On The Road Again, Chapter 5

We sold our property in Arroyo Grande, California. We had a two week escrow, which was crazy, but we managed to pack up our house and get the contents moved into PODS. May I just say that the POD concept is brilliant? I mean, whoever thought of this concept was right in tune with modern times. When you sell your house but you haven’t purchased your next house yet, you have to store your belongings for some unknown period of time. So, with PODs, you have them moved to your next location, and they’ll store the PODs indefinitely in their warehouse. No one has to unload a truck and move stuff into a storage unit! The only downside to PODs is that they are quite small, so we had to use two PODs, and that wasn’t even enough. My husband ended up packing his studio into a 24′ truck and our friend, Patrick, flew into town from Santa Fe, and drove it to Santa Fe, while my husband drove his Ford truck pulling his work dump trailer filled to the brim with art. Quite the caravan!!

While I waited for my sister to fly into California so she and I could drive my car to Santa Fe, I stayed with a friend who offered her beautiful Los Osos home to Robert and me while we packed up the studio and took care of final arrangements. She was one of several friends who offered their homes to us. This is one of those times I was truly humbled and grateful for the generosity of people. I know that what goes around comes around, but this was beyond generous. It’s what friends do, they told us. Wow.

Our friend, Abby, lives in a lovely beach house overlooking Morro Rock. The wildlife and natural setting is so peaceful and regenerative. It was just what the “doctor” ordered. I could feel my tense body relaxing with each day. Even the fact that the house didn’t have a clothes dryer served to slow me down — I had to hang the clothes outside or on the indoor Australian “Sheila” that Abby had rigged in her guest bathroom.

Finally my sister, Karen Meyer, flew in from her home in Michigan. She’s my younger sister. I’m from a family of four girls, no boys. Yep, my dad really wanted a son! Oh well. He got four daughters (I was the third) whom he would take on nature hikes, up north to “rough it” in the farmhouse he bought on 85 acres in Northern Michigan when I was seven years old. My sister, Karen and I, accompanied him every weekend (alone, after our two older sisters outgrew the joy of roughing it, preferring the company of their high school boyfriends), and even put up with the lack of a plumbed toilet until my dad finished the bathroom in the farmhouse. We thought it was so cool to poop in a portable toilet with a plastic bag! I hope my dad was amused by his two little girls who idolized him and couldn’t think of anywhere they’d rather be….

When I picked up Karen at the San Luis Obispo Airport, we began THE FUN ADVENTURES OF TWO SISTERS. We hadn’t been alone together in many years. Whenever we’ve together in the past, we’ve been with our other two sisters, or our spouses, or children. This trip was just Karen and me (and my dog, Rita) on the road together at last. It makes me feel giddy just writing about this! You know how it is with sisters and old friends. There is a bond beyond words and a joy that lifts everyday tasks to the fun level that we experienced as children.

As soon as Karen got to the house in Los Osos, we decided to “stage” the car to make sure we could fit all my stuff, and still allow enough room for my dog, Rita, to be comfortable. She’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback, weighing 85 pounds, so her dog bed is big. That had to fit in the car. We spent several hours making all the boxes, suitcases, and hanging bags of clothes fit in my car. We did not want a mountain of bags blocking Rita’s view of us, so in the end, some of the things had to stay behind. Karen is tough — she even pared down my hanging clothes to half the amount! She gave me the same lecture I give my style clients — you don’t need this many clothes, you’ll be fine with fewer clothes. Turns out she was right. Robert brought the remaining clothes with him on his last trip to Santa Fe, and I didn’t even miss them. Lesson learned by the personal stylist… 

Abby and her boyfriend took us to dinner the night before hitting road at a cool bar/restaurant right on the bay. This is us posing in front of the iconic Morro Rock.

My sister, Karen, my husband, Robert, and Me

On The Road To Santa Fe

We took off at 10am the next day, exactly the time I wanted to leave. We had a 7-8 hour drive ahead of us. We were spending the night in Kingman, Arizona, at La Quinta. They’re super dog friendly.

We took the northern route through the Paso Robles wine country to Bakersfield, an industrialized city, to Tehachapi, a beautiful mountainous town, through the Mohave Desert (which seemed to go on forever), and finally picking up Highway 40 in Barstow, California. We talked for the entire 7.5 hours to Kingman, Arizona. No music. No podcasts. Just two sisters talking about anything and everything. By the time we reached the La Quinta Hotel, it was dark, and we were hungry. We checked into the hotel and followed my husband’s recommendation (as he had just stayed there the previous week), to eat at In-And-Out Burger. Karen had never had their food, and it was quick and easy. By the time the burgers and fries made it back to the hotel, they were cold, but we didn’t care. I fed Rita first, then we wolfed down our dinner, took showers, and were asleep by 9pm.

