Just Breathe

Good mental health really is a thing. And it’s tough. I’m not saying it’s “Here’s Johnny” time, but it is something that needs to be actively worked on. We’re three weeks into this tiny-house living situation, and I catch myself getting short with Laura, the dogs, my employees and my customers. Now granted, sometimes the people who represent the customers, are not too bright. (Well maybe, most of the time.) But keeping your cool, staying centered and remembering to just breathe, takes a lot of practice. A LOT!

Everyday we’re bombarded with agro situations. Learning to compartmentalize those issues is an art. I’m still a fireman when it comes to reactions. I see an issue, I want to address it, immediately. It’s just my nature. But in doing so, I typically step on toes… Who am I kidding, I bulldoze because it gets the job done. But I recognize it and I (try to) work to be better at not doing it.

An old trick I picked-up years ago, was to write that damning email, then sleep on it. It allows you to vent your frustrations, get things off your chest, call people names and remind them of how stupid their thoughts and actions are. Then the next morning, you’ll wake up with a clear head and and even temperament. Most of the time, I’ll radically amend that email or maybe not send it at all. And on some rare occasions, I might even pick up the phone and make a call 🙀. Yeah, you know me. I’m not much of a phone caller.

But in the end, do yourself a favor and just breathe. Take a walk. Step away from the computer, your spouse, YOURSELF. Just do something other than what you need to be doing. Clear the head and you’ll be a better person for it.

Oh, about the house. Yes, it’s progressing 😂. Actually, we got some good news this week. The floor joists were delivered and the truss package should arrive by the 27th. Which means we’ll really start to see some progress. We’ve pretty much sourced, bought and subcontracted all of the items we’ve committed to. The rest is up to the GC. There are a few lead time issues, but in the end, they’re out of our control. So I’ll just take my own advice and let it go.

We spent last weekend in Driggs, ID with Len, Brenda and the kids. It was great to see them and we really had a nice weekend. We needed it. Not that the RV life isn’t beautiful, but a little change in scenery and someone different to talk to, is always a nice thing. They bought a beautiful little (3,400’sf) vacation home and we’re hoping they don’t mind more visits from us.

Off for my walk now. Peace ✌️

(yes, she is eating ice cream for dinner)

That’s WY!

Know where your beef comes from and how it’s managed? Most people don’t. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most people don’t want to know. Well, you can either keep reading, watch the videos below, or both. Today was eye opening, exciting and downright cool. Good times, with good folks.

Our neighbors here in the RV park, are actually multi-generational residents of the area. Relatives within the Pape Family. They’re staying here while their new house is being remodeled and are educating us on the region, the people and the lifestyle. It’s downright Cowboy. This isn’t a town where you come for the fly fishing or snowboarding or rock climbing. But it is a place you go through, to get to those places. And as such, it hasn’t lost it’s origins. The towns of Pindale, Cora and Daniel are ranching towns. And proud of it.

Today we were invited to help the community branding party at the Pape Ranch, just a bit outside of town. Every Spring, they round up all the calfs to be branded, before turning them out in the mountains to graze until fall. There must have been about 1000 calfs, plus all the momma’s, herded into 4 different corrals. Every calf gets a brands, inoculation, an antibiotic and de-horned (if needed). With so many heads, the most effective way to do it, is throw a party. Ropers, Wranglers, Rustlers, Branders, Doctors and yes, Tourists (from California), all coming together to get the job done. And believe it or not, the whole herd was done before noon. The efficiency and speed with which they do this, was impressive. But what’s even more impressive, is that once you see the process, it’s super easy to repeat. Not saying the task is easy to perform, just easy not to forget.

Laura gave it a shot, twice. She’s a bad ass. I just wish the kids could have seen her doing this, when they where little. They’da thought twice about talking back to mom, if they knew she could throw-down, Cowgirl style.

After all the calfs were done and turned loose, everyone headed back to the Ranch House for a BBQ lunch. Our contribution, Laura’s grit and her favorite pasta salad. My contribution, staying out of the Cowboys way. The last thing they needed, was help from some “dude” from San Diego.

So we settled down with some kick-ass home cooking and a meet-n-greet with a couple dozen of our neighbors. Salt of the earth. All of them. And tough as nails too. These boys grow big out here and the more teeth they’re missing, the less you want to mess with them. I’m not saying they’re red-neck. I’m saying they fight with animals 10X bigger than themselves. So, careful what you do and say.

Well it’s Memorial Weekend and we’ve got a lot more to see and do. Please don’t forget to spend a moment, reflecting on our lost brothers and sisters, who helped to guarantee our freedoms and preserve the American Spirit. Cheers to them all 🍻.

Videos found here:

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We Have Liftoff!

