Eight Long Weeks

The past eight weeks, since we rolled home from our Lake Superior odyssey, have been a test.  Two months away from home means a glut of yardwork and housework. Everything looks neglected.  Then, we got dumped on, with over two feet of snow before Thanksgiving (which, sadly has melted and has not been replaced.)

The best news of the past two months is that John’s folks have moved from their home 40 miles from us into an independent living apartment just five miles across town.  They’ve got a tidy, bright two-bedroom apartment in a complex where they’ve got community meal service, housekeeping, and plenty of activities to keep them involved, should they wish.  Today was moving day, and it was an ordeal for Frank, Verna, and Aunt Alice (as Jezzy refers to their gorgeous cat).  We’re so happy that they no longer have to drive, that they can turn the heat, and ignore (for the most part) snow piling up in streets and driveways.  No more yard maintenance, which is a big chore when you’re in your 90’s.  I’ve learned a lesson about dealing gracefully with stress – the Crankshaws were so calm in the teeth of the storm today.  What an awesome family.

My part of this was to provide lunch and a bit of moving muscle.  To punch up the celebration, I ordered a cake from my friend Kirsten’s custom baking business.  omg……what a treat.  This was a dense pistachio olive oil cake, studded with raspberries.  Served with a dollop of whipped cream, its slightly crispy top and dense interior…..I have to stop thinking about it.

So, that’s been the big focus of the past two months.  Here’s the rest….

As always happens when we come home after living in a compact space that has everything we need to comfortably sustain us, I’ve been on a rampage of household crap reduction.  This time, we’ve finally made a dent in the mountain of crap in which we reside.  John’s sold dozens of items on ebay, and nearly every day brings a trip to the post office to ship off some bicycle part or unused tool to a new home.  Truckloads of small household items and clothes have been carted off to Goodwill.  It’s liberating to clean out whole corners of the basement, and see a bit of floor space open up in the garage.  Gone is our enormous stand mixer and all the attachments that came from John’s break-baking days.  Gone are two fiberglass Herman Miller chairs.  Gone are dishes, utensils, spare camping gear and endless stuff.  The amount of sheer stuff we have is ridiculous.

Gone also are the ugly mini-blinds that have (dis)graced the windows of many rooms in our house.  They’ve been here since I moved in 21 years ago.  Finally!  New shades in three rooms.  Can’t believe how great it looks.

Gone (sadly) is our old furnace.  A service call resulted in the discovery of two cracks in the heat exchanger.  Cracks = carbon monoxide leaks.  Not gonna live with that!  So, last week we had a new 96% efficiency furnace installed.  We should see about a 20%+ reduction in our monthly gas bill, which will be very welcome.

While we were waiting for the new furnace, our dishwasher sprung a leak from deep in the inner bowels somewhere.  Don’t mistake me for a gal who will willingly hand-wash dishes.  Nope!  New dishwasher will be installed Monday.  We need to sell more stuff.  Furnace + diswasher+ blinds  >> income from selling crap.  This equation just doesn’t balance!

What’s the good news?  I got a small package in the mail this week (from Santa!)  It was full of shiny oblong orange-y looking things.  Kumquats! wpid-20141213_224806.jpg What??  It dawned on me that Cozybegone, a blog I religiously follow, had recently had mentioned kumquats. I commented, asking about them, as they’re a taste I’m unfamiliar with.  Well, Carla tracked me down (scary that it’s so easy for someone who doesn’t know you to find your home address) and sent me a box of kumquats and pecans to sample.  While I still can’t get John to try one, since he apparently saw the surprised look on my face when I popped one into my mouth, I’m liking the bitter, then sweet rush, they provide.  Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus.

Caroline and I cycled out to see my mini-donkey/horse buddies a couple of weeks ago.  Yep, he’s still there, and as curious as ever.20141130_124127We chatted with the owner for a few minutes, and gleaned this fact about donkeys.  They have a reputation for being stubborn, but that really is untrue.  In order to be compliant, they need to trust.  The owner assured us that she could get her donkeys to jump off a cliff if she instructed them to do so, because they trust her. The image of donkey basketball games with balky animals refusing to trot downcourt is all due to a lack of trust.

Hey, is than an iphone?  Android?  Oh, let me see???20141130_123613This is Skip (I called him Billy Idol).  He really wanted to get up close and personal!

