Sunday, December 15, 2013

Here, happy, but exhausted!

Just a quick note...we arrived without fanfare or problems (more on that later). We've barely settled into our temporary apartment and it looks like we'll be in our permanent home by next weekend. We bought a used stove, sectional sofa, coffee table and dining set in the last two days.

Today we visited our new home - it's HUGE! And there is a ton of LIGHT! And we will need a fan or two for the warmer weather like we're having now.

Tomorrow we take delivery of the refrigerator, TV & stand, dishes, microwave, canister vacuum and stove. Before the week is out we'll get the living and dining room furniture delivered.

Tuesday we get our Visas registered here, then we can start the cedula process.

So busy, busy, busy....promise to write more when I'm not so tired. LOL!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tomorrow at this time....

Tomorrow at this time we will be at Miami Airport, waiting for our flight (and hoping it isn't delayed). We're getting excited!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Getting closer to our flight!

We've had a great time with friends, enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner here in FL. We all ate too much, watched some good TV and just chatted about everything and nothing.

We don't do Black Friday shopping but I needed to pick up a prescription at the local Walmart and wanted to try to get the new Garth Brooks CD/DVD set, "Blame It All On My Roots". We also needed to visit a bank and the post office. So around 1 pm on Friday we headed out...well, I guess here in "seniorland" everyone was napping because there were no crowds. We got all our errands done and back to the house without a hitch. Oh yeah, got my Garth set - they had plenty. (Stu is happily ripping them to his computer now.)

Now we're getting ready to head out on our cruise tomorrow. We won't be checking in so things will be quiet until a week from Sun/Mon. On our return, we then travel to the east coast to visit family for a few days before renting a large SUV and heading to Miami for our flight to Ecuador.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy day one, finally on the road!

Well, we are finally on the road...moving towards our goal of living in Ecuador. The day was busy with winterizing the RV and general clean-up of the rig. We wanted to leave everything clean and shiny inside but also had to leave it with all the slides pulled in. No major hassles, just time...

The truck is loaded to the gills - all the footlockers are in the back, protected from the elements with a tarp. The back seat has all the regular luggage and the a few bags filled with last minute items. No seeing out the back window!

We finally pulled out of our driveway a little after three PM when a couple miles down the road I remembered that I hadn't cleaned out some of the food stuff in cabinets. Gulp....well, better than being in Georgia or Florida when I remembered. So we quickly turned around, opened the slides enough to get to the cabinets and pulled out the crackers, nuts, sugar, peanut butter and rice mix. Most went to our neighbors who were also the recipients of everything in our freezer.

So, back on the road at 3:30, the weather forecast was calling for rain and sleet tonight. No matter whether we drove to Chattanooga, Cookeville or Crossville - the weather was determined to accompany us. We opted to head to Crossville where we would grab a late lunch-early dinner at Cracker Barrel and grab a room at the Best Western close by.

Good thing...before we got to Crossville it was raining, then sleeting, then as we pulled into Cracker Barrel - IT WAS SNOWING! It had turned back into freezing rain by the time we pulled out and we were doubly glad we'd gotten a room for the night when we drove over I-40, headlights for as far as you could see. Obviously an accident or maybe just treacherous roads to the west.

So now we're all snugged into our hotel room, heat on high, coffee at the ready and the only issue is the fact that, even after bringing in two different bags for me, I still don't have the one with my toiletries. Yup, in a third bag. LOL! Oh well, we'll sort it all out tomorrow night.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

All packed.....

...but not sure where everything is. LOL! We had to pack for 1) the drive to FL & staying with friends until Sunday, 2) our 7 day cruise and 3) 3 days of visiting family before 4) we fly to EC. The only thing either of us is sure of is having our cruise stuff packed and at the ready. Needless to say, once we get to the last 3 days, we'll be doing some unpacking/repacking to square things away.

Are we excited? Absolutely - both for the cruise and the move. But to be perfectly honest, I'm most excited about getting my new iPad Mini on Wednesday when we arrive at our friend's house. WOOT! So the truck is loaded to the gills, the refrigerator is empty and tomorrow we'll do our final things - last minute cleaning and checking for missed items, putting out mouse bait and winterizing the RV. We'll move our Freightliner truck under the pavilion with the RV, close our gate and head south. Good thing, they're forecasting sleet and snow later tomorrow!

