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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We're Here!

Wow! we've actually arrived .... I still haven't really grasped it. It's 10:45 pm and we're all checked into the Hotel Aranjuez. It was dark when we arrived so I can't really describe much about it yet - our room faces the courtyard and all I could see were masses of huge tropical plants.

The temperature was 71F when we landed but it's cooler now - some humidity too. Uneventful flights from  San Francisco to Dallas (in the high 80's), then Dallas to San Jose.  It was 3 hours to Dallas, then 3 and a half to San Jose. Boarded straight away in Dallas because our plane was late so no hanging around waiting for the next leg. Believe it or not, American Airlines' dinner was really good.

I think Genny is in Houston - I haven't heard yet. Hope she is okay.

We had no problem clearing Immigration and Customs. We sure have a lot of luggage - about six large suitcases I think. Not sure what we are doing tomorrow - for sure we are having the hotel's famous breakfast in the courtyard. We have to phone our lawyer and make an appointment.

Now that we are in one place for the next four days, I can post some photos. Now - I am going to bed!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day Four of Our New Life

Our last day in San Francisco - I love this city. It's so vibrant. Last night we both had one of our best sleeps ever in months. Opened the window in our room and had fresh breezes blowing in. Lance said he heard emergency vehicles at one time but our room is not facing a street so is probably one of the quieter ones. We would stay in this hotel again any time.

Went out and about this morning looking for a good place to have breakfast. Found Mason's California Cuisine at 320 Mason Street. They don't seem to have a web site but you can Google them and read reviews. Lance ordered the huevenos rancheros and I had the pumpkin crepe with fruit. Lance says these huevenos rancheros were the best he ever had, and I have to say I've never had pumpkin crepes before but these were delicious.

Today I had the most expensive hair cut ever in my life and also the best cut ever. It is Memorial Day in the USA so we didn't think many shops would be open, but we found Helen of St. Moritz Styling Salon in the Hyatt on Union Square. My stylist said I looked like Buster Brown when I walked in - my last cut was really bad! She took off about 10 pounds of hair without cutting it too short. It swings and sways and feels really light. We took pictures so I can hopefully find someone in Costa Rica who can replicate the cut.

Lance bought a new pair of jeans at the Levi store and they altered them too. I went shopping at Macy's and bought two Jones New York shirts, one of which I'll wear tomorrow on our flight to San Jose.

We spent about an hour late this afternoon re-packing our bags. Lance bought another large piece of luggage so we could put all the small bits and pieces of other luggage into it and reduce the number of pieces were were carrying by hand. So we now have six pieces of luggage to be checked and then we are carrying two each on board.

I have taken many, many photos on this trip but have not had time to upload them. As soon as we are  settled a bit more, that is the first thing I will do.  Genny got picked up today by the agent who is taking her to her flight from Vancouver International tomorrow and spends tonight with this agent. Tomorrow she flies from Vancouver to Houston, Texas, and overnights there at a pet hotel in the airport. Wednesday morning she flies from Houston to San Jose and will be cleared through Customs by the World Pet travel agent in Costa Rica, and then delivered to the vet in Santa Ana.

We are flying American Airlines to Dallas, then Dallas to San Jose. Arrive San Jose 8:15 pm. We are staying at the Hotel Aranjuez for four nights. Then we're planning on moving to a B&B or hotel in Atenas, where we hope to find a house to rent.

This is our last night north of Costa Rica - tomorrow night we sleep in a new country.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day Three of Our New Life

I couldn't post Day Two because the WiFi was not working on the Coast Starlight. Many passengers were going though internet withdrawal.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip on this Amtrak train and wondered why we have never taken it before now. We did the Seattle-San Francisco leg, but it does run on to Los Angeles.

As soon as we were settled in our Superliner roomette, our attendant arrived with two glasses and two personal sized bottles of champagne. Although it was only 10:00 am, we didn't want the champagne to get warm, so we toasted our adventure.....and the trip continued on in the same vein.

