December, 2008 browsing by month


Home(less) for the holidays

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Our move date was scheduled so late that we ended up having most everything done a couple days in advance, so we decided to wrap it up and take our last weekend in LA to do some fun tourist type activities.

Friday night we had a fancy dinner out on the Queen Mary. After dinner, we had a drink at the art deco Observation Bar on the ship.

Then on Saturday, we went to Disneyland and California Adventure. Neither of us had been in a long time. We had a great time, despite how cold it was. It was very nice to not think about moving or any of the related challenges for a whole day.

We’ve also seen a few movies. Milk was great. The Day the Earth Stood Still wasn’t.

And all week, we’ve been celebrating the holidays with the 12 days of sushi. We love sushi and will miss our weekly Wed. night sushi outings. (It is the one thing I have had no success with making myself.) We’ve gone to all our favorite sushi restaurants this week…Naples Sushi, Tsunami, Koi.

Tomorrow, the movers come.

Happy holidays

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Need to buy or sell a used car?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Autotrader is great. We have bought and/or sold 3 cars in the last few weeks on Autotrader. Each time it was quick, easy, and cost effective.

T minus 5

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

We have a move date! The truck will be here Mon., Dec. 29.

T minus … I have no idea

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Well, we may be as close as three days from moving trucks being here. Or maybe not. We don’t know. No one can tell us a move date. Glad we went with a big professional moving company. Oh well.

It’s amazing how difficult some of this stuff is. You’d think no one ever moved across state lines before. Our stress level is high.

On the plus side, we actually have phones in Portal. If you call our new number, 520-558-0180, you will actually get K12 Handhelds voice mail.

The week in review

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Well, another week is gone, and we are now about a week away from the moving trucks arriving. Our anxieties are mounting, but it is good to know that in a couple weeks, this phase will be over.


  • We still don’t have a firm move date. With our move just a week away and many thing hinging on when the moving trucks come, this is difficult.
  • We are going through another round of nightmares related to getting health insurance. If we thought CA was bad, it is nothing compared to AZ, where apparently the insurance companies can “rate you up” almost without limit due to pre-exisitng conditions. A policy which cost us about $500 a month here in CA was quoted at first $2,000+ and then $4,000+ in AZ. It is unbelievable. (Same company, same policy. CA regulation triumphs again.) Needless to say, we won’t be having the level of coverage we have had in the past. Yes, Virginia, there is a national health insurance crisis.
  • Still no phones. Hopefully, Monday.


  • We finally got the deed to our property. (It’s been almost 3 months since we closed, and I was starting to worry. We were told the delay was due to election-related activities at the county office.)
  • We are doing very well with packing. We have sold, donated, and got rid of lots of stuff and have packed most of the rest. Packing everything by the end of next week does not seem daunting.
  • All the car situations are resolved. Santa also got Brad a new stereo for the truck with sat radio. This will be very nice for the drive and for Portal, which I am thinking does not get regular radio. (We are addicted to NPR.)
  • The fencing of our property has commenced.

Depending on our move date, we are likely going to spend a couple day’s at Brad’s mom’s after Christmas before we drive to Portal. We are planning to relax and maybe see some movies. Then we’ll drive out and spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day at a guest house in Portal before moving into our new rental house sometime between Jan. 2 and 5.

Everyone’s talking about the weather

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Everyone I know seems to be shoveling snow this week.

Even here at the beach, it’s been cold. Yesterday, it didn’t get out of the 40s. This morning, we could see snow on the mountains from our house on the beach.

Interestingly, in Portal yesterday, it was in the mid 60s.

A Ranch Truck

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

We have a truck! This has been agonizing. Everything we do seems to require a ton of study, thought and debate; I’ve reversed my own well thought out ideas many times in this process. When I first envisioned a truck it was a Tacoma 4×4 or maybe the Tacoma 4×2 with the locking rear differential. Then we started talking to people-ugh. Everyone had ideas and all of them were different, often contradictory.

I was hesitant to move up to a larger truck, but the more we looked at our needs the more it made sense. I hope to get big stuff delivered, but clearly there are going to be many trips for building supplies and I don’t know what they will be. In the end we boiled it down to two trucks, the Dodge 2500 Diesel and the Toyota Tundra.

One thing I found amazing was that the trucks cost about the same amount. Our decision might have been easier if the Dodge had been cheaper. In the end though, the Dodge drove like a giant truck (I think the 4×4 model is really high and very rough) and the Tundra seemed pretty easy to drive. The reliability history from Consumer Reports heavily favored the Tundra too. Also, I hope not to be towing too much. I do believe the Dodge is an awesome truck for towing, but I don’t really want to be in the towing business. (This is something I might be wrong about, but I hope not.)

