Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crazy Homeless West Coast Adventure

I've said this before...I'm not a writer.
I write for me so I can recall these good days forever. 
Thank goodness I took the time to record some of our thoughts and experiences during this past year because reading back through my blog I'm already reminded that 
I've forgotten some of our adventure...
It was grand...but these wonderful days have all run together...
Many times our adventures took on a religious experience that we never expected...
So unplanned and catching us by surprise...
We had the pleasure to meet God face to face over and over again...
on mountains, in snowstorms, in forests and on the high seas, 
in rivers and lakes, valleys and meadows,
In strange cities and even in the desert...
He was there...I saw him...for myself...in his own creation...wild and free.
It was magnificent.
And I saw how my Father worked everything out for us in ways we could never imagine...
So many unspoken situations were reconciled for us in our behalf. 
Our travels were far from perfect. 
We hit some bumps along the way.
 Random issues surfaced that altered our plan at times 
but it was always so comforting to see God's hand in everything, everyday, all the time...
never missing an opportunity to confirm that 
He is there...always... teaching us, guiding us, protecting us.
His steadfast love never ceasing...
The future is exciting as we plan our trip back to Texas, hitting up a few more bucket list destinations.
We will be arriving at our new mystery home in a few short weeks.
Our days will be filled with family and friends...
Comfort foods and familiar surroundings...
soaking up days and days of Texas goodness
Til we embark on a new adventure in 2015!

Friday, September 26, 2014

God Bless Texas

We have been gone from the great State of Texas for the better part of the last year! 
And oh how we miss it...
and our family and friends and all the yummy affordable foods.
Too many things to list because I know I will leave something out.
But I can tell you this...
We have not found good brisket since we crossed the stateline into the nether world.
Dickey's bbq in Tacoma, Wa was good, but not great by our standards.
We need to eat Texas beef.
This beef they sell up here is pricey and tastes gross.
It might even be fake... Not sure.
No one knows what a kolache is...no one... It's sad.
How do you describe the jalapeƱo sausage and cheese breakfast pastry goodness?
and... No! ... Piggies in a blanket don't cut it!
We found Krispy Kreme donuts but no Shipley's.
I can't wait to bite into a fresh chocolate filled donut, lol,
or a warm plain glazed...
And don't get me started on Mexican food...
We need chips, yellow queso and green sauce ASAP with
Pork tamales and cheese enchiladas swimming in queso, please!
I NEED to go to HEB immediately for some real marinated fajita meat...
And my pulled pork sandwiches just aren't the same without HEB raspberry chipotle sauce!
And oh how I miss Texas strawberries, oranges and watermelons...
The fruits and veggies they sell here are sub standard at best.
And don't forget ice cream...Umpqua was really good and the absolute best there is in Washington,
but Blue Bell ice cream...It's the best in Texas!
I need tubs of it in all favors...
even the mini sandwiches would be good too!
Now for the weather...
SUNSHINE...not this lame cloud break stuff either...
I've worn out 3 hoodies this year dealing with the high of 72, lol
That's not summer, people...
I need that hot searing intense blistering kind...
that you can't find anywhere else but Texas!
So that's my order...I'm placing it now so that Texas will have it all ready for me next month!
Oh and one more request...please have gas at less than $3.00 a gallon!
See ya soon!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

We Choose Freedom

I've blogged about being debt free, how we travel, and Steve's nursing career in depth. 
I've shared most of our adventures from this past year, where we lived, what we ate,
what we traded our safe life for, and some of the things we chose to live without and how...
We don't own a house. We don't have 2 cars.
We don't have debt. We don't have much "stuff".
And most of the time we go without our many creature comforts...like security for instance, lol
We choose to live like this...
And it's ok.
We're ok!
I'm ok!