Lunch in the parlor car, wine and cheese tasting at 4:00 pm, dinner at 7:00 pm. Dinner was wonderful, partly because at that time we were climbing the Siskiyou Mountains, the coastal mountain range in the northern Klamath Mountains in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California. We were still in Oregon at that time. The sun was setting, and the view was incredible. There was snow on the ground and also the pine trees at that elevation. Also, the halibut I ordered was excellent.

We met lots of interesting people and enjoyed learning about their reasons for being on this train at this time.

Woke up this morning to views of flooded rice paddies and palm trees - we were in California. I think they were rice paddies - the fields were arranged so precisely with dikes between each one. Had breakfast, then unfortunately it was time to leave. The Coast Starlight does not go into San Francisco, but stops at Emeryville and the Amtrak through bus took us to our hotel.

The only thing we would do differently if we were taking this train again is to reserve two roomettes, one across from the other. Lance unfortunately drew the upper berth straw and he did not find it comfortable. He woke me up four times: can you turn off the night light, what time is it, can you turn down the heat, what time is it ..... can't turn off the night light, it is 1:30 am, it is 3:00 am, the heat is off so I'll open up our door to get some air. The night light on the ceiling above the upper berth would be really annoying. I found the room quite stuffy but it improved after I opened the door. The curtains can still be secured so nobody can look in.

He finally got up at 4:00 am and went and sat in the lounge car. So if we had two roomettes, we would both have a lower berth and more room during the day, plus views on both sides of the train. Neither of us really had a good sleep last night, but we sure enjoyed the train ride. I would take it again any time, plus any other train.

Now staying at the Hotel Whitcomb on Market Street. This hotel was established in 1916 and it is on the hotel Historic Register. It's really beautiful - and our room is quite large with king size bed. After last night, we will sleep very well tonight. I love the high ceilings and old fixtures.

We spent the afternoon at Fisherman's wharf, the aquarium, etc. I wanted to go visit Alcatraz but this is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. so the lineups were very long and the trips sold old.  Maybe tomorrow. After returning from the sights, we sat in the lounge and watched the world go by, ordered drinks and later prawns, plus clam pasta ..... not a bad way to pass the day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day One of Our New Life

Friday, May 27th - here we are in Seattle at the, a very nice place to stay. We had dinner in their restaurant - great food, service and martinis.

Enjoyed the Amtrak Cascades from Vancouver to Seattle this morning. We stayed overnight in Vancouver on Thursday so we could get to the train station at the early hour of 5:00 a.m. Our good friend Jon Churchill was kind enough to come over on the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver to drive us and all our baggage from our house in Cloverdale, to the hotel in Vancouver, and then to the train station. It was very generous of him to offer to help us and we had a great evening together noshing and yakking. Thank you once more, Jon.

Speaking of baggage, we realized our two biggest suitcases were just too big and too heavy, even unpacked. So this afternoon, we went baggage shopping and bought two smaller versions which are much lighter and yet still hold the same amount of clothing as the big ones. The hotel very kindly disposed of our old luggage pieces.

Jon gave us a good idea to keep track of luggage - number each piece and do a count before leaving your hotel, or picking them up at the carousel. We have way more bags than we normally would and I'm finding it hard to find stuff I need.

Here are some photos from our nosh and dinner with Jon, a few views from the Cascades train, and Seattle. It was raining in Vancouver when we left but Seattle was sunny and warm with a good breeze.

Lance and Jon

View from our Vancouver hotel - North Shore mountains.

Leaving for the train station - 5:00 a.m.

VIA and Amtrak train station.

Approaching White Rock, B.C., where we cleared Customs into the U.S.A.

View from our Seattle hotel.

A beautiful day in the Emerald City.

