Household Goods

We got up and headed to a little local donut place this morning for breakfast.  Pretty good!!  Then we went to Lowe’s to buy a new dryer vent hose thing.  Lowe’s opens at 0630 here.  And then it was home.  The guy from the gas company came and we now have hot water (gas water heater) and the furnace works (won’t need that for quite some time).  The guy came to do the garage door openers, so now we have that capability.  The previous tenants didn’t turn in the openers.  They got charged, we got new ones, on a different frequency.  And then our household good showed up on a big truck!!  They had 6 crates on the first truck and after they had unloaded all that, they went and got the other 4 crates plus the huge box for the couch.  They had everything unloaded and the stuff put together that needed to be put together (beds, tables, etc.) all within about 4 1/2 to 5 hours, including their trip back to get the other crates.  The packers/loaders on the New York end did a piss-poor job.  We had some avoidable damage, and we’ll be getting some new furniture out of this move.  Ryan’s and Robert’s dressers are damaged beyond repair.  Robert’s bed got quite a bit of damage.  Our good, big bookcase suffered damage.  My cross stitch chart file cabinet suffered damage (fixable, but they’ll still have to pay some on it).  My desk that will be my sewing machine table has a broken leg. Yes, Mom, your desk.  Ryan will be able to fix it, but they’ll still be paying some.  My china hutch is damaged beyond repair.  There’s probably a few other things I’m not remembering right now.  Hopefully there’s not more when we open up and empty all the boxes starting tomorrow.  I’ll be starting in my kitchen first.

After everything was done for the day and I had finished all the "today paperwork" (more paperwork later for the claims process), we headed to Best Buy to get a new 42" flat screen tv.  We also got a new Tivo HD and a tv stand for the TV.  I talked them into $50 off the TV (used the "well, I could go on post to the PX and not have to pay sales tax" route and it worked), and we got $100 off the Tivo for a special they had for buying an HD TV and Tivo at the same time.  And we had a 10% off coupon we used on the tv stand (thanks Rick!).  So we saved close to $200 on everything!!  Now we’re at McDonald’s to use their WiFi for e-mail and stuff.  We had dinner as well and they have a play area so Robert get’s to play while we do computer stuff.

Cable and internet being hooked up tomorrow morning!!  Can’t wait!

Today’s high:  93
Current:  85

We have a house!

This morning we signed our lease!!  We got our keys and headed to the house.  The electricity was already on and the water was turned on shortly after we got there.  We got the van unloaded – finally – after nearly 3 weeks of it being loaded down.  And then we headed back to post to get the rest of our stuff from temp lodging and check out of there.  Only 4 nights in temp lodging!!!!  How cool is that!  And then it was to the Harley dealership to finish up the paperwork on that and get Ryan’s bike home.  He sure enjoyed his first ride home with it!  And it looks good in our garage.  We got the van unloaded again and then we headed to Walmart for stuff we needed – toilet paper, a kitchen garbage can, trash bags, etc.  Then back and we actually got all the boxes and stuff from the van unpacked AND put away!!!  We’ve pretty much decided how our living room will be set up when our stuff arrives tomorrow.  Robert is excited to have his own bathroom.  No pics of our house yet, but I’ll get to it.  We get our internet hooked up on Saturday, so we’re sitting at McDonald’s right now.  At least they have a pretty nice play area for Robert to play at.  We’ve also made a trip to Target for more things we needed – shower curtain rings, a shower curtain liner for our bathroom, toothbrush holder for Robert’s bathroom.  Little things that you don’t really think about until you need them.

Today’s high:  93
Current:  85

Another productive day!

This morning didn’t start out too good.  We headed out to the van to find the rear driver’s side tire flat.  This is the first time in the 5 years we’ve had the van that we’ve needed the spare tire, so I pulled out the instruction manual to get us in the right direction.  Ryan had the spare on in about 20 minutes and we were on our way.  We stopped by the realtor (Re-Max) to drop of the first 2 checks – a deposit and the fee for the credit check, etc.  She said she’d call us to let us know if we got approved or not, and it would probably be about an hour.  Yeah, right.  By the time we got to the van and got in and seat belts on, she was running after us to tell us we got approved.  Yay!!!!  So we have a house!

Then we headed to a tire place – after being referred there by our realtor.  We went to Discount Tire and the guy looked at everything and said he would try and repair the tire first before selling us a new one.  We walked across the street to Sonic for breakfast.  Ah, Sonic!!!!!!!  Yum!  Then we went to check out a bookstore next door, but they didn’t open until 10 and it was only 9:30.  About that time, the guy from the tire place called and said that he wasn’t able to fix the tire and told me how much a new one was and said they would have it ready shortly.  We walked back across the street and waited about 5 minutes and it was ready.  I will definitely recommend this place to others!

