What I did and didn’t say when advertising our house for rent

What I did say… lovely three-story historic Victorian home for rent, 12 month lease, excellent location near universities X, Y, and Z, Very family friendly in the [Fancy Grade School] school district, 1/2 block from the [Cool Urban Hipster] Park and its twice-weekly farmer’s market and many festivals, 3000 square foot house including 2.5 baths, 6 bedrooms, and several multi-purpose rooms. washer/dryer, dishwasher, small yard, terrific neighbors, block parties, some furnishings available, flexible start date, 12 month lease, near shops, restaurants, bike share and public transportation…

What I didn’t say…

This place was built in the 1890’s people!! There is no updated kitchen or recently remodeled bathroom. We spent a bunch of money on things you will never notice or appreciate like the sewer line, front porch roof, and water heater! There are unpredictable ceiling leaks depending on the various combinations of snow fall, snow melt, and rain. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer!  No central heat or a/c!  Parking is becoming scarce as nearby apartment buildings are finalized, and it’s getting worse.  If there’s a chair in a parking space, be aware that you may be harassed or possibly shot for parking there, especially when there is snow. This ain’t the suburbs!  You want a garage, you have to rent one!  We had at least 5 bikes stolen since we have lived here, plus more than one stroller. Occasionally, I find a homeless person sleeping on our porch.

I give up on gardening every year because the mosquitos get so bad in the tiny back yard. We do have a great view of our neighbors’ yards, and we appreciate their gardening efforts and feel sorta bad that they have a great view of our neglected, junk-strewn yard. As for front yard gardening, consider dog poop because it will be part of whatever you plant. About block parties, we haven’t had one for about three years. My husband might be block captain but I’m really not sure, its kind if a slacker block for that kind of thing.

Our dishwasher technically does work, but we hardly use it because it doesn’t really get the dishes clean. The on-demand hot water heater seems to stop after a few minutes before it gets going again, so good luck with that. There are probably toys from my teenager’s babyhood stuck I places that we missed. We really haven’t cleaned since we moved back in about 8 years ago. Before that, we rented to students and also a heavy metal band (friends of Mr. Fantastic; not as bad as it sounds, but still).  Before that, we lived here about 4 years with another family who had 3 kids and you can still see traces of wall finger painting by them as well as some permanent marker on the staircase. Which reminds me – the twins fingerpainted on their bedroom wall once when they were supposed to be napping – in poop. We cleaned it but…ewwwww.

The washer and dryer work OK as long as the washer hose is in the sink. It frequently falls out and pours water all over the basement floor, soaking anything you have stored there.  We don’t think the sewer line will back up and flood the basement again, so water from the washer is really not too bad in comparison anyway. Unfortunately, we are storing our things on the shelves down there so you may indeed be storing things on the floor.  I’m sure it will be fine. By the way, did I mention we will be in southeast Asia for a good part of your 12month lease? so good luck getting a hold of us! Happily, we have friends looking out for the place, so don’t think you can get away without paying the rent! See how great that works out?

We will clean up a lot and repaint some walls but when the walls look nice, the woodwork just looks that much worse.  It is like 120 years old after all. If you want a gutted, modernized place, our house is not for you. Oh, yeah, be ready for park festivals and college kid parties, both are clearly audible from the house. People are friendly, as in their kids will be coming by trick-or-treating at Halloween and trying to sell you lemonade, girl scout cookies, etc. all year. Also, there are sometimes scammers that come to the door lying about a neighbor in a car accident and needing cash, that kind of thing. But I’m sure you know about urban living.

Yeah, I probably shouldn’t say most of that…

Ohio, April 2015

Lake Erie! An amazing library! They’re play clothes, Captain! Well, lets start with that.

