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Published: November 28th 2010
Our Winter Home
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend,
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and enjoyed some time off. Grace and I went to my brother Eric and Carina's apartment for a succulent turkey dinner. The international event drew 2 Americans, 2 europeans, 4 asians and one South American. We all brought traditional dishes though and it was like celebrations all over the US.
We've been out of the RV for two months now and staying in our winter haven in Morgan Hill, CA - about 20 mile south of San Jose where I work sometimes. Grace has a dream kitchen to work from with two ovens and an island that is more like a continent. The brand new, well insulated home is much warmer than the drafty RV in winter time. The heating bill will be more expensive than the RV since we're heating a 2,500 sq ft, 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath, spacious home instead of a 400 sq ft RV with 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths.
Comparing the RV's bathrooms to the master bathrooms of our new home isn't a very fair comparison. We have two master bathrooms that have showers larger than our whole
bathrooms. Both master baths have his and hers sinks and dual shower heads. The guest bedroom has the nicest bathroom in the home with a deep bath tub and beautifully tiled shower. The shower is so large that I can stand naked in the middle of it and not touch the walls (Send me a private request for the picture). We do like the upgrade.
The house has lots of windows and all of the modern upgrades. The wall of windows looks out on two acres of land where we can see some neighbor's horses and the new orchard and gardens. The Mexican sage attracts a family of humming birds and we've seen quail, owls, hawks and black birds. A coyote was giving an odd call at dawn the other day, so I went out into the cold mist to see what was going on. The coyote was in an ancient orchard across the street and he stopped his odd cry as I approached and ran into the oak-studded hills that surround the valley were we now live.
The Snivelys Kindness
People keep asking how we landed such a great home in expensive California. We're definitely living
My friend Rich took me racing through the Sierra foothills in his Super B! He's got it all tricked out and had it in a car show that day. We flew!
well above our means here and it's thanks to the support of our friends the Snivelys and Hensleys.
Back when we were staying in the RV in Dave and Janet's backyard, I stopped by to say hello to my friend Sandy Snively. Sandy was the wife of my co-worker Bob, so she attended the standards meetings on occasion when we went to interesting places. Grace and I once shared a lovely dinner in Seoul, South Korea that featured dancers at our table. Sandy and Bob were always very adventurous and had met at Stanford and both had worked overseas in the Peace Corp.
I'd worked with Bob for over a decade in developing standards and he was one of the leaders in the storage and fiber optic transceiver industry. When I worked at Cielo Communications in Broomfield, CO in 1999, Bob visited us as royalty and we rolled out the red carpet for him because he was so influential. After a few career changes and acquisitions, I started working with Bob at Brocade and he became my mentor and taught me many things - like he did about everyone else in the industry.
Bob was a cancer
survivor and seemed to be doing well when he was at a standards meeting in Cancun. He went sailing for the afternoon (as the captain) as he always stayed active even when he was 66. After the sail into the Gulf, he felt tired and just couldn't get his strength back. Within a month, his liver failed under the stress of chemo-therapy and he passed unexpectedly. The standards community was rocked to the core as Bob was the chairman of the main standards committee that I had worked on for over 10 years.
The Snively's held a celebration of life for Bob and hundreds of people came from all over the US to wish Bob farewell. At the celebration, the start of our plan to go out in the RV came together. Sandy told Grace and I how they'd gone on a great roadtrip in a van with Bob and her daughters Stormy and Jill. Grace and I love travel so that got the wheels of our minds spinning about the possibilities. Another standards jockey in attendance - Rich Taborek (see the pictures of his Super B and Coronet 500) told us how he wanted to go RVing and
how to get mail service while on the road. The thoughts of road trips and RVing fit right in with Grace and my sense of adventure, so within 6 months of this celebration, we were on the road ourselves.
The Snivelys were on a different path. As if Bob's passing wasn't enough of a challenge, Sandy was diagnosed with brain cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy during Bob's Celebration of Life. She's fought hard against the cancer and it is in remission right now and Sandy is doing intense rehab right now. The rehab includes many exercises including doing farm chores like cracking walnuts at all hours of the day. They have several acres of land and grow grapes, walnuts, apples and tens of varieties of fruits - so there's always something to do around their expansive home.
Sandy's daughter Stormy and her husband Dave are taking care of and living with Sandy as well as her three children under 5 years old. Stormy is a primary care physician and Dave is a psychiatrist and did a stint in Iraq - it turns out I used to play Ultimate Frisbee in College against Dave when he was at UC
Santa Barbara. Sandy likes the energy of the grandchildren in the home and reads to them often. They even have an au pair from Sao Paulo, Brazil to watch the kids during the day. Sandy has a full time assistant and still hosts book clubs and other social activities. Grace and I love visiting them at Sandy's home and often bring food over.
Stormy and Dave have chosen to stay with Sandy while their new house sits vacant. The house was finished just about the time Bob passed. So when I came to visit Sandy, Stormy asked us to stay at their vacant house. She didn't have to ask twice. Grace and I immediately fell in love with the house and visiting them as often as we could. Grace loves cooking meals for them and they've adopted us a part of their family. They still have parties at our home for Christmas and Thanksgiving but we have their peaceful home to ourselves the rest of the time. We're paying a modest rent and maintaining the interior of the house for them, but we are forever in their debt for the gratitude they've shown us.
Keep Moving On
The new home gives us easy access to a couple of airports and we still have plenty of travel coming up even though our home is stationary. In the last three months, I posted some pictures about these travels:
* Visited my friend Jeff and Mary Stai at their Twisted Oak winery in Vallecito, CA
* Watched football and ate killer cheese steak sandwiches with Rich and Arlene Taborek in Murphys, CA
* Hiked into the Sequoias of Calaveras Big Trees
* Did yoga with my friend Anoop at the Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA
* Attended Stormy and Dave's Dual Birthday party in our new home.
* Visited Seattle and hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail
* Spent a great weekend with my nephew Austin and his girlfriend Sasa at Eric and Carina's apartment
* Met in Nuremburg, Germany and had some beers
* Visited Brocade's new campus so that I could take a photo from our Target store - we rent the space to them
* Visited Liz and Brian when they came to San Francisco to accept an award for the night club he manages
* Got in another little fender bender when backing
up the RV in the storage unit - Grace is taking the hit for this one...
The plan was to drive to Phoenix on Thanksgiving weekend but our plans changed. We were going to spend the winter in Arizona, but decided against it for a few reasons. First off, it was going to take us three long days of driving to get there - something neither of us looked forward to. The weather wasn't going to be that much better than in Morgan Hill, CA, so we decided to stay here instead. Finally, the Snively's were so kind to us and gave us a home and a family to stay with.
In a couple of weeks, Grace and I will be going to Jacksonville, FL and visiting my Uncle Jim for his Thanksgiving/Christmas party that is a repeat of last years event (http://www.travelblog.org/North-America/blog-457400.html). Then we'll be back in Kansas City for Christmas. Next year, we have an around the world trip planned. I hope to see or hear from you soon.
Keep warm and have fun,
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