We choose living over existing, We buy memories over material things.
We are not "celebrating" a special moment every day because every day is a celebration in itself.
We made these choices so we could live in freedom every single day.
We did not win the lottery and we are not blowing through our life's savings.
We are not on permanent vacation.
So then how do we reach a financial compromise when there are so many choices?
 We tackle this issue by making decisions together and agreeing on our budget.
That's it and when the monthly funds are gone... the activities are over.
Sometimes I do roll money over from a previous month and we decide together how to use it.
We then determine excursions that are worthy of our time and money.
Is this activity unique to the area? because if it isn't...
we are usually not interested in it.
Can we plan it into the work schedule?
Are there any discount coupons? lol
I love Citypass...by the way!
Often it seems that by our standards we are living like rock stars,
but I think we have just now joined mainstream society.
Through the years I was so conditioned to save and not spend. 
Now I have a spending budget... so weird, lol.
There have been many times that I cringed while releasing our cash just 
 to purchase gas, food, hotels, or tickets...and there were more times than I can count 
that I just said...
I'm not paying for that. 
We don't need that.
I'm not interested in doing that.
and more often than not...I really don't want to eat that, lol.
But on many occasions we did say yes!
We did step outside our comfort zone and 
experience some new things this year!
And guess what? 
We enjoyed it and it has lit a fire of adventure in us like we never imagined.
This year was so good for us and worth every penny we spent!
So here's the bottom line ...
I am still me!
 and I still use coupons, pack picnic lunches 
and go sightseeing on the free or reduced days...
And I'm good at it...
good at planning a tight low budget itinerary that packs a Big Bang!
Most of the excursions we have gone on have occurred during the week at a reduced rate.
Spencer is still in the 12 and under category and that helps some.
He still orders a child's plate sometimes and Steve and I still split a meal when we can.
We have enjoyed so many simple moments of just breathing it all in and saying,
Wow! We have arrived at "wherever we are..."
We are here! 
Let's just slow down and enjoy the moment...
Breathing in the air together...taking pictures...lots of pictures!
Just like we always did at the Houston zoo and museums when we picnicked with our kids.
Like we did at local parks with our babies.
Like we did at Disney World when we ate peanut butter sandwiches gazing at the castle.
Like we did when we went camping so many years ago with nothing.
Like when we had season passes at Astroworld and we left the park to eat our picnic at the car.
Like we did at the beach playing in the sand year after year...
So, our approach to sightseeing has not changed.
In fact this last year has confirmed everything I thought about travel.
Sure we have visited many bucket list worthy places...
 but this is not the time to make bad decisions by jeopardizing our funds 
and compromising everything we believe.
Now is the time to be clear minded and prepared so that we can continue our life of freedom.
It's the time to explore our options...to determine when to save and splurge...
as we decide where we live and work and how we spend our days.
Trusting God's plan and purpose for our lives as this journey comes to an end 
and another begins in Texas.
That's freedom.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Historic Martin Hotel

We have been meaning to visit this hotel turned restaurant ever since we landed here 4 months ago. 

It's listed as one of the oldest and best places to eat here in Winnemucca.
The Martin Hotel
It's a historic hotel that serves Basque food...family style.
Nevada has a long history of the Basque people.
The Martin Hotel was originally a boarding house for the mine workers and sheep herders!

They have quite the menu.
We arrived at the beginning of the dinner hour so it was empty, but when we left it was packed.
They seat everyone at large tables together, just like an old boarding house may have served meals.
We enjoyed the company of a traveler who had driven from Elko to sample some Basque food.
I think he ordered tongue, lol.
After he left a group of manly workers were seated at our table and they all ordered steaks!

Quite a nice experience for us. 
So sorry for these blurry pics, I pulled them off my old IPhone.
We ordered steak and shrimp for our entrees and it came served as a 5 course meal!
Bread, table wine and Iced water was complimentary too, and already on the table for us.
First the soup... And it was amazing!
Homemade chicken noodle...so good! 

Then the salad with ranch style beans and served with prairie dust...weird, but good too!
Prairie dust was explained to us as a salt/pepper/garlic seasoning that you sprinkle on the salad.

Now the third course is sides of green beans, mashed potatoes and pozole with chorizo...

It's all so good too and now we are almost full... 
but here comes our entrees!

steak cooked perfectly!

and fried shrimp...

