. We’re well into our second month at Caliente Springs Resort in DHS, California. DHS is what the locals call Desert Hot Springs. We’ve been here long enough to find the best place for margaritas and become regulars at the little diner across the street. How much more local can you get?

DHS and the Palm Springs area works well for us during the winter months. It’s a couple hours from daughter, has a decent airport, Other Half has a golf buddy and the only snow is on the distant mountain tops. All good things – especially this year. Both of us have solo travel plans requiring an airport – starting with my annual Ohio trip.

Sister time!

Cindy and me.

Every February I chance the weather and plan a winter vacation to Ohio. This year my trip was planned around bunions. That’s right, bunions. My sister Cindy is a letter carrier and has the bunions to prove it.

I flew into Detroit Metro Airport Friday afternoon. Her surgery was Tuesday morning. That meant we had 3.5 days to goof off before she was laid up.

Journee 2017

Our sister Mary’s adorable granddaughter, Journee.

We started our goofing off with an amazing fish fry with our sister Mary’s crew. We lost Mary in September of 2015, but her spirit lives on in her four fantastic kids and their families. All of us feel her presence when we’re together, especially in her grandkids.

Once Cindy and I recovered from overeating, we made the most of our pre-surgery days. She had decided it was time for an out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new kitchen refresh. She knew I’d be happy to help since I’m an organizing nerd.

We spent a full day on a purge and pitch binge. We cleared out a mismatched collection of pots and pans, dishes, silverware, coffee cups – so many coffee cups – a behemoth blender that made soup and told jokes, an assortment of gizmo gadgets that never worked and an impressive collection of expired health supplements.

Once we finished the pitch part of the re-org we hit Penney’s, Marshall’s and Bed Bath and Beyond with a serious list in hand. We bought so much at Bed Bath & Beyond the cashier asked us if it was for a bridal shower.

Cindy and JJ

Cindy with JJ after bunion surgery.

By surgery time we had her kitchen working like a finely-tuned machine. She was thrilled. Me too. Her surgery went great. After surgery I took care of her the best I could. I did the usual stuff, got her ice pack, made coffee and took the dog out. Most importantly I made popcorn every night. We caught up on old chick flicks like Runaway Bride and While You Were Sleeping and had a great 10 days together. 

Lila & me at Wildwood

Me and my GF Lila at Wildwood Park

While in Ohio I got to spend time with a few of my girlfriends. Lila and I walked at Wildwood Park and had lunch at Bob Evans; Val and I grabbed lunch at B Dubs, (Buffalo Wild Wings) and Peg, Lisa and I had our usual Lebanese feast at the Beirut Restaurant in Toledo. I also spent time visiting my Mother-In Law at Heartland Nursing Home and managed a little time with Ron, one half of the Bucket Buddy duo Kathy and Ron.

My granddaughters

Fun with my granddaughters Ally and Lilly.

The highlight of my trip to Ohio was time spent with my granddaughters Lilly and Ally. We played Barbie’s, watched Moana and the girls demonstrated their stellar tumbling moves.

Lila’s husband, Bob took me back to Detroit Metro for my flight back to Palm Springs. Thanks Bob, hope I did’t talk your ear off.

Other Half Bday

Celebrating Other Half’s Birthday at Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant.

Other Half was happy I was home just in time to celebrate his birthday. The next day I was off on my next jaunt. This time to North Hollywood.

Beesly in cone

Beesly in the cone of shame.

Our granddog, Beesly had developed bladder stones. He disclosed this condition by peeing the bed, daughter’s bed, while sleeping. His stone removal surgery was set – and since daughter works afternoons – she needed me to pick him up from the vets. Beesly was happy to see me – not happy to be wearing the cone of shame.

I’m happy to be back at Caliente Springs.  Happy to be back in the Big Rig. Happy to be back feeling like a local.

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Happy to be Back in the Desert

Desert Hot Springs wind turbinesWhen we left Mission Bay in San Diego we made the several hour jaunt to Desert Hot Springs. It felt good to pick up and move after two months parked. DHS, as the locals call it, is a small community that few people outside the area would know. It’s near Palm Springs in the same way our hometown of Oregon, Ohio is near Toledo, Ohio. I’d never heard of DHS until we came out this way.

This area is popular with snowbirds, especially snowbirds from Washington and British Columbia. Must be those dang cold winters up there.

Other Half and I have been coming to this area for three years now. Our main reason for wintering here is the easy commute to see daughter – and of course the weather.

Loving the desert viewsShocking to both of us, we’ve developed a fondness for the desert.

If someone had told me – ever – that I would come to enjoy the desert – I would’ve laughed. As a born-and-bred midwesterner my idea of the desert was formed watching John Wayne movies with my Dad. John Wayne’s desert was full of gunslingers, rattlesnakes and quicksand. 

Desert surrounding Caliente SpringsThe good news is the desert, at least this desert doesn’t have quicksand, not sure about the other two. The other good news about this desert are the natural hot springs. Thus the clever name, Desert Hot Springs. The hot springs are supposed to make you feel like a kid again.