A surprise was that we ended up with a quad cab. Having driven a truck in the past, I knew I wanted some storage room in the cab and I thought the extended cab was enough. It just happened that the truck, with the lowest mileage and the lowest price and the newest model was a quad cab. For the most part, I’ve been looking at 2000-2002 trucks, just because of our target price. We ended up with a 2005. I think the newness matters almost as much as the miles. (Plus the Toyota added a power rear window in 2005 which I think it very cool. :)

The 4×4 decision: Someone I respect said that we don’t need it. However, a bunch of people said 4×4 is a must. Since we just don’t know what we are getting into, it seems much better to have four-wheel drive and never turn it on than to need it and be stuck. There is some personal experience here too. When Karen and I were looking for property in Portal, we once turned a corner to see a stream where only a road should be. That was an eye opener. We were driving a RAV4 with four-wheel drive, but just parked it and walked the rest of the way. (We had to build a rock bridge just to get where we were going.) I will say that getting a 4×4 complicated the purchase process. There are distinctly fewer 4×4 trucks to pick from.


2005 Toyota Tundra SR5 Crew Cab
V8 4.7 liter i-Force
5 Speed Automatic with Electronic Overdrive
four wheel drive
four wheel ABS
limited slip differential
towing package

gross vehicle weight rating 6,600 lb
curb weight 4,965 lb
gross trailer weight braked 6,500 lb
max payload 1,635 lb

Cargo area dimensions:
length 74.3″
width 63.3″
height 20.7″

More specifications

Moving along

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

We had a productive, short trip to Portal this week, accomplishing three main things:

  1. Moving all our books
  2. Getting a storage space
  3. Meeting with our architect

On Wed., while I was coming home from NC, Brad rented a truck and loaded all of our book inventory from work, our personal book collection, and some files. It was a total of about 3000 pounds of books. I got home around midnight Wed. night. We had planned to leave early the next morning, but I ended up having to stop by the office, and we didn’t leave until about 8:30.

It was a long, uneventful drive in the truck. We hit traffic in Phoenix and didn’t get to Willcox, where we’d be spending the night, until about 8:30 at night.

The next morning we got up early for a busy day. We started at the storage facility in Willcox at 7am. The space we’d planned on renting looked good, plenty big and easy to get an 18-wheeler moving truck into with our furniture.

From there, we drove a little over an hour to Portal. As usual, when we made the turn onto 80 and started seeing the mountains, I began to relax.

We got onto the property and started to work on our storage container before the architect was scheduled to get there at 11. We swept it out and started painting. It was a little slow going, and Brad was wondering if we’d have time to finish everything we wanted before dark.

Our architect, Judy, got to the property right on schedule. We really liked her. We talked about various issues, like the placement of the second slab, room layout, windows, etc. She is going to bring some good experience and perspectives to the project. She also knows a couple who is doing their house in American Clay and may be able to get us included in a “plastering party” to help and see how it works. I felt really good after meeting Judy and signing the contract to officially begin the design process.

Some interesting notes about Judy: She grew up around Willcox and Douglas and knows the area. Her family is from Ohio, and she even follows the Browns. (Go Browns!) She has done some volunteer design projects overseas, including working in Kenya.

Back to the storage container, we resumed painting. I also started rearranging the many cartons of books to begin unloading. Once we started unloading the books and stacking them in the container, it went quicker than we thought. Having everything well organized helped a lot. By 2:30, we were pretty much done.

Then we headed off to Bill and Chris’ to put up the mailbox. That didn’t work out as well. First of all, Bill had spent all night driving a family member from California and didn’t seem to be expecting us. Then Brad told me that he’d mentioned that we needed a locking mailbox, which the one we had was not. (I don’t even think they were selling locking mailboxes in CA. I’m not sure, but we decided to just put up the one we’d brought for now and replace it later. I felt depressed about the whole thing.) THe actual process of installing the mailbox was more involved than we’d imagined. We had brought a 4×4 post and planned to borrow a post-hole digger from Bill and put it in. What Bill actually did was to drill a large hole with his tractor and augur, drop the post in, and then cement it in place. The cementing process was interesting — he dumped a bag of dry cement in the hole, put in the post, filled the hole with water, and used a long metal rod to help the water penetrate. We were grateful for the help and now have a mailbox in place, even if it isn’t the ultimate one that will be there.

We got back up to Willcox around 7 or so, showered, and headed to the railroad car restaurant where we’d eaten before. (I couldn’t take one more truck stop meal.) We had a nice dinner and were asleep before 9. Brad woke up at about 3 and couldn’t sleep anymore so we got an early start back home.

Fourteen hundred or so miles later, we are home.