Then it was off to the Harley dealership for a bit – Ryan had seen his bike out front when we drove by earlier and he wanted to make sure they weren’t selling it to someone else.  Nope.  It had only been out for about 2 minutes and our salesperson (and I guess the manager/owner/something high up like that) saw it and told them to take it back in the back and put a sold sign on it so there wasn’t a mix-up again like there was today.  We looked around a bit and Ryan found a helmet he likes and a reflective vest as well (he’ll need that for on post).  

And then we headed back to post to get a waiver letter for the deposit for electric hook-up (deposit is $265 and the waiver letter gives me electric with NO deposit).  Then we began our rounds.  We stopped at the gas place.  They waive the deposit just because I’m Active Duty Military – just had to show them my "discount card", I mean my ID card, for that.  They’ll be coming Friday morning.  We stopped at the electric place.  They’ll have it turned on tomorrow if they didn’t get to it today.  We stopped at the cable place for cable/internet/phone.  They will be by Saturday morning.  Those three were all on the same street within a few blocks of each other.  Then we had to drive to the other side of town to the water company.  I had to pay a deposit there, but it’s refunded after a year of keeping my account in good standing.  Water will be turned on tomorrow.  Woohoo – we have utilities for our house!!

Since we were already down in the area where Ryan’s college is (Cochise College), we stopped by there so he could change his address and get his student ID card.  And then, since Michigan Secretary of State couldn’t/wouldn’t work with Ryan over the phone for his motorcycle endorsement on his brand new license, we went and found the Arizona DMV office and did the paperwork to get Ryan an Arizona drivers license.  VERY EASY to do!  And then he went to take the test for the motorcycle endorsement.  Not so easy.  He does get 3 tries within a year to pass though.  So he failed it.  No big deal.  We’ll just get a booklet thing, study tonight, and then go take it again tomorrow.  Nope.  They don’t have study materials.  WHAT??????  That makes no sense.  Eventually (after he called the state office and talked to several levels of supervisors) he found out that all the motorcycle books had to be pulled because someone had been offended by something in it (what’s offensive in a motorcycle manual????) and was suing the state.  Good grief.  After we got back to the room and had taken a walk to the Post Office to mail something, the PX to look at TVs, and the Furniture Store to look at tv stands (they really didn’t have much selection), Ryan did some extensive searching online and finally found some free practice tests for motorcycle.  It’s not Arizona ones, but he said the questions were very similar to the ones he had had on the test today.  He went through all of them and by the end of the night was getting 100% on them.  So hopefully tomorrow he passes.  While he was doing that, Robert played on the playground by our room and I crocheted on (and finished) a dishcloth.  While Robert was in the bathtub later on (after we watched Betime Stories), I walked to the shoppette and got ice cream sandwiches (the cookie kind!) for me and him.  Ryan didn’t want anything.

I’m heading to bed early tonight, and tomorrow we sign our lease and get our keys!!

Today’s high:  93
Current:  82

A house and a Harley

This morning we headed out and met up with the realtor and she took us to our top 3 houses from yesterday, one of which was a 4 bedroom.  All 3 had 2 car garages.  We went in order of our preference from yesterday.  The first house has a fairly new and good-sized kitchen and a good-sized backyard, with some grass.  There’s no fence between the property and the neighbor’s – because the neighbor’s fence is falling down a little.  Minor issue.  This one had the largest garage of the three, although no shelves in it.  House number 2 was the 4 bedroom.  SMALL.  Way too small.  Like our bed would fit in the master bedroom and that’s it and I don’t think my piano, our couch and chair, and computer desks and entertainment center would fit in the living room all at the same time.  So that pretty much eliminated that one.  House number 3 was a fairly new house, but a small kitchen and older appliances.  The yard was pretty nice, all rock.  We were torn between 1 and 3.  I liked 1 better and Ryan like 3 better, partly because of the neighborhood and partly because of the newness of the house.  But I didn’t like the small kitchen and it’s lots farther from work and college.  So we came back to the room and just relaxed for a while.  Robert had a pb & j for lunch – actually one and a half sandwiches.  After a while, we headed back out to go to Walmart to get a few things. 

