Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Home of Our Own...

   As many of you have probably noticed from our Facebook pages, we have a new place!  The 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 2 level unit of the triplex we are living in is absolutely adorable!  The entire building was designed by an architect and an interior designer who works for an architecture firm.  The counter tops are made out of reclaimed bowling alley lanes.  The kitchen is full of open shelving (reclaimed from a formerly owned property).  The spiral staircase is wrapped in thin sheets of bamboo.  There is a wall of ambient light centered on the main floor and plenty of natural light from the large windows and sliding glass door out to our little tiny yard (which is just right for our little, tiny dog).  If you haven't gone to see the pictures Joe and I have posted, then go do so!  I cannot express the overwhelming charm this place has in words alone. :)   And the very best part about all of this is that we get to move in on Friday!  Yay!

   Now let me tell you a little bit about the drama of choosing a place on a street that is at a 45 degree angle...

   Did anyone ever mention that Seattle requires a street permit for almost everything?  Well they do and let me tell you, those permits do not come cheap!  If we had bought a place with a drive way we wouldn't have needed a permit, but as it is we have just a walk way so we need to put the POD on the street.  Unfortunately, the street that we live on is at a 45 degree angle.  POD will drop off the container there, but it might cause damage to our belongings to be on that steep of a grade and will certainly make moving things out a little more difficult.  Luckily for us, there is a little dirt side road right next to the house.  We will need to walk everything down the hill a little ways, down a few stairs, across the path and then up all the stairs to our front door, but really that's not much further then we would have had to bring it if we could just put the container in front of the house.  Joe and I have run the budget and discussed the merits over and over and have decided to hire movers to help us bring everything in.  We know we could do it ourselves, but we're not sure we would be able to move for the next few days afterwards.  The good news is that I went downtown today and got a permit from the transit authority.  The bad news is that it's up to us to make sure that no one parks in the area that we would like to put the POD in.  This means that we will be leaving Joe's car there so that we can hold the spot (the POD is coming sometime on Thursday).  The only issue I can potentially see with this plan is that a mini cooper is not nearly the same size as a 17 foot POD.  Oh well...

   Bear is actually going to be spending our moving day at the groomer/doggie day care.  We decided it would be less stressful for him if he was there playing with the other dogs rather than with us stuck in his crate.  The funny thing is that as we were leaving our new home after signing the lease agreement, we met a woman and her dog outside and come to find out, she's a dog groomer who has a place just a little down the way from our new house.  Small world, right?  So that's where Bear will be spending Friday and hopefully other days once the budget gets settled.

   I didn't realize that I would be this excited to move out of the hotel.  I think what it really is, is that I'm excited to move into a place that is ours with all of our stuff.  The things I miss most out of all the things packed in the POD are my jewelry and my craft supplies.  I'm sure this doesn't come as a surprise to any of you who know me.  :)  Joe says that he misses his guitars and magic cards.  We're a bit silly, aren't we? 

   I'm also really excited about getting to decorate this new space.   Joe and I sold most of our old furniture, so we need a few staple pieces, like a kitchen table, right away.  I'm really going to try to Craig's List, Freecycle, Thrift and fix up a lot of the pieces because I would like the pieces we put in the house to be as unique as the house itself.  We'll see how long this lasts against my OCD though.  :)

   All in all, we're still thrilled with Seattle, but we're also thrilled with the very real possibility that we will be coming back to the NOVA area over Labor Day weekend for some fun, family, friends and the Maryland Renaissance Festival (I know, we are big dorks!).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Settling in Seattle...

   Now that we're here and are finally starting to settle down, I thought it was time for another blog post.  :)
   Joe and I started our time here settling into an extended stay hotel room with a small kitchen (which provided all the absolute kitchen essentials 2 people need) and sitting area along with the usual bed and bathroom associated with all hotels.  We started to get the lay of the land as we immediately took off on a house hunting excursion. 