After the policeman's horse had his shoes repaired, he wanted something from Pamela's Fine Foods.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day One - Zero Day Tomorrow

Or maybe today is really "zero" day - after all, we are out of our house and staying at a hotel in Vancouver, ready to get up at 0400 tomorrow and board the Amtrak Cascades.

Assuming they let our luggage board, that is. I think everything is overweight and I can't find anything, seems a mess to me.

We're staying at the Howard Johnston on Kingsway and 12th 'cause it's close to the train station. We have a fabulous view of the north shore mountains. Some snow on the peaks and I think there is still skiing on Grouse Mountain.

I'll try and post the pictures I took today once we get to Seattle tomorrow and have a bit more time.

Genny went to her vet for boarding this morning. She has known something was up for the last two days. I  believe her travel day is May 31st, Vancouver to Houston. She overnights there at a pet hotel, then onward to San Jose the next morning. Smooth flights, Genny, and we'll see you soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day Two and Counting

This will be short as I am going to turn in early and try and finish the library book that will have to be returned tomorrow.

Took our leased vehicle back, and picked up a rental car for 24 hours. I'm almost finished packing - my biggest suitcase weighs under 50 lbs so that is good. Summer clothes are light and I packed them in those bags that you can suck all the air out of with a vacuum hose.

We'll take Genny to her vet tomorrow morning for boarding. She knows something is up. My friend Jon is coming over from Victoria to lend us a hand and take us to our hotel. He's staying overnight there also and has most generously offered to get up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am on Friday so we can get to the train station. I have the best friends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day Three and Counting

I think I need another 33 days, not three. House inspection went fine and we got our damage deposit back. Was asked to remove all the screws/hangers from the walls because everything is going to be painted. Have absolutely no tools left so had to use the one and only knife I kept to cut food with.

Our diet has gone totally downhill. Dinner tonite: frozen personal pizzas with half a fresh tomato each (cut with aforementioned lone knife). Took all our plates, bowls, etc. to Value Village this morning so had nothing to eat off. Had brilliant idea: lay a sheet of the last of parchment paper on two office binders and eat off of those. Our wine is served in plastic cups that keep cracking. We're eating all our meals in a restaurant tomorrow - how do people survive on these frozen foods.

Took Genny to her vet this morning for her International Health Certificate exam and she passed - no fleas, no worms, no vomiting, no diarrhea so she is good to go. Cannot go outside until she departs as she could pick up worms or fleas. She goes back to the vet for boarding on Thursday. Looks like she will be flying from Vancouver Int'l Airport on May 31st to Houston, where she will overnight at the airport pet hotel. Then on to San Jose the next morning.

I had to take the completed Int'l Health Cert. to the vet at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and have their stamps applied - why I do not know. Thought I knew where their office was at the truck border crossing but didn't. Stomped around through various Customs offices asking directions and finally found the right place in a fenced compound. Sigh.

Scanned all docs, including my passport and Genny's innoculation record, and emailed them to Angela at World Pet Travel. Things are happening fast now. Just hope the weather in Texas is ok next week.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 4 and Counting - Cleaning the Scary Room

Today was a very busy day. Mowed front and back lawns, scanned a lot of documents for Lance and cleaned the Scary Room.

The Scary Room is Lance's office and it is completely disgusting. He smokes in there - with the door closed so it doesn't poison the rest of the house - and with the window shut in the cold weather. Even a heavy duty air cleaner couldn't cope with that.

I offered to clean it if he would get out of the house for a while. There is nothing worse than a man who is untrained in household chores trying to clean something. They waste supplies, time and my patience. I should have been equipped with a high level air breathing apparatus and an ecological grant from the federal government before venturing in.

Lots of hot water and ammonia did the trick removing the nicotine from the walls and furniture. A good vacuuming helped too. He is under very strict orders not to smoke in there from now until we move. The blinds had to be taken out to the backyard and soaped and rinsed. They were brown, now they are white.

Before I started the cleanup job, Lance staggered out of his office carrying a big load of bankers' boxes. I  offered to help and grabbed the top box. It was empty! They were all empty! They probably weighed no more than 3 lbs. He'll pay for that.