Well, we stopped at the Harley-Davidson dealership on our way.  They were closed yesterday, and Ryan’s been thinking about getting a motorcycle to go to school with.  Cheaper than a car and way better on gas mileage.  So I figured we could look.  They had some used bikes outside and decent prices on them.  We talked to one of the guys and Ryan got to sit on and start up three different bikes.  I decided to call USAA to see about getting a loan for one.  After being on the phone for an hour and 12 minutes (loan and insurance), we will be owning a 2009 Harley-Davidson XL 883C Sportster with only 1100 miles on it.  But it’s a used bike, so it was within our price range.  Ok, so that was kind of a spur of the moment purchase, but now Ryan will have wheels, and eventually I’ll learn to ride it and get licensed on it as well.  And we’re going to get house number 1.  It’s $105 a month cheaper than house 3, and closer to work and school so less money for gas.  Of course, I’m hopefully going to get a bicycle so I can ride my bike to work and Ryan can ride his bike to school.  And Robert will be able to ride his bike to school as it’s only about 3 blocks away.

We eventually did get to Walmart to get what we needed and then since Robert was so patient for an hour and a half at the Harley place and then another half hour or so at the realtor’s, we let him pick where to go eat dinner.  We went to Burger King on post and it has a really neat play area, so after we ate, he got to play for a while.

Today’s high:  100
Current:  85

House hunting

I didn’t set an alarm for this morning.  I figured we could all use the sleep after so many days of late nights and early mornings and lots of driving.  I woke up about 0830 and I let Ryan sleep until about 0930 or so.  We had Cheerios for breakfast in the room, and after some computer time, we headed out.  Our first stop was the housing office here on post, and we submitted our form for on-post housing (electric, water, heat, and trash all included in the "rent" and no security deposit, pet deposit, etc.).  We also got a few places to go check for off post houses to rent.  We headed to one of them and got a new list from them and there were 7 on there that caught our eye.  So we made an appointment for tomorrow to go look inside some of them and then we drove around and looked at all 7 of them.  The first one we looked at got crossed off right away – crooked garage door, blue tarp flapping on the roof.  Uh, no.  The second one we looked at became our number 1 choice for tomorrow, and remained that way for the rest of the looking.  Most are 3 bedroom, 2 bath, but one of our top 3 is a 4 bedroom, 2 bath.  All 3 of our top 3 have 2 car garages and 2 out of the 3 have swamp coolers which are more efficient than A/C.  After we were done looking at them, we went to a little 50’s and 60’s diner we saw, called The Diner.  They had pretty good food and the sandwiches were HUGE.  Even Ryan couldn’t finish his.  Of course, with the heat and us not used to it yet, we weren’t really hungry.  Then we went to Cochise College where Ryan will be attending school and he met with an advisor and got his class schedule figured out for the semester.  He’ll be taking one class on Monday and Wednesday and three classes on Tuesday and Thursday.  That will be nice for him volunteering out on post – at the museum or otherwise.  And we’ll only need to figure out after-school care for Robert for Tuesdays and Thursdays!!  

Once we were done with all that, we came back to the room and walked to the PX.  Ryan got a haircut and I bought a few more things I remembered we needed.  Then Robert played on the little playground outside where we’re staying and I crocheted a bit while I watched him.  My sponsor stopped by with a piece of mail that Dad had sent for us – Ryan’s new drivers license (of the MI variety) and our Savings Bonds.  After we came in, I made Robert a pb & j sandwich and we ended up sharing it.  He had another bath and I finally got all my pictures done and ready to upload to Facebook, but that will probably be tomorrow.

Today’s high:  98
Current:  81

Final Travel Day!!!!

We left Albuquerque this morning after breakfast at the hotel and getting the car loaded.  I got the cats drugged in record time this morning – less than 5 minutes for both cats!!  I guess practice pays off.  We drove to Arizona, and even Robert was excited when I pointed out the "Welcome to Arizona" sign!  We got to Sierra Vista around mid-afternoon and got the cats dropped off at the vet/kennel and then we headed to Ft. Huachuca.  My sponsor met us at the gate and we followed her to the Army Lodging office and we got checked in.  Then she led us to where our room is (a different building than where the office is).  She pointed out other places on our map – the band hall, museum, PX, commissary, etc.  She is the best sponsor I’ve had at any of my units in my 10 year career.  She left and we got stuff out of the van.  After we relaxed for a little while, we walked to the PX (it’s just across the parking lot from where we are) and got a few things and then brought them back to the room.  And then we went to the shoppette (since the commissary closed at 6 and it was just about that when we got back from the PX) and got some food for our room – cereal, milk, stuff for sandwiches, etc.  I got laundry going and then made pb & j’s for me and Robert.  Ryan made his own sandwiches.  It’s nice to be done with traveling for a while – tomorrow the serious house hunting begins.