We watched the Sound of Music, and I was reminded of one of my favorite parenting mantras. During the many, many times over the years when I was in public with one or more children clad in stained, ill-fitting, and /or torn clothing, I would silently say this to myself.  I would get the hairy eyeball from people with and without children, at least I would think I was getting the hairy eyeball, and I would realize how we looked unkempt and possibly homeless and I would recall the scene. Julie Andrews (as Maria, the nun-apprentice-turned-nanny) says it beautifully as the captain’s children are embarrassing him, climbing trees, wearing outfits that Maria had made of discarded curtains. “Children should be able to play without worrying about their clothing,” she says, or something like that. YES! Thank you, Rodgers and Hammerstein.

ReCreation Land

My brother went camping so we only saw him briefly. Interestingly, he went out to a place in southeast Ohio called ReCreation Land. It looks like it is worth a trip someday.  I have been hiking in Hocking Hills area near beautiful Athens, Ohio, and this is not too far from there to the northeast.  Apparently, the energy company AEP reforested some land they had strip-mined for coal.  A depressing way to start out, but I guess we have to take what we can get sometimes.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie never disappoints. We went on a day that was warm and sunny at my parents’ place, but as we got closer to that large body of water just a few miles (as the crow flies) north, the weather got cooler and foggy.  By the time we reached the waters edge, we couldn’t see far at all. But that, of course, didn’t stop us. I was only a little bummed that we didn’t get to see any ice that may have been floating out farther from the shore- we just couldn’t see that far.

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The Morley Library

Wow I thought I’d died and gone to library heaven. I had gone to the library in Painesville, Ohio as a teenager, and again as an adult but I hadn’t visited for many years. I had heard it was rebuilt but I was flabbergasted by what I saw as we pulled into the parking lot. It was a new, giant, brick and stone building that I later found out was built in 2005.  The children’s area was larger than our whole library!

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Easter

We had the egg hunt in my parents’ back yard, fancy clothes, a big dinner, and lots of movie-watching.  Three generations of females posed on the back deck, photographed by my Dad the proud husband/Dad/Grandfather.

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And that is what we did between driving West and later back East across PA a couple of weeks ago.  It was bittersweet knowing we are not planning to be there next year, and seeing the kids-ok, I guess all of us- get older during the Easter egg hunt every year.  Welcome Spring!

Links of interest to future world travelers- especially me!

I have been really enjoying two blogs about RTW trips. Both are wonderful in terms of nuts-and-bolts information like gear, budgeting, and finding housing and affordable things to do while traveling.  Both publish actual expenses, which is riveting for yours truly as we get closer to lift-off around here.

Travel Junkies is a blog about a family of three who sold their house, quit their jobs, and took off RTW about two years ago.  They are currently back in the US and planning to settle after a road trip.  Great blog!

Globe Gazers is about a young couple traveling for a year, roughly in the opposite direction from our plan.  Excellent details, thank you GG!

This post on squat toilets was intriguing to me since the author lives in Shanghai.  This one, directed at women, was also very informative.

I have referred to him before, but I would be wrong not to list here The Man in Seat 61. If you are planning other than airplane travel anywhere in the world, check out this site. Detailed descriptions of train, ferry, and bus routes to and from everywhere.

Of course there are the old standbys Bootsnall, Lonely Planet, and Couchsurfing. The first two have useful discussion boards, and the last is a great way to connect with free housing, although I plan to use it more for suggestions and play dates since I doubt most couch surfers could host a family of six!

That’s all for now, I hope to add onto this page as I find more helpful sites and blogs.

 

Ithaca, NY, March 2015

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cabin at night with light in the windows