Other than this bike ride, I’ve been a huge couch potato since we got home in mid-October.  Gained about eight pounds, which are not pretty.  (On the plus side, I’ve read a huge number of wonderful books!).  Had my annual physical this week, and was terrified to face the doctor.  I need a motivator to get off my butt!  Garmin Vivofit is the machine for the job.  It’s a wearable, electronic pedometer, which connects to my computer and phone.  It tracks my steps, mileage, and caloric output and gives me some neat reports as to how I’m doing.  Silly as it may sound, it does motivate me – I’m super-competitive, and the thought of missing an easily achievable goal just isn’t going to happen.  I’ve had it for under two weeks.  Here’s my best day so far, in steps.  Actually, it was my first full day.20141204_220545The reports I see look something like this (on my phone)….this is the first four days.wpid-screenshot_2014-12-11-22-31-25.pngHere’s my week so far….wpid-screenshot_2014-12-13-23-18-01.pngJezzy has been a beneficiary of the Vivofit.  She’s my walking buddy, although she often hesitates and looks longingly at our street as we pass by to make just one more lap around the block.  We’ll be ready for hiking in the Southwest, soon.  Bring it!

So, we’ve hauled the Fireball out of storage, and are preparing to depart for Las Vegas on December 22, the day after the Crankshaw family Christmas celebration.  For the first time (ever, I think), my entire family will be together to celebrate a holiday.  Not exactly Christmas, but kinda.  We’ll gather at my sister Gail and Dan’s home in Vegas, sister Lynn and Jerry will come up from Green Valley, and my only nephew Mark, along with Tatsumi, Erin, and Shaw will come in from California.  We are all excited.  Not Christmas, but Christmas-ish.  I can’t wait.

After the holidays, we plan to move around Arizona, camping for the month of January.  There are loads of interesting State Parks we haven’t visited – trails to ride and hike every day.  The Vivofit will get a workout.  We stay in one spot for February in Green Valley (AZ), then hit the road again on March 1.  Our road bikes are Fed-Exing their way to AZ already, and the mountain bikes will be in the truck with us.  Boots and backpacks are ready to go.

So, thanks for letting me get this all off my chest.  Merry Christmasish to all of you.  Be safe and happy.  Next post will come along the road (somewhere).


24 thoughts on “Eight Long Weeks

  1. Great post! Great catch up and an inspiration for me….way behind again with posting about our life. Hope to hit the road in around 10 days.
    We have heard really good things about Green Valley from our non camping Arizona family. Would love to find some free boondocking sites in the area but they might not exist! Love the kumquats…found them in FL two winters ago.
    Wishing you two safe travels and hope our paths cross. Lynne and David


    • John says he has seen people camping along Mt. Hopkins Road, south of Green Valley. There’s also a campground in Madera Canyon, which is inexpensive with a geezer pass. It’s beautiful up there. We’re going to Lake Havasu SP, Organ Pipe NP, Patagonia SP, Fool Hollow Lake SP, Lost Dutchman SP, Catalina SP, and a couple other undecided sites in January. Figure 3-4 nights in each spot, a bit longer at Lost Dutchman. All new campgrounds for us, except for Catalina.

      We’ll keep an eye peeled for your Casita. Have a great winter, and I look forward to stumbling across you out there somewhere!

      On Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 9:14 AM, campshaws wrote: > >


  2. Great news about John’s folks getting an apartment in an assisted living facility. They will have all the fun of living without the hard work.

    I was working on not giving a thought to all the junk at home. It is overwhelming and you would think we’d learn to just say no to more stuff. It must be some kind of insidious conspiracy to bury us under stuff! :D

    How wonderful that you will be with family for Christmas. And I am so looking forward to your trip!


    • Thanks, Sharon. We’ve only been home for two months, and we are both itching to be back on the road. While I love having a home base (don’t think full-timing would be for me), I sure do love being able to leave it again.

      I’m really enjoying sharing your trip, too. This seems like the longest trip you’ve been out since I’ve been following your blog. Once you get used to the small space, it’s really easy, isn’t it?


      On Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 11:03 PM, campshaws wrote: > >


  3. Merry Christmas Judy, and Merry ChristmasISH, too. To you and all of yours, and to all your Crankshaws, as well! I like your advice – “be safe and happy” – I’m aiming for that. You, too, and on the road, especially. Soon !!! Exciting!!


  4. It certainly does seem like you have been busy. The VivoFit does sound pretty neat. I’ve been contemplating getting a fitness tracker, but haven’t researched with one. Might have to check the VivoFit out! And I can’t wait to hear all about your Arizona adventures. Merry Christmas!


    • Thanks, Camille. I’m already worrying about how I’m possibly going to get 10K steps in everyday while we are busting our way out to Vegas. Silly to worry about such things, eh?

      Hope you have some great adventures planned for yourself, too. Rough with work schedules that you and Jon have (until I retired, I worked EVERY Saturday/Sunday, so I know how that goes). It does sound like you are making the best of your time off.

      I’ve enjoyed your travels through your mystery case of wine. What a good idea!

      Merry Christmas.

      On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 4:48 PM, campshaws wrote: > >


  5. A family gathering in the sunshine…excited for your SW traveling!! Oh, I lv purging…simple is so easy. And the parents, always peace of mine to know their safe. Jerry’s mom alone now but has so many friends surrounding her now. They do a pretty nice job with those places…food lacking much but a chance to drop off leftovers :) Maybe they’d like a kumquat :) Merry Christmas!


