This Here’s the Rubber Duck

We bought walkie-talkies on Amazon last week, and I have to admit, I’m pretty excited. More so than any self-respecting adult should be.

Good thing I have so little self-respect!

The whole thing was Tara’s idea; she’d suggested a while ago that we purchase walkie-talkies so we can communicate more easily between vehicles while driving across the country. There’d be no fiddling with cellphones that way, and besides, service is spotty at best in some of the rural areas we’ll be driving through. Like the Continental Divide and probably 90% of Montana. The funny thing is, when I mentioned buying them last week, she completely forgot she’d already thought of that, said “What a great idea, babe!” and called me a genius. I was tempted to go ahead and take the credit – it’s not every day that your wife calls you brilliant – but in the end, I agreed that while the idea was smart, it was not mine.

I have already warned her that she can expect a lot of “Breaker 1-9” and “10-4, good buddy” talk from me. And I’ve been listening to C.W. McCall’s classic 1975 rock ‘n roll hit “Convoy” to brush up on my CB slang.

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The best part is, even after we move, we’ll be able to use the walkie-talkies on our hiking adventures in the Black Hills.


We had a really nice holiday weekend that was both fun and productive. Saturday was spent at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge hanging out with our good friend Chris. We meet up with her every couple of months for a day of frivolity, and while the day was bittersweet knowing we won’t be having any more of these get-togethers, we did not let that stop us from having a great time. There was good food, lots of drinks, and endless conversation. We played shuffleboard and pool and walked around the gardens and talked about her coming out to visit us in South Dakota. Plenty of people say they’re going to do that, but I take it all with a grain of salt. I believe Chris actually will.

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Sunday I spent hours packing, while Tara went into the office to catch up on work. I’d say we’re about 90% finished at this point; the apartment is looking pretty bare now and sounds echoey. We did take a break midday to grab sushi for lunch, and went over my parents’ house for dinner.

Monday we lazed around in the morning, then headed down to the Hawthorne District for one last hurrah in my favorite Portland neighborhood. And in doing so, crossed yet another item off our Farewell Tour.

After lunch and browsing/shopping through book stores and vintage shops, we shot over to Burnside and picked up a few records from Music Millennium. I know we’re supposed to be boxing things up rather than accumulating new things, records are the exception.

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing at home. Back to work today, but no end-of-the-weekend blues for this guy. Every day gone by gets us one day closer to the biggest adventure of our lives.

Countdown: 24 Days

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Homeless Crisis Averted

I am happy to report that we will not be homeless in Rapid City.

Not that I actually thought that would happen, but I will admit that I flew into a quasi-panic the other day when I realized two things:

  • How close our moving date is
  • The fact that we had no idea where we would be living

Tara and I are compatible as hell, but we do have different approaches to life. I’m more of a planner, while she prefers to fly by the seat of her pants. Sometimes this is a good thing; turning down random dirt roads like we did last weekend can lead to adventure. But when you are pulling up stakes and moving 1,250 miles away, I personally think it’s important to know you will have a roof over your head. Some things you just don’t leave to chance, ya know?

We booked a Super 8 Motel in Rapid City for six nights, with the vague plan of having a list of places we wanted to look at when we got there. But I was never comfortable with this, because too much could go wrong. What if there was no availability? What if we did not qualify for a lease due to underemployment? People kept asking me for a forwarding address, and when I couldn’t give them one, I became a nervous wreck.

Luckily, Tara got scared, too. She suggested a few days ago that maybe it would be a good idea to have a place all lined up before we hit the road after all.

HALLELUJAH!

So I jumped on Craigslist, like, right that second. Spent a few hours combing through rentals. I was looking at everything: apartments, townhomes, houses, teepees. Nothing was off the table. The only real requirements? They had to be cat-friendly and have at least two bedrooms. As much as we want to buy a house NOW, we’re going to need some time to settle in, and I assume we’ll have visitors. A/C was high on the list of amenities as well; ours went on the fritz here and we were without for a couple of days this week. That was unpleasant enough, and we live in the temperate PNW. If you want me to admit that I’m a hot weather wimp and spoiled, FINE.

I found a place that looked promising enough. It’s a condominium complex on the far western side of town, practically right up against the Black Hills – where we want to be. The units are two stories, so you don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors upstairs. They’ve got A/C, allow pets, and there’s a 28-acre park and wilderness area right across the street, complete with hiking trails. So we filled out the application this morning, paid a processing fee, and consented to credit and background checks.

