Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gettin' Legal!

This weekend was a journey of discovery for yours truly. Saturday I discovered what the CO2 detector sounds like when the batteries are low. I also discovered that there were no batteries left behind by the previous owner. Sunday I discovered that when business is slow at Lowes, at least one of the associates at the Coeur D'Alene store will volunteer to be your personal shopper at no extra charge.

Monday we discovered the Bonner County DMV. We rose bright and early in order to avoid the rush. Our GPS got us lost for a few minutes, but a bit more research on the new phones (thank you Verizon) brought us to our destination with a minimum of tears. Our haste to arrive early proved unnecessary; the line consisted of three people, only two of which were adults. We got the truck registered in five minutes for $59. About $300 less than it would have cost in California, and that's not including the smog cert. Yay for Idaho! Errand number one - check.

As it turns out, up here in Bonner County there is a separate office for the driver's license end of things. It's less than a mile away, but that didn't stop our GPS from getting us lost FOUR MORE TIMES before we got there. Thank God Jeff is not opposed to asking for directions when the need arises. But don't let that get out - it would ruin his reputation as a dude.

We finally arrived at the proper office, waited our turn (again, there was one person in line ahead of us) and filled out the appropriate paperwork. All was well until the lady helping us asked for proof of residency. Jeff handed her our official "change of address" paperwork, but she could not accept that. Jeff asked what WAS acceptable, and then things just got hilarious. She told us a mortgage statement, rent bill, or a utility bill would suffice. Sadly, when you paid in full for your solar-powered house, you sort of don't have any of those documents. Poor Marcy was trying so hard, but we were so new to the area we could barely understand her suggestions. "You need to go to 'Road and Bridge", she told us.
"Okay, where's that?"
"It's at 2 and Division".
"Okay, where's that?"
"Do you know where the Super One Foods is?"
"Do you know where Mountain West Bank is?"
"Do  you know..."
"We have never been to this town before today. We don't know where ANYTHING is."

Finally Aaron, the young man at the next desk, sensed our mounting frustration and stepped in. He took us just outside the door, and with a good deal of pointing, gesturing, and meticulous listing of landmarks provided us with the route to find the office that we needed to visit. We thanked him profusely and set out on our next quest.

Aaron's directions turned out to be impeccable. We found the Bonner County Admin/Hall of Records with no trouble at all. We were the first ones in line! Okay, we were the only ones in line. We got or permit for the use of the county dump while we were there, then got the form requested by Marcy. Before we left the counter, I noticed the names on the document were not ours, but those of the previous owner. I brought this to the clerk's attention, and after a quick phone call, he said everything was in order, the deed had been recorded, it just had not yet been updated in their system.


Thank God this was not a busy office. The clerk called the DMV office, asked for Marcy specifically, and explained the situation. She said that in addition to the document that we now had, a letter from the Road & Bridge office stating that we were indeed the owners/residents of the property in question would work. By this time the entire staff at the admin building was following our saga. The clerk sat down and typed up the letter per Marcy's instructions, printed it out and sent us on our way. We left, with shouts of "Good luck!" following us out of the office and down the hall.

We returned to the DMV office, documents in hand. Aaron set us up at the testing stations. We both passed, and after paying the fees, surrendering our current licenses, and suffering the indignity of the dreaded DMV photo, we received our temporary Idaho licenses. During this process, we mentioned that our next two errands were to set up a bank account and get auto insurance. Aaron provided referrals for both, and we were soon on our way. Errand number two - check.

We grabbed lunch at a café that was located in a large antiques mall. When we were done with our meal, we wandered around the antiques until we stumbled upon their yarn section. It was the most glorious thing I have ever seen. Jeff had to pull me out before I suffered a complete sensory overload, but I vowed then and there that I would be back. Repeatedly. Because yarn.