I felt newly appreciative of every non-collapsing surface upon which I had ever placed my feet.  I was walking in the snow to the cabin in the dark after a drive from home.  We got there before 9pm but the sky was inky black and there was no moon yet. As my eyes adjusted, I could see scattered stars across the velvety sky. It was truly beautiful. Papa, Cleverly, and Really went up ahead as I unpacked the car and started walking with Fiercely and Truly. Evidently, there had been a lot of snow and then some warmer weather because the snow had a crust on top. The walk to the cabin, which goes up a hill, through some brush, and across a field, usually takes under ten minutes.  This walk took much longer.  The walking was tricky, perhaps treacherous, and a nice challenge after the car ride to get there.  Each step was uncertain – would it support my weight or would it break? It reminded me of the legendary San Joaquín mud in Honduras. The kids there could negotiate the muddy hill paths in flip-flops but more than once my own missteps had me knee-deep in mud. I saw it happen to horses there, even. And now, here in upstate New York, on a snowy night in early March, the crust would give after several easy steps and I was up to my knees in snow. It is disorienting to have such difficulty in a skill – walking – that I had mastered over 40 years ago!  By carefully picking my way towards the cabin, I managed to stay upright and hold on to the items I was carrying.  Papa had gone ahead and lit the lamps in the cabin. I had a view of the dark shape of our sweet cabin with warm lamplight in the windows. Black outlines of trees surrounded it, and above was the vast dark sky with glittering stars. It was so beautiful. It looked like a fairy tale house in Sweden, Poland, Canada…. I hope we see such things when we travel and can also appreciate what is here now.

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Those were my thoughts when we got to the cabin that night. The trip was so nice with the changing weather.  It was maple sugar season so we tapped a few trees again. The twins felt the need to run outside naked in the snow, and so they did!  We had the fire going and ate wonderfully cozy meals. There was some sledding. We played board games and did puzzles. I considered how this may be our last winter weather for nearly two years.  I love winter, so I am especially enjoying this one.  We walked gingerly on the pond since it was not frozen as solid as last March.  I took fewer pictures than usual!  We went to town to the thrift stores, and also went to a Thai restaurant and ate and talked about how soon, when it comes to Thai food, we may be eating the real deal!!   IMG_3981 IMG_3977

L- Really with buckets to collect maple syrup, R – cabin in the snow, you can see snow sliding off upstairs dormer windows!

Our neighbors doubled their maple syrup operation to 300 trees this year.  They have a sugar shack with several pans for heating the sap and condensing it using wood fire as well as gas.  They expect to make about 30 gallons this year, which is about 1200 gallons of sap!  They had a party one night and we went.  There were lots of people walking through the mud to the sugar shack, the good smell of wood smoke in the night air, musicians playing folk music with guitar and banjo and stand-up bass, and an outstanding potluck.  We stayed until Truly fell asleep on my lap then we walked back in the snow to the cabin.  We gave the neighbors our sap, maybe 20 gallons, and they gave us a quart of maple syrup!  So we didn’t boil our own this year, but we ended up with some local maple syrup and a great night with the neighbors.

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One night, I awoke to a loud noise and the cabin shaking on its piers. A load of snow had slid off the roof!  The kids had pointed it out more than once over the days we were there but I only heard it that once.  It made me wonder what happens to the cabin as it goes through the seasons since we are not always there.

That was our trip to the cabin in March.

planning the first few months of RTW, part 1

It’s getting closer, friends! Exciting and terrifying, the Global Fantastic Adventure gets closer every day.

Warning: this post is long and a bit confusing as I consider different routes and expenses.  I am mostly doing this to preserve links and thought processes as we try to figure things out.

We have been looking at logistics lately and, sadly, it looks like India may be out. Surprisingly, the infrastructure for getting from one peninsula- southeast Asia- to the one next door- India- is daunting. We were hoping for a ferry or interesting travel by land however it looks bleak. It looks like going to India would involve 2 extra flights – a serious consideration for our budget for the six of us. We have been planning after Asia to go West to eastern Europe by train. The trains appear to go through northern China, not from India.  Getting on the Transiberian Railroad seems to require us getting back north to Beijing, possible by rail compared unlike going from Thailand to India since we are trying to avoid airfare x 6. Anyway, that is an overview, a little confusing and I apologize for that. Here is some more budget planning.

Budget prediction time!  East Coast to Vancouver to China

We are planning about 20 days to Vancouver, with several days in San Francisco. Total planned budget:  $2300 – a little over $100/day.  This is a maximum, I hope to save on food and emergency numbers.  Here’s the breakdown:

Driving to San Francisco is about 2800 mi/30 MPG x $4/gallon gas = $375 for gas

Food: $30-$40/day x 20 days = Max $800 (hopefully less!!)