Within 30 minutes, I got a phone call from the leasing agent letting me know we were approved. And wouldn’t you know it, they have a 2-BR unit available on our desired move-in date, June 25. The day after we arrive. She quoted me a price that was a little higher than we wanted to pay for a 12-month lease, but they had a special going on: sign on for one extra month, and the rent dropped $73 a month, perfectly in our price range. So we took the plunge and put down a deposit to reserve the unit. For the first time in my life, I have an actual address in Rapid City, South Dakota!

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This will be home in ONE MONTH.

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Wilderness Park, directly across the street.

Suddenly, there’s a HUGE burden lifted off my shoulders. Granted, renting a place sight unseen requires a leap of faith, but with Google maps – especially satellite and street view – it practically feels like I’m strolling through the neighborhood. And it looks pretty nice. Even if it isn’t, well, we’re only on the hook for 13 months. After that, we’ll be good and ready to buy a house. Oh, and best of all, our rent is $600/month less than we are paying here.

I knew there was a reason we decided to move to the Midwest!

Countdown: 28 Days

Faded Past, Bright Future

One month from today, we’ll be rolling into Rapid City, South Dakota. Barring anything strange and unexpected, like a flat tire in the middle of nowhere or an alien abduction, of course.

How did we get to this point?!

Don’t worry, that’s a rhetorical question. The sun comes up, the sun goes down, and another day fades into history. I get it.

Emotions right now? A little scared, but mostly excited. This is the home stretch – the culmination of months and months of planning. We are now starting to scout out places to live, because Tara’s idea of winging it until we got there seems less like a spontaneous adventure and more like a recipe for disaster the closer we get. We’d really rather have something lined up, or at least a couple of viewings scheduled. That Super 8 Motel won’t be feeling as super after we’ve been there a week, I’m betting. Free maid service or not. So we’re scouting Craigslist, and there are quite a few possibilities. We’re looking at ’em all: apartments, townhouses, duplexes, and houses. It still amazes me how inexpensive things are out there, but then again, that’s what kickstarted this whole idea, isn’t it? Our current plan is to rent for a year while we get settled, square away employment, and figure out what part of town floats our boat the most. The future feels wide open, and we are both eager to dive in.


I recently dug through some old photo albums of my mom’s, from when we lived in South Dakota in the 1980s. Sadly, time has not been good to those pictures; they’re pretty grainy and faded now. Let’s just say I have a newfound appreciation for the digital age. Despite the poor image quality, they are still fun to look at. I thought I’d share a few of them here for posterity.

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Ohio Ave. – Ellsworth AFB

This is a shot of our street from the front yard. Look at all that snow! (I have to warn you – a lot of these photos feature snow. Go figure.) I hardly ever rode the bus to school, as it was only about a mile away; cliche or not, I was one of those kids who actually did walk to school in knee-deep snow drifts. The proof is right here! Sadly, these brick houses on base were torn down years ago, replaced by more modern structures. Can’t say I’m too surprised; they were old and drafty and did little to prevent the cold from seeping inside every winter.

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Jurassic Mark.

Here’s a shot of my me and my brother at Dinosaur Park overlooking Rapid City. This local attraction, located on Skyline Drive, opened in 1936 and is still there to this day, so contrary to popular belief not all dinosaurs have gone extinct. The views from up here are incredible; the vast, sweeping prairie opens up to the east, and on a clear day you can see 100 miles into the distance, including the Badlands. I am hoping when my brother Scott comes to visit we can recreate this photo.

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The family Truckster.

When my dad was assigned to Ellsworth AFB in 1983, after spending three years in Hawaii, he knew we needed a car that could handle those punishing South Dakota winters. So he went out and bought an AMC Eagle Wagon. She may not have been pretty, but boy could she handle the snow!

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No asphalt? No problem!

The great thing about visiting National Parks in the offseason is, you have them all to yourself. Especially when there are plowed snowdrifts 8′ deep on the side of the road, as evidenced by this photo taken in the Badlands. This is why the Eagle was the perfect car for us at the time. Sure, we had to plug the engine in to a wall socket on those nights when the temperature dipped below zero, but the car was reliable in all kinds of weather and never got stuck. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for this vehicle – it was the car I learned to drive in, after all.

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Mitchell could double for Moscow.

