We flew back to Miami from Seattle the beginning of March and were welcomed home to the Keys by a visit from Kelly and Casey. We gave them both big, congratulatory hugs on their engagement, then spent a couple days together in the Keys before going bike riding in the Everglades.
Before flying out to Seattle, we had agreed to a non-simultaneous exchange of our Keys house (in March) with a family from St. Augustine for their North Carolina cabin (sometime in the future), so after Kelly and Casey left, we got the house ready for our exchange partners, packed the motorhome, and left for a week in Gainesville while our house was occupied.
In Gainesville, Kyle let slip at dinner one night that he and his girlfriend, Hannah, had gotten engaged! (It was supposed to be a secret, but we’re glad Kyle let the cat out of the bag). They want to have the wedding on “Pi Day,” March 14, 2015 (3.14… get it?). We couldn’t be happier; Hannah’s a wonderful young woman and they make a beautiful couple. And now we’ll have two weddings in 2015!
Our home exchangers vacated at the end of March, so we left the motorhome in Gainesville and drove the Jeep back to the Keys to secure the house for the summer and hurricane season, planning not to return to the Keys again until autumn.
All secured, we made a quick return to Gainesville for Kyle’s annual Classical Cocktails party. This year, Kyle and Kelly let me perform with them – the Jackson 5 classic, “I Want You Back.” It was great!
The next day, we headed out early on our drive back to Bellingham, Washington. No fooling around on this trip; we were on a mission to get back as soon as possible in order to find the right property to put our house on.
We took I-10 all the way west to Los Angeles, then took I-5 north all the way to Bellingham: five days of driving, averaging 750 miles per day! (We won’t be doing that again).
Back in Bellingham, we spent the balance of April looking at land all over Whatcom County, but we took time off to go to the Tulip Festival in nearby Mt. Vernon,…
…visit Vancouver, Canada, for a day,…
…and the Cascades for another,…
…as well as visiting snow-covered Mt. Baker,…
…and hiking among the massive cedars on Chuckanut Mountain in Larrabee State Park.
We must have looked at 80 properties, ranging from half-acre building lots in town to 20 acre forested tracts out in the country. We went under contract a couple times, but it seemed there was always some problem (usually permitting) that prevented us from closing.
Hard work pays off, though, and we finally found the property that had everything we wanted: a sloping, southern exposure, just on the outskirts of the city; lots of big trees (Douglas Fir); a garden and orchard, complete with apple trees, raspberries and blueberries; all utilities; big enough to lay out our house and yard just the way we wanted; and, as it turns out, great neighbors all around.
Time to get building a foundation to put the house on.