Details, Details, Details and Some Beer

From Marylu

Of the 8 days we spent in Sioux Falls, most of our mornings were dedicated to catching up on details.  (Although we attempted to complete most of our paperwork tasks before moving, getting together with family and friends took priority.  So grateful that Alan and I agree on priorities!)

Details – Aack!  But they were the center of transitioning from 17 years in our home to being homeless.  We prepared by making lists of things to arrange – banking, credit, mail, overall paper management, insurance (auto, health and property), taxes, social security, doctors and dentists, memberships, and packing for changing weather.  Fortunately, there are lots of RVers who have blazed the path.  Unfortunately, not all the answers are there or suit your situation.

It helped that about 4 years ago, before we even considered our current travel plan, we set up an email account just for our bills.  By going paperless in that area, more options became apparent.  We are still hauling around a medium-sized plastic basket that has copies of some things we are keeping….for now.  But what a relief to have eliminated the three-drawer file cabinet!

In the possession reduction department – clothing; dishes; excess houseware, such as Costco sized bags or containers of plasticware, paper plates, and cups; linens; and, duplicates of various kinds of bakeware accumulated over the years, were the easiest to give up.

Books were difficult for me to eliminate because I’d acquired quite few that I wanted to read during my retirement years.  Yes, I have a Kindle, but that was a retirement gift – the book collection came first.  Well, to be honest, my daughter is storing a couple of boxes of books (and yarn, and CDs), but the rest – gone!!!  It was tough.  In the end, I gave up most of my collection of depression glass.  Some of those treasures became gifts for good friends; and, I thank you for adopting them.

Anyway, we are each traveling with a large rolling duffle, a carry-on suitcase, and our golf clubs in a “Sunday” bag.  We still have some excess baggage – primarily consumables purchased in our “Costco days” that we figured were worth carrying around for now, i.e. a box of breakfast bars, Tums, nuts, and such.  Once we travel with our entire wardrobe, we will undoubtedly reduce the number of socks, pants, shirts, etc.  For now, we figured since we already owned the stuff, we may as well take it with us and leave behind what we find is unnecessary.  It’s a learning experience – going from a home with all the comforts we accumulated to living under a variety of circumstances.

About Sioux Falls, Alan insisted we take afternoons off to explore the area, its breweries (of course),

Fernson Brewing

the cathedral,

St. Joseph's Cathedral
St. Joseph’s Cathedral

and the butterfly/aquarium house.


We both really enjoyed Sioux Falls; but, when winter started to poke it’s way in, we were happy to head south to Omaha.


We don’t have any excursions planned in Omaha – just  visiting family and a brewpub (of course).

Nebraska Brewing Company Tap Room
Nebraska Brewing Company Tap Room

Next stop – Branson, Missouri.



Sioux Falls SD, Oct 21 – 29

From Alan:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota:  population 168,586.

Latitude 43º 32’ N, Longitude 96º 43’ W,  Elevation 1300 – 1550 feet above sea level

Average daily temperatures January = 16.6º, July = 73.0º, average days over 90º = 18, under 0º = 26

Your first impression of the city kind of depends on where you enter it.  Our hotel was on the Northern end, close to the airport and lots of industrial areas.  Other than the occasional Air Force jet screaming overhead, it was pretty quiet and the traffic volumes relatively low, even when we went downtown and back.

On later days we traveled into the Southern end of the city and found wide thoroughfares with every franchise, store, and chain known to Americans, where the traffic was a lot more concentrated.  Downtown has historic buildings, lots of great restaurants, music venues, shops, museums, and things to do.  The Big Sioux River runs along the East side of downtown, providing scenic overlooks, walking and biking trails, and a big park centered around an impressive series of waterfalls.  The official tourist booklet lists festivals and concerts all year.

Falls Park

Our visit was short and preoccupied by all of the details of changing addresses and insurances but overall, I found Sioux Falls a nice, livable city with lots of things to see and do.  Great food is everywhere.   There are a plethora of shopping opportunities downtown, in the many malls, and in the major big boxes.  The many taprooms and breweries feature a wide variety of great beers.

Decisions, decisions…

We did not have time to visit many of the museums, but we did stop to see the Sertoma Butterfly Museum.  There is something incredibly serene and tranquil about being surrounded by butterflies that is both wonderful and hard to explain.  Go there in the winter to bask in the warm, humid, summery atmosphere.