Over the past 18 days since we left New York, we drove 3554 miles (most of them by Ryan – I can claim maybe 15 of them).  We drove through 10 states and part of Canada.  We slept in 7 different hotels or houses.  I cross stitched.  I crocheted.  I knitted.  I napped.  Robert watched countless movies and the portable DVD player.  The cats were drugged 8 mornings for travel.  I saw 2 friends that I’ve not seen in a while.  Potty accidents:  Cats – 0, Robert – 0.  I’d say that’s a pretty good score!  Pictures taken – probably close to 200.  I need to get them all named and uploaded.  We saw farmlands.  We saw open plains.  We saw little mountains.  We drove on twisty, curvy roads at 15 mph.  We saw miles and miles of nothing, not even other cars sometimes.  We saw BIG mountains – the Rockies.  We saw desert.  Robert saw his first cactus – on Ft. Huachuca.

Chapter 4 of my Army life is officially complete.  Chapter 5 begins tomorrow when we start looking for a place to live here.

Travel Day – Denver to Albuquerque

This morning we got up and found and drugged the cats and got the van loaded up and said goodbye to Darrell.  It was great seeing him again, and hopefully it won’t be another 13 or so years until we see each other again.  Thanks for your hospitality!!!  We headed south to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  At one point it was 93 degrees and then we hit a rain storm and it was 65.  But then we drove out of the rain and it was back up to 90 again.  It was a nice drive, and through the mountains so that was kind of cool.  We got to the Days Inn hotel in Albuquerque without incident and after getting checked in and relaxing for a bit, we walked to a nearby Applebee’s for dinner.  My friend A met us there and we treated her to dinner.  It was great getting to see her again after 3 1/2 years.  After dinner, we all walked back to our hotel room and she got to see the cats.  And she had some neat gifts for Robert and some stitching stuff for me.  Thanks A!!  Then she and I went to Walmart and I bought her some groceries to help her out.  I also got Robert some arm swimmie/floatie things and some goggles.  After bringing A to her apartment and visiting with her for a little while, I headed back to the hotel and we went to the pool and Robert had a blast in the water, and actually swam on his own with the help of the floatie things!!!  

Now it’s time for bed and one last day of driving tomorrow.

Coors Brewery, Continental Divide, Rockies baseball

Today was a fun day!  We slept in a little this morning and that was a nice change from all the early mornings we’ve had lately with traveling and everything.  After breakfast and a little computer time, we headed out to the Coors Brewery for a tour and samples.  Well, I managed to leave my wallet at the house, so therefore no ID and therefore no samples.  Boo.  But the tour was really interesting and it was free so that’s even better.  Ryan had samples of beer (like full-sized glasses) and Darrell and Robert and I had root beer instead.  Then we headed up to the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass and WOW what an awesome view from up there.  We took a picnic lunch and at at over 12,000 feet elevation.  That was pretty neat.  It was cooler than in the city, but we were all still comfortable in shorts and t-shirts (although Robert had his sweatshirt on).  We hiked along the trail for a little ways and we got to stand on SNOW in JULY while wearing SHORTS!!  Perfect for us Yoopers.  I took pics, but need to find my card reader so I can upload them.  It was a really fun time, and like I said, the view was AMAZING.  After that, we headed back to Darrell’s house to get my ID and then we headed out to downtown Denver to the Coors Stadium to watch the Colorado Rockies play the San Francisco Giants.  That stadium is HUGE.  It was our first pro baseball game, and it was a lot of fun even though the Rockies lost 3-1.  And it wasn’t even that bad to get in – only $11 a person (thanks to the military discount).  Our seats were way out in right field in foul territory, but we could see the whole field from there.  Ryan bought a Rockies hat to go in his collection and Robert got a little baseball bat.

Now we’re just relaxing before bed and Robert is sound asleep.

Today’s high:  95
Current:  71

Welcome to Denver

Today was another travel day, but a short one compared to some we’ve had.  We were only on the road for about 6 hours including stops.  We had brunch at a really neat little truck stop/diner – that was the first restaurant we came across after we left Hot Springs this morning, and it was about an hour and a half or so down the road.  There is nothing across South Dakota and Wyoming.  No McDonald’s or Burger King for like 200 miles.  We arrived at my friend Darrell’s about mid-afternoon.  It was great seeing him again after not seeing him for maybe 12-14 years.  We were in Michigan Lions All-State Band together back when we were in high school and we’ve gotten back in touch through Facebook.  We relaxed for a while and he showed us around his house – very nice, by the way.  The cats are enjoying having a bit more space than a hotel room to roam around and hide in.  Then in the evening, we headed downtown to the Performing Arts center and got our tickets to see Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang.  After we got our tickets, we headed to a little restaurant for dinner – very good food, and they gave us a 15% discount because of our play tickets.  They do that for anything – plays, opera, symphony, ballet, etc. 

