Home at last - living in two houses and two apartments, three cities, and two states in 7 months.
It's been three weeks since my last post, and that makes for a lot to share this week. This week has had some major developments keeping me busy, the week almost ended before I finished this post. The last week in June, my daughters and I went on an RV road trip to Jelm, Wyoming for a Schaffner family reunion. Jennifer did not go on the trip because she was getting the keys to our new house! As the moving was getting under way, I joined a mission trip with six other men from Blue Mountain Community Church to Lapwai. There, I got the chance to get to know these other men through fellowship, and together we repaired a leaky roof on the local Church of God.
Road trip and family reunion
It is fun and challenging to go on an extended trip with the girls on my own. This was not the first time I have done this, and enjoy the opportunity to spend so much time with my four daughters. We rented the RV through RVshare.com, one of a few websites RV owners can make their RV's available for rent. It was a great way to get the RV experience without the cost of owning an RV. We enjoy having the RV amenities on the road, especially with four children, that we are interested in owning an RV at some point. We traveled through beautiful country on our way to Jelm. This was the first time I have traveled through Idaho, the landscape was more dynamic than I had imagined. I had pictured Idaho flat like the mid-west, filled with potato farms. I was wrong.
The Schaffners are my mom's side of my family. She was one of four sisters. On a side note, during my last conversation with my grandfather, Elmo Schaffner, I told him that I had a feeling I would be blessed with four daughters like him! This was years before I met Jennifer. Maybe I should have shared this conversation with Jennifer when we were talking about trying for a third child. Since we all live in different states, I do not see my aunts and cousins as often as I would like. A few years back, one of my cousins found this small RV camp site in Jelm. The site is on the edge of the Laramie River, tucked into mountains. There were very few people, making it feel like we were the only ones there. That is until the fire fighters set up camp in the parking lot.
That's right, a fire fighting camp was setup in the parking lot of the campsite while we were there! As the girls and I were driving to the campsite, the mountain range was on the horizon and I saw a large puff of some pop-up. I wondered how close that would be to our destination. As we traveled down the road, a column of some began to form and we were headed in the same direction. Sure enough, the fire was two mountain tops from our campsite. For the most part, the wind kept the smoke traveling up and over the campsite.
We were one of the first people to arrive. As more family members arrived, the smoke made for an exciting display and we agreed to wait it out until we were evacuated. Apparently the fire was a flare-up from a prior, larger forest fire in the area. The girls ended up playing the in RV with their cousins when the smoke was bad. We also spent time in the river. The tree cover seemed to keep the air a little cleaner. At night the smoke would subside, then by mid morning came back. We spent the day kicking at a nearby lake away from the smoke.
It was great to spend time with family. Being with two of my mom's sisters reminded me about mom. I hope that connecting my daughters with aunt Pat and aunt Carla, and all the cousins that made it, will help connect them with their grandmother they hardly got to know. The girls and I left Sunday afternoon to head back home, and the firefighters reported that the fire was under control. Quite the unexpected twist in our adventure.
Getting the keys to our new house
After we decided to make the move to Walla Walla, the moving process began. Packing, cleaning, painting, transporting, remodel, selling, buying, transporting, unpacking, cleaning...(Click here for a good deal on Magic Cleaning Pads, and your purchase helps support this blog ;) When we got back to Sunnyvale from our initial RV trip to Walla Walla in October of 2017, packing began. I cleared out the 77 square-foot shed in the backyard. Then filled it with boxes of stuff we would not see until we get to our destination house in Walla Walla.
Mid-January we moved into an apartment in San Jose, California. The girls got to experience life in an apartment community in a city setting. A couple times we walked to near-by restaurants. We practiced safety on busy streets while we walked Smiley, or rode scooters. We were on the third floor. The experience of walking up and down those stairs helped Clementine our 10.5 year-old bulldog get some much needed exercise. Smiley is not meant to live in an apartment. He likes to run around way to much. I think he misses chasing the turkeys. While we lived here, I worked with a small crew to get our Santa Ynez house ready to sell.
Once the house closed, we were ready to move to Walla Walla. We packed up the apartment into the trailer already packed with everything that was not needed at the apartment. Our two cars were filled with clothes, house plants, both dogs, Cinnabun, and the six of us and we started driving to Walla Walla. We stopped for one night in Red Bluff and hung out with some old friends. When we arrived in Walla Walla, we moved into Lion's Gate apartment. It was on the second floor, so Clementine got to keep up her exercise routine. We also had an incredible view of hills with wineries leading uptown the Blue Mountains in the east. Everything in the trailer was transferred to a local storage unit. Read more about this period in my posts, Getting Started in Walla Walla, Part 1 and Part 2 .
In-between all of life's moments and obligations, we unpack and get settled in. We are happy to be in our new home, and I enjoy unboxing things I have not seen for seven to eight months. I am a bit of a pack rat. The neighborhood is forming a fun community. With our girl tribe of four, and the few other young families here that also have similar aged girls the street gets over-taken by a small mob of kids on scooters. Lots of dogs, too. Smiley is happy to have friends to play with. I think the neighborhood will be a safe one for the kids. We are off a frontage road, on a loop street, so the only traffic is people that live here. That is once the construction is done and all the houses are sold. Furthermore, many of the families on our street work for the police or the state penitentiary.
For Independence Day, there was a block-party. Most of the neighbors came out and set up chairs and coolers on the driveways. Across the street, two grills were fired up and everyone shared a dish. Family and friends of our neighbors came, making for a good sized gathering. Sitting on the sidewalk, looking across the street at our house, a touch of sadness hit my chest thinking about not having family near-by to share this with. Walla Walla is a great place for people who like fireworks on Independence Day! One of our neighbors bought a couple dozen mortars in our neighborhood. This made for an exciting show. As the booms and sparks flew over Caprio Loop, we could see a couple other shows on the horizon. Once we finished our stockpile, we walked to the top of the road at the entrance of our neighborhood. There we watched other neighborhood and community shows on display above the town skyline. What a welcoming experience.
Mission trip to Lapwai
I volunteered to go on a construction mission trip with our church. It was an opportunity to Connect in fellowship with other men from Blue Mountain Community Church. The mission was to fix a water damaged roof of a sister church, the Lapwai Church of God. I enjoy working on construction projects. And sleeping on the sanctuary floor is not too bad, especially if you have an air mattress. Which I did not bring. It was a hot week, with temperatures in the low 100's. So, we started work at 5:30 in the morning, and worked a couple hours after lunch. By that time we lost the shade from the adjacent roof, and heat was unbearable. We made good time on the project, everyone contributed and we worked well as two teams to cover both sides of the roof simultaneously. Pastor Stan kept us fed well, including a local caught grilled salmon dinner! During one of our downtimes I shared my band experiences with Channing, the worship leader at BMCC. He was looking to build the bench for percussion, so I have started going to worship band practice. It was so much fun getting on a drum set again. It has been almost 20 years, so I have gotten a little rusty. However, I am grateful to have the chance to play music again.
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