Not all who wander are lost.

Monthly archives for October, 2014

Getting Settled

We decided to stay at Boyd Lake State Park for the first week and a half.  This would give us time to get the RV more organized and scout the area for a more permanent spot until January.  We spent the first day putting the rest of our stuff away and figuring out where everything is going to go.  One thing that we both realized pretty quickly is that we’re going to have to pick up after ourselves frequently because it doesn’t take much to make this small space seem messy.  5 dirty dishes makes it look like the counters are full of dishes waiting to be washed (pretty sure I’ll be missing my dishwasher very soon.)  Laundry could easily start taking over the place if not done frequently.  As we travel more we’ll probably soon be able to give reviews and locations of laundry mats across the country.

Sadie, Reid, T, and Heather all came here to spend a few days with us and Brooke and Ben live in Fort Collins so we decided to invite them over and have our first official family dinner to break in the place.  Plus we had a jar of Apple Pie Moonshine that we got from Molly that needed to be cracked open! After pouring a round for all of us legal drinkers, it was gone pretty fast!  I kept telling everyone we were going to have our first family Thanksgiving dinner in the RV and everyone was skeptical (except me of course!)  There were 9 of us total and no one had to sit on the floor so we learned two important things:  We will be able to accommodate this group plus 5 dogs for the holidays and Molly is going to have to send us more moonshine!

Photo Oct 27, 8 10 00 PM We’ve had some really beautiful weather here so one of the days we decided to take a hike up the trails at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.  When I say hike up the trails the operative word here is “up” because we did hike up….A LOT.  Some of the trails we’ve been on will go up, then level off a little, then up but not this one. We’d hiked here before when we visited Brooke & Ben last summer and we chose the trail to Horsetooth Falls which is an amazing hike that ends with small natural pools that waterfalls from the rocks above flow into.  It was a hot day so there were quite a people just hangin’ out, wandering through the water, hammocking, or just sitting there enjoying the space. This time Sam and Reid wanted to climb to Horsetooth Rock so we went the other way.  All the way up there are breathtaking views and I find it difficult to take it all in at times.

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One of my favorites of the day was this photo where I was able to capture moon and the sun in the same picture.  I was trying to get a picture of all the different peaks and didn’t see it until I looked at it later. I love it when you get a cool shot of something that you weren’t trying to get.

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Sam and Reid wanted to climb to Horsetooth Rock which involved a little bit of climbing so Jason, Heather and I headed back down about 1/2 mile or so before the rock.  I blamed it on not being used to the altitude yet…definitely not age related!  Sam sent this picture after they had reached to top of the rock.

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The next day was a bit of an emotional day for everyone.  It was our 20th wedding anniversary so taking a day to remember one of the best days of our lives is always a good thing for which I can feel nothing but complete happiness.  Sadie and T had come to Colorado to go to a concert the evening before but now they had to go back to work in Iowa.  Reid and Heather were riding with them so they were leaving too for school and work as well.  When they came to say “Good Bye” I think we all kind of tried to ignore that they were going to be 2 states away  but its tough to leave the people you love and start a whole new life no matter how much you want it.  We’re hoping to see them all at Thanksgiving which is only about 3 weeks away so that helps.  And of course we can all remain hopeful that they’ll decide to come live here one day.

Although our plan was to spend the day just relaxing and doing absolutely nothing, we spent the rest of the day moving the RV to another space in the campground but that is a whole other story that we will share later.

The Journey

It took us little longer to get everything packed up and into the RV than we originally thought.  Our plan was to hit the road by about 1 PM but leaving just before 3 didn’t put us too far behind.  With right around 700 miles to go my travel buddy and I settled in for the long drive.  For those of you that travel with small-ish pets, this little basket was a god send.  Normally, traveling with Lucy involves constant jumping from seat to seat (her..not me) and me trying to get her out from under my feet or under the break.  I got this from Amazon for about $20 with free Prime shipping and it attaches to the seat and has a place to secure her so she has to stay put.  After a few minutes whining, she finally settled in and went to sleep.