A few days prior to Karen’s arrival, I realized I had miscalculated our house rental situation in Santa Fe. I booked the rental to begin April 20th. We left California on the 18th. For some reason I thought it took more than two days to drive to Santa Fe. It actually only takes about 14-16 hours. So, we had an extra day to kill! We decided to spend the extra day in Flagstaff, Arizona, a beautiful mountain town, close to the Grand Canyon. Okay, we ended up deciding not to drive the additional two hours to the Grand Canyon, but we chose, instead, a beautiful hike around Walnut Canyon in Flagstaff.

Walnut Canyon is a magical place. It is the ancient pueblo home to the Sinagua people, who lived in cave dwellings etched into the mountains. We took the Rim Trail, an easy walk above the canyon among the juniper and pinion pine forest. It was a warm, sunny day, and my 12-year-old Ridgeback was cooled by the shade of the tall forest, as we ate our lunch in the park.

After our day in the sun, we were ready for a shower and going out for a hearty dinner. Flagstaff is a really cool town. Even the La Quinta is upscale. I was in the mood for a good steak (gosh, it sounds like I eat a lot of meat, which I don’t!). There was a Sizzler Restaurant right next to the La Quinta. All I could think about was an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s TV show, “No Reservations,” when he went to a Sizzler Restaurant in Los Angeles with another famous chef. Apparently many chefs like to eat there — it’s inexpensive and you get a lot of food. Anthony admitted that he would never have eaten at a Sizzler, but he really enjoyed the variety in the buffet, and his steak was delicious. I never forgot that show. There we were, in Flagstaff, not knowing where the really good restaurants were, but wanting to eat a hearty, healthy meal. Sizzler it was! And we were not disappointed! The salad bar was really, really good. It was fresh, the veggies were crisp, and the pasta salads were darned good! We split a steak dinner, and even though my sister insisted on ordering it cooked medium-well, they did not serve us shoe leather. It was still juicy. So, here I am, recommending a trip to your local Sizzler next time you’re really, really hungry.

Sizzler Steak and Baked Potato

We slept really well.

The next day, we woke early, headed down to the La Quinta breakfast buffet. Not nearly as exciting as the Sizzler buffet. We each had a package of oatmeal cereal and coffee. Oatmeal is my go-to breakfast every day, so I felt like that was the safest choice. My dog, Rita, came down to breakfast with us, and attracted all sorts of attention. She’s such a mellow, beautiful dog, that everyone wants to pet her. A family from Italy was having breakfast (I wanted to apologize for the powered eggs and bad coffee, as I’ve visited Italy and never ate more delicious food, but I resisted, as I realized I am not an ambassador for our country, and they surely realized that La Quinta hotels are not known for their fine cuisine) and couldn’t resist giving Rita some attention. Rita was doing remarkably well during this long road trip. She never complained and was happy to sleep in the back of the car while Karen and I talked and laughed. She was just happy to be with us!

We drove all morning into the late afternoon, arriving in Santa Fe around 3pm. We found our rental home, which was located in a beautiful development called Eldorado. The homes are situated on 1-2 acres, on quiet dirt roads, with miles of walking paths. The home Robert and I rented for a month has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a renovated kitchen. It’s lovely. I highly recommend staying here if you’re visiting Santa Fe. Let me know if you want more information!

When we arrived at the house, we needed groceries, so we headed into downtown to the Whole Foods Market. We bought food for dinner that night and breakfast. I was in my new home. Feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders with the sale of our home. Now it was time for a new adventure in a new place.

My sister, Karen, accompanied me to this new place, and we set out the next day to explore all it had to offer.

Our First House Hunting Expedition

We arrived on the 20th of April. On the 21st, our realtor Vanessa was taking me and Karen to see some homes for sale. One of the two homes she had arranged to show us had already gone under contract within one day being on the market. Yikes! So, Vanessa showed us the other property. It was right up the road from where we were staying, so we met Vanessa there. It was a 10-acre property with a large Santa Fe style home, and a barn. Sounded promising. The house looked good on the outside, but upon closer inspection we noticed that the window casings were ALL chewed. It was as if animals had been gnawing on the wooden framing to get into the house. That was a bit disturbing. Even on the inside of the house, it appeared as if wild animals had been either trying to get in or out by destroying the windows. After we explored the barn, which was literally a lean-to with pallets on the ground, my sister pulled me aside and whispered, “You are NOT buying this house. It would take way too much time and money to bring it back to life.”

The next day, our realtor informed me that the house we just looked at was under contract. Someone bought the chewed up house!

Next chapter…more house hunting and finding the one.