Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our little gift

Every year we put up a Christmas tree. And every year the first gift that appears is Cosette, who just can't stand us not having any presents.

We still have work to do on the tree. A bunch of our Christmas ornaments just arrived on the trailer. Now where are they.....?

The trailer arrives

A few weeks ago, I talked about loading up a trailer and shipping it off to Park City. Last night the trailer got delivered and today it got unloaded.

Actually, the trailer delivery was pretty exciting to start things off. Instead of showing up between 2:00 and 4:00 as we discussed, the trailer arrived at 7:00. Not only does that mean the sun's illumination has gone, that means the temperatures have dropped 15 degrees and everything is freezing quickly. The truck was backing the trailer up, slide of the driveway into the ice and snow, and looked like it would become a permanent addition to the neighborhood. 45 minutes later, with a lot of effort, shoveling, and tire spinning, the truck was freed and the next effort got the trailer into position.

This is the view this morning. You can't see depth, but you can see that it is about 9 feet wide and 9 feet high, and it's loaded fairly tightly. All the crap is 16 feet deep. We hired two movers to get the bulk of it, although I ended up carrying my fair share as well.

We've now pruned out about 10 feet worth, so this is the last 6.

... and there was much rejoicing. The trailer got picked up in the afternoon and there is no sign it was ever here.

Unless of course, you look in the garage, pantry, storage room, bedrooms, pool room, .... Now we just have to unpack and process a seemingly infinite amount of stuff. I'm tired.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fun with snow

I was out at the Friends of Animals Rescue Ranch when I ran across this bike. The wind had been blowing hard and the snow was a bit sticky. I like how it is stuck to the spokes.

Julie, Jasper and I went for our first snowshoe of the year. I was only about 10 degrees but it is amazing how much effect the sun has on how you feel. I was in a t-shirt and a light fleece.

It was definitely an abrupt change from fall to winter, but the clear blue skies and the fresh snow are wonderful!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is having (or had) an excellent Thanksgiving. Julie and I had planned to head down to St George to celebrate her birthday, but we pulled the plug at the last minute. There was a big storm the night before we were driving down. There is snow forecast for the day we would drive back. The warm St George weather we were looking forward to was going to be 30 degrees below normal.

Here it looks more like Christmas than it normally does at Thanksgiving. The skiers are quite happy.

And even more than the skiers, Jasper is happy. We just don't understand his unstoppable desire to hang out in the snow. He has no body fat and this morning it was a frigid -8. That's about as cold as it ever gets here in Park City.

We went from bare ground to a couple of feet of snow over the last few days. It's time to switch from hiking to snowshoeing, at least until the snow settles and firms up.

With the temperatures so cold, the snow making is going full bore at all the resorts. Deer Valley was making its own cloud this morning.

I was hoping that the cold temperatures and low wind would result in some of the hoar frost I love to take pictures of. Not sure why, but there was only a tiny bit. Perhaps not enough moisture in the air.

The moose were hunkered down in the snow, waiting for the sun to warm things up. There are two in this picture and I eventually noticed a third higher up on the hill.

After about 5 days of snow and high winds, today is gorgeous. It would be nice if it would warm up a bit, but it is a lovely day for everyone to have Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The winter weather update

Since the blog entry a few hours ago, I got out and shoveled the deck. The bad news is that we now appear to have a blizzard.

The condo in the picture is about 100 yards away. The winds are howling and the snow is blowing sideways.

Winter is here

Park City Mountain Resort opened yesterday. The ground around our house was brown and the only ski runs open were beginner runs with serious snow making. Timing is everything though. Today we have 18 inches of new snow on the ground and it is supposed to keep snowing through Tuesday night.

While I am quite happy to have the snow for skiing, the snow removal is downright ugly. Blowing 18 inches of fluffy snow is quick and simple, but this wasn't that. First, our snow melt for the front part of the driveway is not working, waiting for a replacement part. Then the snow started coming down warm, wet and heavy, which is tough when you have to throw the snow over a 12 foot wall. I cleared the first batch yesterday because I knew that my poor snow blower could never huck feet of snow if the base was heavy.

I woke to another foot this morning, so I have cleared that, but had to do it in a wind storm. This is terribly unpleasant because as far as I can tell, no matter which way the wind is blowing and which way you are throwing snow, it all comes back in your face.

Now it's pounding snow again. In the 20 minutes since I took the picture, it has gone from cloudy to a snowy whiteout. Perhaps I can get out tomorrow for some skiing!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Packing things for Park City

As you go through your stuff in a house to move, you pack some, trash some, and donate some. The discoveries you make as you dig through old boxes can be quite interesting. One thing I found was a bag of change.

Ever used one of those Coin Star machines in the grocery store? Do you know how long it takes to feed the machine coins? How about 2,835 of them? To avoid paying the service charge, I took the option of getting an Amazon Gift Card. The total value was a whopping $41.42. I'll save you the math. 2,752 of the coins were pennies.