After all of the planning, designing, decisions, changes, rinse and repeat…. we have finally gone vertical. Yup, the first wall is up and away we go.

Weather permitting, things should really start to go fast now. There are still a lot of action items that we need to take care of, but they need to happen fast. Exterior colors for the barn, roof, windows and doors need to be picked. Flooring selected and purchased. I’m personally in-charge of hiring the electrician, plumber and HVAC (duh 🤪). Which worries me a little. We’d like to participate, physically in the process, to some extent. But my lack of tools and time could make this more difficult than I anticipated. We’ll see how it pans out.

The weather here is predictably NUTS. Every morning we wake up and it’s just perfect. By 12:30pm the winds pick up and by 1:30pm, we get a little mountain spritz. The Wind River Range is about 30 miles to our North and everything around us is just high-plains. The winds are wicked strong and come at you from all directions. I fully expect some (or all) of the slide-out covers on the RV, to tear off. Even as I write this, the winds are gusting over 60mph.

Did I mention I’m right across the street from the golf course 😁. I got out the other day and got about 14 holes in, before 1:30pm. Then right out of nowhere, this squall hit and all you could do was find a tree to hide behind and hunker down. There were literally two people on the entire course (myself included). The other guy ran off and I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to wait it out. I don’t think the heavy stuffs gonna come down for quite a while. About 15 minutes later I got to finish the hole I was on and proceeded to the next tee box, where my drive would be going with the wind. Yes. Yes I did just rip a 300 yard drive, right down the middle(ish). Well after that hole, the heavy stuff did come down and that was the end of that.

It’s Friday afternoon and I’ve got my first cold one sitting next to me. Like a puppy, longing to be played with, this beer ain’t gonna drink itself. Here’s a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. See ya next time.

Touchdown!

Made it to Pinedale. Great road trip. From a strictly safe and efficient perspective. That’s how I judge road trips now. If we made it safe, with no mechanical issues, then that’s a win. LOL, 30 yrs ago the metrics were a little different. If we arrived AND we didn’t kill anybody in the process, that was a win. 🤦🏻‍♂️

There was a tiny bit of drama however. I realized, about 4 hrs into the drive on Saturday, that I had “lost” my wallet. We found it eventually. Well actually, Rudy found it behind some pillows, back in the house. No big, Brad & Cece dropped it in the FedEx today. So until it arrives, Laura’s paying for everything 🤣.

The campground here is brand new and it’s super clean and well laid-out. In a few years when the saplings mature, it will really be gorgeous. Did I mention it’s across the street from the golf course? Well, it’s so close, I already found a brand new Top Flight ball on the grass near the front door. Winning!

It’s rainy thundery funkiness outside tonight. We’re kinda diggin it.

Anyway, I’m gonna grab another cocktail and turn up the Yacht Rock Radio. Til then…

It’s Go-Time!

Just a quick little update here. Our Builder (Reggie) sent us a couple pictures. They have mobilized on the site and the first lumber delivery has been dropped off. Shit just got real.

Not sure if you heard, but Reggie is our 3rd attempt at finding a builder. The region (mostly Teton County) is packed with new home building. There is literally a 2-year wait list to get you house built. Our good fortune came when Reggie bought the lot next to us. He’s also building a primary residence (eventually), but starting with his Barndominium this summer as well. So we’re both sharing lumber orders and labor teams. In the end we might save a nickel or two, but more importantly, it’s getting done.

On another note, we started to load-in the RV yesterday. Our plan is to live in Pinedale, WY until the Barndo is ready. Pinedale is about 35 minutes South of our place, with a brand new RV park and a beautiful golf course. Just like always, we’ll live and work out of the RV, while helping with the build. You have no idea how much stuff we’ve been collecting, that we need to take with us. TV’s, bedroom furniture, chairs, tables, etc. The San Diego house has been packed with furnishings for over a year now, just waiting to be taken to Wyoming. But all that nonsense will be saved for another post…

Howdy Stranger

Well that was a long 2 1/2 year break. Went kinda fast though, right? Nothing important happened in the world while I was gone did it? Everyone OK? Healthy? Still reading these? 😂

Not to dwell too much on the past year 🦠, but I gotta bring you up to speed on the whole “Hey, let’s move to Wyoming” thing, I touched on in my last post. The bottom line… we’re closer now, than we were then (spoiler alert!).

As you can probably see here, I’ve linked a new Instagram Page to this site. One dedicated strictly to the building of the new WY property. It’s call BondoBarnBuild and basically means we’re building a Barndominium in Bondurant. What is a Barndominium you ask? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

We’ve made quite a bit of progress recently, so expect lost of new pictures and a continuous stream of updates and stories. In the interest of keeping the reader (lol, as-if) engaged, I’ll “try” to keep my posts to quick-reads. I feel like less is more. Until I add more, while keeping them less.