One of the most unique attractions in South Dakota is the Mitchell Corn Palace. The building dates back to 1892 and is decorated every year in murals made from corn and other grains in a nod to the area’s rich agricultural history. The theme changes each year. The arena is home to concerts, sporting events, and rodeos, and naturally there is a Corn Festival. It doesn’t get any more kitschy than this, folks, but 500,000 tourists a year flock here. I can’t wait to take Tara!

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Pretty sure this was our family Christmas card photo.

This last photo has actually held up pretty well. We visited the Badlands many times during the three years we lived there, and personally I never tired of the stunning rock formations. The great thing is, every time you go, the place looks different. The lighting changes based on the time of day, season, and weather. During my visit there in 2011 on my road trip, I watched a magnificent band of thunderstorms march across the prairie, thunder echoing off the sharp canyon walls. And on the way back to Rapid City, I had to pull over to the side of the interstate during a fierce hailstorm. What a rush! When Tara learned that we had been just a few miles from the Badlands on our trip in October, she wondered again why we didn’t push on. Well, we were running out of time…and I knew we’d be back. Often.

Countdown: 29 Days

This Looks Familiar

Six years ago, shortly after Tara moved out here, we took a drive and came across a couple who were stuck in the snow. We helped them out of that jam by enlisting the aid of a guy with a pickup truck and a tow hitch who happened to be camping nearby.

In an odd twist of fate, yesterday Tara and I took a drive and came across a couple who were stuck in the snow. We helped them out by enlisting the aid of a guy with a pickup truck and a tow hitch who happened to be camping nearby.

You know, after just having seen the movie The Endless last weekend, I’m hoping I am not stuck in some weird time loop myself.

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And much like that fateful day back in June 2011, we never did make it to our intended destination. But we came up with a solid Plan B and ended up having a blast anyway. How ironic that this funny thing that happened to us shortly after a big move happened to us again shortly before a big move.

The whole day was sort of unexpected, actually. I’d purchased Paul Simon tickets a few months ago, only to have immediate buyer’s remorse. Nothing against ol’ Paul; I like his music just fine. But you know what I like better? Money. Those tickets weren’t cheap, and we are going to need every cent for the move. So I placed an ad on Craigslist and, after a few tentative nibbles, was able to sell them Friday evening. I actually let them go for $20 less than face value, but I can live with that because it means an extra $150 in my pocket. And the truth is, the thought of dealing with a big arena show at the Moda Center and all that entails – parking, light rail, people – began to sound less appealing the closer the day got. Selling them was a relief in more ways than one

With no concert to plan our day around, we improvised and instead of spending a day in Portland, we decided to drive out to Guler Ice Cave and Trout Lake, both in Washington. Unbeknownst to us, there was still quite a bit of snow on the road at that elevation, and it soon became impassable.

Tell that to the couple in the RAV 4 who were hopelessly stuck.

They were nice though, and while we tried to help them dig out, it wasn’t happening. So we backtracked a bit to a couple we’d seen camping a little ways down the road. When we explained what was going on, the guy chuckled and said, “They’re stuck right past that fallen tree, aren’t they?” Turns out he’d already pulled somebody else to safety in that same spot earlier in the day.

Poor guy probably spent half his day towing people out of the snow. I bet he picks a more secluded camping spot next time.

With the ice cave and Trout Lake inaccessible, we simply turned around and followed the road in the opposite direction. I can’t say we were disappointed with that decision.

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We ended up hiking in the Trapper Creek Wilderness and stopped in Stevenson on the way home for dinner. When we got back we watched I, Tonya, which was fantastically good. Truth is stranger than fiction, that’s for sure.

All in all, it was a very good day. Even if there was an air of familiarity about it.

Countdown: 33 Days

That Voodoo That I Do

A few weeks ago, we went through the pantry and mentally catalogued what was in there. After finding a random assortment of items – garlic chili paste, barley, a packet of fajita seasoning (to name but a few) – we began to plan dinners around those things in order to use them up. Waste not, want not is something my mom always said!

Actually, I don’t think she has ever uttered those words in her life. She also never told me to clean my plate because there are starving children in Africa and didn’t warn me not to make a face or it would freeze that way, so she missed the boat on stereotypical parenting tropes. But it’s sage advice regardless, so those odds and ends stashed on the back of the shelf turned into Asian lettuce wraps, beef and barley stew, and shrimp fajitas. Mmm, right? I’m thinking we should have cleaned out the pantry a heck of a lot sooner.