Served with Winnemucca Fries! 

Yummy! We are stuffed and everything we sampled was surprisingly really good!
Dessert too?
Homemade bread pudding!

Ok I guess we will have that too!
And it was wonderful...
We enjoyed our evening immensely, 
but it doesn't come without a price...

Our evening is almost over so 
we strolled down the street and snapped a few pics...

There's the amtrak train just pulling out of the station!
and another weird landmark right next door...
The Mineshaft

A 24 hour saloon that never closes.

The door doesn't even shut or have a lock! 
Just some of the interesting sights to see here in 
And soon this will all be but a memory of our
Nevada Adventure!

Winnemucca Sky

It's usually breathtaking!
Most mornings I wake up to the most amazing sunrise...

Sometimes the skies are pink and purple, changing ever so quickly right before my eyes!

I love to open the windows and smell the clean cold desert air first thing in the morning.
The sunshine here has been a gift every single day...
But not this week. 
Just days later...
The skies are dark and strange.
The air is thick and heavy...like sitting next to a campfire.

Not at all what I would expect since we are a good 2-3 hours away from the fires.

The quality of the air is so poor that there are advisories to stay indoors til the smoke clears. 
The good news is we have rain in the forecast. 
Hopefully it will arrive soon and leave us with clean air and sunshine so I can enjoy these last few weeks here in Nevada gazing at my beautiful Winnemucca sky!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Texas Contract

It's that time again! 
Steve is beginning negotiations for a nursing contract in Texas, preferably the Houston area. 
We need a Nov 1 start date and so many more things that only God can manage.
So please pray pray pray for us as new opportunities are revealed 
and we are called to make these exciting decisions.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

California Adventure Conclusion

Our California adventure is coming to an end.
This is the last night of our whirlwind trip.
We are so thankful for the chance to be able to see so many wonderful places on our epic journey.
I never imagined a visit to San Francisco or Yosemite National Park would ever be possible.
But it was and
Wow! I'm so thankful for this time in my life.
It's temporary and we know that God is in all the details or none of this could ever be possible.
We have one more night before we arrive back in Winnemucca 
so we decided to take the shorter route home that leads through the desert. 
We always drive through Reno and we love that 
but seeing as much as we can of the USA is part of our journey.
It's surprising how quick the terrain changes in the west.
One minute we are gazing at the Pacific blue water and then it's the farmland 
followed by the rugged mountains and lush forests.
Then all of a sudden we are in the vast wide open desert without a soul in sight.

As we drive through western Nevada we rarely see much of anything.

The towns we drive through are no more than military ordnance testing facilities,
like Hawthorne
Not a place you want to spend the night.
By now we are a little concerned about our hotel reservations in Fallon,
but we both expect the Holiday Inn to be ok...
and it was better than ok
Thank goodness! It was great!

King 2 room suite with a jacuzzi tub! 

and a separate kitchenette!
We are so tired and ready to relax... pour me a bath please! 

Yea, you see who got in first! lol
and since we have taken the time to drive back into civilization 
we are now only about 2 hours from our apt.
This means we are sleeping late tomorrow morning and checking out as late as we can! 
Steve is so tired from this whole trip. He drove all of it and wouldn't let me help.
He has to go back to work tomorrow and do 5 shifts in a row to pay for all this joy!
So we are relaxing and processing our California adventure in a jacuzzi tonight 
because tomorrow it's back to reality in Winnemucca!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yosemite Part 2

We are simply blown away by the timeless majestic beauty of this park.
Arriving in the Yosemite Valley from Mariposa Grove we took in one beautiful sight after another. 
Most of the landmarks we hoped to see are noted on the main park road 
and we were able to either pull over or take a short detour to a parking lot. , 
This required minimal walking to access so many amazing views!
Because of this, the national parks are totally accessible to everyone. 
Of course we would love to do some camping and hiking someday soon but today we are beyond blessed to just be in the park and experience all the natural wonders for ourselves.

There are actually climbers out today!
Pictures just cannot do justice to the textures and colors of this marvelous terrain.
The Falls at Yosemite are some of the most popular sights too, but due to the drought...

they were reduced to a trickle.