   We had a viewing for a house booked the same day we arrived in Seattle at 7:30PM.  Upon driving through the area, actually seeing the house and then walking the neighborhood with Bear, we decided to go ahead and cancel the walk through.  Moving is tough.  Moving to a new area is tough.  Moving to a new city on a different side of the country where you really have no idea of what most of the very different (and eclectic) neighborhoods are like is tough.  We then spent the rest of the evening driving to different houses we had seen posted on Craig's List for rent (or trying to) and decided that there are some areas of Seattle we definitely like and some that we would rather not live in. 

   Alki beach/ North Admiral is still one of my favorite areas of Seattle.  Unfortunately, the commute for Joe (and potentially for me as there are not many schools on Alki) is pretty steep.  Part of the reason we wanted to move away from NOVA was the long/stressful commutes the area is so well known for.  So Alki, while lovely, isn't a shoe-in.  Some other areas we really like include the University area (which is near University of Washington), Beacon Hill (which is sort of central to everything) and the Woodland/Green lake area down by the zoo.  One area that we've decided to forgo is anything next to the northern end of Aurora Avenue.  Sure, it sounds lovely, but when the nicest looking building on the street is the Taco Bell, it's bound to disappoint.  Thankfully, that section of Aurora Ave. is not the typical look for Seattle, so our house hunting is mostly continuing in more aesthetically pleasing areas.

   Joe and I are thrilled at the amount of things to do here in Seattle.  I'm sure that could be said for any major city and for NOVA, but the fact that Joe and my interests are so diverse means that it can be hard for us to find one area that has everything we're looking for.  Seattle and its surrounding areas have a thriving Jujitsu/ martial arts culture for Joe and I've found a therapeutic riding barn and a bunch of sewing shops that offer classes.  :)  We can't wait until we can get into a more normal routine and then start adding our hobbies to the mix!

 *Warning: Sentimental Area of Blog Approaching*

  I just want to take a moment to thank all of our friends and family that have offered us advice, support and places to crash throughout this journey.  Joe and I feel incredibly loved and fortunate to have such wonderful people in our lives.  <3

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The last leg of the journey...

And the next phase of the adventure!

We've finally made it into Washington and are now on the last leg of our journey from Spokane to Seattle. All in all, it's been a good trip. We've been very lucky on the road and have made some great memories as we've traveled from Washington to Washington.

The second half of South Dakota was actually really pretty, but not as pretty as the distant, snow capped peaks of the mountains in Montana. Idaho was a short and decidedly different experience. Luckily, we only drove through 65 miles at the tip to get into Washington. The harrowing race down the mountain from Montana into Idaho was enough for Joe and I to agree that we weren't doing that again anytime soon. :)

As much as we've enjoyed certain parts of this adventure, driving with even a little dog across country can be difficult. While Bear himself was fine, we had some difficulty finding places to eat where we could have him with us and often had to resort to eating our lunches in the car rather than then leaving him alone. Dog friendly hotels like to charge for pets (sometimes as much as $100 as a deposit with an additional charge for each day) and finding places calm enough to walk an over stimulated dog who has been in the car all day can prove difficult at a busy truck stop. We certainly wouldn't have chosen to travel without Bear with us for this journey, but if we were going to do this again, we would do a few things different.

One thing we would probably do is stock the car with more picnic friendly groceries so that we can simply take advantage of the rest stops for a picnic rather then having to find all our lunches on the road. That way we could have sat out with Bear at either a table or grassy spot and relaxed a little better while we ate. There have been lots of Walmarts along the way, so it would have been easy to restock our supplies and it probably would have been healthier (although we have been trying to take the Subway and salads approach whenever possible). Another thing we would do is to make sure to get more hotels in advance once we had a better idea of our schedule. Getting a hotel on the road while using spotty wifi is far more frustrating then setting it up a few nights beforehand from the free wifi at a current hotel.

In other news...

The great house hunt has begun! Knowing that Joe's work will be in Bellevue (or possibly Redmond, as he might be working on an Xbox contract), has led us to concentrate our search in different areas. We've actually been looking a lot near the Woodland Park Zoo, but we haven't given up on the beautiful Alki region yet!

We are hoping to find a home ASAP, preferably a townhouse with a small yard for Bear. If we can find something quickly and can reclaim our belongings from the POD people, we might even make it back home for Labor Day weekend. More on that to come!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And then there was corn

Or driving thru Iowa and South Dakota...