With our time here dwindling rapidly, we’re also being very conscientious with what we buy at the grocery store. Think a small bottle of cooking oil vs. a bigger one, for instance, because there is no way we’ll go through 48 ounces in five weeks, you know? I’d rather not haul boxes full of half-used groceries 1,250 miles.


Tara drove up to Tacoma to spend the weekend with her mom on Saturday, which gave me an opportunity to tie up a few loose ends.

Which is really just a fancy way of saying I ate a donut.

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Not just any donut, mind you. Long-time readers will recall my fondness for Voodoo Doughnut. I mean, we even served them at our wedding in lieu of cake. Despite this, I had not been there in years, for a variety of reasons. Namely, sugar. I mostly avoid it these days for health reasons. Also, if I’m being honest, Voodoo doesn’t make the best donut in town. I’m not even sure they’re in the top five. It’s all about the experience, which includes long lines of tourists, off-the-wall flavor combinations, and a few XXX-rated sugary confections.

But the bacon maple bar is really good, and I decided I needed one more in my life before we move.

Mission happily accomplished.

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On Sunday, I loaded Sydney into her carrier for a test run. Results were mixed.

First off, she is a full-time indoor cat. Has been for her entire life, the occasional foray onto the back deck being the lone exception. So the moment I carried her outside, she was uncomfortable. Started meowing on the way down the stairs, and really let loose once we were in the car and started driving.

But she sort of settled down after a bit. These quieter moments were punctuated by periods of not being settled down. All things considered though, the experience wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. I think she will eventually accept the fact that she’s going to be stuck in the car for a while and that cat brain of hers will conclude that complaining about it is useless.

Of course, we might be halfway across Montana before that happens…

Countdown: 38 Days

Lava Junkie

How ’bout that Hawaiian volcano?!

I think it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with the Kilauea eruption. I have spent more time than I care to admit devouring news stories and scrolling through Instagram photos and video of the lava. Hashtag Leilani Estates is an easy way to kill an hour.

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Anybody who knows me shouldn’t be too terribly surprised by this revelation. I have long been fascinated with natural disasters. Not that I hope for them, of course; but when they do occur, I find it impossible to look away. If this were a jukebox, I’d have Mother Nature’s Greatest Hits on heavy rotation.

Not long ago, I wrote about my experience living in Hawaii. How I mostly hated it, except for the Big Island. I have fond memories of  black sand beaches and jungles and, best of all, hiking the Devastation Trail and Halema’uma’u Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I might have pocketed a few lava rocks, too; it’s a good thing I’m not (too) superstitious as Hawaiian legend claims that doing so angers the Goddess Pele, and she will retaliate by cursing the thief with misfortune. In fact, many a tourist has sent back a pilfered rock after encountering bad luck upon their return to the mainland. If this all sounds like a wacky sitcom plot, it was; remember that episode of The Brady Bunch where Bobby found an ancient tiki in Hawaii and bad luck started to befall the family? That bad juju was based on the legend of Pele. tiki

Fortunately, I never encountered any bad luck myself. Unless you count barely missing out on seeing an eruption firsthand. In 1983 we were vacationing on the Big Island; the day after we returned to Oahu, Kilauea erupted. My dad was always bummed about this, so I guess my fascination is hereditary.

That wasn’t my only close call with nature’s fury. I’m sort of like the Forrest Gump of natural disasters, having secured a front row seat to many an event. As evidence, I submit the following:

  1. Run like the wind, Toto! During my final summer in Dayton, Ohio, my brother and I spent a week at summer camp. One night, long after lights out, we were awakened by a counselor and ushered from our bunks. We were then marched across a field, through a howling wind, as turbulent clouds raced by overhead. Our destination? A concrete bunker beneath the swimming pool. It turns out a tornado warning had been issued, and funnel clouds were spotted in the vicinity. Luckily, none touched down. I vividly recall huddling nervously in the dead of night, surrounded by bags of chlorine stacked in haphazard piles. Pretty scary night for an 11 year-old!
  2. I spy the eye – no lie! In November 1982, Hurricane Iwa raced across the Pacific and took aim at Hawaii – the first hurricane to strike the islands in 23 years. Guess who had a front row seat to the whole thing? We stayed inside our house on base as winds gusted up to 120 mph and rain pelted Oahu. The worst of the storm occurred in the evening and overnight. I don’t remember ever feeling scared; I was simply in awe. The next morning we emerged to bright sunshine and a lot of damage, mainly downed trees. It was the first and only time living there that school was cancelled due to weather.
  3. Happy birthday – I got you snow! April 27, 1984, was my 15th birthday. Typically I associate my bday with pleasant spring weather, but in South Dakota (ha!) one can never assume. That year, I spent my birthday indoors as heavy snow fell and gusty winds blew. I don’t remember how much snow we ended up with by the time the storm wound down, but it’s safe to say “a lot.” This wasn’t the only blizzard I’ve experienced in my life, but because of the date, it’s the one that stands out the most in my mind.
  4. A whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on! October 17, 1989, was just a normal Tuesday – until the ground started shaking with a vengeance. I was living in the Bay Area, just digging into a plate of spaghetti with my girlfriend at the time, when everything started rocking and rolling. I’d lived in CA for three years by that point and had experienced quite a few quakes, but nothing of that magnitude. And when the TV stations switched from the World Series game to images of citywide devastation – the worst being a collapsed freeway – we knew it was serious. The next week was a surreal blur. My college classes were cancelled and aftershocks kept coming. A few months later I traveled to the epicenter and somewhere, there is a photo of me standing in a fissure in the ground that comes up to my thigh.

Tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and earthquakes – oh, my. I’m just thankful to have thus far avoided tsunamis, avalanches, wildfires and alien abduction.

Well, the last one is a maybe. But that’s a story for another day.

Countdown: 42 Days

All Her Suicides Are Fake

One of the best things about this time of year is the early sunrises. I might think otherwise if I ever slept in, but I’m up super early most mornings so it’s a non-issue. Sometimes I’m out walking, like today. The sun was just cresting the eastern horizon on my final circuit through the park, lighting up the clouds in shades of cotton candy pink and fiery orange, and it stopped me in my tracks.

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I’ve only got 45 more PNW sunrises to enjoy, so I’m going to make an effort to see as many of ’em as I can.


Are you familiar with the concept of synchronicity? I’m not talking about the 1983 album by The Police (though “King of Pain” is a great song), but rather, the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is a great example. It is said to sync up perfectly with “The Wizard of Oz.” The band claims it’s purely coincidental, but I’m not so sure. I’ve watched them simultaneously and they really do seem to be interconnected. I’m fascinated by this stuff, because synchronicity seems to be a recurring theme in my life. I notice it all the time.

Most often these episodes are music-related. Like, for instance, I’ll be listening to The White Stripes (“I’m thinking about my doorbell/When ya gonna ring it, when you going to ring it”) and then the doorbell will ring. Things of that nature.

Saturday was an especially synchronicity-heavy day.

At one point I was scrolling through Instagram, and at the exact moment I was looking at a post from a friend named Michelle, the song playing on my phone mentioned a woman named Michelle. Earlier in the day, I was packing, and had just grabbed a Lumineers CD. At the very moment I was putting it in the box, I heard the Lumineers playing from the other room. The crazy thing is, I never listen to CDs anymore. My entire collection is packed away in a plastic tub and buried somewhere in the garage. I happened to have this one and only CD in the bedroom because it was a gift I hadn’t gotten to putting away yet.

But the universe was saving the strangest thing of all for the end of the evening. My parents are in South Africa on that safari, remember? Tara and I went over to their house to borrow their grill and barbecue some baby back ribs. We had already made several trips in and out their front door and noticed nothing out of the ordinary. So imagine my surprise when I opened the door again to grab something from my car and saw – sitting on the welcome mat, in plain sight – a freakin’ animal cracker.

Let that sink in for a moment. MY PARENTS ARE ON AN AFRICAN SAFARI HALF A WORLD AWAY AND THERE IS SUDDENLY AN ANIMAL CRACKER ON THEIR FRONT PORCH THAT WAS NOT THERE BEFORE.

I’m sure of that. The welcome mat is black, the animal cracker was white. I spotted it immediately when I opened the door.

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The mystery animal cracker.

And, though I’m not proud to admit this, I nearly screamed. Because honestly, it freaked me out like nobody’s business. Even Tara, who is far more rational than I am, could offer no logical explanation. In recounting this story earlier, somebody suggested, well, a crow flying by could have dropped it.