Ready to get on with the show? Yeah, me too.

Y’all come back now.

And in the end

We’ll be home tomorrow.  It’s been quite a trip.  I mentioned in the first post for this trip, that there were omens trying to warn us, from the very beginning.  I even titled a post “Go with your gut”.  But nooooooo.  We we’re too stubborn to listen to our own advise.

The trip itself served it’s purpose.  But in this case, we have to evaluate whether or not, the ends justified the means.  The Landcruiser took a major kick in the ass.  The oil leak/valve cover gasket, thermostat, ignition switch and major knocking sound deep in the block, have forced us to rent cars for the last few locations.  Then Scratchy’s passing .  Now Liberty’s  dementia progression has gotten to the point where we have a very serious (and very soon), decision to make.  I’m afraid that within the next few weeks of being at home, if we don’t see a reversal in her condition, we’re going to have to put her down.

We’ve been weighing the options and circumstances every day.  We manage her seizures, feeding, pooping, sleeping (or lack there of), her blindness and now her constant barking.  It’s no longer fair to either of us and her quality of life has tipped the scales.  I probably won’t write about it but just to give you a quick story, she picked us.

It was mid October, 2002 when Maddie had a softball game in Escondido.  We had been seriously thinking about getting a puppy at that point when Rudy and I decided to go the pound down in Mission Valley to just “look” at the puppies.  They had a litter of black lab pups and I asked the lady working there about them.  She told me they were all spoken for, but asked if I had seen the little lab-pointer mix in the bunch.  Not wanting anything but a pure lab, I told her we weren’t that interested.  She proceeded to tell me the back story about this little pup who was found abandoned in a dumpster in downtown San Diego.  Hearing that, I said OK, let’s see her.  Scrawny and cute, she got our attention immediately.  We took her into a private room and played with her for a bit.  Still unconvinced, we stood up to leave.  Just at that moment, this little girl stood right in front of the door and refused to move, blocking our exit.  She looked up at us, to say please don’t leave without me.  It was at that very moment, we knew she was ours.  Liberty was free from the pound but we we’re the one’s rescued.  She became my best hiking partner, a lover of boats and water and a 16 year bed-mate at night.  I’ve had 5 dogs in my life and known dozens, but she is hands-down, the smartest dog I’ve ever known.

The Cruiser is going into the shop as soon as we get home and I can only hope the damage is minimal.  We’ve got a ton of work to catch up on and some other, very serious decisions to make.  You see, the purpose of the trip was to find our retirement home.  Yup, we’re leaving California, eventually.

For months leading up to the trip, we’ve been researching properties in Wyoming and South Dakota.  We want some acreage with water and views, in the mountains.  At this point, we’ve fully committed to Wyoming.  There are no taxes, with the exception of a 5% sales tax on goods purchased.  We get property tax discounts because of our veteran status and the price of land is way cheaper than Cali.  Bottom line, our money will go 15% further there, than in California and (bonus), the political structure of the state suits us to a T.

We’ve chosen two properties, that we need to decide on.  Once we’ve decided and made the purchase, we’ll start building our dream ranch home.  In a couple of years, we’ll start to split our time between the two homes, establishing residency in Wyoming.  We’ll never sell the San Diego house but we may never spend more than a few months there, in the winters.  This is our ultimate adventure and we can’t wait to get started.

We have a few small trips planned this winter and I’ll drop a line again, every now and then.  Until then, thank you for tuning in and be good humans.

 

Life Is Beautiful

Scratchy passed last night.  Peacefully and in our arms.  It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced and it was exactly how she was supposed to go.  Surrounded by Laura, Rudy and myself.  Even Baby Jane was snuggled up with her.  She took her last breath and was gone.

Born December 10, 2002, Scratchy was a gift to us from an old employee of ours named Gene.  We had just gotten Liberty in October and we were talking with Gene at our Christmas Party, when he mentioned that his English Lab just had a litter of pups.  He told us we could have first pick of the littler for free, since Libby needed a playmate and sister.  Excited and anxious we were.  Gene lived up near Los Angeles, so when the day came to pick her out, we all loaded on the car, including Libby and we made the 2 hr trek.

I remember reading up on puppy selecting and trying to educate myself.  They call it puppy-testing and it’s not much more that educated guessing.  There are little tricks and ways to act around a pup, to see if they are timid, too aggressive or just right for your needs.  In our case, the pup had to get along with Libby, first and foremost.  Lib met with all of the pups and interacted and got along great.  From there we started to weed out the boys and concentrate of a baby sister.  We did a bunch of other little tests, but I’ll never forget the one that assured me, this was our little girl.