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The drive was pretty uneventful for the most part which was fine with me.  It was long and we drove along Hwy 30 for the first half, but since we didn’t have to worry about the people racing along the interstate next to use it allowed me to take some time to enjoy the Midwest scenery.  I love these railroad bridges and there were quite a few along the way.  This is the one that crosses the Missouri River.

 

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I had a mixture of emotions and fears as we drove away from what had been our home for 24 years.  I was so looking forward to seeing Brooke and spending some time with her in Colorado, but as happy as I was to be seeing her soon I was also that sad knowing that Sadie will be living in Ames, IA.  I worried about Sam as he left his friends and would be starting a whole new life on his own (with the help of his big sister)  As much as I know that Colorado life will suit him with better snowboarding, mountains and boulders waiting to be climbed, and just the general atmosphere of the place, I know he’s going to miss his friends and might feel a little alone for awhile before he settles in and starts working and meeting people.  It takes a lot of courage to move away from the only place he’s known and I really commend him and Brooke for that.  When I was cutting hair and working in a college town, it allowed me to meet people from so many different countries.  One of the conversations I had more than once was how people from other countries come here and many of them see more of our country in a couple of weeks or months than a lot of Americans do in their entire life.  That stuck with me all of these years and I didn’t want to be one of those people who only get so see a small fraction of this country that is ours.  I don’t want that for my kids either.  Its always been important to us is that our kids never lose that sense of curiosity and adventure and not be afraid to move away from what might be considered “normal” if it means finding a way of life that is just for them.

When it started getting late, we ended up staying in Kearney, NE at a Roadway Inn.  I have to mention that as we have traveled the last few years we have been surprised that some of the best and cleanest places to stay have become hotels like Super 8 and Roadway Inn.  We’ve had some of the worst stays in some of what would be considered higher end hotel chains.   Here is the last view as we drove through Nebraska looking for our spot for the night.  Who said there are only cornfields in the Midwest?

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After a decent night’s rest and some free breakfast, we hit the road again anxious to get to our campground.  We drove the interstate the rest of the way finally stopping at Boyd Lake in State Park in Loveland, Co.  We were then faced with the task of unloading all of the kids stuff from the RV to the truck and then taking to Brooke’s place in Fort Collins.  We were looking forward to getting our space set up and the RV organized so we could finally stop moving for a bit.

 

 

Our first cross country haul.

Well, we have finally started living in our RV. We have arrived at our first extend stay location. We will be staying in Colorado for at least the next few months. We started our cross country haul late Saturday afternoon. I had to back up the RV (5th wheel) for the first time and it really was not as bad as I thought it would be. Tip: Tow mirrors makes a hug difference. Ok, I will admit the thought of pulling a 10K pound RV 700 mile was making me very nervous. I have never pulled anything this big or heavy.  It’s not only pulling the RV, but I am pulling it with a used GMC with almost a 150k miles on it. At this point the only thing to do was to feel the fear and do it anyway. We stopped by JJ’s to say bye to Sadie and then jumped on Hwy. 30 to start our journey west. The plan was to travel as far as we could Saturday and then stop for the night somewhere in Nebraska. We traveled Hwy. 30 all the way to Grand Island, NE. and stopped and stayed at a pet friendly Roadway Inn.  I will have to stay I am glad we decide to take the the hwy. rather than Interstate 80. We drove around 55 – 60 which was fast enough, at least until I got used to pulling the RV and how it would feel behind the truck. When first getting started down the hwy. the ride was very bouncy. I was thinking to myself “I hope this is normal” then I thought “I don’t know if I am going to be able to stand 700 miles of bouncing in this truck” It Felt like my insides where being bounced all over the place. I think my co-pilot (Jude) was feeling the same as me but all and all he did very well traveling. JudeFinally everything smoothed out and I could hardly feel the RV behind me. So after the first 100 miles I figured out that all of the bouncing was due to the road surface. New blacktop very smooth, old blacktop very bouncy! My nerves had finally started to settle after I knew the bouncing was from the road and not something wrong with the RV or truck. The other thing that took awhile to get used to was breaking. When going down the hwy. you don’t think much about stopping. But when traveling hwys instead of interstates you have to slow your speed through towns and in the bigger towns you will be stopping at the stop lights. I have learned to start slowing down way before the lights because it takes awhile to get that much weight stopped. We woke up Sunday and had some hotel breakfast and got back on the hwy. This time we decided to jump on to the interstate. Even through the speed limit through NE is 75 I think the fastest I ever got up to was 70. I tried to stay around 65 as I felt pretty comfortable cruising at that speed. The last thing about the 700 mile journey I learned about hauling the RV and driving this truck was the poor poor gas milage we got. I would say we averaged between 8-10 mile per gallon. The truck had plenty of power with a 8.1 liter motor but it also consumes the gas.