Butterfly Museum

All things considered, I would consider living in Sioux Falls if it were not for that one thing: the winter weather.  If I wanted that, I could have stayed in Minnesota.  Yesterday we were out looking for pho and suffered through a little blizzard with snow and 25 – 30 mph winds.  We agreed that it is time to pull up stakes and start our migration South.  Omaha tomorrow then on to Branson MO.

What Have We Done?!

From Marylu

Alan said I’m not allowed to edit his drafts but can address his comments in my own notes. Maybe that’s why I waited until he started so I could “correct the record”.

It seems my thoughts run in a few directions:  Sentimental, practical and journaling.

The reflections on what we could have done better will likely amuse those of you who know us; perhaps enlighten those of you who will face the daunting task of selling your home; or bore those of you that can say:  “Been there.  Done that. Or, We’ll never will do that.”

The Sentimental:  Thank you to our families, friends, neighbors and acquaintances met in our daily lives.  We’re going to miss seeing you as often as we’d like but will enjoy future times together even more.  I was blessed over the years to work with my wonderful daughter.  We’re looking forward to using FaceTime or Skype or some technological trick to stay in touch.  We use messaging and the phones, but adding the visual will be terrific.  That’s enough for the sentimental  for now.

Home in Eden Prairie
Home in Eden Prairie

The Practical:  Alan started with after the house was sold – HA!!!  This process started in April 2014 with the pre-sale and is just winding down.  Face it, if you are an empty-nester – start downsizing now!!! (I can’t use enough exclamation points in this section!)  The time will come when you will be moving and, trust me, you can’t start too soon!!!!

  • If you have children, give them their possessions right away – no give backs.
  • Treasured mementos from: your childhood, your children’s childhood, your birthdays and anniversaries, your parents, your other relatives and friends, etc., decide which things you really do love and would be lost without.  Donate, return, re-gift, sell and pitch; then, organize the rest.  In a year, go through the things you kept and try downsizing even more.
  • Stop buying things that will just add to the piles you have to sort through in the future.  Buy what you love and will use.  (Of course, secondhand is a great way to purchase many items you will donate or discard in the future.)  Develop the mentality which prepares you for packing up and moving on.

That’s enough of the Practical for now.  If you’re hooked on this topic, trust me – there will be more including:  Garage/moving sales, how to handle bills, mail, prescriptions, taxes, photos, maps, reservations, getting the house ready to sell, and more – good grief!

The Journaling:  Now that we’ve settled into our temporary home, I appreciate the time we’re spending in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  (It was fun telling people this was our first destination as travelers.)

Sioux Falls Home...and so it begins...
Home in Sioux Falls…and so it begins

Knowing of the many details that had to be completed once we moved out of the house, we wisely planned time to attend to them and to relax and enjoy the beginning of our adventures.  We haven’t done much sightseeing yet, but have gotten around the city without being too terribly lost.  Of course, Gypsy (our name for GPS in the car) has assisted from time to time.  Oh, Alan named our Nissan Rogue – “Gypsy Rogue Lee”.  If you get how clever that was, please comment.

In response to Alan’s first blog – I never called him an “idiot” during the garage sale pricing, maybe I wanted to.  Maybe that will be in the next blog.

The Garage Sale

From Alan

With the house sold, all we have to do is clear it out and be on our way, right? A single guy would invariably shovel everything into boxes and donate all of it and be done. No problem. A woman who needs to clear out a house will hold a garage sale. For a man, this is an exercise in pure terror. If you have been married any length of time, you probably think you know your woman pretty well. Just wait until she throws a garage sale. The sweet, easy-going, mild mannered lady you know and love gets transformed into an adrenalin-fueled, snap decision wielding, dynamo who can sort, price, and arrange a thousand small items an hour. If she has a friend helping her, the effect is, at minimum, quadrupled.

garage sale tycoons

The week leading up to the sale is decision time. Like it, love it, don’t care about it? Sentimental value, resale value, saw-it-online value. Price accordingly and move on to the next item. If you and your woman are lucky enough to be retired, the show goes on non-stop for days, punctuated by sleepless nights with her worrying about collectible items that nobody collects anymore, that should be worth a lot but nobody buys, that are appraised for thousands but sell for tens.