I have no idea when or where in my life I thought it was a good idea to put that many pennies in a bag and put the bag in the attic.

By the way, as I searched through Google Images to find a picture of a penny, I ran across lots of pictures of Rod Stewart's wife, Penny Lancaster. She looks a LOT better than Rod.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two very hectic, happy, sad weeks

It is rare that I go ten days without posting anything to the blog, but it has been a very busy few weeks. This is a long entry, but it describes what is one of our more significant milestones in life.

We have lived in our house in the Duxford subdivision of Raleigh for 18 years. It's been a great house, in a great location with some of the best neighbors you could ever ask for. However, we decided over a year ago to become full-time residents of Park City. The house had been on the market for 18 months and we decided to take it off MLS for the winter. Our realtors went back to anyone who had shown interest and let them know it was coming off the market. The one couple who had made an offer came back to the table. After a little more back and forth, they came up, we came down, and we ended up under contract with a planned closing of December 16th.

That's a pretty a quick close when you live 2,000 miles away and already have booked plans for the Thanksgiving weekend (and Julie's birthday). It got even harder when Julie accepted a part time job a Deer Valley. They started an extensive training program on Nov 17th. It isn't optional, and it runs every weekday.

Julie went to Raleigh on Nov 3rd and came back on the 15th. I went out on the 9th and came back on the 17th. Somehow, during that time, with lots and lots of help from friends and relatives, we managed to get everything sorted out and the house is now empty.

Our house was on a unique property, heavily wooded, 2.8 acres backing up to the Corp of Engineers property around Falls Lake. We made it more unique by putting in a volleyball court with 200,000 pounds of sand and never planting a blade of grass.

We had the house built for us, but it was really just a slight modification of a Parade of Homes spec house we saw. I joke that our original design choices came down to "brass or chrome?" That held until 2001-2002 when we did a major addition and remodel. This time we really made the house OURS. Julie spent hundreds of hours choosing interesting cabinets, wallpapers, granites, tiles, and more. She even did a fair amount of faux painting herself.

I have spent many long hours out working in the yard, planting hundreds and hundreds of perennials, adding pavers, a fountain, irrigation and making it uniquely ours.

This makes it very hard to leave and even harder to hand over to someone you don't know.

The buyers are both NC State graduates, which makes our neighbor Tony Hudson very happy. He wanted to make sure that they weren't getting any new UNC fans in the neighborhood.

The house is about 100-150 yards from Falls Lake and with the late leaf-colors this fall, it was gorgeous. We were blessed with excellent weather for all our work. I can't imagine doing all the packing, trips to the dump and to Goodwill if we had a lot of rain. It literally waited until the very last day, and even then it didn't rain nearly as much as they were calling for.

This picture was taken using the HDR feature on my iPhone camera. These little phone cameras are getting better and better.

We knew that we wouldn't have a full moving van's worth of stuff, so it made for some interesting alternatives:
  • Pay a real moving company to carry our partial load. This is expensive and I read way too many complaints about vans carrying multiple families' belongings. Things were lost, delivered to the wrong place, or loaded and unloaded so many times they were badly damaged.
  • Load a U-Haul and drive it ourselves. This gives you total control and care. It also requires two people who hate long driving trips to drive a crappy truck over 2,000 miles. We pondered this for a while and had almost eliminated it as an option when Julie's new job made it impossible.
  • Renting from PODS. They bring you a big container. You pack it on your time. Then they take the container intact and ship it to your destination. You unpack it. This seemed like our best alternative for a medium sized shipment, but it was expensive and I found lots of complaints about their company.
  • Finally I discovered our solution. ABF is a very large freight company. They have a subsidiary called U-Pack. They have something similar to PODS, but they also have a different option with trailers. They brought us an empty, 28-foot long trailer and left it at the house. We had several days to pack it up. Then they come get it and load the rest of the truck with freight heading to your destination. They unload their freight and bring you your trailer. The reviews on the Internet were excellent.
So far, the experience with ABF has been as positive as I could ask for. Hopefully we will feel the same way when we get our belongings at the end.

We packed up everything in the house and hauled a million boxes out to the garage. Then we hired a pair of movers to load all the boxes and the furniture we are bringing out.

We couldn't have gotten everything done without a tremendous amount of help. The biggest helper Thank You goes to Julie's mom Joan, who came down for about five days and packed relentlessly. The next Thanks goes to my dad and Colleen, who came over day after day and did packing, cleaning, repairing, loading, and whatever else I could think of. We also had help from Anne and Tom Schick, Alex and Judy Plavocos, Tony and Patty Hudson, my aunt Martha and cousin Sara, and neighbors Barbie, Carmella, and El.