One at a time and completely away (and out of sight) from all other pups, I would take one, set her down on the grass, walk 6’ away, get down on my knees and call her over.  Only one puppy came to me.  This little black fuzz ball with this fresh, red scratch, right across her nose.  When I asked Gene what had happened, he said that she was the runt and got her nose scratched while fighting for mom’s nipple.  Scratchy was our new baby.

We have a million memories with her.  She’s traveled with us to over 40 states, 5 Canadian Provences, dozens of National Parks, countless rivers and lakes and endless nights on our laps at home.  “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”.  She was to epitome of love.

Goodnight Scratchy.

I need a drink

There’s an old(er) movie with Steve Martin called My Blue Heaven.  And there’s this line that has stuck with me since I first saw it, almost 30 years ago.  Holy crap, it’s been almost thirty years already.  (Sorry, I just had a “moment”).  I don’t know why but it just resonates with me.  It’s very Daoist.  He says, “Into every life, a little rain must fall.  Even in San Diego.”

I’m very keen to the fact that I shit sunshine.  Or at least I try to.  I’m an imperfect person, but I always try to find the beauty in everything, regardless of the outcome.  But every now and again, I need that rain to slap me in the face and say “hey asshole, find the beauty in this.”  Today was one of those days.

So with the older dogs onboard, they have to sleep in the front of the RV, where the tile floor is easy to clean-up, if you know what I mean.  Rudy, Laura and I alternate nights sleeping up front with them.  Every 3rd night, is my turn.  Last night, was my turn.

Stardate 96314.04   My nose, knows.  Even Laura is amazed at how I can sleep through an earthquake, but wake to a fart.  I can literally go from REM stage 4 sleep to wide awake, in 2 seconds, if I even think I smell dog crap.  Yes, Scratchy took a crap in her bed, at 2am.  And let me tell you, old lab poop smells like death.

Stardate 96314.21    WTF is that smell, again?  Wait!  The aroma is just a little different.  Still deathly but with a hint of coconut.  LIBBY!

Stardate 96314.35    Libby, you need to go out again?  Thank you for waking me this time.

Stardate 96314.43    The hell with it, they’re both up again?  I’m never getting any sleep tonight.  Let’s check some emails….

Final Score:  3 dog poops (2 inside):  1 unusable blanket (mine), 1 smeared bed sheet (mine), 5 hrs of random sleep (mine), 2 K-Cups of French Roast and 6 emails.

Just like Billy Mayes always said, “But wait, there’s more.”

So after a lovely breakfast, that included a giant Bloody Mary, Laura and I proceeded to take a drive and explore the area.  About 5 miles out of town, on the 14W headed into Yellowstone, the Cruiser started to loose power.  A moment later, engine died.  On the side of the Shoshone River, at a scenic turnout, we hit a new low.

Now, I’m a mechanically inclined guy.  I can figure out most devices, given enough time and without much pressure.  But when emotions take over, they cloud the mind.  I’ve known this.  And thankfully, my ninjas skills kicked in and reminding me of this.  After 5 minutes of staring at the engine and wondering if this trip was cursed, I took a deep breath, a step back and tried to objectively evaluate the situation.

Bonnie Tyler, thank you.  Willie Nelson, thank you.  Dalai Lama, thank you.  Just then, a local hunting guide named Matt Dowd, pulled-up and offered a hand.  Now I know I made a cowboy reference in my last post, and I hope you found it funny.  But today, this actually happened.  The universe has a very funny sense of humor, if you’re given the opportunity to see it.  This cowboy gentleman had the clarity in his mind and metric sockets in his tools box, to recognize that I just overheated, as he pulled the engine thermostat, to see that it had malfunctioned.

He was in his mid-50’s, had an ashtray full of dead butts, two cans of generic Skoal on his dash, a 24-pack cube of Busch beer (unopened), 4 hunting rifles, a 30y/o Craftsman tool box (thankfully), a 12-day beard, Stetson straw hat and a Cool Hand Luke sense of confidence.  Yup, I’ve got a man crush.

Eventually, we made our way back down the hill into town, where we found an auto parts store and ordered the new t-stat.  He followed us the whole way.  Even gave us a ride back to the RV, after we left the cruiser in the lot for the night.  I knew he would never accept a dime for his help, but I had something even better.  Brand new and unopened, this man deserved my finest bottle of Rye Whiskey.

Cheers to you Mr. Dowd.  🥃🥃  May you forever find green pastures and great hunting.  Thank you for your help and kindness, wherever you may roam.

Now here I am, celebrating a really unique day.  One that won’t soon be forgotten.  One that reminded me of lessons forgot and kindness to be given.  Cheers to y’all too.  Pay it forward.

(Yes, I’m drunk typing 🍻😂)