Housing: maybe 15 of the 20 days will be camping. We prefer state parks, but may have to resort to private campgrounds in a pinch. Example of a state park in Iowa is Wildcat Den, near Davenport Iowa off rt. 80. It is $9/night for primitive camping with water but no showers. A private campground near rt 80 in Grand Island, Nebraska near is $32/night including showers and a pool and wifi. Let’s average that to $25/night for camping x 15 nights = $375. We should assume at least 1 hotel stay for $150, just in case.  So, total = $525

Emergency: car repair, extra hotel stay, etc : I’d like to allot $500. Let’s face it, the car may break down entirely and then we are on the bus! But also: the car may make it and we can sell it, at least for scrap: $200?

After San Francisco, we have to get to Vancouver and I’d like to stay two nights there. San Fran to Seattle is 800 miles/30 MPG x $4/gal gas = $107  We will probably stay a night in Portland with friends or maybe camp along the beautiful way. Sell car in Seattle, get rid of all our camping gear :( greyhound to Vancouver is $75 for all 6 of us, but I believe we have to buy the tickets in advance or it is much more. The trip is 4 hours. I found this Vancouver airbnb place that sleeps six for $124/ night. Planning for 2 nights = $260

That ends the first 20 days.

Then we just have to get to the port sometime before 1pm so we don’t miss the boat! We are paying for this repositioning cruise in advance (it’s about $6500 incl. taxes + gratuities + insurance. It is a splurge at over $430 per day but we have mostly decided we want to do it. As a comparison, flying from NYC to Bangkok would be about $3000 + approx 14 days room+board, added since they are included in cruise price). 15 nights onboard including a day we lose due to crossing the international date line. We have to be careful not to spend money here for things not included in our cruise price such as: Wifi, alcohol, spa treatments, excursions, special restaurants.  We get to explore Alaska (1 night) and Japan (3 nights) as the boat docks, one big reason for choosing the cruise. Then we are in Shanghai.

Shanghai and China

Big shock with China: the visas.  Per the Chinese Embassy, it appears to cost $140 per person plus what sounds like an excruciating beaurocratic process in both NYC and Washington, DC.  Minimum just for us to enter the country = $840.  We will do this in the next few months.

In Shanghai, we would stay at an Airbnb or a regular hotel for a night or two to figure out our next move. This airbnb place would set us back about $450 for their 3-night minimum. Here is a youth hostel, it appears we would have a 3-night minimum for $260 total. This place, another airbnb, is $293 for 3 nights. Here is a budget hotel for Y359 (Chinese Yuan)/night, which is US $57.44. We may have to commit to a place to stay in the process to get a visa, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  From there we would spend time in Shanghai, we could go to see the terra cotta warriors as we have looked at, and eventually we would head down to SE Asia.  If we could find a cheap, interesting place to stay in China, especially if we could learn some of the language, I’d stay a month or so, but I am more excited, at least for now, to get to SE Asia.

China to Bangkok

Yeah, ok we could fly, but where’s the fun in that?  I want to see the area, travel with locals, and check out the train system.  But just for comparison, I did a quick check and got:

Flight for 6 Shanghai to Bangkok: $1372

We may fly the opposite way after a few months in SE Asia as we head to Beijing for the 6-day Beijing-to-Moscow train.  Then again, we may do the train/bus trip the opposite way to check out other things we may have missed.  I love this flexibility and the option to avoid planes!  We may try to do the whole trip without planes!  It is partly the cost, but I feel we would miss out on local sights and opportunities if we always jetted from place to place.

So, for this Shanghai to Bangkok portion of the trip, here we go.  I think there are child discounts that I am not seeing online, and even without those, it looks to be an affordable option. There are issues of connecting at different points, and it may not be the most comfortable option, but after the cruise we have to keep expenses down.  If we are sleeping on a bus or train, that saves us lodging costs as well.