We visited the bank that Aaron had recommended, and in short order had a brand new joint account. Errand number three - check.  Jeff made the executive decision to leave the auto insurance for later, as the first three tasks had eaten up so much of our day. I agreed, as we were both tired and cranky and no insurance agent in their right mind would want to deal with the likes of US at that point.

We arrived home to glorious late afternoon sunshine, and solar panels fully charged. YES! It more than made up for the "comedy" we endured earlier. But we were victorious in the day's endeavors, which is good enough for me.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Plowing and Plumbing

Our fifth day in the new house started with me losing my temper with the woodstove. I could not keep a fire lit in that thing to save my life. And with these temperatures, I'm kind of relying on it to do just that. There's a knack to this, I'm sure of it. I just hope we don't freeze before I figure it out. After four failed attempts, the fire finally took and held. With constant attention, I was able to keep it going, but unable to tend to much of anything else.

Later in the day, our snowplow guy showed up. It was almost 3:30 and already getting dark. Gotta love these short, SHORT days up at this latitude. I was expecting a pick-up truck with a plow mount, but what I found instead was a massive logging tractor called a Skidder,with a plow on one end and a grapple on the other. The tires alone were taller that I am. This beast meant business, and made short work of the snow piled up on our driveway and front yard. The lovely man driving it was in the lumber business, and during the slow winter months, hires out his services for greenies like us.

After he left, Jeff and I drove down the hill to leave the change of address form in the mailbox for the mail carrier. Turns out she had left a note of her own, asking us to raise our mailbox by 12 inches. Jeff left her a note promising to comply, once his tools arrived from California.

The following morning, the plumber came by to repair the water heater. Our heater is awkwardly located and hard to reach, so I was worried about the scope of the project. By some miracle, while he was wedged into that confined space, the plumber replaced SOMETHING that was bent and out of alignment. The pilot light lit and the heater sprang to life. YES!

The movers called just as the plumber was leaving. Jeff met them at the foot of the hill and drove them up to the house, where he broke the news that we would NOT be getting our belongings today, as the trucks would not make it up the hill. Or so we were told. After much deliberation, Jeff opted to rent a storage unit and have the movers unload there instead. We spent a very cold afternoon supervising the unloading of the truck. We were able to nab a few comforts, such as pillows, during the process, and throw those in our pickup.

It was nearly 4:30 before they finished and rolled out, so by the time we reached our driveway we had to chain up the tires in the dark. It was cold, and frustrating, and a little scary, but by the grace of God we made it back up the hill. It was late, well after dinnertime, so we had reheated leftovers and crawled into our warm bed, now fitted with our own fluffy pillows.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5,6

Friday, April 11, 2014

Snowbound With The Haneys

The road trip may be over, but the fun's just starting!

The Sunday after we moved in, the previous owner came by to give us the grand tour. He showed us how to use the power generators and the Amish wood burning stove. He was as unsuccessful lighting the water heater as we were. In theory, the wood stove should heat the water, but I remained skeptical. After he left, Jeff and I headed back into town for errands, which included new phones due to our old carrier's rotten coverage on our mountain. I was finally able to talk to my parents.

Monday morning found us headed down the hill once again. On the way down we broke a chain. We collected it from off the driveway and continued down the hill. Jeff said he didn't like the way the brakes were responding afterwards. With our hearts in our throats we continued, praying like crazy, to the nearest gas station and asked for the nearest mechanic. After replacing two bottles of brake fluid, we rolled into an establishment and asked if somebody could make the repair while we waited. The gentleman behind the counter said he couldn't accommodate us, as he was expecting a customer with an appointment. He did go outside with Jeff, though, to take a quick peek. After a moment under the back of the truck, he shouted "Ah!" Then he pulled out a wrench, tightened a bolt, and reattached a dangling brake line. He crawled out from under the truck and announced that we were good to go. He didn't ask for a dime. Jeff did, however, slip him a couple of bills for his trouble. We were able to continue on to St. Maries, about an hour away, to pick up a chainsaw Jeff was eyeing. After our GPS got us lost, twice, we found the dealer and made our purchase. I was eager to get back on the road, as I didn't fancy chaining up the tires in the dark. We reached the driveway at about 3:30 and the sun had already started to set. The chains went on in record time, hallelujah, and we made it up the driveway just before it got dark.

