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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Making Decisions

It sure feels great to make a decision!  And we have been making a number of important, life changing one lately!  Despite a number of sleepless nights, and much, much discussion we are very excited about the upcoming changes.


Our first decision was coming to the realization that due to Joses allergies/asthma we needed to sell our house.  It was a hard decision, one that we have considered for years - we could never bring ourselves to do it as we love our log cabin on the lake and it is near to my parents and our friends.  After spending these last few months away, Jose is feeling like a whole new man - full of energy and completely off his inhalers!  Once we made the decision to sell and whole new set of choices presented themselves!


Given the nature of our income, we can choose to live anywhere - and we considered everywhere! From Spain to Mexico to Ecudor...we really wanted to move here, to the United States but didn't qualify for any Visa.  After deciding that Spain was too far away, we started looking at Canadian towns close to the US border (we are loathe to give up the inexpensive shopping here) with a pool (Violets passion) and dance lessons (Hazels passion) as well as decent schools (We feel like its time for the girls to go back to traditional school). After a winter without snow here in Oregon, we were also in search of a milder winter.... unfortunately, in Canada, that comes with a hefty price tag.  We tried to find a place in western Canada so we could still be close to family and friends but just didn't want to be 'house poor'.  We wanted to be able to afford the lessons for the girls, vacations, and save money for their university education etc.  I am also trying to take ino account my needs as a disabled person - proximity to doctors and places to have my equipment is important, and given that I no longer drive we thought it would be nice if we were in a town within walking (or rather rolling) distance of shopping, schools, parks, etc.


After searching high and low for somewhere that met these needs (I think we cruised every inch of the Canada/US border on Google Maps) we stumbled across New Brunswick.  We initially discounted it as it is just so far away from our friends and family.  The girls have such a strong relationship with their Grandparents and we value that - it was the reason we moved from the city to our house on the lake. We kept coming back to it, until one day our millionth mls.ca search landed us in a beautiful little town across the border from Maine, in central New Brunswick.  We fell in love with a huge, old home in need of cosmetic TLC but (hopefully, still have to have an inspection done) structurally sound with updated wiring,plumbing,etc.  We are not completely done closing the deal - crossing our fingers, but if all goes well we will be closing at the end of March and moving mid-June!

As things will be tight until we sell our house, we were eager to get home and start preparing our house for sale, as well as start packing etc.  After much hemming and hawing, and with a bit of trepidation, we have decided to brave the snow between here and home and leave here in a couple weeks and make a break for home as soon as the weather allows.

So, we will spend the next few weeks soaking up the Oregon beauty - it will be hard to say goodbye!




Friday, January 3, 2014

A Choice, A Chance and a Change.....

Jose and I have finally accepted that we have to sell our beautiful, little, log home on the lake.  It is a tough decision that has been a long time coming - Jose has suffered and struggled to control his ever worsening asthma (caused by allergies) ever since we moved into the house 7 years ago.  We had considered selling the house in the past, but loved the place too much.  We still do love it, and hate to leave it, but Jose is feeling sooooo much better now that we are away, that we realized we would have to. Once that difficult decision was made, a whole world of opportunities opened up!

Our number one choice would have been to try and move here, to Oregon.  Unfortunately, we do not qualify for any of the Visas that we would need to become permanent residents - so that was out of the question.
We considered continuing to live in the trailer every winter as we had originally intended - however, we are finding that accommodating my disability is more challenging than we had anticipated.  In addition, we are feeling like it may be time for the girls to attend traditional school again.  So, we need to settle down somewhere for at least 10 months a year.

While living here in Oregon we have enjoyed the conveniences of being in town, as opposed to a 60km round trip from town.  We have also enjoyed the lower cost of living that exists here in the States - given that we are unable to immigrate here, we started considering towns close enough to the USA/Canada border that we can utilize cross border shopping. We also let our imaginations run wild and considered Spain, Ecuador, Eastern Canada and more, before settling down and considering our priorities.

This will be the third move Jose and I have made - our first home in Edmonton was a practical, affordable starter home, which we left when we followed our hearts and moved back to my hometown.  That was a great move at the time - I wouldn't trade the relationship my girls have with their grandparents for anything (and they will be the hardest to leave) but this time we are thinking with our heads.