The play – a musical – was AWESOME!!!!!!  And tonight was opening night.  The music from the pit was outstanding – I loved the trombone parts!!  The acting and dancing and singing were awesome.  The choreography – wow!!!  And boy did we laugh.  It was an awesome evening.  Robert loved it.  Ryan love it.  I loved it.  And then after the play, Darrell had one of his friends with a bicycle rickshaw (D also drives them some evenings as a part time job) take us around for a little bit.  That was really neat, too.  We really had a great time this evening.

Off to bed now – more sightseeing around the Denver area tomorrow.

Mt. Rushmore and Wind Cave

What a day!!!  We got up this morning and got breakfast at the same place we had dinner last night – not quite as good as dinner was, but still ok.  Then we headed north to Mt. Rushmore.  We went around the Wildlife Loop of Custer State Park and then took Iron Mountain Rd.  We saw buffalo super close up – like they were crossing the road in front of us close up!!!  I took tons of pics and I’ll get them up on Facebook soon.  We also saw pronghorn deer and semi-wild burros.  And tons of prairie dogs.  The burros were used for trail rides (carrying the stuff) but then they stopped doing them and they let them go into the wild.  They were coming up to the van and we petted them a little and we got a "car wash" from them – I have burro tongue marks on my window.  Eeew.  But ever so cool!!!  Iron Mountain Rd. was SUPER curvy but some awesome views.  We came around one curve and there was Mt. Rushmore in the distance.  Wow!!  We had to go through a couple of short one-lane tunnels.  And then we got to Mt. Rushmore.  What an awesome sight!!  We took lots of pictures there as well, and we walked around the Presidential Trail – a good hike around the base of the mountain (or closer anyway) and lots of signs about the Presidents and stuff.  It was really interesting.  We got to see the Sculptor’s Studio and there was a little museum as well about the sculptor and the making of Mt. Rushmore.  90% of the "carving" was done using dynomite!  I would highly recommend going to see Mt. Rushmore sometime in your lifetime if you are at all able.

Souvenir shopping was a neat experience.  They had one of the original drillers for Mt. Rushmore there today, and he was signing books (one that he wrote).  He is the only remaining living driller from the project and it was really neat talking to him.  We got a picture with him as well as a book.  Then after lunch at the cafe there, we headed out and went back south on the Needle Rd.  There is a rock formation that looks like the eye of a needle.  I saw it VERY briefly as it was right before a one-lane tunnel, and all the parking spots were taken up and no one looked anywhere near being ready to leave.  Come on now people – stop, get out and take a couple of pictures, and get back in your car and get going.  Don’t hog the few parking places.  Ryan and Robert didn’t even get to see it because it was so quick and we had to go through the tunnel so we didn’t block the road.  I guess we’ll have to come back here someday.  The road was even curvier than Iron Mountain Rd. – we’re talking U turns where the speed limit is 5 mph sharp curves.  It was a BEAUTIFUL drive, though.  

Then we stopped at Wind Cave, the 4th longest cave system in the world, and the 7th National Park in the U.S.  There is over 160 miles of cave passageways that have been mapped so far, and it’s all within 1 square mile land.  WOW!!  During our wait for our tour time, we looked at info about the cave and how it was first explored by a 16 year old boy back in the late 1800s and other information about it.  Our tour guide was awesome and really knew his stuff and made the tour really interesting.  We only walked about 1/4 mile in an hour and 15 minutes, but it was super cool.  Most of the boxwork in the world’s caves are in Wind Cave.  You can read more about the Wind Cave and boxwork by clicking on those words which I have turned into links.  Robert was scared at first when we first went in the cave as it was rather dark and the stairway was narrow.  But by the end, he didn’t need a hand at all.

We had a really fun family day today!  Once back in Hot Springs, we stopped at a little family restaurant called Dale’s Restaurant.  Robert wanted to know why Grampa had a restaurant.  LOL  The food was pretty good and not too bad price.  After we ate, we walked along a little river and there was even a waterfall.  It was kind of neat.  Then it was back to the hotel to play in the pool for a while and now it’s off to bed.