Tuesday morning I was awakened by Jeff shouting from the front door that the power was out and to stay in bed until it was back up and running. Twist my arm. He fired up the generator and the lights flickered on for a minute or two. The generator began making weird noises, so Jeff turned it off. I started praying again. I got up and dressed in the pre-dawn light. When Jeff returned we sat at the kitchen table and discussed his findings. Armed with a walkie-talkie, he headed back out in the snow. He fired up the generator once more, flipped a few more switches, and voilĂ ! The power came back on and held. After this victory, we headed out for yet another round of errands. On the way back, we pulled into the driveway before ours and introduced ourselves to our new neighbor, Giselle. She was able to provide us with the name of a snowplow driver so that we could clear the road, which hadn't been plowed in about four months. We exchanged numbers and were on our way once again.

We threw another chain on our way up the driveway! What wacky fun. We re-applied the chain and made it home though, with no damage to chain or truck this time. The sun was shining gloriously, charging the solar panels with a vengeance. I discovered to my delight, that the woodstove was indeed warming the water, albeit slowly. There was enough warm water for a shower, finally.

That evening Jeff was able to secure an appointment to have the driveway plowed. The first call didn't work out, as the driver refused to take his truck up our road. He did give us a referral for somebody else. Somebody with bigger equipment and more courage. YES!

More to follow in our next episode, Plowing and Plumbing!

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalms 20:7

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hello Idaho!

January 16, 2014 was moving day for the Haneys. We rose at 3;30 A.M. after a long night with little sleep. It was unseasonably warm all night, and the camping cots we slept on were not as comfortable as I had remembered. We completed our final pack-up and lock down of 14 Tierra Seguro. Rancho Santa Margarita CA While I pulled the truck around, Jeff locked the front door and put the key in the lock box left by the realtor. He forgot, however, to shut the garage door. Luckily he had also forgotten to collect my garage remote from me, so our solution was to use my remote to close the garage from outside, then sliding the remote under at the last second to secure it inside. Once we had locked up properly, we took our last drive out of the condo complex. I cried.
We hit the proverbial road at 5:00. On the 91 we missed the I15 interchange, so we continued east up the 215 instead. We stopped for a stretch and pit stop in Devore, right next to the old Renaissance Faire site. Memories! Going through “the pass” before dawn was beautiful, but more than a little cold. A draft by my feet kept my legs chilled up to my knees for most of the trip. We rolled through Las Vegas about 10:00, then caught the 95 and headed into the Nevada desert. With the exception of one or two charming small towns, that area is REMOTE. It was hard to find gas or food. The brothels, on the other hand, were plentiful.
Our schedule would not allow us to stop in Reno for the night, or even for dinner with my sister and her family. The closest we got was Fallon, NV. We stopped at Dairy Queen for a chili dog and a sundae.The sundae was a mistake - I froze. It was there that we received a call from our realtor, informing us that the paperwork was finalized and we now owned a home. Outright. YES! We caught the I-80 at Winnemucca at about 7:00. If we had not had an appointment with the realtor the next day, I would have stopped there for the night. Instead, we continued north into Oregon.
FOG! Like I’ve never seen! We drove for hours through the middle of nowhere, barely able to see the road. There were No motels along the 95 anywhere. Jeff said he wouldn’t start panicking until 10:30. At about 10:00 Jeff switched over to the GPS, which had us turn east onto I-84. An interstate!  At about 10:25 we saw a “Sleep Inn’ sign through the fog in Ontario, Oregon and pulled off the highway. Hallelujah, motels a-plenty. Jeff opted for a Best Western, where after a short wait we secured a room and were in bed by 11:00. So so so very tired. Thank God for finding us a motel!
The next morning we rose at 4:30, loaded back up, and hit the road. The temperature read 19 degrees. The drive through Oregon and Washington was beautiful. The terrain changes were frequent and sudden. As we drove through Spokane, Jeff began pointing out the places he’d visited the month before. At about 2:00 p.m. we pulled up to our driveway. We hastily outfitted our tires with the snow cables we bought in California. We drove about 30 feet up the driveway (which is almost a mile long), threw a chain, and slid backwards down to the road.
After removing the useless California chains, we drove back into town (30 miles away) to purchase snow tires and some REAL snow chains. By the time the tires were mounted, it was dark. Jeff agreed to getting a motel room and trying again in the morning when we weren’t exhausted. Unfortunately, our motel was hosting what appeared to be a high school reunion, with the majority of the festive alumni pausing to reconnect right outside our door. All. Night. Long. At least there was a hot shower and a warm bed, for which we were both immensely grateful.
We slept in until 5:30. We were both dressed, packed, and out the door at 7:00. We headed back up to the new house again, and tried our luck with the “Idaho” snow chains. The “we ain’t kidding around” snow chains. We struggled with them for a few minutes until a gentleman in a pickup stopped and showed us how to do it correctly. Angels all around, I suppose.
Once the tires were properly shod, we drove up the snowy driveway to our new house. It was better than I could have imagined. We were beyond overjoyed to find the previous owner had left a king sized bed, and that we would not have to endure those rickety camping cots again. There was also a dining room table and chairs and a sofa set. SCORE.
We unloaded the pickup and heated canned soup for our first meal in our new house. Other than our disappointment at being unable to light the water heater, we declared day 1 in the new place a resounding success. Much learning ahead.
Thank God. We are home.
For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. Genesis 13:15

