Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hello Everyone,

It is funny how when you start a new adventure, you get so consumed with learning as much as you can in as little time as you can.  The property is set to close tomorrow and officially be in our name.  Chris and I have been in so many discussions regarding planning the layout of the land, solar vs. PGE, researching trucks, tractors and trailers.  So with all the research Chris has down in the last 48 hours... this weekend we bought a truck and a trailer.  We have been toying with the ideas of tents vs. modern conveniences of building our Ag Shed/Apt... then we decided to look last minute at the travel trailers.

We found a Ford F250 1997 with 112,000 miles on it and grabbed it.  It came with a lot of accessories that we thought we could use like the 4x4, lumber rack, bed liner, 2 tool cases and best of all... a winch to help move the trees around for us...

We were going to try to build some sleep sheds so that we could enjoy the property but realized that the most convenient and the fastest route is to get a little travel trailer to park up there and then we would have a bed and a kitchen and a place for the kids to sleep.  We still want to build some 10x12 sleeping sheds with bunks for the kids but for now this will do until we can get them done.  Alexia is excited to throw a tarp over the back of the truck and make a make shift tent in the back and sleep in the bed of it... we will see.

So the fun story about the camper is the couple we bought it from... Stacy and Mike from Alaska.  Chris came across the camper literally last night.  It had only been posted for 2 hours and they were leaving today to move back to Alaska.  They had actually sold the camper the day before and the family that was coming down to pick it up got in an accident and totaled their truck and they didn't have insurance and now couldn't afford to buy the camper.  Everyone is okay...  but now they still needed to sell it in a day.

Mike came down here to work as a lineman (electrical, not football) and bought the trailer from the original owner in December and then recently he got called back to a job in Alaska.  This is a 1998 Wonderer by Thor and all systems work, brakes just done, new tires and full of propane.  They have been living in it for 6 months and this is what especially appealed to us because things have to work when you live on board.

Not only have they been living in it but they are from Alaska and are used to living off the grid and they know how to take care of the campers systems.  I felt like we were talking to our cruising couples but instead of talking about pelagic fishing they are talking about ice fishing.  Instead of talking about lobster hunting they were in a rush to get back home because it is bear hunting season.  We had such a good time talking to them.  The first time we stepped into the trailer she apologized to us for the smell because she had just cooked MOOSE BACON... Now she is talking my language.  It was soooooo good!

Mike is a pilot up there and has his own plane and a harley and he and his son often fly the plane into the remote locations to go bear or moose hunting then pack up their goods and return to the plane and fly home.  We are looking forward to an alaskan road trip to go visit them... and have more of that Moose Bacon.  They did part with a jar of canned wild Alaskan salmon and a jar of canned Moose Meat... Anyone, Anyone?

 The trailer has a 12' slide out area so it allows for us all to have a place to hang and then the couches and tables fold down to beds... or the floor.  At least we can fit most of the kids until we get the sleeping sheds built.  I just love all the gold trim... and it has a cassette player.  Does anyone have any cassettes laying around... so cool!  It also has a solar panel to help keep the batteries charged and run the lights.

Now the only problem is we need to be able to get it up into the property.  Right now the property has only one drive entrance into a small holding pen for the cows... release the cows.

This picture was from today from Denise our real estate agent that lives up there.  She went to check on things and was greeted with a number of happy faces... We just aren't sure who they belong too.  She is looking into that.  In the mean time I hope they eat as much grass as they possibly can to keep the fire hazard down.  and frankly I love it.  It looks like by the picture that we need to run some new fencing... we need 2,000 Linear Feet of 7' Deer Fencing... and that is only the back, the front of the property has this old fence so for now we will have to install in stages.  The vinyard and the people on both sides of us have installed deer fencing so we just need to back up to what they have already have up...

We are now trying to figure out how to get it onto the property.  The incline is to steep and the ground is a bit mushy still.  We will need to have a driveway graded and installed so that we have a level spot to set up.  Once we have the driveway and jogging path graded around the property by Allan (Denise's brother-in-law) we are hoping to get a bush mower to help clear more of the grass.  The cows are great but we need a shorter lawn to help us see the rattlesnakes.  The property has not been used in a very long time, so it seems every local person that comes up to give us a quote or a bid is asking us if we have a shotgun to kill the rattlers.  "There is going to be a lot of them, hee hee".  Okay not so funny.  I have woken up in panic attacks about these little guys.  So let the learning begin.  I have found out that the owls (we need to build lots of owl boxes), red tail hawks, and our new flock of Guinea Fowl... I just have to raise them hear first so the hawks and owls don't get the babies.