View of campground from 1000 ft climbWe are camped at Caliente Springs Resort. If you squint you can see the campground in this pic. We stayed here two years ago. This place is a 55 and better community known for it’s fantastic hot spring fed pools. We love the pools.

We also enjoy daily walks in the desert. The resort is surrounded by desert with easy access. There are a half dozen gates from the park into the desert.

Wilderness warningJust in case you forget where you are – this sign is posted at all the gates. This is the sign that freaked me out the first time we were here. That and the warnings from one of the locals. I’ve since gotten over my freak out.

Other Half ready to hikeIn fact, Other Half and I have gotten so brave we now hike the desert. Our first desert hike here was a couple miles with a 1000 feet elevation change. 1000 feet might not sound like much, but it winded us.

On top of mini mountainJust the same, we were all proud of ourselves until we met a couple in their 80’s. They had walking sticks and water bottles and wide brim hats – much better prepared than us. No surprise there. They told us they hike up the mountain every day. Show offs.

Jumbo Margarita (first of 2)Another great find in the area is a local Mexican restaurant with a great happy hour with $3.50 JUMBO Margarita’s. Can’t go wrong there, unless you each drink 2 jumbos. Take it from me, not a good idea.

Little Bro with us in CAOne more fun thing happened recently, we got to spend time with my little bro Clint. He was in the area for work. Always great to see family.

Happy to be back in the desert.

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Mother Nature Soothes … so do Breweries

Beauty of Mission BayIf there is one thing I know about myself it’s that Mother Nature soothes my soul. The good news for Other Half — so does beer.

Other Half at "Book Bar" at SD Modern Times BreweryOther Half and I spent an afternoon sampling craft beers at Modern Times Brewery in Point Loma. The owner has an eclectic approach to decor, as well as beer. I loved it. Check out the bar. It’s constructed from stacked up books – real books. Comic books from his childhood decorate another wall.

Post-it-Note mural at SD Modern Times BreweryThe art on this wall is created with Post-it Notes. It’s hard to get the scale from the pic, but in the lower right corner you can see the top of a standard sized doorway. Oh, and the beer was good too.

Cabrillo Monument Welcome CenterWe didn’t spend all our time sampling beers. With San Diego weather back to blue skies and sunshine we headed to Cabrillo National Monument. This time instead of using Other Half’s National Parks Senior Pass to get in free – I got my own Senior Pass. Since rates are going from $10 to a whole lot more I figured it was a good time to flaunt my birthday.

Shoreline at Cabrillo MonumentWe walked the park and – like always – were in awe of Mother Nature.

Ruxin the Vietnamese mini pigBack at Mission Bay we met our second traveling swine. This pig is named Ruxin and is a Vietnamese mini-pig. He’s full grown at 2-years old and according to his owner – is ornery. Ruxin and Zoey, the other RV pig that’s here, do not get along. Something about male pigs having to establish dominance.

Historic San Diego Women's MarchIn a case of it’s-funny-how-things-work-out, Other Half and I got stopped in downtown San Diego traffic during the Women’s March. I was able to jump out of the car, sprint two blocks and sideline support the historic event.

Enjoying Bites of San DiegoThe following Saturday, we spent the day overeating. Our son Heath and family had given us a Bites of San Diego tour for Christmas. We love to stuff ourselves so we were excited. The tour started with Indian food, then pizza and beer, followed by French pastry, then BBQ served with a Mexican flair, then a rooftop bar and finished off with Baja Mediterranean. What a great day! Good thing it was a walking tour.

Torrey Pine Reserve Welcome CenterWanting more of Mother Nature’s splendor, we spent an afternoon at Torrey Pines State Reserve. If you’re a golf fan you’ll recognize the name Torrey Pines. It’s where Tiger Woods bombed out at the Farmers Insurance Open the last weekend of January.

Other Half on Razor's Point TrailAt the reserve we hiked the Razor Point Trail. The trail was sandy but doable for rookies like us. Thanks to erosion, there were some challenging sections that we carefully maneuvered. We were feeling proud of ourselves – until more than one runner sprinted past us. Show offs. 

Badlands at Torrey Pines ReserveThe views were worth the hike.

A Torrey Pine treeAnd in case you’re wondering, this is a Torrey Pine tree.

Wowed by Mother Nature!After the hike we spent time sitting on boulders at the beach. If you ask me, you can never get enough of Mother Nature.

Promenade walk at Mission BayBack at Mission Bay, we took our last walk around the Promenade with Fuzz-Butt, aka Rigby. We’ve walked the Promenade lots of times over the last 3 winters. This time was different.

Dolphin spotted at Mission BayWe were entertained by a pair of dolphins. We only caught one in the pic. The second was camera shy. If you know me, you know I love seeing wildlife in the wild.

Other Half on top of Big Rig at Mission BayOther Half said so long to San Diego from the roof of the Big Rig. After two months parked under a Eucalyptus tree our roof needed a good once over.

Just another amazing Mission Bay sunsetSo long Mission Bay. So Long San Diego. No worries, we’ll be back.

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