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Goodbye California!

Wow, it’s been an awfully long time since my last submission. A lot has happened since October, and my online presence has been spotty at best. Big changes have come and gone, and in sooth, there will be plenty of new adventures and hilarious mishaps to report in the not so distant future.
The job search over the last year has been fruitless. The few calls I’ve received were for job openings that I might have considered twenty years ago when my rent was $700 and gas was a dollar a gallon. People don’t value experience anymore, so something needed to change.

And change it did. In September my husband resigned from his job of 22 years. We put our south Orange County townhome up for sale and began searching out-of-state options. Jeff’s dream had always been to buy some land in Idaho and live a slower-paced, more rural lifestyle. After 25 years in the corporate grind, I was willing to make the leap with him.
For about three months, our days consisted of gathering and sorting 17 years worth of accumulated “stuff”. The house soon became a maze of cardboard boxes and bubble-wrap. We listed the house and received an offer the next day.

Jeff made a trip up to Idaho on his own. His realtor had found several listings in the area which we had narrowed down to one, which turned out to be an absolute DUMP.  A miraculous last-minute find on the part of our wonderful realtor produced another listing, though. A little higher than we wanted to pay, but already boasting the amenities that we were looking for. Jeff fell in love with it immediately. He made an offer while he was there, which was accepted the following day.
Shortly after Jeff returned, the buyers of our townhome backed out. We were devastated. Jeff considered  calling our Idaho realtor to retract our offer. I said “No, let’s pray about this!” Thankfully, God was listening, and completely on board with this venture. We re-listed the house, and within a few days received an offer from a newlywed couple who were in a hurry to vacate their current abode.

Game on.

After that, it was a mad whirlwind of paperwork, repairs, garage sales, Goodwill pick-ups, packing and cleaning. One day, in the middle of January, movers came and loaded up all our worldly possessions. We sat in our garage, which was empty except for some folding chairs and a few morose neighbors. This was it. Our last night in California.

The biggest adventure of our lives was about to begin.
 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8