Guinea fowl will eat snakes, okay maybe just peck at them or because they are loud and scratch will chase them away.  Either way I will try it.  I am going to get a few of these beautiful birds.  They eat all the bad insects like ticks in your garden without ruining any of your plants.  I love it.  I just bought a book about gardening with guineas.  Sounds fun and they are really cute, but they are supposedly loud.  We will see. Some more research is needed and then we may place an order.  
We have to keep the cut the grass short in the areas that we are in and teach the kids not to climb on the rocks.  Most often the rattlers bite because they are stepped on or a hand is put down on them.  They don't always rattle for a warning especially if you step on them.  You can put a snake fencing around a small area just to have a safe spot... UGH.. I didn't buy the property to fence it all up... so I have to figure this out.  Maybe a little rattlesnake stew.... Yum.  

The good news is they aren't aggressive and don't come looking for us... we just need to be able to see them and stay away.  They are usually out in the early morning or dusk till dawn especially when it is really hot.  They like wood piles and hay bales and shady spots and long grass... They react defensively not offensive, typically, so we need to educate the kids and ourselves on awareness and sounds....  I also have to get Bula with a local dog trainer that teaches the dogs to stay away from them... Snakes are NOT FOOD.  

Again, I feel that this consumes all of our time.  It becomes overwhelming with what we need to learn.  So we write our lists and cross them off and then add to them... we try to stay on track with goals of what we need to prioritize and what is reasonable.  Then we get back on track and start our list over again.  Our goals for this week are to get the trailer up to plymouth and out of our driveway, figure out the grading options for the property driveway, finalize the well details and put down a deposit to lock in a date and then the fun stuff... to look at a tractor that Chris has found in Lincoln.  

Hugs and love to everyone and hope you had a wonderful weekend.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

A new beginning....California Dream'in

Hello Everyone,

It has been awhile since we have thought about the blog.  It is funny how your life can be so dependent on writing for the blog and how it felt like a long lost friend that you needed to visit to keep your sanity and to feel at least remotely connected to your friends, family and your old life.  On the boat I constantly dreamed about coming home and the simplicity of living with luxuries.  Now that we are here back in the throws of life in the burbs we are dreaming of our quiet place back out at anchor living in screen saver land.  It has been amazing coming to the realization of how much we loved our simple life on the boat and the connection we felt as a family.  Life rapidly becomes a whirlwind that I feel swirls around me and I am just trying to hang on to the events as they pass by.

All the kids are re-acclimated and back to the routine of things.  Mykaela is going to school and pretty much working full time.  Kava and Ariel are moving back to the neighborhood (or really close by) and in the thick of wedding plans.  We are soooo excited for them and crossing our fingers that jobs come through sooner than later.  Tristan just got back from a trip to Ecuador with the GSE program and loved it.  He is already looking forward to next years trip with them to Nicaragua.  Alexia just returned from Washington DC with the History teacher and about 80 of her closest classmates.  She was so moved and touched by all she saw there.  They toured museums, cemeteries, historical battlefields... everything.  It was a whirlwind but now she wants to take the family back so that we all can see it together.  The little girls are shining and more imaginative than I remember.  Amaia is still obsessed with greek mythology, reading and now architecture and flipping homes.  I think she has decided to do that when she grows up.  Alina is playing a different part/character every minute of the day.  She rolls through the house singing and twirling, she cracks us up.  I see her on stage one day.

We have been running around trying to see family as much as our schedules allow.  I really missed them on the trip and it has been wonderful to just be able to load up the kids in the car and take a drive to visit.

