First of all, we want to extend our deepest gratitude to all the Veterans and active duty military on this Veterans Day. We certainly know that "freedom isn't free", and our freedom exists because of you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
With certain offices being closed for Veterans Day, there were some administrative tasks that will have to wait until Monday. But we were able to go to my Dad's local union headquarters to apply for a burial benefit and to return the overpayment of his pension. The folks there were very nice.
Then we headed over to the house. We had scheduled a team to come out and remove the electric stair lift that we had installed when my parents moved in. It made it easier for them to get from the main floor to the basement. We considered leaving it in case other seniors eventually bought the house, but we ultimately decided to donate it back to the company that installed it so it could be used for someone that perhaps couldn't afford a new one. Plus, we needed to get it out of the way so we could remove some of the larger items in the basement that were put there before the chair lift was installed.
After that was taken care of, I went for a run and Linda started going through a collection of vintage Matchbox Cars. I remember having a bunch of Matchbox Cars in plastic display cases on my wall as a kid. I wasn't allowed to play with those as they were "collector's items". I think I had three that I was allowed to smash up. :)
My parents, my mother especially, accumulated several collections assuming they would all appreciate in value. It was her attempt at "investing" in a retirement plan. Unfortunately, although there are a few valuable pieces here and there, the values didn't increase nearly as much as she had hoped. We're just thankful that it didn't come down to having to rely on those collections.
So, Linda is going through the Matchbox collection, finding approximate values, and entering information in a spreadsheet. We'll see if it's worth selling them individually or as a collection.
She also found a small box of antique tools. We spent a little time trying to figure out what some of them were, and we also found that they had values ranging from about $8 up to $50. We're going to have to find an antique tools expert to help us with some of them.
In the afternoon, we had a meeting with our financial advisers. We discussed various scenarios and how best to handle the proceeds from the sale of the house when we get that accomplished next year. We also have funds that we had set aside for the sole purpose of taking care of my parents. Now we can take a little more risk with those and hopefully make them grow. But, for now, we're going to dip into them just a little bit and take a trip.
This year is our 30th anniversary year, and we had hoped to do something very special. We tossed out and researched some ideas back last winter but, with my Dad's situation, we didn't commit to anything. Last week, I started checking to see if anything was still available in warmer climates for next month, our best time to travel.
Linda's bucket list includes the Galapagos Islands off the western coast of South America. The islands straddle the equator 600 miles from Ecuador, and they include several endemic species found nowhere else in the world. And because much of the wildlife has no fear of humans, you can observe from close proximity.
Because of their remote location and restricted access, it can be quite expensive to tour the Galapagos, and of course we wanted to see as many of the 18 main islands as possible. We determined the best way to do that, for us, was by a "small" boat that only accommodates 16 - 20 people. Staying on land and taking daily boat tours is less expensive, but weighing the pros and cons, we determined staying on a boat would give us the best experience.
We also hoped to get a "last minute" deal to defray the cost. There are several options and several "last minute" deals - it's a bit overwhelming to try to sort through all of them. However, most people go for 3 - 8 days, while we were hoping to combine itineraries and make it a 15-day trip amongst the islands - that narrowed down the choices somewhat.
In doing the research, I discovered all kinds of "add-on" options for Ecuador, Peru, the Amazon, etc. All seemed quite intriguing, but we settled on focusing on the Galapagos and not waste travel days to get to the other places. I won't get into all the details of the research.
The bottom line is today we booked a two-week Galapagos trip between Thanksgiving & Christmas. We had saved up for a special trip, even this one, but with the new funds available to us, we were able to upgrade it a bit. We're extremely excited and looking forward to a quiet celebration in nature after the last couple of months of worry and stress.
Back home, it was the opening night of the college basketball season for both Louisville and Kentucky. I streamed the Louisville game while at the same time trying to work on an issue with our Journal.
