Old Friends, New Friends

Whelan on Walkabout in Washington - Olympic National Forest

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When I worked with the cabin owners at Huntington Lake, Sierra National Forest, I would hear their stories about their cabin being passed down for generations. They would talk about how they met there, who was who at the lake, who had which cabin and what they did to it over the years. The would tell nostalgic stories about "Thirty years ago, when I came up here for the summer, I would hike, or swim, or boat or meet people at the cabin for a holiday party. Their cabin was their old friend. 

They were very nice stories and I would listen to them thinking about my parents. My family could never dream of buying a little cabin in the woods. But what they did own then, and what we own now is public land. We all have our old friends the National Forests and National Parks.

After the stress and anxiety of moving to Washington, it came as no surprise that my first day-trip was to the Olympic National Forest and the Olympic National Park.  A visit to a new old friend. 

 
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Rain Forest Nature Trail - Old Forest
The simplicity of taking a short walk through a tunnel of life - tall, dense, growing, green, natural, perfect in its own way, connected in time, space and experience. This nature trail is short, flat and perfect for close up interaction with the temperate rain forest. Everywhere you look, everything you see is covered with green life. The old dead support new life. Green on green is the color scheme with no place to rest your eye. It is a friendly visual assault. Like a giant vegetative hug, it walks up to you and you can't help to hug it back, and love it back. We are visiting on a clear sunny day and everything seems to be shouting "The sun is shining! Quick soak it up while you can. Soon we will be bathing in rain."

 Douglas Fir grow big on the Olympic National Forest. 

Douglas Fir grow big on the Olympic National Forest. 

 Handsome cozy chairs in the lodge's public space - lodge style done well. 

Handsome cozy chairs in the lodge's public space - lodge style done well. 

World's Record Sitka Spruce - Old Tree  How can you not love a very large and very old tree? I would just go crazy when people jumped the fence to take a selfie on the roots of giant sequoia trees. While in Cambodia I was disappointed to learn that platforms were needed to keep selfie seekers from stomping the roots of the strangler fig tree featured in the Laura Croft Tomb Raider movie. Unfortunately, fame comes at a cost. 

I found the very same people taking selfies on the roots of this amazing sitka spruce.  I did speak to the tree and told it "hang in there big boy. We love you. " Then I took my selfie by the sign in the parking lot, away from my new old friend's trampled roots. 

 Ferns cover the forest floor like bear clover in the Sierra, only ferns are prettier. 

Ferns cover the forest floor like bear clover in the Sierra, only ferns are prettier. 

Lake Quinault Lodge - Old Lodge
A historic gathering place that is still loved and cared about. Unlike my previous experience with resorts under special use permit from the US Forest Service, Lake Quinault Lodge is well managed, well maintained and continues to create memorable experiences. It was stylish with the look and feel of old historic Park lodges.  

"Built in 1926 and styled after Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone and Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho, the Lake Quinault Lodge reflects the spirit of a bygone era. This cozy getaway offers a serene retreat from the pressures of the outside world." 

We casually enjoyed our beers with lunch on the outdoor patio overlooking the lake. While visitors sat on the lawn, we speculated about staying at the lodge when the weather is more representative of the temperate rain forest. "If the room had a fireplace and a good book, this could be a fun place even in the dead of a rainy winter." 

 Selfie by the sign, not on the roots of the World's Largest Sitka Spruce. 

Selfie by the sign, not on the roots of the World's Largest Sitka Spruce. 

 The view upstream with a peek of the peaks of the Olympic National Park backcountry. 

The view upstream with a peek of the peaks of the Olympic National Park backcountry. 

South Shore Drive/North Shore Drive - Old Drive
Still one of my favorite activities - taking a drive exploring new roads in the forest. Up stream along the river, there are few cars on the drive as we weave back and forth from gravel to pavement, from one lane to two lanes, from open views through caves of moss covered maples. The forest reaches above and beyond. The trees are so tight, maybe they are blocking out the cell phone service protecting us from thoughts of the outside world? 

 A tunnel of green on North Shore Road, Quinault Valley, Olympic National Forest. 

A tunnel of green on North Shore Road, Quinault Valley, Olympic National Forest. 

 A forever landscape in the Olympic National Park. 

A forever landscape in the Olympic National Park. 