I spy with my little eye, something that starts with "c"... If you guessed corn, you're correct! The only other acceptable answer was cows because that is pretty much all you see from the highway when passing through both these states. Oh, and hay. We've also seen a lot of bikers as there is a biker rally in South Dakota by Mt. Rushmore.

We went to see Mt. Rushmore yesterday evening. It is a great piece of American history to go see and if you're ever in Rapid City, SD or there about I highly recommend going to see it. If you decide to pay the $11 to park at the monument you get a year long pass that allows you to park your car there for free ( they take your license plate number so that it will only work with that car). The only downside to the monument is that there are no dogs allowed outside of the parking lot, so we had to leave Bear in his crate in the hotel while we were sightseeing.

Speaking of Bear, he has been an awesome little travel companion. I'm sure most of you have seen the pictures of Bear in his puppy seat in the car. That puppy seat and the fact that he is crate trained have made this trip across country with the little dog much easier then it would have been otherwise. While we're driving (never more than a few hours without a small break for both man and beast), Bear sits contentedly in his dog seat alternating between gazing out the window, staring at the person in the passenger seat and snoozing. When we get to our hotel for the night, we lug in our stuff and immediately set up Bear's crate with a blanket from home, one of his favorite toys and a chew bone. When we leave to go grab some dinner, Bear waltzs right into his crate and settles down to bury his treat in the blanket. Knowing that he is safe, calm and contained really helps Joe's and my peace of mind when we need to be out of the room.

Mostly we've been passing the hours on the road by playing then license plate game (we're up to 47 states so far, c'mon Rhode Island!), listening to music and listening to a Cesar Millan book on tap about raising the perfect puppy. The book on tape is probably our favorite way to pass the time and the Cesar Millan book has been really interesting and informative. Joe and I are really excited at the prospect of getting a puppy sometime in the coming year (after we get settled in a new house and with a new schedule, of course). If you are thinking about getting a puppy, I would bigot recommend this book in either format.

Lastly, I want to apologize for any grievous errors in this blog post. I'm literally typing this from the road on Joe's IPad, which is slightly more difficult than doing it on my laptop. :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First post from the road…

              There are many parts of America that are absolutely beautiful; unfortunately the partial tolls that we have been traveling don't seem to be the best way to see them.   That said, we have been very lucky on our trip so far.  I’ve been enjoying the iconic Americana views from the roadside and am looking forward to getting some great shots of the Midwest.  Bear has been snug in his dog seat throughout the trip. We didn’t realize just how domesticated he was until we stopped at our first hotel (motel, actually) for the night and he just about leaped out of his skin with joy at seeing furniture again.

            The first rule of road trips has to be roll with it (pun intended).  We have all ready changed our plans twice and expect to have to do so again.  Our first change was to reschedule our stop in Ohio for a much later time.  (I hope Chloe is feeling better Jenny!)  Our second change was to come straight to Quad Cities, IL (where Joe’s family lives) instead of going to Chicago first based on the astronomical prices for dog friendly hotels in the city.  Joe’s Mom and Aunt have graciously offered to watch Bear for an evening so that we can take an overnight trip to the windy city without busting the budget (almost $500 for one night is just ridiculous!). 

            We came into town and were immediately swept up by Joe’s exuberant family.  It was wonderful to be a part of a big family and reminded me very much of visiting Florida to stay with my grandparents and see all of my aunts and cousins.  We’ve been treated to fantastic ice cream at Whitey’s and are getting ready for a pool party and some (nearly) famous pizza.  Joe’s Uncle Bruce and Aunt Stacey have graciously agreed to host us.  It was great to sleep in a real bed in a real house. Bear was especially thrilled and has made himself right at home. 


            Joe has a job in Seattle!  He’s accepted a position with Attunix, a small start up in the Bellevue region.  We’re both really excited and can’t wait to get a house and really start our lives out there!

More from the road coming soon!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The POD is packed!