We plan to go to Bangkok to get vaccines as I have looked into. Train to Hong Kong:hard sleeper overnight is $62 pp, likely with discounts for kids. So less than $62x 6=$372 total. From there, we could fly to Bangkok or go overland.  Flight looks to be about $180 per person ($1080 for us). Overland is 3 days, max $150 per person per Rome2rio ($900). The same site has a range, minimum for which, not including kid discounts, same trip, is $714

So: train to Hong Kong and fly to Bangkok for 6: $1452

train to Hong Kong and flight to Kuala Lumpur then train to Bangkok for 6: $1374

train to Hong Kong then trains/busses to Bangkok for 6: $1849 (incl visas)

Here is an option I have to look into. I am not sure of route…  looks like train to Hanoi, bus to Vientiane, train to Bangkok. Train (as recommended by seat61) to Hanoi is 2 night sleeper trains with a day in Nanning in between. This is $68/person x 6 = $408, then Hanoi 24-hr trip by bus to Vientiane $30pp = $180, then train from there to Bangkok is $11 for 2nd class sleeper = $55 since the twins each pay 1/2 price.

Two considerations here: visas and itinerary.  Right now, Vietnam requires a visa in advance which we would get in China if possible.  It looks to cost $312 for 6 of us, I’m hoping for a child discount.  Laos costs $35 per person payable at border x 6 = $210, again, hoping for a child discount!  Thailand no charge for visas right now.

The price is looking steeper for this overland travel, but it includes some nights sleeping on train, also we would get to see these countries.  I look at it as a tour of the countries and a slow travel way to see the area. We may even decide to stay awhile in Vietnam or Laos, though I have my eye on Cambodia for a place to live for a month/months.  The visas seem to allow for 30 days, so we could stay a week or more in Laos and Vietnam if we want to. No visa fee in Thailand, BTW. But I plan to stay in Cambodia for access to Thailand, and I have assumed we will want to spend time there.

Thinking about flying part way: what about going by air from Shanghai to Singapore and using the highly recommended train from Singapore to Bangkok?  It may actually be cheaper than overlanding, about $340pp x 6 for us = $2040, ugh. Kuala Lumpur, on the same train route, is also an option. $320 ($1920, still a lot) appears to get you from Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur. All of this is to say, we may boat to Shanghai, fly to Kuala Lumpur, then take a train to Bangkok before settling in Cambodia.

fly to Singapore, train to Bangkok: $2382

fly to KL, train to Bangkok: $2202

Train from KL to Bangkok: this appears fairly straightforward according to Mr. Seat 61. KL to Butterworth, apparently, is how the trip is done. This seems to be a 6-hour trip, however there is a time change so I believe it is longer. Anyway, $13 per person is the 2nd class (recommended) fare. Then Butterworth to Bangkok is the next leg, 20.5 hrs and only one fare option, $34 per person. That makes it $282 to get my family to Bangkok from KL.  If we do not choose this option, we may make the trip anyway since it sounds great and I have a friend in Singapore.

In Bangkok, we would stay a few days and get vaccines. If we were to stay in Bangkok for a week, there are a few options. Here is an airbnb place for $209 a week.

It would be around late November if we were to spend a month in China and a month getting to Bangkok. Three months of the trip gone!  But wonderful so far.

That ends this planning part for now, I’m working on a part 2 where we live in Cambodia for a month/months, then go to Beijing for the train to Moscow.

NC and DC, late Feb-early March, 2015, Part 2

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Snowy DC and a cozy apartment

The first I heard of the big snowstorm, Thor, was as we were heading into it as we left Chapel Hill, NC. A woman had mentioned it at a store where we were buying some supplies for lunch on the road. I didn’t take it very seriously since we had been through this in late January with the “potentially historic” snowstorm that created panic and closed schools in our area but failed to deliver much actual snow. Also, it was markedly warmer and most NC snow had melted. The sky was blue and we merrily passed mile markers and state lines on our way to the capital of our country. We were listening to a Ramona and Beezus audio book. The kids were getting along and I was looking forward to seeing LW and her dog Lincoln. Things were good.