In other news, we have managed to find a great deal on a couple more used items for our apartment:
  1. refrigerator
  2. 40" HD TV with custom table
  3. microwave/toaster/vacuum
Life is good! We won't be blogging much in the next two weeks so bear with us and have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Soon to be on our way!

Our To Do lists are shrinking...we've seen a local attorney and gotten our wills updated, filled out and had our Five Wishes notarized (Don't know what that is? You should, everyone should!) All the vehicles are ready to store, insurance has been notified, etc, etc, etc....

We're 90% packed, down to Stu's getting the last of his clothes out (after the last load of laundry). Coming to Ecuador will be 5 Sterilite footlockers, large bag with Stu's scuba gear, two large suitcases, two carry-ons and us. Phew! In addition, we have two additional bags with cruise gear which we hope to move into one of the trunks when we get back from our cruise.

We got news that our mattresses were delivered, nice to be able to make friends and work from a distance. We've looked at a couple other sales but nothing has really clicked. The good thing is we're not in any rush. We have a completely furnished apartment until Jan 12th. That gives us a month to get the rest of what we minimally need.

  • Refrigerator - not looking at a big side by side, just a step up from basic will do fine.
  • Stove - must have an oven! Most are 6 burner so that will be a treat, unless we find a good 4 burner.
  • Living room sofa and tables
  • Dining room set
  • Queen bed frame for our bedroom
  • Two nightstands
We continue to watch the used ads online and know we'll do just fine once we're there. Heck, we already have something to sleep on!

On a side note, I'm thinking about adding a couple of tabs with the most commonly asked questions about our move and Ecuador. Got anything you'd like to see there?

Monday, November 18, 2013

24 DAYS!!!!!

Things are moving along and I'm trying to NOT PANIC! We have ONE WEEK to get everything done and start our trek southward. I keep thinking of things to add to our To Do Lists and yet not much is coming off. Hopefully that will change in the next couple of days.

One major hurdle is done...we picked up our Pensioner Visas Friday at the Ecuadorian Consulate in Atlanta. It was painless...walked in, filled out our information forms, handed over our passports, documentation letters, photos and cash. About 90 minutes of wait time and we were done! What a pleasant experience and the staff in the Atlanta office were wonderful to work with. Kudos to Maite Duran and her staff for doing such a great job of facilitation for us.

When we arrive in Ecuador we still have to register the Visas and then we can apply for our cedulas, sort of a National ID card. The cedula will allow me to qualify for 50% fares on the buses and local airlines as well as get some of the taxes I pay rebated. Not bad!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Getting closer!

It's been a busy week as we both plow through our To Do lists. For once, they seem to be shrinking rather than growing. We've pinned down the router we need, made an appointment with a local attorney to get our wills redone here in Tennessee, arranged for a shipping company so we can order small items and have them shipped to us in Ecuador and much, much more.

Every day I watch Gringo Tree and Gringo Post for buys on furniture and appliances. We lucked into two queen mattresses, one is a month old, the other is eight months old. We got them both for less than we had budgeted for one!

Stu's vest from Scottevest arrived and it fits him perfectly! He also got the storage box for his Go Pro Hero camera and the HDMI cables we'll need to hook up our new router and Roku 3 box.

A lot of folks have told us that they have recently used the Sterilite foot lockers like we bought so we are now thinking about going back to that plan, and carrying the fold-up rolling duffles as a backup (and for muling stuff back on our first US trip. While working through this it's become obvious to me that we're already packing too much stuff (even using space/compression bags)...and Stu hasn't even packed yet. Yipes! We're going to need 8 bags rather than 7, or we have to cull a lot of stuff out. Hmmmm....decisions....will update you on the result.

Not sure if I mentioned it before (so forgive me if I did) - Stu's youngest daughter is expecting her first in early June. Since we bought round trip tickets, knowing the return would be a throw away, he managed to get his changed to June 1st and flying into BWI instead of Miami.

