All posts by eefalk

Retired after 43 years in corrugated packaging.

Tomorrow we begin the Big journey

imageAll our bags are packed, we are ready to go, bikes on board and we are ready to leave Gettysburg on the grand adventure. It is actually harder to leave our little home in downtown Gettysburg than our home on Longview Boulevard . We fell in love with the house and the ambiance of living downtown. The B Cathrine  Culp home was the perfect place place to spend our last month in Gettysburg. We walked the town, the battlefields and went to the local eateries and taverns. We even had friends over for dinner and a great book group gathering with Karen’s book group. It was a beautiful month.

Today Karen finished packing and Eric loaded all the stuff that made the cut into our SUV. More stuff than we need, but that is past us. We leave tomorrow for Louisville and Christmas with very, very dear friends.

We will be in Cincinnati on New Year’s Eve with Karen’s sister and niece and their husbands. After that, Florida and Texas before the  start of our European and African adventures.

Follow us if you wish on our journey,

 

Karen and Eric

 

 

Those of our friends and Family who don’t already know that we are crazy often ask why after a month are you still in Gettysburg.

Well the simple answer is that we are not yet done. Quite frankly, Gettysburg is hard to be done with!

We have lived here longer than anywhere else, we have great friends here, we still have a great deal of organization stuff to get done with, and…below is a picture of why:

Christmas season on the Square on the Square in GettysburgWe said ” The wonderment of walking around this beautiful town during the Christmas season enjoying the atmosphere”.  We wanted to experience the magic of this beautiful, some say ghostly town during one of its prettiest seasons.

Last night we had dinner with Paul and Sinda Tait and then returned to our place just off the square to walk around the Square and enjoy the Christmas lighting. We have often driven past it, last night we strolled through the town, admittedly wrapped in hats and warm coats. It was stunning.

36 East Middle Street, Gettysburg, Pa USA Stop number three on our journey.

We thought it would be nice to spend the last month of life in Gettysburg living downtown, being a townie enjoying the Christmas season in this beautiful little town walking the streets and seeing Gettysburg as a tourist instead of residents for the last 23 years.

IMG_0168This is the place we selected. It is a three bedroom 1800’s brick home located just one block off the square in downtown Gettysburg. It happens to be owned by the same lovely couple from whom we rented Willow Lodge. For a much more complete description we suggest that you log onto VRBO.com and type in the listing: 555244. It is a wonderful Victorian home and it affords us exactly what we wanted. The owners even brought over Eric’s beloved Weber Grill that we had “donated” to Willow Lodge. It is a block from the library and our favorite Saint-Amand French Bistro and coffee shop. We have spent the time here so far walking to the battlefield attractions and enjoying thing we have missed seeing here. We have had friends over for dinner and Karen is planning a Christmas party for her book group.

We will be here until Christmas Eve when we leave for Louisville for fellowship with our “Louisville Family”. We have already booked this place for a week in March when we return to make our final plans for our European and African adventures scheduled April through late June. We return from that trip again to this home while visiting friends, doctors and dentists for those regular things that everyone ought to do.

This also lets us experience all the excitement of Gettysburg during the festivities surrounding that annual hoopla  the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

 

Tanzania Embassy

imageToday we went to Tanzania House which is the Embassy of Tanzania in Washington DC to get our visa to visit their country. Learned or should I say, re-learned an important fact. You simply must open up to people to get them to open up to you. The folks were I would say…cold and clinical but very efficient.  After we had received our visas I asked “how do I say thank you in your language?” We got immediate smiles and a beautiful instruction on how to say it properly.  We also asked “how to say goodbye”. After learning that I bowed and said the word I had just learned and the grim looking man behind the lady we were talking to got up and said, no, no, no. If your are walking away you must say it differently. The newly arrived smile on his face made it perfect. He said that when you say it this way, it means you want to return. How beautiful was that!

 

another great day in our adventure

 

please fill free to comment or ask questions on this blog. This is part of the fun.

Willow Lodge

We needed a place to work from while we packed up and cleaned our home in preparation for closing. Just as important, we were about to embark on a journey that would take us to places on 3 continents and last until October of next year.  We had to sort out the clothing, medicines and supplies we would take on this journey of almost a year. Of course, we would replenish along the way.

Willow Lodge Our first stop after walking out the door of our home
Willow Lodge
Our first stop after walking out the door of our home

To give us this work station we went as we often do, to VRBO, the vacation rental by owner organization operated by “Home Away” one of the larger booking agencies for private homes. We moved in Tuesday and worked from here to complete our packing of the house and then supervised the loading the next day. Thursday was cleaning and we worked all day to give the new owners “shock and awe” when they walked in the door. We wanted the new owners to love our home as much as we have.

After the close on the house on Friday the 14, we took Saturday off and enjoyed the “Remembrance Day Parade” an annual event celebrating Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”. In 23 years of living in Gettysburg, we had never taken the time to do this. It was wonderful; several thousand men, women, and children in period costume with drums, bugles, fifes, and trumpets marching to hear the speech by President Lincoln (or at least a guy in a carriage that looked just like him).