During the leadup to the sale, your woman may even ask your opinion on how to price something. The best thing to do there is to just run away. I couldn’t tell you how many time we had this conversation:
“How much for this?”
“I dunno, a buck?”
“You idiot, that is worth a least ten.”

You could say something about not asking if you don’t want the answer, but that just puts you further into the doghouse. Best to just stay in the background and carry things around on command. All of the guys I talked to about garage sales have the same sad story to tell, so I am guessing that it has something to do with X chromosomes. Maybe someday a (single) guy will do a study on the phenomenon.

Finally, on Thursday, because that is the traditional garage sale start date (???), the signs go up and the garage-salers come sniffing around. Start at 8:00 and there are always people there at 7:30 to snap up the bargains. Then there are the hagglers: “a dollar for this Chippendale cabinet? I’ll give you 75 cents.” And then there are the Chatters. Suddenly the woman who has been running like crazy for days, sweating over every detail, agonizing over prices, has all the time in the world to chat with everyone that comes along about family, kids, dogs, weather, politics, whatever. After days of cutthroat pricing, the prices start falling, package deals are negotiated, discounts applied.


By Saturday, there is little left of any value to anyone. Prices have fallen to rock bottom, the “FREE” pile has gotten huge, the thrill is gone. Open on Sunday? Don’t think so. Goodwill is open on Sunday and, to see the line of cars full of donations, you would thing everyone else had garage sales too.


BTW, when I told Marylu about blogging, she thought it was a great idea and a good way to keep family and friends up to date on our travels. She wants to write too. I agreed, with the provision that we don’t edit one another. She has been incredibly busy with all of the activities leading up to our traveling, and I give her credit for doing an amazing job and spending incredible amounts of energy on the whole process. Just as soon as she gets some time, she will be writing too. I am looking forward to seeing her side of the story.
Next time: Sioux Falls

Oct 9th – Why are we doing this?

From Alan:
I guess it all started back in April of 2014. Marylu was watching the CBS morning news and they had Lynne and Tim Martin on for an interview. They wrote “Home Sweet Anywhere”. The Martins sold their home and began traveling Europe, living in rentals for a few weeks or months at a time. They said that, for what it costs to own a house, you could be exploring the world, having adventures. When I got home later, Marylu tentatively proposed that we might do something of the sort ourselves. Much to her surprise, I agreed.


But where would we go? Marylu is thinking worldwide, but I am leaning more toward just North America. At least for the first few years. My ultimate goal is to find a great place to retire someday. Lower latitude than Minnesota, so the winters are warmer; higher altitude so the summers are cooler and not so humid. A city big enough to have everything yet small enough to be safe and comfortable. And, of course, the people are important too. We are some Northern liberal intellectuals who don’t practice much religion or hunting so we would do well to avoid localities where we would be Those Damn Yankee outcasts.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 4.03.09 PM

Next step: fix up the house so it is ready to sell. We are not exactly Home Handypeople so this took a lot of time, effort, sweat, and blood. New tile in the bathroom, new shower and faucets, new sheetrock in a bedroom, new faucets in the other bathroom, new soffit on the front of the house, fresh paint everywhere, inside and out. Lots of minor disasters and a couple accidents, but eventually we got everything presentable so the house was ready to sell. And sell it did. Tom, our amazing, affable realtor had it priced and presented so well we got an offer in just 3 days. Fortunately, we got a month and a half until the closing.

new bathroom

With the house sold, we could start making plans and clearing out our stuff. It’s amazing how much stuff a person accumulates in just a few years, living in a house. Now we had to go through everything and decide: take it with us on the road, store it, sell it, donate it, or trash it. Garage sale. Moving sale. Craigslist. Next week comes down to the last of the odds and ends and then we are free to travel.
Next time: details, details.

October 8th – First blog ever

When we told our friends that we are planning on going traveling, they wanted us to be sure to let them know where we were and what we were doing. Of course, the best and most efficient way to do that would be to write a blog and post photos.  So I bought a book to help me with creating a blog.  Funny how the book looks so little like my screen when I am trying to set things up.  And how little the blog “customize” screen looks like the resulting page.  This is clearly going to be a learning process while I hack my way into this mess.  I have friends with blogs and they assure me it’s easy.  I would be happy to take any constructive advice.