             I say again, the POD is packed (and probably picked up by now).  I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be packed for the move.  Please keep in mind that I have been packing since May due to needing to be out of both my classroom and townhouse by the end of June.  Being in a constant state of packing is tough, but I know it will all be worth it once we get there.  Now for a little impromptu advice about packing, PODs and moving in general…

            Get rid of EVERYTHING!  Haha you say, but seriously though, the more you can give up/donate/sell before hand the better off you are going to be.  Throughout this long process I have been trying and trying to downsize.  I have gone from wanting to just leave it all behind to wanting to save things that probably didn’t need to come because I might need them when we get to our new home (which we still don’t have picked out yet).  However, now that I have been packed for awhile, I can honestly say that there are some things sitting in our POD that I intend to give up pretty immediately once we get there. So if you can stand to part with it, do! 

            Our POD is a 16ft leviathan that basically is just the type of container that goes on the back of a truck.  Two things that you definitely need for packing a POD is good spatial awareness and a propensity for Tetris and patience, ok three.  PODs are sectioned off into four areas via four by fours and eye hooks which you can use to create webbed “walls” with rope.  This is where my scouting and canoeing background comes in handy as Joe has no idea as to what to do about knots (love you, honey!).  Packing and repacking each section as boxes became available was tedious, but well worth the piece of mind.  Obviously there is no guarantee that our possessions will make it to the other side of the country safe and sound, but I feel pretty good about the chances.  What is most shocking to me is that we absolutely filled that POD, with very little furniture, mostly just boxes.  Now I know that we are combining two houses and a classroom into that thing, but seriously?! Full?!  Yes, yes it is.  This just makes me want to get rid of things all the more when we get to Seattle, because I really don’t want to start Joe and I’s new home together with a ton of junk.  ::sigh::

Now that the POD is packed, it’s really hitting me how little time we have left here.  We will be heading out early Sunday morning to begin our road trip.  Joe and I have been trying to spend as much time as possible with friends and family and have really been enjoying the social time. J  Thanks to everyone who has made an effort to come to see us or have us come to see them this week!  We really do feel incredibly loved and fortunate to have so many wonderful people in our lives.  We will be back in the area for Christmas without a doubt and we may be back this fall for a weekend of RenFair!  We will keep you posted on those developments. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

2 weeks to go...

            There’s only 2 weeks to go before we pack up the car (and the dog) and head off West!  I’m so excited/nervous/excited/stressed/excited/sad/excited that I can hardly contain myself!  The POD will be here on Friday, so we can finally pack up all the boxes that have been sitting at Joe’s and feel like we’re actually getting things done. 

Mostly I’ve been spending this time trying to luxuriate in the feeling of being here.  Taking my time in the morning lounging on my parent’s sofa with a cup of coffee, one of Mom’s magazines and my parent’s jack russells while I day dream about decorating our new place; having dinner with my parents and grandmother or lunch with friends in the afternoons; going out the barn to volunteer my time with the horses and the kids I’ve been working with for the past year.  I’ve also been trying to schedule as much time with friends as possible, so if I haven’t gotten a chance to see one of you yet, please give me a call so we can try and spend some time together!  And of course, I’ve been helping Joe pack and trying to get the last of my own things packed up and ready to go.  I still can’t believe how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the years!  There have definitely been times when I just want to leave it all behind and start completely from scratch, but there are too many things I just can’t bear to leave.  Oh well.

            The yard sale last Saturday was a great success.  We got most of our traffic from 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM.  Word to the wise, there is no reason to have a yard sale past noon.  No one comes, so you might as well just have it again the next morning if you really need to sell stuff.  Also, the detailed Craig’s list post I did about the yard sale really, really helped.  We probably could have forgone the flimsy garage sale signs I bought at Walmart and still would have been ok.  We kept putting things out and putting things out all morning and there were still things we forgot to put out.  When it was all over I looked at all the things that hadn’t sold and felt like we could still do a yard sale out of it!  Most of the leftovers were packed up for Purple Heart to come pick up and a few things were brought back into the house to be packed up (only a few!).  We made a nice chunk of change to go towards furnishing our new home.  Speaking of which..

            No, we do not have a house yet.  We are hoping to get a property near one of our friends that has the most AMAZING view ever, but the realtor won’t call us back.  At this point we have decided to save our money and head out with a final destination of a dog friendly hotel as opposed to our own place.  Since POD gives us a free month of storage, we’ll have plenty of time to peruse the housing market instead of getting stuck with something sight unseen, which might have hidden issues. 