Olympic National Park Beaches - Old Friend

I can't resist a visit to the beach. Olympic National Park has beautiful long, wild, and cool beaches that stretch as far as I can see. There are footsteps in the sand, but no one is around. Even the names "Beach One" and "Beach Two" are simple and unassuming as if to not clutter the space with expectations. "This is all there is" says the waves as they roll without regard to me or anyone else in the world. How may years have they been doing this without notice? Beaches are prehistoric relics alive today and hopefully forever. 

 Perfect beach stones. 

Perfect beach stones. 

I'm still trying to get back to my old self in my new environment. I'm having a bit of writer's block and I want to thank you for reading my blog. 

Restless Roaming Retirees Relocating to Redmond

House Hunters - The Whelan on Walkabout Episode

We don’t watch much television, but when we do, we enjoy Home and Garden Television’s (GHTV) number one show, House Hunters. 

Whelan on Walkabout wonders, “What would our House Hunters episode look like?”  Let’s see. 

From The House Hunters website

“House Hunters takes viewers behind the scenes as individuals, couples, and families learn what to look for and decide whether or not a home is meant for them. Focusing on the emotional experience of finding and purchasing a new home, each episode shows the process as buyers search for a home.”
 Restless Roaming Retirees, Keith and Cindy, are relocating to rainy Washington State. 

Restless Roaming Retirees, Keith and Cindy, are relocating to rainy Washington State. 

Narrator: Retirees Keith and Cindy have left their careers in public service and sold their home so they can travel the world.  They have decided to downsize and move into an apartment in the Puget Sound area of Washington State where their son can look for a computer programmer job. She wants open floor plan and a quiet neighborhood. He wants to stay on budget and have a close walk to services. Can these restless retirees find their next comfort zone and a job for their son in the Pacific Northwest? 

Pause for introduction logo, theme music, and a map…

 

Narrator: Restless retirees Keith and Cindy are looking to relocate to the clean and green Washington State.  Their first apartment option was listed on Craigslist; close to family and in the center of the thriving technology industry in Redmond, Washington.  But after talking to the current renter, they decided it would be better to deal directly with the Vesta Apartments rental office.  Naaz needs to show them something that meets their needs and is available next month. 

 Lake Sammamish and family are within walking distance of Vesta Apartments, Redmond, WA. 

Lake Sammamish and family are within walking distance of Vesta Apartments, Redmond, WA. 

Naaz for Vesta Apartments: So Keith and Cindy. I understand you are looking for an apartment. What kinds of things are you looking for in an apartment? 

Cindy: Well, I want a quiet location away from traffic sounds and busy roads. I like an open floor plan, and two bedrooms and two baths. We must have two bedrooms because our son, Patrick, is going to be living with us while he looks for a job in the area. 

Keith: The big thing for me is staying in budget. We are only going to be in the apartment until we can find a condominium to buy in this area. I like to take long walks, so I want to have coffee shops, services, trails, and places where we can walk. We also like to bike to places. 

 Naaz shows the Whelans a nice apartment in Redmond Washington. 

Naaz shows the Whelans a nice apartment in Redmond Washington. 

Naaz: OK. We have a lovely renovated apartment available and empty. I think it will meet most of your needs. We can take a look at it now if you want. Are you ready to go?

Cindy and Keith: You bet. We are ready. Let’s go!

Narrator: The first property the Whelan’s are looking at is a two bedroom, two bath second-floor apartment. This location is close to family and ticks all their boxes but comes at a price. 

Naaz for Vesta Apartments: Here we are. This is the place. What do you think?

Keith: Well, I was hoping for a first floor to make moving in easier, but with a second floor we don’t have neighbors dancing on our head. 

Cindy: Yes, we might want to get some help moving our furniture up the stairs. 

Naaz: Here is the first bedroom and the bathroom is across the hall. 

Cindy: This will work for Patrick. It is a bit dark, but it looks like it is about the same size of his current bedroom. And the bath across the hall works well for him. We don’t need to share a bathroom with our son.  

 Apartments. Dark and boring. 

Apartments. Dark and boring. 

Keith: And the living room is a bit dark, and there is no overhead light. 

Cindy: We have lamps. 

Naaz: And here is the kitchen. 

Cindy: Look Keith. They were expecting us. They have two glasses and a bottle of wine waiting. 

Keith: Does the apartment come with a bottle of wine? 

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Naaz: No, you will have to bring your own bottle of wine.