We want to find a place where:
1. We can have a lower cost of living - through reduced house insurance (we pay 300.00/month currently because we are not in a fire protection zone), more affordable internet and heating (hello cable bundles and natural gas furnaces!), less gas budget commuting to town, and availability of cross border shopping.
2. I can 'roll' in my chair to shopping, library, etc. - now that I don't drive.
3. Violet can take swim lessons (her passion) and Hazel can take dance or music lessons, and they can both go to school again.
4. We are close enough to our family and friends in BC and Alberta that we can still see them!

So far, the Boundary region of BC is looking good - particularly the Grand Forks area.

So, 2014 is looking to be an eventful year but for now we are committed to enjoying the next/last 3 months here in Oregon while we continue to consider our options.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Monday, December 30, 2013

Over the Hills and Through the Woods.....

....to Mickey's House we went (in an attempt to distract us from be homesick because we weren't at 'Grandmothers House' over Christmas)!  

We just returned from a week long road trip (sans trailer) through California which culminated in spending Christmas Eve and Day at the Disneyland Resort! We had a great time and really enjoyed seeing all the different regions/town as we drove. We saw a lot of attractions (Yosemite! San Francisco! The Desert! San Diego! ) that we plan to experience next time! We took hundreds of photo's which I condensed into collages (Thanks PicMonkey) for your viewing pleasure,lol. So, without further adieu....may I present The ------ do California

First, we drove East through Oregon to Klamath Falls to get something on the truck fixed again - we found cold, snow and icy roads and decided we don't miss that AT ALL!
(see our 'Christmas Tree' this year - a lighted garland strung across our mega slide from which we hung our ornaments)

From Klamath Falls we headed down the very boring I5 to Fresno, where we spent the night before heading off to our first destination - Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. I am definitely my fathers daughter - he has passed on his love of big trees to me and we wanted to see the Giant Sequoias.  We were able to start at Grants Grove on the northern, Kings Canyon, side of the park - while the sequoias are massively impressive we really enjoyed the beautiful drive through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain and the climb up thousands of feet in elevation.
(foothills)

Grants Grove home of General Grant - the 3rd largest tree in the world.  The kids thought it was pretty cool to walk through a fallen log!


From Grants Grove we drove the Generals Highway though the parks to the Giant Forest on the southern end of the park. The Giant Forest is home to General Sherman - the largest tree on Earth!  It is pretty astounding to consider - trees are so amazing!
Girls got to make two tiny snowmen - we had hoped to take them sliding but it is a dry year and there wasn't much snow!





After visiting General Sherman we descended from the Sierra Nevada's along an insanely twisty, stomach churningly high, jaw droppingly beautiful stretch of road.  There were miles and miles of hairpin turns that had to be taken at less than 10 MPH - thank goodness for a sign recommending we descend in a low gear or we would have burned out of brakes for sure! 
The Sierra Nevadas are very different from the Rocky Mountains we know, but beautiful in their own way.

We spent a night in Visalia before speeding along the I5 through the smoggy San Joaquin valley to our next destination - DISNEYLAND! We arrived early enough to spend some time at Downtown Disney.

The next day was Christmas Eve and we were up bright and early - a good strategy which allowed us to experience more rides than we thought we would be able to given the Holiday crowds! It was a fun, tiring day - poor Violet and Joses feet were so sore (Hazel scams a ride on my footplate)! 

It was really special to experience all the Christmas decorations and experiences such as the Feliz Navidad parade/street show. Unfortunately we didn't realize that our World of Color fast passes didn't guarantee us a decent spot so we weren't in line early enough, therefore we couldn't see at all - major bummer as the Winter Dreams WOC was one of the Christmas events we were most looking forward to!


We got back to the hotel where the girls had hung their stockings....
(See the photo where V is sprawled out OVER H? Despite her assertions that H takes up the whole bed and wriggles all night....)


They awoke Christmas morning to find that 'Santa' (We don't 'do' Santa, yet the girls insist on believing?) had filled their stockings.  Because we had already exchanged and opened presents with my parents when they visited, we were able to head straight for Disneyland!
The girls bought each other the doll sisters Elsa and Ana from the movie Frozen - so sweet how their dollies experienced DL with them and played together all the way home.


We were able to ride Its a Small World twice in a row - I love all the attention to details at Disneyland, so it was nice to be able to experience the ride twice!


Disneyland got more and more crowded as the day went on, but we were still able to ride a few rides before waiting over 2 hours to secure a prime viewing spot for the parade...