On the plus side, we had lunch at McDonald's and I ordered the new Tuscan salad. Very good, lots of mixed greens, cranberries, nuts. If you go easy on the salad dressing, I imagine it doesn't have that many calories in it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 5 and Counting

I missed blogging Day 6 - nothing much exciting happened - but did buckle down and scanned a pile of documents, then shredded them. Should have been done ages ago anyway.

Today, Day 5 - Because we have to put our mattress and box spring curbside early on Thursday morning for pick-up by Tidy Trailers, we hauled them downstairs from our bedroom and now our living room is our new bedroom. In the photo below, you can see how we strategically placed it to face the TV. Today's Canucks/Sharks hockey game is on the telly - and we won! I see Genny has shredded one side of the box spring's cover.

I feared bringing the box spring down the stairs would be an awful job, because there is a sharp turn to the right halfway down, but Lance had a plan and it worked. Come Thursday morning, it will be an easy job to haul them outside.

Freezer and fridge are almost empty. Bought a couple of frozen microwave meals, a can of soup, some buns....and you can't go wrong if there is a bottle of wine in the fridge.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 7 and Counting - The Batmobile

Day 7 turned out to be a beautiful sunny and warm day. I got a lot done. Delivered a big stack of our towels to the Surrey SPCA - they use them in the cages I'm assuming.

Had my hair trimmed; arranged for mail forwarding with the post office; washed the garbage and recycling containers for the new tenants.

It was while I was doing this outside with the garden hose that I noticed what I thought was a really unusually shaped brown leaf. A closer look revealed it was a small brown bat - no, I didn't touch it! It was just lying there on the grass but still alive. I felt bad because it was wet from my hose spraying.

Covered it with a cardboard box to protect and shelter it and called the SPCA to find out what to do next. They referred my call to the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. who asked me if I could get the bat into a box, seal it and deliver it to them in Burnaby. I managed to gently prod our little friend into a box, loaded it into our car and away we went. Poor little frightened thing.

We were so impressed with the people we met at the Wildlife Rescue Association. They told us almost immediately that Sr. Bat was dehydrated and they would start treating him.

I phoned today (Saturday) and he is still alive but lethargic. They have been feeding and hydrating him and they hope that he will improve enough to start being fed worms. He has swelling on his wings (is that what they are called?). They also told me he is a long-legged myotis - see picture below. I was amazed at how beautiful he was - so delicate, small head, very elegant, tiny teeth.  And, bats are good for our environment - they eat tons of insects.

You just never know how your day will go!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 8 and Counting Plus a Tuffy Update

A beautiful, warm, sunny day here in the Lower Mainland of B.C. Had our usual toast and coffee breakfast at our local Cloverdale Ricky's Restaurant and said goodbye to our lovely server, Carol. Carol is just a ball of fire and we're going to miss her lively personality. Carol, don't forget to tell us all about your New York trip - post lots of photos on Facebook, please.

Then we went to Simply Computing in Langley where Lance got himself a MacBook Pro laptop (or MacTop as I like to call them) to replace his heavy iMac G5 so he is all ready to travel to southern climes. He did complain about having all kinds of conniptions to "clone" an old computer to a new computer but now that all is said and done  - whew! according to Lance.

He does have another problem though - my laptop is an iBook G4, inferior to the MacBook Pro, so I think I need an iPad to balance things out.

Decided to have lunch out and we went to the Olive Garden in Langley as I've been wanted to try it. Turned out to be perfect - lovely interior, lots of happy chatting people enjoying their lunch, and the food was very enough leftovers for another meal.

Tomorrow is our last available garbage day so I emptied the fridge of all condiments, dumped the contents, and will put the bottles out for pickup tomorrow. Same with the freezer. Not much left in the kitchen. Have a pile of small appliances and miscellaneous things to take to the charity shop tomorrow.