Cindy: Rats. I guess we can buy one for ourselves. I don’t like electric range tops, but we will never find a gas appliance in an apartment. Can you imagine a gas explosion in an apartment? Ewe. Not pretty. 

Keith: Not much counter space, but I like that it has a washer and dryer in the apartment. There is no way I would ever go back to using a coin-operated washing machine. The refrigerator is small but clean and usable.

 No gas appliances here.

No gas appliances here.

Naaz: Here is the second bedroom with two closets, and the second bathroom is en-suite. 

Cindy: It is tiny, and I don’t think our bedroom furniture is going to fit. But the bathroom is clean and nice enough. There is no shower curtain.

Keith: We can buy a shower curtain. 

Keith: It is a small bedroom. But it is an apartment. We can’t afford something that is as big as our house. And besides, this small place is already at the top of our budget. We can’t afford something bigger if we are going to travel around the world. 

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Cindy: You have a point. I do want to travel more.  

Narrator: This roaming pair has decided to downsize and simplify their lives so they can travel the world. Their first step was selling their house of 18 years. Now they are relocating to an apartment where their son can seek out his new career aspirations, and they can start roaming the world.

Narrator: The next property the Whelan’s are looking at is an apartment …

Cindy: Wait, wait. This place is good enough. If we look at other properties, it is going to cost us time and money. We don’t have much of either. And I'd rather go for a hike. 

Keith: And it is an apartment. There aren’t many choices that look any better than this one. An apartment is an apartment. 

Narrator:  But we need to have conflict, disagreement, friction, show choices, and compromise. You must make concessions. For the sake of format, you look at three places. We always have three properties, and you eliminate one, then you agree on where you will live, and then you kiss. 

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Keith: But this apartment is good enough and at the top of our budget. We also need time to fill out a renter’s application, pay the application fees, have a background search, get a money order for the first month’s rent, get approved, get renters insurance, do a walkthrough, and go home and pack our things. If we spend time looking at two more properties chances are it is going to look the same. If you have seen one apartment, you have seen them all. 

Cindy: And I'd rather go for a hike. 

Narrator: OK, ok.  But will you do the decision part? 

Keith: We can do that if it doesn’t take up too much time. 

Cindy: Then can we go on a hike? 

Narrator:  The Whelan’s have seen some excellent properties for rent in Redmond, Washington. Can these restless retirees agree on their new rental retreat?  They now have a big decision to make.

Cindy: Yes we have to make a decision. We’ll have to talk about it some more, and we’ll have to eliminate one… (getting back on script.) We have seen some great properties in this area.

Keith: Yes we have. There was the Vesta Apartment. 

Cindy: Yes. And I liked the Vesta Apartment. It was at the top of our budget but it had a great location near our family. Also it is within walking distance of Lake Sammamish and ready for us to move in next month. I think Patrick could look for jobs in this area. 

Keith: Does that mean we made our decision? I think we will go with… (pregnant pause)

 It is an apartment. What do you expect? 

It is an apartment. What do you expect? 

Both: The Vesta Apartment. 

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Couple kisses on que…

Cindy: Let's go tell Patrick that we found a new apartment to move into next month. 

Keith: Yes. And we can pay our fees and get started on all the online forms we need to fill out.  

Cindy: First, lets go on a hike. 

 The Whelans go for a hike in the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife refuge.  It was a beautiful day in Washington State. 

The Whelans go for a hike in the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife refuge.  It was a beautiful day in Washington State. 

Coming Soon: The Whelan’s “Three Months Later” scene where Whelan on Walkabout declares that they made a great decision to move to Redmond.  Soon they will travel the World. 

Watch the real HGTV House Hunters episodes at https://www.hgtv.com/shows/full-episodes 

Running on Empty

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields…

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind
— Jackson Brown

Here is a link so you too can sing along. https://youtu.be/Vq25ZJwZJzU

On my fourteen-hour drive to college, I would sing along with Jackson Brown. I was 21 on "Highway 101" from Southern California to Humboldt State University.

I was living it.

I don’t know where I’m running now.
I’m just running on.
 Sold! I love my house, but I love my new life more. 

Sold! I love my house, but I love my new life more. 

"Many summer fields" have been good to me, and now that I am retired, I feel that "running behind" part.

A lot has changed since my long drives in the eighties. 

This month I am asking myself "How did I pick up all this stuff along the way?" 

I like my house, my couch, and my bathroom, and my books, and my pool, and my clothes, and my rice cooker, and my flip flops, and my artwork, and my music, and my clocks, and my bath towels, and my houseplants. I love all my stuff. 