After the parade we attempted (unsuccessfully - accessibility FAIL) to ride Pirates of the Caribbean before waiting for the fireworks - which ended up being cancelled due to wind - MUCH TO OUR DISAPPOINTMENT.



We had a great time at Disneyland and hope to experience Disney World next year - maybe not at the Holidays though! 

We headed home over 2 long days of driving, with a stop in San Francisco for the night - definitely a city we need to return to!  Driving home along the 101 was beautiful, we enjoyed watching the landscape change from dry hills (where Jose had to fight the urge to jump on a donkey and ride up and down the hills...lol) to redwood forests....It was great to get 'home' to our trailer!

Accidental tourist.....


Now it's back to the same old routine, I'm psyched up for a fresh start at the school with the girls and looking forward to our next adventure.....



Thursday, December 12, 2013

What a Fantastic Week....

Yesterday, we said a sad good-bye to my parents who had driven down to spend a week here with us.  We had missed them terribly, and miss them already again.  We had a fantastic week with them though, sharing what we love about our winter retreat here in Oregon, and discovering with them even more to love.

Apart from the first (rainy) day the weather was clear, but chilly - my parents were more acclimatized to it than us, I am ashamed to admit that anything less than 10 C has started to feel cool to me!

We made good use of the first day, by driving down to Ocean World - something the girls had been looking forward to. Ocean World is small but has many hands on experiences from touching star fish and anemones, to petting sharks and watching a sea lion performance.


The next day we headed straight through the Jedidiah Smith State Park along Howland Hill Rd.  We stopped at Stout Grove to walk among the awe inspiring, stunning, mystic, gorgeous coast redwoods.  I can't describe how amazing they are, nor do the photo's below do them justice - they really need to be seen and felt in person. I can see why the aboriginal inhabitants wouldn't live among them, as they considered the redwood forest a sacred space.





That evening we walked through the gorgeous light display at Azalea Park, as well as the huge display at our RV park - even our little trailer is decked out for Christmas.


The next day was my 32rd birthday, and we spent it at the beach, followed by yummy Mexican food at our favourite restaurant and cake.  I am so fortunate to have lived such a wonderful life, and to have been loved through out it.  I look forward to another 32 years!




Next on our itinerary were the Trees of Mystery which were well worth every penny of the admission.  Though, the trails would not have been wheelchair friendly to anyone in a chair less rugged than mine - I am so, so thankful for my power chair and its ability to plow through snow and sand, and climb steep, gravel trails. The gondola ride was stomach dropping (for me and my mom) but well worth it for the views at the top.


Jose and I had Tuesday off, while my parents took the girls tidepooling.  All too soon, their visit was over, and we spent one last day attempting to fly kites and watching the sun sink into the ocean.  We exchanged Christmas gifts early, and the girls are set for adventure with classy canvas backpacks (thanks Uncle Ross)  and binoculars (thanks Grandma and Grandpa).


Now, we have to buckle down for one last week of school before we head off to Disneyland for Christmas (with a day in the snow, among the sequoias in Sequoia National Park on the way there).

I hope to post again, before the holidays, but if not - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Photo Bomb....

Can't find enough time or inspiration for words tonight, and if I don't get these photo's up soon I never will....so if I picture is worth a thousand words, here are 10,000 - LOL.

I finally got to watch the sun set from beginning to end.


We had to drive to central Oregon to get my power chair and the truck bed lift fixed, so we went to a Wildlife Safari there.





On the way home (the second time) we drove down the stunning Howland Hill Road through the Jeddidiah Smith State Park to Crescent City. We can't wait to take my parents there next week when they visit.





Then, of course, we had to go to our favourite beach again now that my power chair was repaired.  The girls had a blast making sand dragons (have you read Dragon Tide by Ingrid Lee ? It is a fabulous favourite of ours), mermaids and getting their feet wet.


Speaking of the girls, they are great - enjoying rollerblading, and Christmas shopping and decorating.


We are all looking forward to my parents visit this next week - stay tuned for a big post of all our adventures with Grandma and Grandpa!

Friday, November 15, 2013

And These Are a Few of Our Favourite Things....

We have been here, in Southern Oregon, for two weeks now and every day we love it more.  The town is big enough to have all the necessities (and many restaurants - so far we have enjoyed delicious Mexican food at Pancho's Restaurante y Cantina, unique Pizza from Zola's Pizza and, our girls favourite - ice cream from our neighbourhood/harbourfront ice cream shop. Next up, Baja Fish Tacos and Clam Chowder at Sporthaven Marina <-- all this, while watching my calories 8-S ) but small enough to feel friendly and homey.  There is a great homeschool group where my oldest has already made a friend who came over to play.  Tonight, she is off to a wrestling match in a nearby town with friends of mine whom I met and befriended years ago on a website for other people with spinal cord injuries - it was great to finally meet them in person last weekend!