Now to Tuffy - here is a picture of him lolling around in his Toronto home, courtesy of his new guardians - my niece and nephew-in-law. He is fitting in very well according to all reports, except he is not showing much restraint when it comes to scarfing down Rocky's food and using Rocky's litter box. Rocky is the resident cat and has graciously allowed Tuffy to live with him. What a happy ending. Photo courtesy of my niece.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nine Days To Go - Part II

604 Vancouver Storage arrived not long after the shredding truck left. Our storage bin was carried inside a moving truck, which was backed up to our garage and the loading began.

Thank goodness for Juan - there were a couple of very heavy items that we could never have managed to get up the ramp and into the bin. Juan is from Mexico and has only positive things to say about Costa Rica. He has some friends who live there. He says the Ticos are so nice and I've heard that time and again.

Once again, everything moved pretty fast and without any problems. Our bin will be stored at a facility in Richmond, B.C., until we want to ship it. The next time we see our stuff will be in Costa Rica.


Juan - is he a hunk or what? 

Almost finished.

Adios 114.

Nine Days To Go - Part I

This morning the shredding truck arrived  - we highly recommend 1800-Shredding. They showed up when they said they would and everything was shredded so fast. The price is reasonable too.

They don't shred the banker's boxes though so I'll have to flatten them out for the recycling pickup on Friday.

Amazing vehicle.

You wouldn't want to put your hand in this baby.

Boxes to be shredded.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My New Office

When we sold our lovely big oak desk, I moved my office to our dining room table. The table and chairs have been for sale but no takers (idiots). So, we are going to put them in our storage container.

Today, I removed the legs from the table so that's the end of that office.

What to do? I made a new office from a small shelving unit in the cubbyhole under the stairs. A bit hard on the back for long term typing but needs must and here is my new office:

Of course I can't sit in my chair, because Genny has taken it over.

But, wait, Genny moved so here I am looking like I'm doing some serious work, or maybe I dozed off:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thirteen Days and Counting

Today was a good day - a very nice lady bought our glass and wrought iron patio table and chairs, plus a metal table big enough to put a couple of drinks on. She was able to take the glass top, the two chairs and the small table but couldn't fit the patio table in her truck. She is returning on Tuesday to pick up the table and I'm going to throw in the last houseplant we have as a thank you.

The patio table has been on CraigsList for quite a while and last week it's presence there elicited two nasty emails from females who were unfortunate enough to be born with a serious lack of grey matter and then raised with truly awful manners.

In essence, they both told me nobody wants to buy my crap, I'm full of s--t and I may as well throw it out. They must lead very narrow and sad existences if they have nothing better to do than read CraigsList ads and then send the sellers bizarre emails.

Ah, but I have my revenge! One of these half-wits used the email her employer provided her with, to wit, the Fraser Health Authority. So of course I've forwarded her email to her employer and I'm waiting to hear back. I expect a lot more than the "thank you very much, we're looking into it" email they have sent so far.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Agony of De Feet

Yeah, I know - lame title.

Anyway, here is what happens when one undertakes a major move:

I'm down to just two socks, neither of them match, and one has a big hole in the heel.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Better than Packing, Much Better

Today, we drove to Point Roberts, Washington, and had lunch with our friend Gordon Dower. Here's a picture of Gordon:

You are asking, "What's that?" Go here to find out:

We even had a ride around Point Roberts in Gordon's Ridek - so interesting the way it works and lots of heads were turned when we drove by. I was occupying a back seat and felt like I should be waving the way Queen Elizabeth does.

To further top up our day, we had lunch at Are we fortunate to have such friends or what?

17 Days and Counting

I'm using the day we board the Amtrak Cascades to Seattle as the beginning of our epic adventure but we actually don't land in San Jose until May 31st.