We’re Getting There!

 

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Even though we’ve been preparing and planning this for what has seemed like forever,  its still tough to get my mind around all of this!  At this very time next week we’ll be waking up in a 5th wheel somewhere in Colorado.  Hopefully, it’s not snowing yet!

We spent part of Saturday helping Sadie get moved into her new place.  Every time she put something in the truck I wanted to take it out and pack it with the Colorado stuff and beg her to come with us. I had to keep telling myself that as much as I try to fight it, she is quickly becoming a grown woman capable of making her own decisions and taking care of herself.  Choosing to stay behind while the rest of her family moves could not have been an easy decision for her so I’m really trying to respect her decision.  We are comforted in knowing that she has lots of family here to help her if she needs it.  She also knows that all she has to do is say the word and we will find a spot for her whenever she’s ready.  No matter how many times I say these things to myself, its still going to be heart wrenching to leave her and its the one thing about this that I’m not looking forward to.

The rest of this week will involve getting the house completely empty and we’re getting there.  This weekend we found ourselves sleeping on a mattress on the floor, Sam no longer has a couch to sit on and play video games in the basement, and after today we won’t have a table to eat at.  As we watched Sadie, Sam, Heather, Reid, and AJ lug all of this stuff out of the house we were reminded of the many MANY times we had done this ourselves and were relieved that this time we get to leave the heavy lifting to the kids.  The nice thing about the 5th wheel is that it’s already furnished.  All we need to do is grab our clothes, dishes, and various other little things and we are set.  I still get to keep my spinning wheel, almost all of my fiber, and all that goes with it so that’s a huge plus!  So each day the house gets a little more empty and the camper a little more weighed down.  We are so thankful that Cindy and Jeff allowed us to store the 5th wheel in their driveway for a couple weeks.  Having it just a few blocks away has made it much easier to pack and get things ready throughout the last week.

We still have those little loose ends to tie up such as cancelling utilities and taking care of our change of address.  It’s crazy how many times you have to do that these days!  It used to be you filled out a little card at the post office and informed a few other people and you were done.  Now, its the USPS, the bank, Ebay, Paypal, Amazon, previous employers (in my case), iTunes,  Etsy, etc etc etc.  It’s endless!  Each day I think of one more place that we’ll need to go in and change our profiles.  Thank god we no longer have credit cards as that would have added even more to the mix!  Luckily, its all done over the internet these days.  Maybe we need to rethink our shopping habits?

Our plan is to leave Saturday early afternoon, drive about half way and then spend the night somewhere in Nebraska. Our temporary destination is Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland, CO.  With the price of renting a moving truck at over $500 (WITHOUT gas) we decided that we won’t be carrying any furniture out for Sam and Brooke as originally planned.  We decided that we can pick up a bed for Sam and a used couch for their place when we get there and still not hit the $500+ that we would have spent on a truck.  We’ll be using the camper as a moving truck for the rest of their stuff so we need to get there in time to get it set up and unload all of their stuff to take to Brooke’s before it gets dark.  The state and county parks only allow campers to stay a maximum of 14 consecutive days, then wait 16 days before returning to a park within their system.  We’re planning to stay through the holidays before heading to southern Texas for the rest of the winter so that means our first order of business will be to find somewhere that is open that will allow long term camping because we would prefer to not have to move every 14 days.  We’ve looked at a few privately owned places online so we’re hoping to drive around a bit and find somewhere we like when we get there.