I received an early birthday gift from my parents a couple of days ago - a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS30 (thanks Mom and Dad) so we have finally been able to take some good quality photos!

Our most favourite thing is definitely the beach! There are many, many beautiful beaches here but our favourite is Harris Beach - not only does it have large stretches of sand and rocks for the waves to smash against but it has a ramp all the way to the sand!



Another favourite is Azalea Park, which is a beautiful, quiet oasis with a huge, fabulous, unique wooden play structure. Today, when we were there they were starting to install what is rumoured to be a magnificent Christmas light display. Christmas lights amongst blooming flowers will be a first for this Canadian girl - not that I'm complaining!




If we are out and about near sunset we always try and catch the sun setting over the Pacific ocean - it is spectacular even when we spend five minutes to long at the grocery store and have to settle for a quick stop at our neighbourhood beach to catch this.....we are spoiled!

Until next time,

E.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finally Settled....I hope!

Well, we are finally settled in in our winter location....I hope! It seems that all of my careful, time staking, planning was absolutely pointless - as absolutely nothing went according to plan. I find it very, very, difficult to 'go with the flow' but that is just what we did - and it was just fine!

After one more day at our campsite in Canada - and a great day it was, with an attempted hike up to Bridal Veil Falls.  It was a beautiful walk through the mossy, fall forest even though a few steps prevented us from reaching the falls.



The hike turned out to be a beautiful farewell to Canada, as the next day we received the longer lift which we had had to wait for, and were able to cross into the United States of America!  The border crossing was pretty hassle free, considering all the horror stories I'd heard, the customs officers didn't look at any of the documentation I had gathered, and only confiscated some baby bell peppers!



We stayed near Seattle the first night as we had originally planned to spend a couple nights there, so I had had a parcel shipped to a mailbox there (can I tell you how nice it is to have an American mailing address!  No more Amazon error messages that "this item cannot be shipped to your location").  Seattle looks like a funky, fun city and I wish we had had the chance to explore it - oh well, there is always next time!

(on another thought I don't think I have ever used 'had had' so many times before....whats up with that?)

The next day we headed for Salem, Oregon for a LOT of tax-free shopping! Even with the exchange rate from Canadian to US dollars, we were astounded at the prices for many things! We outfitted our trailer with neat gadgets from Camping World, shopped for a bike for Hazel, a coffee maker for us, shoes and a jacket for Violet - so much that we had been delaying until we were in the USA.  One of our purchases was Halloween costumes for the girls - we took them trick-or-treating at a mall, and house to house.  It was a novelty to not have to bundle up in winter gear under/over their costumes! And the candy haul was a good chance to sample some candy that is only available in the States...not that we ate any of the kids treats, mwhaa ha ha ha.

The next day, we hit the I5 and headed south to our winter location. It was a much nicer, and more beutiful drive than we had been led to believe....until we turned off the I5 at Grants Pass and onto the 199.  While it was beautiful, through the mountains and redwoods, along a river....the narrow, windy, curvy road was INSANE!! No photos as I was gripping the door handle and closing my eyes.  As usual, my Superman, drove us safely through.....

We pulled into what we thought would be our home for the winter, the girls and I went and explored the very pretty river garden while Jose set up the trailer. We were surprised to find out that the campsite didn't allow children, despite their website which misled us to believe otherwise. The owner said she would 'give it a try'...

We had a great weekend exploring the area, finding a great playground, dog park and beach (where we were thrilled to finally get to test out my Power Chair's claim that it will drive through sand - IT DOES!!!!), despite the worry about whether our children were being quiet enough. 





 Thus, on Monday morning it was almost a relief when we were informed we couldn't stay.  After getting the kids schooling done, we headed out to check out RV parks in the area.  We settled on a park in the harbor area of the town, which we moved into yesterday.  We actually like this place better so far, the neighbours seem friendly and best of all - WE CAN WALK TO THE BEACH! As well as shops....like an ice cream shop much to my kids delight!


Please excuse the poor quality photo's, hopefully my new camera (Thanks for the early birthday present Mom!) will get here by the weekend!