29 days and counting!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Video Overview of Cuenca, Ecuador

Our friend Len Charnoff spends his days taking photos and making videos. This is a nice overview of Cuenca that I wanted to share for those that are interested.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ramping Up or Winding Down?

Actually, I think we are doing both! We are slowly trimming our To Do lists as we prepare for our move. Of course we keep coming up with new things that we think we need to get/bring with us. Hubby dug out our old 22" TV and decided to bring it in his carry-on. We ordered HDMI cables from Amazon (great prices) as well as a carry bag for his Go Pro camera (scuba diving). He took his gear in for a checkup and when he went to pick it up, I went along for a Five Guys dinner fix (yum).

We're both working through paperwork, moving everything possible to e-statements in an attempt to limit our mail. We're making an appointment with a local lawyer this week, getting our wills redone in Tennessee. Next week we hope to make the trek to Atlanta to pick up our Visas as well as visit my youngest and her family.

I got my new Travelon anti-theft purse today. I'm not a large purse person so was happy to find this smaller bag. I can fit all my basic toiletries including clip-on sunglasses, phone, wallet/cards and even my Kindle Fire. It's really sturdy and the security features are amazing! The main zipper locks, it has multiple RFID security pockets for your passport and credit cards and it has a special clamping lock to attach the purse to a chair. It's long enough to wear cross body, which is my preferred style. Oh, the strap has a wire running through it and the main body is protected from slashing as well.

I'm comparing prices for our transport from Guayaquil to Cuenca in a car/truck/van big enough for us and all our luggage. Our new landlord is finishing up some minor repairs and our downstairs neighbor says things are looking good!

We're trying to pin down our router needs and we bought a Roku 3 for media streaming (Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc). We know we will need a VPN and Strong VPN has been highly recommended, we just need to figure out what router will work best.

Last spring/summer I bought a Scottevest on sale and tonight when I checked they had men's on sale so we ordered one for Stu. Lets you securely and safely carry a TON of things in the 22 pockets. Very comfortable, too!

The funniest purchase is a couple pair of sweat pants for lounging around at home. Neither of us have worn them in years but knowing how cool it can be at night even during summer time weather, we both thought it was a good idea. Can't beat $6 sweatpants at Wal-Mart. LOL!

I've packed a few things but put nothing into space bags as yet. I hope to be tackling that this weekend and start to see how much room we're taking up in the bags with what we have already stuck away for the move. There is more to be pulled out of closets and drawers before making the final decision on what goes and what stays.

Stu has been busy changing oil in both trucks and our RV's generator and both motorcycles have had their 20k service and now have Sta-Bil in their gas tanks. He's working on straightening and organizing stuff in the shed while I tackle inside. All liquids have to be gone before we leave since we'll be winterizing the RV and won't be leaving the heat or A/C turned on.

So we have definitely been busy ramping up towards our move (and our cruise) as well as winding down living here in the US. Oh yeah, he called American Airlines today and changed his return flight from our Feb date (that we never planned to use) to a June 1st date and is flying into BWI instead of Miami. This will allow him to be with his youngest for the birth of her firstborn!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Excitement is in the air!!!

Things are moving along rapidly and in a good way! First, we got notice that our Ecuadorian Visas have been approved. Next week we will call the consulate in Atlanta and schedule our visit to pick up our paperwork.

The other great news is we've found an apartment. Just as in the US, word of mouth is the best way to find a good place. The apartment is bigger than we need at almost 2000 sf but it's perfect. It's in the area that we wanted, close to the river Yanuncay. It's in a private gated community with about 20 families, mostly professional Ecuadorians.

It's a second story apartment, above the American expat woman who told us about the vacancy and introduced us, virtually, to the landlords. It's a 3 bedroom, lots of room for visitors from home. We have a fireplace, gorgeous tile floors, all the bedrooms are carpeted, a HUGE loft area that may become my writing spot and a great room. We hadn't planned on an unfurnished place but this was too good a deal to pass up and the price was perfect!

It's spotless, quiet and in an extremely well built building. Needless to say, we're excited. We had friends visit and take some photos for us. Here's a little peek...they are currently doing some updating and painting.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The countdown continues....