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Walking around and playing in a park in the pre-blizzard rain

Bit of a buzzkill to drive into DC.  Traffic, road blocks, one-way streets, no parking.  On LW’s advice, we parked in a hotel garage a block from her place.  Yes, our car stayed in a fancy hotel!  It turned out to be a great logistical arrangement, since we had sleeping bags and snow clothes for the five of us – a considerable amount of gear.  The car was safe from parking tickets and weather.  We could walk or take the Metro to the museums, since LW was not too far from the Mall.

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Walking around LW’s neighborhood, outside her door

I had planned to go to museums the first day with the kids since LW had to work and it would be nice to walk around after our drive. But as luck had it, LW’s meeting was cancelled, and she and Lincoln- who is always ready for a walk- were ready for a walk. We headed out of her apartment building and into the neighborhood.  It was drizzling lightly. We walked on a paved path above a freeway and across from another park. We stayed outside for a while then went back to the apartment. We set up camp in the living room, made dinner, ate, then watched a movie and called it a night.

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Snowy scenes around the neighborhood
The next day there was snow falling when we awoke and predictions were extreme. Things were closed- a mixed blessing for us. LW had the day off! Unfortunately, museums were closed. LW was sanguine on her sudden status as Hostess to the Fantastic Five as we occupied every inch of her living room and contemplated a change in plans. She has extensive experience with the developing world, traveling, and managing government projects so perhaps that is why she didn’t even blink. She made two brief phone calls and the next thing I knew we were heading out in the snow to a wonderfully cozy brunch place called Bread and Chocolate. Wow!  After a great brunch, we went to her gym, which was housed in a fancy hotel and more like a spa with sauna, steam room, and pool.  The kids loved it and we were there for hours.  The kids were especially impressed with the fancy soaps and lotions on hand in the showers and by the mirrors for primping after a swim.

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Spa-like gym – lower picture shows snow on window/roof!

Afterwards, we walked around the area some more.  We made a great dinner, watched another movie, and just enjoyed the apartment and the relaxed, quiet city.  The twins took some pictures of the apartment – it was so different from the Chapel Hill Fabulous family house and they were clearly impressed.  Especially with the bathroom and the elevator!

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The next day, LW had to return to work, but she scored a 2-hour delay!  We got to hang out some more as we packed and hauled our stuff out to the car.  Then we said our goodbyes to LW, Lincoln, and the cozy little clubhouse of the apartment.  We had one more adventure before we had to head back home.

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Walking to the Metro stop, the Metro, Truly with snowball outside the museum

We really only had time for one museum, but I was determined to get to the Mall and go.  We took the – I am not being sarcastic here-stunningly beautiful Metro subway. It is so clean and light, despite being underground.  It is far newer than the NYC and Philly subways we are used to, with lovely tiles and artwork.  I figured out the one-card-per-person system which had confused me and cost me $100 in NYC once.  We decided to ride to save some time and avoid walking the icy sidewalks. We had a nice ride to the Mall and were pleasantly surprised to find the cumbersomely-named Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History was open.  I wanted to get to the Mall hell or high water since we had been in DC almost 48 hours, within walking distance, without getting there!  It occurred to me on the ride over that the opening might have been delayed, but happily that was not the case and we got to business.

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It is a gorgeous building with many floors and exhibits.  We saw the orchids, the ocean area, and a few other things.  A word about lunch: the museum may be free, but the café was far from it – think $6 PB-and-J sandwiches-so plan accordingly.  We shared a snack and planned to eat later on the way home.

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Girls at the powder room of our car’s fancy hotel, the road home

It was time to get the car and go.  We made one stop to use the hotel’s fancy facilities before getting the car and heading home.  We had survived the blizzard Thor and had a delightful time. The roads were fine by the time we left and the snow-covered pines were lovely as we headed North, another splendid trip behind us.  Thanks LW and Lincoln!!!

 

NC and DC, late Feb-early March, 2015, Part 1

What were we thinking?