It took me a long time to  adjust coming back and get back into the swing of things.  I may have been depressed and overwhelmed but in the end I am so glad that we took this journey together as a family and have all those memories tied.  It has been wonderful reminiscing with the kids and often they will bring up the remember when stories... thank god for that since Chris and I both feel like we are quickly forgetting much of the detailed memories of the trip.  After I got home one of my favorite gifts to myself was to print out my blog so that we can grab a book and read a chapter of our life and start the remember whens all over again.

Now it is time to start again.  I feel that some of my sadness when I got back was the feeling of being lost and not knowing what I was going to do when I grew up.  I felt really detached here and just couldn't get in the groove and getting my roots planted.  I guess after taking 10 years to plan, think and obsess about a trip I was feeling like I was stalled in a time warp.  It is really hard to explain except for really feeling like I didn't care to be home but didn't have anywhere else to go.

Soooooo Chris and I started to dream again.  It is funny since the beginning of our relationship we had a common dream of wanting to have a vineyard with alpacas and some lavender.   Lately we have been trying to plan out our retirement and how we would want that to look like and what would make us happy.  We both know that we love the sea and the beach but we also love nature and getting our hands in the soil and watching something grow.  For us there is nothing like the loud sounds of nature in silence...   Amaia calls it ocean grass when you hear the wind whispering through the blades, the birds in the trees, the oaks creaking from swaying back and forth in the wind... woodpeckers busy on the old dead trees... you get the picture.  The absence of city sound is music to my ears.

We are buying 40 acres outside of Sacramento in the Shenandoah Valley.  We are super excited.  It is in the heart of the wine country, rolling meadows, lots of oaks, granite boulders, a seasonal creek and plenty of areas to choose from to build our house (houses) for the family compound.  It is nestled between an 80 acre vineyard to the south, and empty ridge line to the north, on the east is 160 acres of grazing land and then we have our closest neighbors are on the west with 40 acre spot and one diagonal.  It is pretty quiet and surreal.  When we are there on the land you can't see a house or a building in a 360 degree view... I love it and hope it stays that way for a long time.  We would like to have some orchards, lavender, olives, honey, vines (for lexi) and a possible wedding venue for down the road... we do have 4 girls in the family!....

We will be the 3rd owners of this property since 1885.  The gentleman we are buying it from, his grandfather bought it in 1954 from the original owner that received the land from the government during/after the gold rush.  We are in the heart of the gold rush area next to Sutter Creek and Jackson.  This area is rich in history and often you can still hear the stories from the 3rd generation of original settlers of the area.  We have learned what a small community it is and in a way it feels like the sailing community.  They are all super helpful and love to share their knowledge with us.  Now if only we could break into that good ole (boy)neighbor network.  I know that takes time (often years) but hopefully eventually (soon) we will be accepted and will show them how we love the land and just want to be a part of it.

Of course .... we didn't pick land that was already developed, it is completely bare. No well, septic and the nearest power pole is 2000ft away from where we need to pull power from and that isn't even getting it onto our property yet.  We like a challenge.... and thought it would be fun to come up with our own plan.  Funny thing is that we actually had only been to this area one weekend and that is the weekend we found this spot and put an offer in.  It was definitely love at first sight and we just knew it was right for us. (crossing fingers)

We have brought the kids up to the property and they are so excited and can't wait till we can start building on it.  Of course their list of priorities is a zip line over the creek, the gold panning sluice, bocce ball court, art studio, mountain bike path, remote control car racing venue, golf range, pond to swim in with a dock and frogs, swings, and it goes on and on... it is fun to see them dreaming along with us.

We are currently in the process of meeting with all the septic, well, grading, power, etc.. county officials, planning department etc... we are learning about soil tests, climate zones, frost patterns, tractors, 4x4 mules, trucks, barns, sheds, garages, old title records (some so old they are in pencil and nobody can read them anymore) property lines, easements, grazing animals, lavender, olive trees, bees, vines, and the list goes on.  I keep hearing Chris giggle and say "It's a whole nother world out thar"... hee hee.

Every time Chris and I return to the property it just verifies what we already know.  WE LOVE IT THERE!  We are so at peace and can breathe.  We are looking forward to developing this spot over the next 10 years and then we will see where we end up.  I believe it will be there but of course Chris is already mentioning a boat fund.  Did I mention that the property has money trees... yep it just falls from the sky.  Hee Hee.

Hugs and love to all,