    • In my wildest dreams, I can’t imagine John’s folks munching kumquats! Makes me smile to think about it. Food is great at their new house – we had dinner today with them, and I had duck breast. A bit overcooked (rare? Not gonna happen there!!), but very tasty. All the residents in this smallish complex seem very welcoming.

      Merry Christmas to you and Jerry, too. Soak up all the sunshine that you can!

      On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 10:25 AM, campshaws wrote: > >


  6. Merry Christmas Judy to you and your family. Glad to see you’re planning another launch of the old Fire Ball soon as I enjoy reading your travelogues. Yoly and I will be spending Jan and Feb down in Florida, then attending the BRR in Tennessee and then 4 days later heading west to Lake Tahoe for 4 months so we’re looking forward to breaking in the new camper and tow vehicle. I don’t know if I mentioned the new blog I’ve started to chronicle the new era of Travels with Yoly.


    • Wow, Neil. Sounds like you have a real odyssey planned – you’ll have that new rig broken in for sure. Don’t think we’ll be at the BRR this year, but things can change. Are you staying in one spot in Tahoe? We haven’t made it that far north yet, but I’m just itching to get out that way!

      Merry Christmas to you and Yoly. Safe travels.

      On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM, campshaws wrote: > >


  7. You are so energetic, getting all that done is 8 weeks. I’m doing the same clean out and it does feel good when I can open a cupboard and see everything in it. I still have a ton to tackle, but it’s a start. That Vivofit sounds really motivating. Maybe I should look into that. I’m sure I won’t get your numbers, but it might get me off the couch more often.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and safe, happy travels. Can’t wait to see your blogs.


    • Energetic? Not really. Guess that’s why the Vivofit motivates me. Hard to argue with the hard plain fact that I’m not moving much. Hopefully, I’ll still be house motivated when we get home to finish what we’ve started here….

      Thanks, Alison. See you soon.

      On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 10:10 AM, campshaws wrote: > >


    • I do hope some snow does pile up around here – makes winter so much more pleasant, doesn’t it? (Having to drive in the stuff all day, though, may color your thoughts on the subject.

      We are really looking forward to sun on skin. Got my hiking boots lined up at the door. Will do my best to provide a few decent photos along the way.

      Merry Christmas, Jerry.

      On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 8:04 AM, campshaws wrote: > >


  8. Whew!! I got out of breath just reading your post! You certainly accomplished a lot in those eight weeks! (We need someone to set a fire under us to get us moving in the “get-rid-of-stuff” direction) You and John must feel so good about having his parents all settled in a safe warm place.
    Love your kumquat story – I grew up in Florida and love those things. Bob has never tasted one, so he’s in for a treat when we’re in FL this winter.
    Have a wonderful and safe trip to Arizona! It sounds like you’re off to great start heading into 2015. Looking forward to seeing you on the road again!


    • Funny how I can make it sound like I’ve been busy, when I barely got off the couch. The getting rid of stuff process is kind of addictive, once you get going on it. Left to my own devices, I could really clear things out, because (it seems to me, anyway) that most of the crap is John’s. ;-)

      Will you be in FL all winter? I cannot WAIT to hit the road – that will get me moving, for sure.

      Merry Christmas! Hope to see you next year.

      On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 7:23 AM, campshaws wrote: > >


      • Oh, I forgot to mention your Garmin Vivofit. Your data looks extremely impressive, and if you keep up at that pace you will certainly lose those 8 pounds and more before too long! Will it also keep track of cycling as well? I’m going to be checking on one for me!!

        Merry Christmas to the Crankshaws!

        PS I don’t believe your remark about barely getting off the couch. :)


      • The Vivofit won’t really track cycling very well, I think. Haven’t tried it, but I think I will probably put it inside my sock, or tuck it into the thigh of my shorts to get motion. Not sure if that will work or not. Actually, I’m unsure what process it uses to track arm motion into steps. (Believe me, I’ve tried to lay down and wave my arms around to simulate walking! Doesn’t work). Seriously, I have lots of downtime. I get graphs showing my activity. Two big spikes, which are walking with Jezzy, and the rest of the day, it looks like I barely have a pulse. I’ve got a friend with a Fitbit. It’s more compact, but has only five tiny LEDs on it to show progress of 20/40/60% of goal. She can see actual steps only when she synchs to her computer. The other benefit of the Vivofit to me is that the battery lasts a year. Most of the other fitness bracelets have to be recharged weekly.

        So, I sit here at 8:40 this morning, and have a whopping 308 steps for the day so far! Yikes, gotta go!

        On Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 8:34 AM, campshaws wrote: > >


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