Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In 'Transition' phase

I arrived in the Napa Valley a month ago today. My youngest daughter, her husband and I came up with a somewhat ‘fluid’ plan for me once I dropped the 5th wheel off in Texas.

They suggested that since they were planning on a long weekend trip over the Memorial Day weekend, if I were out here by then, they wouldn't have to put Havana (a black Lab mix) in the kennel.  I'm all for that so California. . . . here I come!! 

They offered that I could stay at Nancy’s place up in Yountville - a cute little one bedroom duplex that she has rented for about four years. She and Bob decided to keep the rental after their marriage ten months ago. Their full time house is located just south of San Francisco and she and Bob spend the majority of their time down in that area but the company she works for has a satellite office located in Calistoga, CA (north of Napa / Yountville) and they need her to work out of that office three days a week. It’s a bit of a hectic lifestyle for her right now and I’m hoping that my being out here will allow me to help her out by keeping the apartment ship-shape, running errands, walking Havana, etc.

I really love the Napa / Sonoma Valley area and feel right at home out here. I also love spending time in Florida with my sister and friends as well as getting back to the northeast to spend time with family and friends there. I know that eventually, I'll have to come to a decision about my official state of residency, once the rv sells and my status changes officially from full-time rv’er. Having just come off a year or so of ‘decision making’ though, I feel the need to ‘coast’ for a few months while various plans / options ‘percolate’ and we see what materializes. For now, I'm trying to be content with allowing the 'transition' process to unfold for me.  While that is happening. . . .

I've managed to get back into a regular routine of walking - thank you Havana!!   My regular walking 'routine' faltered for a good month or so I was in full 'prepping the Carriage for consignment' mode and then in travel mode!

Path access from one of the neighborhoods
One of my all time favorite walking areas is out here in the lovely little town of Yountville, CA. It’s yet another location where ’changing up’ a walking route is very easy to do. There are paved walking paths throughout the town, bordering the center of town, extending out into and through the neighborhoods beyond the town center.

Yountville is a relatively small town that has transitioned into a resort/spa /wine tasting and fine dining destination! From what I've observed, there is most definitely a ‘market’ for the selections offered in this town. The businesses that have located here are filling that market demand and doing, what appears to me to be, a really fine job of it.  Since arriving, I'd say that most times, the parking lots of the inns and hotels are just about full, the restaurants have a steady flow of patrons and there's always a group of bicyclists along the bike path and the roadways on the outskirts of town.

Even though what this town is best known for and offers is not something I would typically seek out, I feel fortunate that I can enjoy both the natural and man-made beauty of this town and the peaceful, even tranquil, setting surrounding it on my daily walks. Whether it’s along a paved, beautifully maintained pathway that offers phenomenal views of the surrounding vineyards and hills;

or through the center of town where the heavenly aromas float out from the local bakery and eateries and where signs beckon visitors and locals to stop in for a wine tasting; or expanding out along the

pastoral roadway with the
now familiar row upon row
of vineyards on one side of
the road and a herd of long 
horn cattle grazing on the
other side.  

I’ll have more photos to share as I venture out to some of the surrounding towns, hike the many offerings in this area and then, too, as I explore and discover all that there is to see and do in the Mountain View area south of San Francisco. Bob and Nancy told me they like to take Havana over on the walking trails through the Stanford University campus located not too far from where they live!! 

Speaking of Mountain View, we were all down there a couple of weekends ago and we celebrated Havana's 10th 'birthday' (10 years since Nancy adopted her).  The celebrating part of her 'day' included a hike just north of of there in the Pulgas Ridge OSP. 

Photo courtesy of website
It was a relatively easy hike but along about the time we were about three-quarters of the way up the hillsides, Havana and I both needed to seek shady sections to linger for abit and refresh with cool water. Fortunately most of the hike had plenty of trees shading the pathway. Unfortunately the uppermost section was right out there in full sun!!  Bob and Nancy were very understanding of us 'old timers'!  We loved the challenge and hope to get out to more of the great offerings in this area (South Bay) as well as back up in the Napa / Sonoma area (North Bay).  And then there’s always Santa Cruz or Half Moon bay on the coast -- each only 45 minutes away - well, maybe as the crow flies - driving in CA traffic may take considerably longer!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Are my ‘Don’t Fence Me In Days’ numbered????

Since leaving MA just a couple days after Thanksgiving last fall, I’ve enjoyed a five month stay in Florida. My time there included six weeks of physical therapy at the start of my stay, much relaxing and visiting with my sister and several friends. 