We are on the final leg of our trip back home from Route 66 and I find that my quiet riding time is filled with thoughts and plans for our move to Cuenca. Since our visit we've had friends move out of the area (even out of the country), a few are planning a move to the coast but many have stayed. As anywhere, life changes and we adjust and adapt.

Our countdown is 56 days now and there are a lot of things to still get done. The difficult part isn't getting them done, it's the timing and coordination of so many intertwining issues. When to turn off our cell phones? How will we communicate from that point till we arrive in Ecuador? Do we put utilities on vacation mode or turn them off completely? When to winterize the RV and truck? Just to name a few things...

I also have to worry about the other end, making sure our hotel is set for our first overnight in Guayaquil as well as transportation to the hotel after midnight. Oh, and arrange for our transport from the hotel to Cuenca 3-4 hr drive) with an English speaking driver with room for all our luggage.

Then there is the packing made a little more complex because we 1) are driving to Florida so need clothes for that trip, 2) are going on a 7 day cruise so need clothes for that trip, and 3) are visiting family for a few days before we fly out. Phew! I'm thinking that I'll pack for the cruise first. Then I'll pull out what I can wear while driving and visiting family, while leaving room to stuff them in a bag just before our flight.

I know it will all come together and I'm trying REALLY HARD to not panic. LOL! Bear with me...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reporting in from Route 66 - 85 days!

We're about a quarter of the way through our Route 66 trip and have having a blast. If you are interested, visit our personal blog to read about it and see our photos.

Just got an email from some local TN friends who are also moving to Ecuador. They just got their Visas from the Atlanta consulate...hoping everything is on track for ours in November. 85 days and counting till our flight!!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

My latest mystery book is DONE!!!

It's done, it's live - finally!! You can now purchase book two of the Klondike Mystery Series, Barely a Spark at Amazon.
Police Sergeant Jim Sanders has been appointed the Acting Police Chief while his boss takes a vacation in Montana. Jim thinks two weeks will be a breeze, crime isn't a big thing in the small town of Bradford, Pennsylvania.

Was it an accident? Maybe suicide? Or could it have been something more sinister. John Crocker was not a well liked man. He smoked too much, drank too much, and gambled too much. But even he had a family and they deserved to know the truth.

Small town Klondike, up the hill from Bradford, suddenly sees a spike in vandalism. Cabins ransacked, cars trashed - who is responsible? Summer tourist kids or someone more menacing?

Sometimes, two weeks can seem like a year...

FIRST AMAZON REVIEW IS IN!From the poster of the review: Loved "Barely a Spark". I was happy to put the first review up on Amazon. Hope you have a great Route 66 trip and then, lady, you better start tapping those keys again - 'cause I want to know what happens next. LOL You really hit this one out of the park.

Friday, September 6, 2013

96 Days, not much to report!

Not much to report, we've been swamped getting a pavilion built to cover our RV and truck while we are away AND getting ready for our two month motorcycle trip (riding from TN to IL, then riding all of Route 66).

We are hoping that by the time we come back, we will be able to go to the Ecuadorian Consulate and get our Visas....WE HOPE! Wish us luck....

If we get any news or if anything crops up, we'll drop a note here, otherwise we won't be posting until November.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Slowly fine-tuning our packing

We keep adding things to our packing list but we also know some of these things will come off the list when we start to actually pack our bags. Our initial plan was to use the High Sierra bags we bought for our month long exploratory trip.


The High Sierra AT3 rolling backpacks will be our carry-on and the High Sierra AT3 32" Rolling Duffle will be our first checked bag. We planned on two more checked bags each for the rest of our clothes and kitchen/bath items. We almost forgot Stu's bag with all his scuba gear so we will be over by one bag. Our tickets are Business Class on American Airlines so we get three free checked bags each, up to 70#.

We originally planned to use Sterilite Footlockers and purchased four of them from Wal-Mart. Then we discovered that they are over by .5" - we also learned that Delta and American are clamping down on oversize/overweight bags. The last thing we want to happen is to have to pay $200 each for four bags or worst than that, be at the airport and have to buy very expensive smaller bags to repack.