Here's what our living room looks like:

I'm particularly pleased with our lamp tables. Genny likes to have an afternoon snooze in her small carrier so we leave it out for her. That is good, actually, because she'll have to get used to spending travel time in her larger, airline carrier (provided by World Pet Travel, so I don't have to buy one).

The big suitcase is one of two we are taking, in addition to two smaller ones. I have them all sitting out so we can experiment with how much we can pack in each - have to watch the weight. Amtrak has a 50 lb. limit on each bag. American Airlines does also but if a bag is over, they just charge for it.  Amtrak won't accept an overage at all.

Oh my goodness, I just noticed my ship's clock on the wall - that has to be boxed up. It was a gift from the Canadian Coast Guard when I retired.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Terrific Friends

Yesterday, our friends Maeghan and Jim drove all the way from their home in Oliver, B.C., to have dinner with us. After dinner, they turned around and drove all the way back to Oliver. That is a distance of about 833.62 km return, or 520 miles return. They were not able to stay overnight on this visit.

How many friends would do that? It was the last time we'll see them before we leave. Maeghan even brought me a bottle of 2009 Plumiscuous fruit wine from Forbidden Fruit Winery in Cawston, B.C. It is so good chilled and poured over ice. Cawston is in the Similkameen Valley.

We enjoyed a great Greek dinner and our time together was all too short.

We're trying to convince them to move to Costa Rica.

                                                       Jim, Maeghan, Diana, Lance

Thursday, May 5, 2011

20 Days, Only 20 Days

How come time drags at the beginning of a major project, then speeds along near the end?

Spent today packing and repacking two more plastic bins. We're getting worried that we won't have enough room in our storage container. I've ended up with 16 bins and my husband has quite a few bankers boxes. Plus looks like we'll have to also put our pine dining table and four chairs, one rattan chair with footstool, and a teak coffee table in the same container. Nobody has offered to buy them - fools. Appears that the legs can be removed from both tables so that is a help.

I threw out so much stuff, sold a lot, gave away a lot and I still end up with 16 bins....and I was ruthless. Also started entering the contents of each container on computer inventory lists - that's when I realized we still have a lot of STUFF - yikes, now I'm yelling.

Also trying to convince a potential buyer of a box of A4 paper that, yes, it really is A4, not letter size. I do know one from the other and I'm not trying to cheat you.

I just want to board that train south, then board that plane even further south!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Check List

  • Amtrak Cascades reservations made
  • Hotel in Seattle reservations made
  • Amtrak Coast Starlight reservations made
  • Hotel in San Francisco reservations made
  • Flight reservations San Francisco to San Jose, Costa Rica, made
  • Our house has new tenants
Almost Done:
  • Only a couple more plastic bins to fill up - once I put the few cooking utensils that I want to keep in storage, guess we'll be heating frozen food in the microwave. Oh wait, the microwave is going into storage too. Well, there's still the oven and restaurants.
  • Genny's travel to be finalized.
  • Need a hotel in Vancouver for a couple of nights.
  • Need a rental car for a couple of days. 
Whatever extra things we want to bring with us, we'll buy in San Francisco. Our strong Canadian dollar will do very well there. Oh yes, I want to get tickets to the Mariners/Yankees game in Seattle.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Oh My Gawd! It's May!

This is zero month, the month we leave, no more sitting around saying "when we go to Costa Rica" - because we really are going there this month.

So much has been happening. A lovely young couple with a toddler have rented the house we have been leasing. Genny our cat had a wellness exam last week, plus a chip inserted, rabies shot and one of her innoculations. She goes back on May 9th for a couple of more tests and another innoculation. We are liaising with her vet, World Pet Travel and Veterinarios Asociados in San Jose, Costa Rica, where Genny will be boarding until we find our long term accommodations.

I'm now down to packing the last few storage bins and my paintings. We went to Rona this morning and bought pipe insulation tubes. They are perfect for putting around the edges of paintings to protect them from damage.

Here are some photos of Genny helping me pack today, the paintings I need to pack and the insulation tubes around some paintings.