Still lots to do, but we are in the homestretch now.  I’m sure emotions will be pretty close to the surface the rest of this week and we’re probably in for some interesting situations including our first long drive with the 5th wheel, but we are certain it will all be worth it.  We are looking forward to soon be done paying the house payment, utilities (which is our least favorite at over $400/month), property taxes, Mediacom (who just raised our internet prices by almost double!!!), and all of the other little bills that we pay each month to keep up the house.  We are ready for a hopefully more simple and fulfilling way of life.  We’re not sure what we’re going to run into or if we’ll even like it, but we’re about to find out.

RV Inspection & Repairs

After only staying one night in the RV and before going on our Florida bike trip we decide to store the RV at Webster City RV which is right off Hwy. 20 which was also right on the way home. We planned on storing it there until after our Florida trip. We figured while it was there it would also be a good time to have it inspected to make sure everything was going to be ok before heading to Colorado at the end of October. Inspection cost would be around $200 but we figured for $200 better safe than sorry. We knew everything worked because we used everything the night before so wasn’t expecting to have to many things wrong but didn’t know the last time it had been in for just a routine maintenance. About two days in to our bike trip I get an email from Kenny at Webster City RV sending me an estimate for all the things they had found that should be repaired. Repairs totaled just over $4500. We were like WHAT. At this point we were feeling like maybe the good price we got the RV at might not have been that great of a price after all. I got a hold of Kenny and told him we need to prioritize the repairs and what repairs could either be done myself or at a later date. After going through the list several time and talking it over we decide the most important was the bedroom slide. The bedroom slide floor was rotten and I knew this would be a job I did not want to tackle on my own.Photo Oct 12, 8 40 07 AMPhoto Oct 12, 8 40 57 AM

The slide repair was estimated to cost around $1800. We decide we would also do the wash and roof condition, and get the fresh water fill hose fixed. When everything was all said and done we were looking at around $2500 including the inspection cost. Called Kenny and said go ahead with these repairs. After a couple of days got another call from Kenny letting me know that the slide repair was finished and that the labor hours where about twice what he had quoted. The labor for the slide estimate was 12 hrs. Actual hours of labor was around 22. He told me he would stick to the labor estimate and not charge for the extra hours worked and said he would chalk it up to a learning experience. Next thing that he need to discuss was the fresh water fill host. He had estimate only an hour to fix. The service tech informed him the underbelly of the RV needed to be dropped to get to the fill hose and this added another 3 hours of labor. We decided this was more important to fix then the wash and condition so we removed that part and told them to go ahead with fresh water hose fix with the extra labor hours. Final email from Kenny, RV was done and total cost ended up at just below $2800. Even though I was not expecting $2800 in repairs when asking for an inspection I am glad all of this was found and repaired before we left. Most of everything else on the list we can do ourselves. The people at Webster City RV where very good to work with and did a great job on fixing the slide. It worked and looked great. Also since the RV was serviced and repair they did not charge us for storing.

Thoughts From the Saddle of a Bike

Well, the bike trip is over and we are home getting ready for the next part of the plan.  For me, traveling is not only about relaxation and fun.  It’s  also the best way to learn something new and not just about the place you’re at but about yourself and maybe even the person you’re traveling with no matter how long you’ve lived with them.

Lesson #1- Maybe research the area that you’re traveling to at least a little.  We just assumed that since the Keys are basically a chain of little islands surrounded with water, we would be by the beach the entire time.  We thought if we wanted to, we would be able to just jump in the ocean any time we felt the like it.  I think we thought we were going to find a place like Hawaii. The Keys are snorkeling, diving, fishing  communities.   When we did find the beach from a public access, it was actually more like a little salty lake.  Since the area around the Keys is mainly coral, there are no natural sandy beaches.  If you do find a beach its usually man made.  One of our rooms had a screened porch right above the canals so you could see the fishing and diving boats go by (some of them are HUGE) which was very cool, but just not our thing.  We wanted waves, surfers, sea shells and white sands which couldn’t be found here.  The people here are very friendly and genuine, and we liked the laid back “to each his own” atmosphere though so its not a bad place to be.  And it was sunny and warm without winter getting ready to rear its ugly head so that’s always good!