The Journal is hosted by Typepad, but I also own the domain "rv-dreams-journal.com". I "map" the Typepad URL for our Journal to the "rv-dreams-journal.com" URL for better brand recognition. The domain is renewed every year automatically through GoDaddy. However, in all the circumstances surrounding the passing of my Dad, I failed to see the notice that the credit card they had on file for payment had expired. So, today, GoDaddy canceled "rv-dreams-journal.com" and put up a page showing that it had expired and was up for sale. The actual Journal site through Typepad was fine, but I got a phone call and several emails from readers - it looked like the Journal had been discontinued.
So, I got the renewal payment made immediately and then it took a few hours for all the systems to update and talk to each other so the Journal appeared again as it is supposed to. Those were an anxious few hours, but it was my fault. Fortunately, it was one of my many screw-ups that was fixable. :)
Today was about NOT having any appointments, meetings, or plans. We got "thank you" notes mailed out to those that sent flowers for my Dad's funeral, and we got a couple of other administrative mailings out as well.
Then I went to the nearby YMCA just to see if they would allow me to come and workout on a daily pass. To my surprise, they gave me a one-week membership for $10. So, I got my exercise in and I have a place to do it the rest of the time we are here. With hard freezes expected tonight and tomorrow night, it will be good to have an indoor option.
The rest of the day was, for me, about watching college football. I just zoned out and watched the very exciting day that ended in upsets that will help my Louisville Cardinals. There is a chance we could get into the four-team playoff for the national championship. That would certainly be exciting for the program. They've never finished a season ranked higher than #6.
Yep, we had a freeze overnight. Our thermometer showed 32 degrees, and I had to scrape the windshield when I went out early to run an errand.
Today, all we had on the agenda was dinner with Zelda & Hugh. They live down the street from my parents' house. I don't remember how they met my folks, but they've been good friends for the last several years. They would make the short walk to my parents' place and play cards with them, or they would just stop by and visit.
My Dad built a board and card holders for their card games, and I offered it to Zelda after he passed. They call their mud room the "Sterling & Anita room" because it contains pieces of furniture she bought from my Dad and other items my Mom gave her. My Dad, from the Great Depression generation, was always looking to make or save a buck, and he wouldn't give a second thought about taking advantage of his friends on a deal if he could get away with it. Fortunately, most of his friends knew that and let him get away with it. :)
At noon, I headed over to the YMCA for a workout. I put in a little extra effort and then took advantage of the whirlpool in the men's locker room. That felt good, but it pretty much knocked any remaining energy out of me. Back home, I had to take a nap with football on in the background.
Linda has been making granola for us using a Food Network recipe. Of course she has modified it a bit. Instead of almonds and cashews, she uses pecans and pepitas, and she adds some flax seeds and cinnamon. So, she made a new batch of granola and a dessert for this evening.
Eventually, we got ready and headed out. We arrived at 6:00, and had a lovely dinner. We got to know Hugh & Zelda a little better, and we found I had more in common with Hugh than we knew. We're going to play golf together on Tuesday.
After dinner, Zelda treated us to her spirituality room in the basement. I told her she has the most eclectic spirituality of anyone I've ever met. She is part of a prayer ministry, she is a yoga instructor, and she has Native American spirit masks, crystals, and even "singing bowls". We're open to all of that, but I think she freaked my Mom out when she gave her "Relaxation & Positive Affirmation" CDs. That was way beyond Mom's traditional bible and church comfort zone although some positive affirmation could never have been a bad thing for my mother, who wasn't the most positive person in the world. :)
After a singing bowl and chimes demonstration, we went back upstairs for dessert. Hugh and I watched the exciting end to an NFL game, and then I joined the ladies in the kitchen. Linda had made her Ultimate Peach Cobbler - always delicious.
Around 8:00, we departed with hugs and handshakes. It was certainly an interesting evening.
So, that's it for Veterans Day weekend. Tomorrow, we continue with our schedule of appointments and meetings and getting together with friends and family. It's always busy when we are here, but for obvious reasons, this time feels much different.