Now I’m back in the Napa Valley area once again and I have to say that this year there was a slightly different ‘feel’ to my turn off I 80 onto CA-12 Jameson Canyon Road!! There was still an ‘Ah-h-h-h-h’ moment but it was short-lived. One of the first things that I noticed was the rolling hills were already past their springtime greenery. Then I noticed the traffic congestion along this road had increased significantly and finally, I saw that there is major road construction going on along this stretch! I know the construction taking place on this roadway will prove to be a positive thing once it’s done but I sure was happy to be through that area and moving along up toward Yountville where the greenery kicked in via the new growth on row after row and field after field of grape vines!!

Probably the bigger influence on my less than enthusiastic arrival moment is the fact that I was arriving without my ‘home on wheels’! I had hauled it as far as New Braunfels, TX where I dropped it off. It’s on consignment at PPL there - under a three month contract with them. Hopefully, someone will be looking for just such a rig to start or continue their full (or part) time rv-ing adventure.  I will admit, though, that I am truly a 'reluctant leaver'!!

I’ve spent the better part of a year ruminating on this decision -- it hasn’t come easily by any means! A dose of ‘reality’ hit me over the winter of 2010-2011 when I found that continuing to live the full time lifestyle had become financially unsound for me. A number of factors have ‘aligned’ over the time that I’ve been a full-timer that I simply hadn’t even contemplated might happen - not the least of which has been the downturn/collapse in the economy with a corresponding increase in the spiraling price of gas, food, site fees, repairs, etc. There are other factors influencing my decision; factors that are more about me and my personal experience as a solo full timer but are very similar to the experiences of some (not all) other solo rv’ers -- doing it all and doing it alone! This last factor hit me like a thunderbolt and was the most difficult to get over/through -- it took the longest for me to accept (not so sure I actually have).   And, honestly, it isn’t (and wasn’t) a constant or continuous feeling/influence on my full timing lifestyle but it would meander in and ’set a spell’ from time to time. Even so, I felt I had to place it on the plus/minus decision-making list.

So, now that the decision making process has become reality, I’m making a concerted effort to stop thinking/speaking/referring to my 5th wheel as my ‘home’. I’m doing a pretty good job of that when speaking out loud about it but in my thinking process, I still find it’s ’home’ to me. I suppose the complete change-over will come with time. Or, maybe there will be a very quick transition once it sells?

I will say that from the minute I entered that Carriage 5th wheel back in July 2008, I felt it was just the rv unit for me!! There wasn’t one thing about it that I found fault with and, boy, was I excited when the seller and I agreed on a sale price, etc. It was a longer rv than I was looking to buy but I wasn’t intimidated or deterred by the extra footage (33 - 34’ vs. 29 - 30’). Of course, once I started traveling in it (especially in the first few months), I recognized that perhaps I should have stuck with my original size rig and choice of hitch setup. Things improved in short order and, for the most part, I learned my lesson, albeit the hard way!!

It’s been a phenomenal 3 ½ year adventure and I wish that it wouldn’t have to end but. . . . . at this point in time, it does make sense to market it and see what happens. I’m hoping that the features this 5th wheel has to offer, the new tires all around (put on just a year ago and used very little) and the very good condition that I kept it in will help it stand out among the other 5th wheels of its age on their lot.   Here's a link to the listing for my Carriage on the PPL website:  (hope it works!)

What’s next for me??  Only time will tell. The day I brought the Carriage into PPL, I sent texts out to family and a few friends saying “….. it’s official, I am truly homeless now!!“ That isn’t true, of course, but when one of my friends asked me where I would live, I said I was going to become a ’senior couch surfer’!!

While I remain hopeful that the Carriage will find a new owner during its consignment tenure, I continue to ponder my options if that doesn’t happen. I can choose to leave it with PPL on a month to month basis after the initial contract time expires.  Another option would be to commit to full time Workamping. That could mitigate the financial burden considerably especially if I limit the mileage between assignments!  That one would probably be my least favorite option.  Also under consideration is finding a permanent lot to set it on and make that my ’home base’. The biggest negative to doing that right now is. . . . . I have NO idea where I would want to place it permanently. Florida does make the most sense as it offers the best option for finding the warmest climate in the country for the winter months. One of my sisters lives in the St. Petersburg area and I have friends in that general area also.  The thing is. . . . I really like southern AZ and CA (I like the northern CA also) - hmnnnnn!!  Fortunately, I’ve always been a very flexible gal and that may be a much needed attribute over the next few months!!

A 'saying' that I have made frequent use of for many, many years now is..... 'Life is Change'!