I wish I had taken pictures of all the packing and loading, but it was such a frenzy of work and stress, I simply didn't think of it. Too bad, it was an interesting sight. I'll grab some shots as we unload.

One of our big challenges was deciding where everything went. We wanted some at our house in Park City. We were considering bringing some furniture out to put in our condo when we try to sell it. The condo is rented for the next year and we rented it unfurnished. Some stuff would would be sold to the home buyers. Some would be be given away. It was in an incredible state of flux up until the time we closed the doors on the truck.

The final measurement (which determines what you pay for the trailer) was 16 linear feet. That left the freight company with 12 feet to add their stuff. You put up a partition to separate your belongings from the freight. As I type this note, I can see that our truck has gone through Dayton, Ohio and is on its merry way west.

One of our best decisions was renting a decent SUV from Dollar. Our normal rental cars get some light use going to and from the airport and a few trips in between. This truck had 993 miles put on it and a lot of those were with the back full of anything from furniture to huge piles of trash for the dump.

One of our biggest problems is that we had been living out of houses in Park City and Raleigh for several years. This means that both houses were well furnished and equipped. The net is that we had more furniture, clothes, tools, and kitchen ware than we needed. The buyers had shown interest in buying some of it from us, but they bought less than we expected.

Then we got lucky. Julie has bought very nice furniture over the years and we have taken excellent care of it. It helps having no kids and manageable pets. We ended up selling a lot of furniture to friends. They got a great deal on nice furniture and we had a solution to our excess. We felt so much better knowing it was going to someone who appreciated it, and we can also come back and visit it on our trips to Raleigh.

Perhaps the funniest was the woman who bought Julie's Infiniti M45 through Craigslist on our last trip. She commented on how nice some of the furnishings were. She ended up coming back to the house and buying a pair of love seats and brought back friends the next day who bought a big chair. You just can't predict how things are going to work out.

This is our master bedroom at the end. The only thing remaining were my suitcases waiting for their contents. It is sad to walk through the house with it looking so hollow and empty after you spent 18 good years there.

I think the two big surprises for us on furniture were the buyers not wanting to buy the home theater equipment and furnishings and not buying the two gorgeous cherry cabinets we had built for both sides of the fireplace. They haven't sold their current home, so it comes down to cash, but those are the two things I would have kept before anything else.

They did keep the front guest bedroom and the bar area intact. Even with the barren house, you could still head up to the bar and shoot a game of pool.

This bathroom is just one of the numerous examples of how Julie took the look and quality of the house up about five notches when we remodeled. The interesting tiles, sconces, and faux painting were wonderful. I am proud of how nice she made everything look, but that made it so much harder to leave. At least we have a beautiful house in Park City to live in.

This is one I am happy to leave. I learned one of those clever life lessons 5 or 6 years ago. Our old washer and dryer were dying and needed to be replaced. Julie was having lots of problems with them but hadn't bought new ones yet. I did a lot of research on the best appliances with the best reviews and went out and bought some very expensive Neptune front loaders. I did this on my own as a surprise, and no, it wasn't for a birthday or anything that stupid.

Julie didn't like front loaders at all, for numerous reasons. My lesson is that if one person uses something 90+ percent of the time, THEY get to pick the replacement. One of my dreams of selling our house in Raleigh is that Julie will slowly forget how much she hated the washer and dryer and how badly I had screwed up. As long as she remembers, I will have to as well.

Another thing I won't miss is the growing traffic in the area. Everyone probably has stories like this, as the population continues to grow and grow. When we moved into the Duxford neighborhood, we were way out in the boonies. It was hard to imagine we had a Raleigh mailing address as far as we were from the city limits. Now there are long lines of cars heading to and from work, passing our neighborhood along the way. It took me two minutes to pull out onto the main road the other day. Years ago you could sit for 10 minutes and not see another car.

This is it. The last of the remains, stashed out in the garage. It's all spoken for and is just waiting to be picked up sometime in the next week or two. I really will miss having a seemingly infinite garage, especially when the 16 feet or trailer contents shows up.

I could babble on and on about the experience of moving and the emotions (good and bad) about selling our long time residence. The bottom line is that we loved the house and the people around us, but the headaches and expense of trying to be in two places was just too much. Keep your fingers crossed that our closing all goes well in December.

The one thing we won't lose is all our friends and family back in Raleigh. We will return often and now we can just be on vacation instead of having to maintain a big house and a yard. And of course, I still have my Wolfpack tickets....

Monday, November 08, 2010

Park City Ski Swap

We did this last year, but I am still dumbfounded at how great an event this is. Every year, you can bring your ski crud, including skis, boards, boots, jackets, goggles, poles and whatever to be sold. You pick your price for each item. Too high and you are probably taking it home. Too low and you gave away some money.

