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!