So I did more research and found these great bags from Wal-Mart, Protege Expandable Rolling 32" Duffle. Only $14 each, they are wheeled and sturdy. An added bonus is they fold back down into a compact size when not in use so we can stuff them into our bags whenever we return to the US and then use them to carry back new things.

They are a little smaller but since it turned out I had bought one earlier as a spare bag, I tried repacking one of the trucks and found almost everything fit. We'll use the luggage straps and TSA approved locks we bought for the trunks on these bags. Oh, and since I ordered four, shipping was free! The footlockers won't go to waste, we'll use them for storage here in our shed.

Our basic list to bring hasn't changed a lot but one recent addition was measuring cups and spoons. Why? Because all my recipes are in cups, ounces and table/tea spoon measurements, not metric. I also have bought a couple of items for dressier wear, things that pack well and will do double duty on our cruises.

That is one thing we have to take into account when we pack - we start off with a 7 day cruise to the Western Carribean. We have two or three 20" Protege Expandable Duffles, in fact Stu is using one right now for his trip to Maryland, and I think we can each fit what we need in one of those. Then we just need to leave enough room in one of the larger duffles to put the clothes and folded duffle. Since these are no longer available online, check your local store - they're only $10 and are great to have on hand.

We bought a bunch of Space Bags as well as some from Zip-Loc and we'll be using those for for all our clothes, towels and other linens. That should help the bulk. Due to the size of the duffles, I'm not really worried about being over 70#, they weigh very little themselves and I can heft the one that is currently packed. I could barely pick up the 49# bags on our trip last spring!

But Ecuador preparation will now take a backseat to prepping for our Route 66 motorcycle trip. Watch for updates on our main blog, Our Prime Years.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My New Children's Book to benefit Hearts of Gold Foundation

My first ever children's book is now available on Amazon. It's a rhyming picture book, What Do I Count, and is suitable up to age five. Good bedtime or anytime reading, teaches numbers. Great as a gift to/from parents and grandparents! {Please share the link with your family and friends.}

Kara Jaynes did an amazing job on the illustrations, making my silly words come to life. Thank you, Kara.

Hoping to have a paperback print copy with additional teaching pages available soon. UPDATE: Paperback book is now available on Amazon with the added bonus of additional pages to help reinforce learning basic numbers.

NOTE: All profits go the the charity Hearts of Gold Foundation to benefit needy families and children in Cuenca, Ecuador (our home for the next five years).

Friday, August 23, 2013

My reminder of our visit to Ecuador

My delicate little hummingbird we bought while out on a walk in El Centro one day. Handmade out of copper, I wanted the mobile displaying several hummingbirds but ended up with just one.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The packet is in the mail!!

Over the last month we've gotten  two birth certificates, four marriage licenses, two divorce certificates, one death certificate, two social security income letters, eight passport photos, and three background checks (by name). Now we've filled out all the necessary paperwork, signed all the forms and completed our initial wire transfer deposits to Ecuador Movers and put the whole package in the mail. Phew!!!!

We only hope everything was filled out properly, getting any replacements while we are off on our two month motorcycle trip will be a bit of a pain in the neck. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Think he'll become a professional dancer?

I guess some are born with Salsa in their genes!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Starting our Visa application process....

Guess what I got in the mail today? My birth certificate with a date that can be read! WOOT!! Now we have everything we need to get our Visa application process started. Thank you to Maite Duran from Ecuador Movers for going above and beyond in working with me as I asked a ton of questions.

Many do this on their own, once they arrive in Ecuador. I wanted to remove the stress from the process, especially since things can be very date/time sensitive once you are there. Maite and her co-workers are doing everything - notarizations, getting the papers apostiled, then translated then notarized and apostiled again. Phew! Exhausts me just thinking about it.

Hopefully we won't have any issues crop up while we are riding Route 66 on our motorcycles the next two months. If all goes well, we'll get...

...and then get our passports stamped at the Ecuadorian Consulate in Atlanta. All that will be left is dealing with selling my motorcycle, utilities, insurance, mail notifications, packing and then on to our cruise out of Tampa. WOOT!! 117 days and counting...

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