It's a fund raiser for the Park City Ski Team. The keep 30 percent of all sales, and given the size of the event, that has to be serious bucks! Thousands of people come to shop.

This year Julie and I each sold a pair of skis we were done using. Each sold for $60, so after the ski team cut, we took home $84. We get a nice dinner for two and someone, somewhere, gets some decent skis for a whole lot less than a new pair.

Reuse is better than recycling, which is better than the trash can. Reuse that you get some cash for is the real deal!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Complimentary winter work

I am going to be doing the same "job" I have done the last two winters, mountain hosting at Park City Mountain Resort. The only pay is two free season passes and a bunch of discounts (like $1 ski lessons).

Julie is starting something new. She will be working three days a week in skier services over at Deer Valley. That means she will be inside (versus me out in the cold) selling ski lessons, kid's camps, etc.. She actually gets paid real money and gets a fair amount of free skiing, but not a season pass. I get to ski twice a week at DV for $20 a day.

Of course, there is still some hope for me to get this job.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sometimes you're the windsheild, sometimes you're the bug

OK, I feel like the bug. Long since squished. This tooth extraction just won't give up. The top two wisdom teeth came out fine and have healed right up. The bottom one is unbelievable.
  • Broke coming out, leaving its roots
  • Surgeon had to drill to dig the roots out
  • Wouldn't stop bleeding for many hours
  • Dry socket (quite painful)
  • Inflamed muscle won't let me open my mouth enough
  • Hematoma from bleeding leaves persistent golf ball sized swelling

Damn this is ridiculous. Now I am back on serious quantities of Ibuprofen to kill the inflammation and more antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection. The swelling may take weeks to completely go away.

I really am tired of this!!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Another day of Trick or Treating

We saw Hannah at the Halloween parade yesterday, but we missed her for Trick or Treating. Not to be bothered by some artificial October deadline, she dressed up in a completely different outfit this evening (Nov 1st) and came over to the house.

She was our only trick or treater so she got a decent load of candy (other than all the stuff I've eaten over the past week). She also spent time with Jasper and Cosette, who took a particular interest in Hannah's feathery shoes.

Halloween Parade in Park City

I think there are two events in Park City that bring everyone out and highlight the town's quirkiness. The Fourth of July is the biggest, but Halloween is the most interesting. I would guess that there were about 5,000 people out on Main Street, mixed with 500 dogs. The street is packed, top to bottom.

Half the people were dressed in costume, but almost all of the dogs were. The afternoon starts with kids trick or treating at the stores of Main Street. Then the dog parade kicks into gear. It's really more of a rambling dog mob than a parade, but at one point, most of the dogs were actually headed in one direction. This is an improvement over last year.

Here we have Jasper dressed as Superdog, and Holly (Bill and Loris Benson's dog) dressed as a pumpkin.

Jasper also had a cool jester's costume. It was cute but it didn't fit him. Julie was kind enough to handle Jasper's leash so I could shoot photos.

As you might imagine, the two most popular dog activities were butt-sniffing and eating kid's candy off the street.

Loris (Holly's mom), Cathy King (Executive Director for Friends of Animals) and Julie.

This lovely lady is one of the Park City Mountain Hosts that I work with. Cindy Lea is dressed in a lovely inflatable costume. You can squish the air out, but there is a tiny fan that fills it right back up. Who thinks of all this stuff?

Julie and Jasper are posing with our next door neighbor Hannah. She's one of Jasper's best friends and is as adorable as anyone can be. I felt bad that we ate out after the parade so we missed having her come trick or treating at our house. With so many of the houses and condos in our neighborhood being second homes, it stinks for gathering candy.

Cathy King and one of her five dogs. She was a witch and he was either a wizard or a warlock. Is there a difference?

These were my favorite human costumes. Very timely if you read the news. They were bed bugs.

If you are dressed as a wookie from Star Wars, are you part of the dog parade?

More contacts from Friends of Animals... Cathy is our Operations Director and runs Furburbia. If you stop by the adoption center, you will almost always see Moose and Dino, the big lovable Rottweilers. Cathy's husband Chad is the one who took me looking for elk a month ago. He did end up seeing some big bull elk and shooting a spike (younger male).

I am just a sucker for little kids in costume. This little guy could barely walk but was having a blast exploring all the debris in the gutter.

Never one to miss such festivities, this is Rob Schumacher, the contractor who built our house. He is accompanied by another Superdog, Elvis. I think Robbie was from the Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I saw several of the movies and never once did I see Spiderman with Oompa-Loompa hair.

And we end with my favorite shot of the day. I'm not quite sure why. The costumes. The purple building in the background. The exhaustion on their faces that probably comes from a Halloween-induced blood sugar spike and then crash.

Halloween in Park City is a wonderful excuse to go out with friends, dress up your dogs, and run into everyone you know. Weather permitting, it is not to be missed.