Late in November, the burden of home ownership made itself obvious and we began to dabble with the idea of selling our condo instead of renting it out. There was just one potential renter coming to look at the place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and as I looked at the patched walls, piles of boxes, and dirty carpet, I just couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to live in our place if they saw it as it was. We didn’t have as much interest in our place as we thought we would, and we were beginning to think about all the ways we’d have to be helpful to new renters and what a burden that would be. When our realtor advised it enthusiastically, promising a good selling price, the wheels were set in motion.
We continued moving our special things to our gifted storage unit, selling all the things we won’t be using in Texas or Spain, and packing our belongings for the move south. In addition, we painted the whole living space, kitchen, inside the laundry closet and pantry, and one bedroom. On December 18, we delivered a couch we’d been borrowing for 10 years back to the friends who gave it to us originally. That was not always the plan, but when I started listing our furniture for sale, I realized the couch was not truly mine to sell! Fun serendipity to see them and say goodbye that day. Then dear friends helped us finish packing and we taped out a trailer sized box in a Sunday school room at our church. At first, it did not look like we’d be able to fit all our things into the trailer, but it worked and we even had room for our vacuum! Later that day we moved ourselves, our suitcases, and our piles of Christmas presents into my grandparents’ house. We ran errands like it was our job that week – trips to Value Village, waiting for the carpet to be cleaned, and signing papers with our realtor. After that we were able to make some memories with the kids, who had not yet had an ounce of Christmas spirit infused into their days. We decorated a tree, built gingerbread houses, made and decorated Christmas cookies, went ice skating, enjoyed Snowflake Lane, attended Siri and Jon’s annual Porridge Party and did a little Christmas shopping and wrapping. On Christmas Eve we celebrated with my grandparents and cousins. The kids each got a Kindle Fire, gifts we were anticipating ahead of our long car trip. My grandparents gave us hotel stays along the way – such a generous blessing! On Christmas Day we went to church and enjoyed the whole day with Chris’s parents and family. Highlights from that day were the extended gift opening – I love that our traditions keep us around the tree for hours after most people are heading to the movie theater or even shopping – and watching Chris, Jon and Ryan read For Boys Only and The Dangerous Book for Boys together. We got home too late for the Call the Midwives Christmas Special, my only regret.
Our home was listed on December 26. It would be listed for 10 days, and then the day we arrived in Edinburg we would review offers and accept one. We organized, packed, visited friends, and dealt with our first stumble: Chris had some very bad stomach pains and other symptoms which led us to take a trip to Urgent Care. They ruled out everything major and encouraged him to visit a gastroenterologist in Texas if the symptoms persisted. It turns out it was probably related to accidentally consuming gluten earlier in the week, and he’s fine now, but the evening was a reminder that the enemy does not want this process to be easy.
Chris saw Star Wars: Rogue 1 with his brother, the kids and I had last playdates with besties, and then, suddenly, our last two weeks at “home” were done. We picked up and packed the trailer on Wednesday, had a last sleep, and set off for Oregon on Thursday morning. There were tears.
It was great to see my dad one last time before next year and spend the evening catching up with my grandma. She gave us another generous Christmas gift – a plugin cooler for the car. While we were sleeping, someone smashed in our rear quarter window and the front passenger window. They took our roadside emergency kit from the back. From the front they got a huge bag of food and everything in the glovebox. All in all, it wasn’t much, except Chris’s expensive sunglassess. But it really messed with our peace and trust of others on the trip. At first we thought this might delay our trip, as all the glass places we called didn’t have our windows and wouldn’t be open until Tuesday. My grandma is better than a girl scout, though, and we located one window at one shop and the other at a junkyard. Chris and Jan drove all over town to pick those up and deliver them and then we took the car to be cleaned and fixed. While it was at the shop, we went to Whole Foods to replenish the hippy food that was stolen and buy some food for dinner while the kids played with Grandma. After dinner, Chris picked up the car, we hitched up again, and started packing for our nighttime drive to Redding. At the end of the day I was grateful to spend more time with my grandma. It was stressful and we felt very violated, but it could have been a lot worse. There were pry-marks on our trailer and we think the thief was frustrated and that’s why he smashed two windows. Thankfully we had brought in all our electronics, suitcases, and paperwork.
The drive to Redding was almost uneventful – the kids fell asleep quickly and we drove in quiet. But when we reached the Siskiyous, there was so much fog Chris was looking for each lane marker as it came. At one point we couldn’t see a thing for about 10 seconds. It cleared at the summit and we finally arrived in Redding around midnight. The next day we got back on schedule and drove to Bakersfield, arriving in the pouring down rain. We ate ribs for our New Year’s Eve meal and we were all asleep by 9 pm. Bakersfield to Phoenix, over the Grapevine, was beautiful and sunny. I was praising God for all the good work my chiropractor did on my ears over the last year because this trip didn’t bother me at all! In Phoenix God answered more prayers. Originally we were told our hotel, the WorldMark in Phoenix, could not accommodate trailers, but they made it work and we enjoyed a night with separate bedrooms from the kids. From Phoenix we drove to El Paso, and then from El Paso we drove to Fort Stockton, Texas. We added that stop so that we’d be arriving in San Antonio in daylight. The whole trip, a cold front was following us. It was like we were pulling it along with our trailer. I kept saying, “I thought it was hot in Texas!”
Fort Stockton to San Antonio was a long and boring drive, but we were so pleased to discover our next WorldMark was in the heart of Texas Hill Country. The drive was gorgeous, the sun was shining, and our apartment was lovely. In spite of the cold temperatures, we went swimming with the kids and the pool was perfectly heated. After swimming we warmed up and watched some TV while waiting for our surprise – friends from Washington! Our friends from our small group in Sammamish had moved to San Antonion this summer, so they met us at our resort and we cooked dinner together and caught up. They were so generous and brought us snacks and an HEB gift card for our first grocery trip. They also gave us lots of tips about becoming Texans. Our kids were worn out and slept soundly on the sofa bed all night. We were sad to leave that gorgeous resort, though.
We finally arrived at RGBI and saw our apartment on Thursday afternoon. We are so happy to be here.
All along the trip, our realtor was keeping us posted about how our home was showing. There was a lot of interest, so we were interested to see how it would go. One interested party did not want to wait until the offer deadline to find out whether they would win. They made an over-full-price offer that we wanted to accept on the spot. Instead, we put them at first place, got the paperwork going, and waited to see what would happen on deadline day. There were 17 showings, lots of interest and a bunch of requests to extend the offer deadline, but only one perfect offer. We were thrilled to be able to accept the offer from this family who was so excited about moving to Klahanie. One of our first tasks upon our arrival was to sign the offer acceptance form and send them back. Done! I told our realtor, “we have all the praise hands over this. I feel like God orchestrated this so perfectly for them and for us. Like we’re the only ones in the world right now.”