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Lesson #2-    Be Flexible. At first I was a little discouraged that the trip we ended up taking, wasn’t quite the trip we were planning but I realized that part of living this way is that we can change directions pretty quickly and it only affects the two of us.  As we got closer and closer to Key West and kept wondering “Where is the beach??” and “Why do we keep peddling toward a destination that we aren’t sure we really want to get to anymore?”  we finally remembered that we don’t HAVE to go anywhere.  So we turned around and headed back to the place that we know we love, the beach.  We stayed in the same hotel at Melbourne Beach that we took the kids to when they saw the ocean for the first time.  I couldn’t help but remember their faces when they saw the ocean from the balcony that first time or when they actually got to swim in it.  This is also where we got to see the second to the last space shuttle launch, which had to be one of the very coolest things I’ve seen.  We ended up finding a couple days of relaxation in one of our favorite spots.

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Lesson #3–  Shut your mind up and trust your own body.  Even though we have been biking for a good 3 years now, I was very concerned about being able to make some of these longer trips a couple days in a row.  I bike almost daily but a lot of times it’s running errands, or maybe a 20-30 mile ride one day on the weekend.  We had planned to do more longer rides to prepare for this trip but just as in Florida, it never seemed to stop raining long enough.  Once I learned how to quiet my head and just let my body take over, I found I could do over 5o miles one day and still be able to peddle another 20 or 30 the next day.  I could climb these ridiculously long bridges and when I got to the top, there were amazing views. Aside from the sun burn, or occasional shoulder pain from my injury in March, I really felt pretty good on the bike most days.  Don’t get me wrong. I still whined once in awhile because that’s what I do.  But was an important thing to learn about myself and I felt thankful that I’m strong and healthy enough to be able to take a trip such as this.  A few years ago, it would have been the last thing I thought I would be able to do!

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Lesson #4–  Take time to appreciate your surroundings, especially the little stuff.  There were so many little things we would see along the way that we just though were amazing but if the locals heard us they would have thought we were nuts.  As we biked it was really difficult not to hit one of the million little lizards or crabs that would run across our path.  We would laugh at them and swerve a little so we didn’t hit them. I witnessed this large Blue Crab trying to cross A1A and I kind of cheered him on a bit until the big huge truck didn’t swerve and then I felt genuinely sad that he didn’t make it back to his home in the ocean.  It was during this ride that Jason and I decided that the person who created Frogger may very well have been from Florida.  To us, these were fascinating little creatures and we would smile every time we saw them, but the locals most likely thought of them as we do squirrels and grasshoppers.  One of my favorites was the little turtle who wandered by our campsite munching on every little piece of vegetation he could get in his mouth.  Even though I was terrified at the prospect of sleeping under the colony of huge Banana Spiders, I had to admit they were actually quite beautiful…from A FAR.  The plants that we saw along the way were quite different from what we have here and very interesting, but I had to remember to move away when biking past because thorns scraping across your sunburned arms really hurt!    Every time we travel we see a lot of the same things like hotels, strip malls and Applebee’s.  To me, its like little things like a iguana jumping in front of you on your bike, or the star fish you see on a beach that gives a place it’s identity.  That’s what I’m always looking for when I travel.

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 Lesson #5You don’t have to go ANYWHERE to find complete happiness. This bike trip was actually supposed to be our 20th anniversary trip but with the house sale and everything else that’s going we went much earlier than October 29th. Since it was our anniversary trip and we are at the threshold of becoming “empty nesters” I suppose it caused me to spend a lot of time in the saddle reflecting on the last 20 years. I realized that I truly am the luckiest person that I know because I get to spend every single day with my   cycling partner, my favorite person in the world and my friend, my husband. I’ve always known this. I’ve always known he spoils me every day and he’s a much better person than me but something about this trip made me really realize it. Maybe it’s because after the end of October it will be the very first time we’ve lived alone without any kids and this is the first time we’ve spent this much time together completely alone. It has allowed me to notice the little things he does for me every day like open the doors for me, turn my bike lights on for me because he knows I’ll forget, or patiently wander through Walmart with me picking out yarn so I’ll having something to do in the car on the way home. The little things are actually huge and I believe they are all the difference in truly happy marriages. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be REALLY hard not to be around my kids every day and I’m really going to miss the bantering of the “Three Stooges” that we’ve grown to love around here. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of this quiet that is certain to take some time getting used to. But I’m also looking forward to the next 20 or 30 years and the adventures that are sure to come our way with just the two of us. Who knows what kind of trouble we will be able to find!