            On a new topic, the BBQ that we had Saturday night was fantastic!  Thank you to everyone who was able to come by.  Joe and I feel incredibly fortunate and loved by our many, many friends!  We will miss all of you and have a special pace in our hearts and open space on our futon for everyone.  Come and visit us as soon as you can!

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's offical...

…we’re moving to Seattle!

Now for the FAQ.  Most people when I tell them that say “Congratulations!”.  Followed almost immediately by one of the following questions; “Why?”, “Do you have family out there?”, Do you guys have a job yet?”.  I think the hardest of these questions is the first one.  So instead of telling “why” we’re moving to Seattle, let me tell you what it is about Seattle that we’re really excited about.

Seattle is a beautiful, lush place with amazing views of cloud covered mountains peeking through like storybook kingdoms. 

It is a very artsy place, which means that it has a great music scene (in fact one of Joe’s favorite bands is from there) and will hopefully help me rejuvenate some of my dormant creativity. 

The people in Seattle are exceptionally friendly.  When we went out to visit in February, we were chatted up in bars, lines and pizza joints (Serious Pie…yummm) by people we had never met before, who wanted nothing from us, but talked to us like old friends, bought us drinks, and offered us advice about the area.  This is such a change from the stiff, keep to yourself attitudes of northern Virginians that we were taken aback at first and kept waiting to hear what it was they actually wanted from us.

Everyone hikes, bikes and goes outside in Seattle.  Yes, it drizzles or mists a lot in Seattle.  Often it flat out rains, but people there don’t seem to mind.  Everyone rides a bike, there are even actual bike lanes on the road!  People who we know form Northern VA who were never really the “outdoorsy” type actually spend their weekends outside hiking, skiing, canoeing and whatnot.  I’ve really missed these kinds of things since moving to NOVA and can’t wait to get back into the outdoors without having to drive an hour to do so.

The farmers markets in February were amazing.  There was tons of fresh fruit and vegetables and they all looked fantastic.  From the little we actually tasted, everything was delicious, most of it was organic and it was mostly local.  If that’s what’s available in February I can wait to try what will be there during the summer and fall months!

We will be within quick travel distance of several other amazing places including: Vancouver (about 2 hours), Portland (about 2 hours), Alaska (3 hour plane ride), Hawaii (quick plane ride), and the wonders of California (Napa, San Diego, and San Francisco).  All of which are places we’re hoping to travel to during extended weekend trips once we get settled.

Did I mention it’s beautiful?  On our trip out there we absolutely fell in love with Alki Beach.  The stony beach, with its tide pools full of hidden treasures; vibrant anemones, spiky urchins, and the occasionally darting shrimp or fish, were just captivating.  The view of the skyline of Seattle (complete with Space needle) off to our right was only matched by the Olympic Mountains and wooded beach off to our left.  Everywhere we went, there were amazing views, breathtaking sunsets and picturesque bungalows.  Who wouldn’t want to live around all that scenery?

So now we can get to the hard questions.
Do we have family there?
  No, but we have some amazing friends who went out from Northern VA and never came back, which gives us a good indication of how it compares to NOVA.

Do we have jobs yet?
  No, not yet, but if an elementary teacher and an IT guy can’t get a job in Seattle, then there’s something else going on.

Do we have a house yet?
 No again, but we’re planning a quick trip out there in July to house hunt and do some interviews.  We’ve been keeping tabs on what’s available and there are some great places for rent that are considerably less then what we would be spending back in NOVA.

Are we excited?
  Yes!  Neither of us has ever lived on the west coast before, so we are absolutely excited at all the possibilities and new adventures this will bring.

Which brings us back to our original question of why?  The easy answer is; why not?  The long answer is that we love our family and friends here in NOVA, but we are ready for the next adventure and what could be more adventurous then moving to the other side of the country and taking a week long car ride (with the yorkie) to get there?

We’re hoping to have lots of amazing things to post about along the way and once we get there.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy the ride along with us as you read along.