But, they can't go with me on The Big Walkabout. Less is more. I want to get rid of more and keep less. I don't want my life limited by my possessions. 

The less I own, the more I can travel.

 My collection of Star Trek action figures was the first to go. 

My collection of Star Trek action figures was the first to go. 

What do you do with the High School Yearbook? Mom's glass figurines? Dad's old belt buckle? The necklace you got from your first love? The gifts your children gave you when they were in kindergarten? The craft project you started two years ago and haven't found time to finish? The old skis. The extra canning jars. Clothes that don't fit. Books you won't re-read. 

 "Cuppie" may be listed on eBay for $50, but no one wanted the one I inherited. It went to Goodwill. 

"Cuppie" may be listed on eBay for $50, but no one wanted the one I inherited. It went to Goodwill. 

Sooner or later, you must face it.

"You can't take it with you." 

Have you had the chance to clean up after the death of a loved one? A mother, a father, a family member passes away and their things need to be evaluated, shifted, and placed in another spot. 

It isn't pretty. It is hard. Emotionally, mentally, physically, time-consuming, life energy sucking hard. 

List it on eBay.  You get no bids. 
Post it on Craigslist.  You get spam. 
Put in on Facebook.  You get reminders to "please mark items as sold," when it hasn't sold. 
Push it onto your children. You get a twisty face look. "Mom… Really?" 
Sell it at a yard sale. You get two bucks. 
Leave it on the curb for "FREE." You get the neighbors worried that you are leaving trash on the street. 
Give it to Goodwill. You get a useless receipt and no tax benefit. 
Pack it in a box. You get to pay for a storage unit, and you still need to deal with it later. 
Or you keep things until you die and someone else must decide what to do with it. 

That is the downside of downsizing. 

 I haven't been able to sell my clarinet. 

I haven't been able to sell my clarinet. 

I cried as I cleaned out my photographs and gave away art supplies and frames. My dream for an art studio will have to wait. 

 Cleaning out my photography stuff was hard. I threw away most of my paper prints. Photographs and frames don't store well. 

Cleaning out my photography stuff was hard. I threw away most of my paper prints. Photographs and frames don't store well. 

 Boxes of empty frames. Such potential! Dumped in a bin at Good Will. 

Boxes of empty frames. Such potential! Dumped in a bin at Good Will. 

But there is an upshot that makes it all worthwile.  

 All four bicycles went to nice people who wanted them very much. 

All four bicycles went to nice people who wanted them very much. 

Sold my grandmother's sewing machine to Ruth who wanted to make rag quilts for grandbabies. 
Sold the chainsaw to someone trying to keep their tree trimming business viable. 
Sold four bicycles, all to wonderful people. 
Sold the guitar to parents who wanted is as a gift to their daughter.
Sold a clarinet to a beaming high school student. 
Sold upholstered chairs to a colorful gay couple. 
Sold my mother's rocking chair to a grandmother. 
Sold cabinet work to an interesting woman who lives in the Fresno's Tower District. 
Sold our house to a family with an infant girl and a pre-school boy. She sells textbooks from her home office, and they wanted desperately to send their children to Buchannan School Complex. 

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive,
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive.

Buying and having nice things was fun. There is nostalgia in all that stuff.  But the object isn't the memory. Life isn't about accumilating artifacts. Life is about living and collecting experiences.  

 I loved stringing beads with my daughter, but we have both moved past our Hello Kitty box of beads. 

I loved stringing beads with my daughter, but we have both moved past our Hello Kitty box of beads. 

Giving away things doesn't diminish the value it had when I needed it. It was valuable, and I am grateful for having owned my things. Selling something doesn't cancel its value. Giving something away doesn't detract from what it did for my life. Donating an object doesn't reverse its effect on my life. My memories are not dependent on objects. 

I want to live a life that looks forward, not back. I'm keeping my memories, my experience, my loves, and my life. But, I'm not holding onto stuff. I'm getting ready for the future. I'm looking forward to travels, new stories, and more good memories. 

I know in my heart that less is more, and I'm still on that road trip. 

Thank you, Jackson Brown. I'm still singing along.

"I'd love to stick around, but I'm running behind." 
 Sold the guitar. For years it sat in our garage. Now it is making music. 

Sold the guitar. For years it sat in our garage. Now it is making music.