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Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

The offer was accepted, the closing and possession dates were set.  The house inspection and the appraisal was completed as well as the last minute termite inspection. Furnace and AC systems were evaluated and we fixed everything the buyer asked us to.  Everything was done.  We were days away from signing the final papers.  We never thought this one simple little text from our realtor would have been the start to another few stressful days that would be filled with complete uncertainty.20141002_165633

Oh. My. God.  What could this mean now?  Of course every possible situation ran through our heads.  Is there a delay in closing?  Do we need to make arrangements for yet another person to walk through our house?  Holy Crap!  Do we have TERMITES?!  We weren’t really prepared for this phone call.  After a stressful offer process for everyone involved, then weeks of bending over backwards letting countless people wander through our home while we walked our 4 dogs in the heat for hours,  the financing did not come through.  Wait..What?? It’s three days before closing!  What the heck does “pre approval” really mean then then if the buyer still needed to apply for financing?  I thought the pre approval letter from the bank meant the seller would feel confident in taking the house of the market while the buyer firmed up her financing and prepared to close the deal.  Well, in our case it meant that as long as you told truth on the preliminary application we will lend you some money and you can buy a house.  If you don’t, then you will end up really messing with the lives of a bunch of people that you haven’t even met yet! (words of advice..ALWAYS tell the truth on your loan application)

WORST NEWS EVER!!!  We spent 3 days in the car on our way back to Iowa stewing and worrying and feeling completely helpless.  All we could do was wait until we got home and see what our options were.  It was a long car ride to say the least.

We are just sick about all of it and of course we are upset that we need to change our plans yet again and we are now not sure what is going to happen.  We are also worried that it won’t sell now that its so late in the year.  We feel terrible for our realtor who had to call us while on vacation.  We know that had to be a tough phone call to make.  We are angry because the buyer wasn’t honest with the bank or us, and the buyer’s realtor knew about this a week prior and didn’t bother to tell anyone until our realtor called to find out what time the closing was.  Even though they are in default of the purchase agreement, we still have to wait for the buyer to sign off to cancel the sale..whatever that means.  So again we are at the mercy of this person as we try to get our listing active so we can get the place sold.  As angry as I get when I think about all this, I do feel a little sad for the buyer though.  I know she had invested her time and money into the transaction as well, and I’m sure she thought she’d be sitting by our fireplace watching movies by the end of October.     I’ve really been working on trying to be more  compassionate but its pretty difficult sometimes, especially when the outcome has had such a negative impact on my family and could have been avoided had she just chosen to just be honest.  People don’t always realize the ripple affect that can occur by one or two of their own small, seemingly meaningless actions.  I’m trying to remember that even though she wasn’t quite truthful she still has to be upset as well and she might not even have a place to go to live now.

So here we are, back at square 1.  It looks like we will be cleaning like mad people, trimming bushes, and trying to keep the place ready for last minute showings.  If you drive by, you’ll see that “For Sale” sign in the yard again which means we’ll be dragging our dogs around in the cold whenever someone wants to come take a look at the last minute.  The goal is to still be in Colorado by the end of October and maybe not living here while trying to sell will actually be easier.  At least the house will stay clean.   We’re hoping that its not too late in the year and that there is a family out there just waiting for a place just like this to call their home.  We know there is still plenty of time to move in and enjoy the holidays here so we just have to do what we can until the right people come along.  From the very beginning we knew there would be roadblocks along the way and we knew some might be pretty tough to get passed, but we will figure out a way around them.  We always do.   Until then, we’ll do our best to stay positive and keep doing what we can to move forward to the life that we imagine is waiting for us.  We know we will get there very soon we just have to get over this part first.  I find myself remembering one of my favorite quotes quite a bit lately.  I heard it in the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” but I know it’s been said by many others, one being John Lennon.  I don’t know who said it originally.  It always makes me smile a little.

 

Everything will be all right in the endif it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.