I had planned this trip a little haphazardly and allotted for snow, but we were going South for pete’s sake, and I certainly didn’t plan on a blizzard!  The day before we left, there was a 75-car pileup on route 95, the road we take most of the way, due to snow and ice.  Chapel Hill schools had been closed for most of the previous two weeks due to snow. On top of all that, our friends were moving house so even more chaos than usual was guaranteed.  But, as I kept texting Dr. Mama, hell or high water- we were going!

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Carolina sunset as we rolled into town, Fiercely & sisters selfie in the car

Chapel Hill and the Fabulous Family

North Carolina was melting. Prior to our arrival, there had been an unusual amount of snow and the accompanying panic this entails in the South. It was warmer the day we landed, and there were rivers of melted snow everywhere. Dr. Mama was feeling the effects of over two weeks of homebound children, enforced homeschooling if you will, and happy as we came into town.  She had been packing for six weeks, having some painting/minor repairs done in both houses, managing five kids, two cats and the dog, and working at her job as an ER pediatrician.  Dr. Papa and his father Mr. F were on hand when we arrived to the ‘old’ house.

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My kids immediately settled into the snowbound vibe in the big, nearly empty house.  There was a snowy yard, 3 pets, lots of echoing rooms, exciting snacks, a functioning screen for movies, a giant bathtub, and, of course, nine kids, aged 4-14.

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Cozy does not begin to describe the scene.  Cozy with a big bunch of crazy!  Anyway, that was the old house.  The second day, we moved many boxes to the new house.  We were a fearsome crew, what with the motivated under-tens who were paid for their work loading the van, the formidable septuagenarian Mr. F, Drs. Mama and Papa, and yours truly who has gypsy wanderlust in the blood and a related love of moving.  No joke, I love moving, even if its not me moving.  I love the change in spaces, the physical work and the camraderie, the getting rid of stuff, the new perspective – its hard for me to believe I haven’t personally moved for almost 8 years!  So I get vicarious pleasure from helping other people move.  But I digress.  This was a long day of moving boxes, many to the third floor of the new house where the play room and one bedroom are located.

Many props to Mr. F, an Irish-born font of unstoppable energy.  He is of a rapidly disappearing class of person who has probably worked from sunup to sundown since he could walk and, despite some slowing down and minor problems in his 71-year-old knees, worked harder and longer than any of us.  Fortified by his daily breakfast of a customized oatmeal-root-herb concoction, the man moved boxes, hung framed art, assembled furniture, attached light fixtures, installed a cat door, and did I don’t know what else all day.  Dr. Mama had to make frequent runs to the store for various projects to keep him busy “or else he would start doing things that don’t need to be done” like altering the cabinetry.  I wish I had a good picture of him, but I was too shy to get one, plus he doesn’t slow down much!

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Dinner for 13 in the new house!  There is Mr. F in the big white Irish wool sweater sitting with his back to us at the counter. Lacking a dining room table, we ate on the floor “like most of the people in the world” as Dr Mama correctly pointed out!

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moving van!  Unpacking and playing! 

The new neighborhood was very walkable with the kids’ grade school and a small shopping center a few blocks away as well as a paved trail that connects to other trails in the Chapel Hill area.  When the rain stopped and we were at the new house, we took a walk around the area.

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Above – neighborhood and nearby creek. Below – I took these when I went for a run on the path called (I think) Fan Branch Trail. Amazing, well-maintained trail with bridges, tunnels, and signage similar to a highway but for bikes/joggers/etc.

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Museum of Life and Science, Durham

The Fabulous kids did go to school one day, so I took the Fantastics to this museum.  I have written about it before here and here.  The weather was not too great and we really only went to the main building this time, but with the changing exhibits there was still a lot to see at this cool place.

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Interacting with media – “catching” projected images and making music by running around

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Learning about salt at the lab, witchy sisters at a cauldron at a weather exhibit

So we spent a lot of time in both houses, doing various moving-related things and also just hanging out.  We hated to say goodbye, but they were getting back to their routine after many snow days and a move, and we were headed to the nation’s capitol and, more importantly, LW and Lincoln of DC fame.  We learned of Winter Storm Thor as we were headed into it.  What happened next? Stay tuned, tripsters!