Sure. I suppose that’s possible. Or would be if the welcome mat wasn’t located beneath a covered porch.

Another weird coincidence in a long string of them, or something more? I’m not even going to hazard a guess.

I am curious, though: does this sort of thing ever happen to you?

Countdown: 45 Days

What’s Old is New Again

I have a coworker who just started watching The Office. He may be late to the party, but boy do I envy him right now. Imagine having nine glorious seasons’ worth of new-to-you episodes of a beloved, critically-acclaimed comedy series to watch?

Actually, I can. That happened to me just last year with Curb Your Enthusiasm.

So now this guy is coming into work every morning raving over the latest episode he has just seen, and his unabashed joy is contagious. God, I miss that show.

The only thing that would be even better than jumping into The Office for the first time? Doing that with Breaking Bad.

I can’t even imagine how amazing that would be.


My parents are currently in South Africa. I also really envy them; everybody talks about traveling the world when they retire, but how many people actually do so?

My folks have been to far too many countries to name. This three-week trip is their first on the African continent, and will include not one but two safaris.

Man. They are livin’ the dream.

I kind of hate that they are gone for such a long stretch right before we move away, but I’m sure they had no idea we were actually leaving when they planned the trip.

Or, knowing my dad, he just said “the hell with ’em – we’re seeing zebras!” and signed on the dotted line regardless.


With my parents gone, our weekend will include borrowing their grill and sunroom again. It’s become a tradition.

We’re also going to hit the farmer’s market for the first time this season (shame on us!). Plus, do some more packing. We missed last weekend since we were out having fun, so we’ve got some ground to make up.

One of the trickiest things is going to be transporting Sydney halfway across the country. She has been on very few car rides in her life, and I want to make her as comfortable as possible. After doing some research, I bought the following carrier, which comes highly recommended by many people.

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She looks right at home, huh? Acclimation is key. We are leaving the carrier out in the living room, and she frequently makes herself right at home in there.

I think we are going to start taking her on short car rides, as well. So we’ll add that to Sunday’s agenda.

Countdown: 49 Days

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Now that it’s May, I can say we will be moving to South Dakota next month.

Whoa.

I’m pretty excited and anxious to get out there. Right now it feels like we’re living in limbo, standing on the precipice of a brand new life while still going about the daily business of living this current one. Our whole world changes next month and, like the late, great Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part.

My only real trepidation has to do with the fact that we have no idea where we’ll be living yet. It’s hard to look for an apartment long distance when you still have 50+ days to go. I figure by the end of the month we’ll start searching in earnest; our plan is to have a few places lined up and start checking them out the day after we get there. We’ve got six nights booked in a motel and we can always extend that if necessary. I’m more of a planner than Tara so doing it this way makes me nervous, but I’m sure it will all work out.

Also, saying goodbye will be tough. I don’t want to downplay that. It’s nice having family so close by. At the same time, I did live a couple of states away from my folks for a nine-year stretch, and the world did not implode. My brother’s lived far away for a lot longer than that. Leaving Audrey behind will also be hard, but the transition will be a bit easier given that she has already moved out. She wrote us a very heartfelt, touching letter the other day expressing how thankful she is for our love and guidance these past four years. She’s a good kid and we’ll miss her. If she ever changes her mind about coming out to South Dakota with us, she will forever be welcome!

Well, forever is a mighty long time. But I’d say up until 27 or so, lol.

It’s back to reality today after a nice, long weekend, but I don’t mind. Like I said: I’m too anxious at this point to get going. By the way, here’s a pro tip: if you ever go to the Astoria Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival, by all means do it on Sunday. The crowds were about half the size we are used to, so instead of being jammed into the convention center like a can of  sardines (fitting analogy though that is), we were able to move about freely. And with the festival shutting down in a couple of hours by the time we got there, the vendors were willing to wheel and deal. Tara bought two cases of her favorite peanut butter and saved $1 a jar. Score!

Also, I cannot say enough good things about the Sou’wester Lodge. Here’s the trailer we stayed in:

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And the lodge itself:

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It’s just a great, relaxing getaway.

This was our last major trip before we move. Here’s what our Farewell Tour checklist looks like as of this morning:

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With only seven weekends left in the PNW, and four of them booked up, I don’t think we’ll be able to cross every item off that list. A couple more, sure. But places like the zoo and Indian Heaven Wilderness are looking less likely. Still, I like the progress we’ve made.

Countdown: 52 Days