This simple little cottage about 12 miles north of Gettysburg was perfect for our needs. It had a kitchen, a fireplace, and quiet. The three bedrooms allowed us to sleep in one and spread our clothing in the other two out on the beds and closets as we selected what went into the limited baggage we plan to use. It is our plan to have a medium suitcase and a duffel bag each as well as a personal article, briefcase or purse.

For the next five days we selected, rejected, changed our minds and pretty much kept our cool as we whittled down what ever clothing we had amassed to what will work in four suitcases. Having the peace of Willow Grove was key to keeping the cool.

Getting There

Karen and I in a selfie as we leave our home for the last time and start our travels.
Karen and I in a selfie as we leave our home for the last time and start our travels.

Getting to this point was hard work. Stephen King said in “11/22/63” that the past is obdurate and fights change. The same can be said about going home free. There are many obstacles that are thrown in the way of going without a home.

One of the first considerations revolves around the mail. It would have been easy to change our address to our daughter’s home or to another family member as we have many.  It was important to us that we not create a burden on anyone else because we chose to chase this adventure . So we sought other solutions.

The USPS is only good for 30 days so that was not an option.  St. Brendan is the patron saint of Mariners and there is a company located in Green Cove Springs, Florida that is a registered mail forwarding company named appropriately “St Brendan’s Isle” which we selected.

Not only do they collect your mail but they scan the front of each envelope and put it on their web site and with your passcode you can look at each letter and chose to save, shred, to send it to the temporary address of your moment. If there is a letter of concern, they will at your direction scan the contents for you to read on line the next day. They also assist you with establishing Florida residency, registering to vote and getting plates for your auto.

While SBI is a dream to work with many others are not. Our bank could not accept the virtual address provided by SBI as a permanent residence. They were fine with using it as a mailing address so we did have to provide the address of a relative to them. They were wonderful in working with us. All mail will be sent to SBI so we were  happy. As the process moved along we found more of these little things that popped up from time to time.

An advantage of being home free are all the monthly bills you do not get. Comcast was one of them but our ericfalk@comcast.net email address was important to keep but we did not want the monthly invoice. Comcast does allow you to attach that email to another customer who agrees with no charges to either party but getting it done was like getting Congress to work together .

We spent almost three days just changing over addresses on credit cards, cell phone services and financial institutions. Prescription drug services produced it own series of obstacles.

To make a very long story acceptably short, let’s just say that packing up the stuff we were keeping was easy compared to the ordeal of address change when you are not REALLY going to have an address.

The preparations to go home free have really been going on for several years. We have always loved travel and since we retired close to five years ago we have probably not been home 50% of the time which made our beautiful home a rather expensive storage locker. We had talked about this for some time but about 3 years ago a dear friend sent us an article written by Lynne Martin who had already done our dream. We read her blog and studied her book while we planned our version of their adventure.

Our first thoughts were that we would keep very few material things. We started selling and giving away “stuff” that filled our home. Hundreds of books to the library. Hundreds of articles of clothing to the mission. Several sets of place setting and silverware to friends and charity. This was a several year process.

Last year we began to prepare our home for sale. Karen who is a retired Real Estate agent wanted everything perfect when our home went on the market. Things that we had lived with their imperfections such as a refrigerator which occasionally froze the vegetables got replaced with Karen’s dream French door model which we got to enjoy for more than a year.

While we sold the 1964 1/2 Mustang Convertible; somethings were impossible for us to release. Paintings, photos of family and friends, favorite chairs and our collection of individual wine glasses from all over the world had to have a place to stay till we could reunite.

We decided to lease a 10 by 10 storage locker in Gettysburg as we had already decided to return to Gettysburg each year for doctor and dentists as well as the wonderful friends we made over the last 23 years.

While that solved the problem of those few things so dear to us it created a scenario similar to the old story of the Arab who let his camel put just his nose in the tent to keep it warm; once we had leased space, other things became more precious. Nature abhors a vacuum! Among the things around the house needing repair was the wooden shed around the swimming pool filter and pumping system. After enlisting a friend to help him replace the rotted wood with recycled plastic decking material, Eric remembered how much he love woodworking  so the tools that we’re going to eBay now went to the storage locker. Karen’s baby grand also made the cut. We ended up with over 9000 lbs of stuff going to the moving and storage firm in addition to the storage locker.

The offer on the house came much faster that we had thought. We quickly went into high gear arranging movers to move to storage the much larger quantify of furniture that we now found we could not part. We needed a place to stay not only for the few days we needed for final cleaning of the house prior to closing, but also a place to sort out remaining clothing and pack our bags for 10 months of travel already planned.

That place was Willow Lodge, a vacation rental by owner near Gettysburg .

Karen and I invite you to travel with us…

Somewhere in the South Pacific on the back of a boat.
Somewhere in the South Pacific on the back of a boat.

Karen and I have dreamed for years of selling our home, storing what few things we wanted to keep, and travel full time around the world.  On November 14, 2014 around 3:30 PM an attorney handed Karen a check and our real estate agent slid a set of keys and a garage door opener across a table and we began our dream.

We invite you to join us on this journey and see the world through our cameras and read our thoughts.