Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hello again... from Brrrrmont!

Hello, hello!  A lot has happened since I last blogged over 6 months ago.  Most significantly, Chris and I have begun the next chapter of our lives by happily relocating - for most of the year anyway - back to Vermont.  Our new home is located in the bucolic (really, it is) Northeast Kingdom and is about a 20-minute drive from my folks’ house.  It's nice to be closer to them as well as to once again be living in that bastion of liberalism that is my homestate.  I knew it was time to leave California when that state seemed too conservative - and way too crowded - for me.  :)

Our real estate adventures constituted an emotional roller coaster ride, with the first 2 “buyers” bailing at the last minute and leaving us in a bit of a lurch (see below) - everything was already in storage, our 2 cats were in Vermont with my folks, and we were sort of homeless vagabonds for 3 months (not that we’re unaccustomed to living out of suitcases) -- but in the end it all worked out, and buyer #3 came through. In late September we rented a Penske truck and drove our worldly possessions across the country just in time for peak foliage season here in Vermont.

Our new home is a modified log home originally built in 1973, a fun blend of "rustic meets chic," with add-on living and sun rooms, updated bathrooms and kitchen, and a newer two-car, two-story garage. There are 5 ½ acres of land which is mostly pasture/meadow and a working dairy farm just down the road. We are now the owners of an outdoor hot tub which we are enjoying more than I’d imagined: it feels really good after a run or hike! Our town is quintessential Vermont, with a village green, small market, gas station, hardware store, wine & cheese shop, library, post office, doctor’s, dentist’s and veterinarian‘s offices, and bakery/coffee shop. We are just one mile outside of the village on a dirt road. 

Part of the, er, intelligence of basing out of Vermont is that we will spend the coldest months- or parts of the colder months - in warmer climes. To that end, we are some how, some way going to make our way back to the Southwest for part of the winter.  (Go ahead:  made snide comments about being Snowbirds.)

So, a quick update on the past 6 months:

Thinking our house was SOLD in early May (much to our surprise, we had offers within 2 days of putting the house on the market), the next couple of weeks were consumed with packing, cleaning, and wrapping my head around driving (SOLO) our 2 kitties, Fillmore and Url, across the country to Vermont. My mom and dad had kindly agreed to care for them until we closed on a place in Vermont. Chris got off scot-free by a 2-week business trip to Boise. All I can say about the ordeal is Yay for crazy internet forums, where I learned all the tricks of long-distance driving with cats in tow: get kitty relaxation drugs (read: tranquilizers) just in case, use a large dog cage instead of smaller carriers, and stop every night at a motel. Amazingly, surprisingly, the cats were angels and remained almost completely quiet during the entire 3000 mile, 5-day trip (okay, they were scared out of their minds), and I never had to resort to using the drugs although I contemplated popping one myself a couple of times. All that said, it is something I never want to do again. I arrived in Vermont only to find out that our “buyers” had backed out of the contract on the very last possible day!  Sigh...  Some people are real jerks.

I left the Honda and the cats in Vermont and flew back to LA on July 1. For the next almost 3 months we “camped out” in our now empty home, camped out for real in the Sierras, and enjoyed a combination work/play trip to Colorado, including doing the Virginius Pass aid station at Hardrock. I’m leaving out lots of pesky details, but suffice it to say wearing the same 5-6 outfits all summer and feeling like squatters in our own home got old fast.

The Sierra trips, however, were awesome.  The first trip was on the west side and some new territory at Mineral King and Sequoia National Park. I concocted a couple of longish run/hikes:  Paradise Ridge/Timber Gap/Mineral King and what I dubbed the "Tour de Florence," which was an almost 30 miler around Florence Peak.  It was pretty kick ass.  I finally did the popular ~40 mile Rae Lakes loop run, and Chris and I also did a couple of short backpacks to Pear and Twin Lakes, as well as spending 3 days backpacking around Franklin Lake with our buds Luis and Bev Escobar.  The second trip in early September was on the east side and included northern & eastern Yosemite, Lee Vining, and Bishop based hikes.  An almost 40 miler from Twin Lakes (near Bridgeport) to Tuolumne Meadows was the highlight run, but one from Tioga Road to Silver Lake over Parker and Koip Passes was pretty nice, too.  We had a lot of fun hanging with our Bishop friends, the Boyds, for a few days and got in a 5-day backpack from Taboose Pass (holy crap, what a climb) to South Lake, visiting Bench Lake, Palisade Lakes, and Dusy Basin on the way.  In between Sierra trips, we returned to Vermont for a week in August to house hunt and were lucky enough to find our new home. Yay!! FINALLY our California house closed for real, and we truly were homeless for a few weeks. I spent my last few days in California climbing 2 of the 3 “big mountains” in SoCal, Mts. San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, both of which are over 10,000 ft. in elevation. (Mt. Baldy, which we’d aleady climbed a couple of times, is the other one.)

We arrived in Vermont on September 27 and have kept very busy unpacking, cleaning, and doing yard work - the previous owners were avid gardeners and left quite a project for us. My thumb is being coaxed green. We’ve snuck away for a few day hikes in the Whites and get out for a run most days.  The best trail network - for running, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and skiing - that I have found in all my travels, Kingdom Trails, is just a 20-minute drive from our house.  There are over 100 miles of trails there, in addition to literally hundreds of miles of quiet dirt roads.  The cats have settled in and seem to like their larger indoor roaming area here. We like the beauty and quiet that is rural Vermont, the generally progressive attitudes and, for me, being back HOME.


Olga said...

I LOVE foliage in Vermont! And ski season! Killington - summer and winter! lakes! green mountains! I miss North East, scary to say, but with living in TX one can miss even some prairies in IL. May be. Anyhow, glad thing eventually worked out with the houses! I drove our cat (1) across the country, and she quickly was let out of the kitty cage where she yelled non-stop, after which she was either inside her poop-box, or on top of piles of stuff, but quiet. Never ate in 3 days (or pooped) but lived till the better days. Enjoy back home! Hope to see you this summer!

Jamie Anderson said...

Welcome home! Though we don't get together often, it is really nice knowing you are back in New England. Hope to see you soon!

Lalaith Means Laughter said...

Congrats on our move and settling in sounds wonderful...I am a bit in love with VT....I struggle to choose my fav New England state, but VT always feels like an adventure,

Leslie said...

Yaaay for change! Let's see some photos of the new backyard! Where's the closest town? I love that you've moved to a corner of the world simply known as the "Northwest Kingdom". :)

Doug McKeever said...

Hi Sue!
Catching up after a long absence. Read that you and Chris are in Vermont now (hey, I've been away from your blog a while). You must know the U.S. geography about as well as anyone! Contact me if you ever want to climb another NW peak. Like that pic. of you on your right border of the cool climb we did on Hood a while ago. Doug