Bummer, but still lovely. 
We made a quick stop at the park store in Yosemite Village to get a few goodies!
It's huge, complete with shopping carts, groceries, and multiple checkout lanes. 
We also stopped at the visitor center so I could get my national park passport book stamped! Lol
Time to get back on the main park road 120. 
We are met with more lovely views all along the way.

Tioga pass is breathtaking!

Of course we had to stop and snap a few more pics!

It's a beautiful relaxing drive through the park.

I would love to come back to Yosemite to spend more time...
to camp, hike, ride horses, and take a jillion more photos! 

We will save that for another adventure someday!

We are making good time now as we leave the park and cross into Nevada, 
where we have reservations for the night.

I booked a very special hotel room for us at the 
Holiday Inn in Fallon, NV
Since we are behind schedule we decide to just eat on the rest of our picnic goodies and pick up some chicken mcnuggets through the drive thru! 
What a treat, lol, haven't had McDonalds in forever! 
So tired and ready to relax tonight but we still have few miles to go as we drive through the vast wilderness that is Nevada. 
Tomorrow is the last leg of our California adventure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yosemite Part 1

Nothing can be simple...
Before we left on our California adventure I created a loose itinerary for us to follow
since we had so much ground to cover in just 4 days!
We want to see as much as we can so if we get off track we just have to continue on. 
So far everything has gone as planned, except for the little traffic hiccup
leaving San Francisco the day before.
The traffic only threw us off about an hour and we made it up that evening since 
sightseeing was minimal due to the smoke/fires.
With the fires burning and finding out that the road we intended to take is now closed, 
 we have to find a new route to enter the park.
We studied the park maps, googled for more information, got a decent night's sleep, 
and devised our re routed plan of attack for Yosemite National Park
Our hotel, Best Western, had a really good breakfast to start our day! 
We began a nice drive into the park and followed the road to Mariposa Grove
Home of the big sequoia trees!

Crazy one way bridge!

Finally the park entrance...
This is about an hour and a half of extra driving time.
It's ok though, we didn't come this far to miss seeing the huge trees.

and the amazing rock formations begin...

We see amazing sights along the way as we entered near the main Yosemite Valley entrance!


Wow! It was definitely one of those moments you want to treasure forever!

There was a haze from the fires, but still so amazing!

Love this kid so much!
He's got some mad photography skills!

Bucket List!

Another quick photo by a kind stranger!
We are still on our trek to see the giant Redwoods so we get back in the jeep 
and keep on trucking down the road...

another tunnel emerges with more amazing views!
Finally upon reaching Mariposa Grove, the parking lot was full...
Ugh, really? 
Just another bump in the road and an adjustment to the itinerary!
Park employees redirect us 6 miles back to a parking lot that has a shuttle.
So we head over there, park, and hop on!

standing room only...of course! lol
but thank God we are on it!
And finally we arrive at 
Mariposa Grove of the Giant Sequoias
We discuss the pricey tram tour and after hesitating we decide to do it, like I said...
we are here and we are seeing these big trees today so help me God!

The tram tour winds all through the woods and we see one unique tree after another.

They smell so good even though the fires were burning nearby.

Finally at the end of the tour, we stop at the huge tree that you can walk through!

and that's exactly what we did...walk through the giant sequoia tree!

 what a great memory this will be...

Bucket List!

These trees are massive and they even bleed red sap, who knew?

The tram tour was well worth the money and we all learned so much today,

but now it's time to move on!

I'm a tree hugger now!
We get back on the shuttle and arrive at the parking lot about 2 pm.
Yeah, we are really off schedule now by about 2 hours. but that's ok! 
We saw the Giant Sequoias and we are going to drive through
 the Yosemite Valley just as soon as we have our picnic lunch!
Throwing our trash away...I just had to take a few pics...

Save a Bear, lol

Time to get back on the road for more sightseeing.
We still have about half of the park to see and we need to sleep in Nevada tonight.
Tomorrow Yosemite Part 2...