Wrapping up our old lives and beginning the new

As 2015 drew to a close, we knew that our lives would most likely change drastically in 2016 so we felt the need to spend time with family and friends who we would not see as often once we moved to Maine.  In December we spent a long weekend at the wonderful bed and breakfast Mountain Thyme outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas with a group of my old neighbors from my single days in Pearland, Texas.

The Cedarwood Gang as we call ourselves have remained close friends for more than 20 years despite each family moving away to other neighborhoods. We had a wonderful weekend which consisted mostly of trying to stay out of the rain, but we enjoyed good food, good drink, and good friends.

We had spent Thanksgiving with my family so we drove to New Mexico to spend Christmas with Bryan’s family.  img_1540We had lots of good New Mexican food which is very different from the Tex Mex we got in Texas, and we even had a good snow storm which delayed our trip back by one day.  The snow was beautiful on the mountains, mesas, and vegetation of the high desert, and the pecan groves around Bryan’s sister’s house were hauntingly beautiful.  I think we especially enjoyed Christmas there because we knew it would probably be a few years before we would return at Christmas. The Christmas season is always charming and quaint in New Mexico.

In January we took a Homicide Hunter cruise out of Fort Lauderdale on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.  We have become hooked on Investigation Discovery Channel’s Homicide Hunter, and when we found out that there was going to be a cruise with LT Joe Kenda and his wife, Carl Marino, who plays a yimg_1609ounger LT Joe in the reinactments, and his wife, and various other cast members who are also Knoxville Police Officers, we jumped at the chance to be a part of it.  We had a great time and were pleased with the amount of time the celebs spent just hanging out with us fans sharing stories and giving us glimpses of the toll a successful career in major crimes investigation takes on our law enforcement officers.  Joe is a very humble guy and he still can’t believe the success this series has had.  He and Carl both are very grateful to their fans and made us feel very appreciated.  We also made a lot of new friends among the fans from all over the country, including Joe’s brother and his wife.

When we returned home from the cruise, we knew it was time to start getting our home prepared to list.  It was a very bittersweet time for us.  We loved the home we had been living in the entire 17 years of our marriage, but we were now dreaming of living in the Maine woods and wanted our house to show well to perspective buyers.  Let the fun begin ……

A log home … to be or not to be.

Another dream I have always had is to live in a log home.  My family did a lot of camping out west while I was growing up, and I always loved the look of a log structure.  Bryan’s major requirements of a home are energy-efficiency and low maintenance.  We contacted a log home company in Maine to start discussing the feasibility of building a log home.  After discussing the concept of log homes with the owner of the company, we were convinced that logs are inherently well insulated and, with the proper insulation under the roof, we could have a warm and energy efficient home.  After deciding on the plan, the owner began the process of getting bids on the job from contractors in the Machias area.

After a couple of months of bids that shocked even the owner of the log company, we decided to regroup and explore other options.  We had become completely debt free several years before in anticipation of our retirement, so the thought of putting the proceeds from the sale of our League City house into a new home and still having a big mortgage to pay afterwards did not appeal to us.  Meanwhile, we began to get our current home ready to put on the market.

And more importantly ….. I retired in November of 2015!!  I had been practicing as an RN non-stop for 44 years, and as much as I loved my position in the NASA Johnson Space Center Flight Medicine Clinic, it was time to retire.  I threw myself a retirement party at a waterfront bar and restaurant down on Galveston Bay and I was
touched by the number of relatives, friends, coworkers, and patients who came to

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My beloved co-workers and our favorite (well – one of our favorite) patients, astronaut Clayton Anderson.

 my party.  I was showered with gifts most of which had to do with cold weather, and by astronaut crew pictures which will someday hang in the study of our dream home!  One of the hardest days I’ve ever had to get through was the day I carried all my belongings including memorabilia from many spaceflights to my car and drove off site.  I ended my career with a job that was unlike any other on earth, and I feel very enriched by the experience.

Fast forward to 2015

My beloved parents and brothers safely in heaven, it was time to start our serious search for our little slice of heaven in Maine!  We had made numerous trips to Downeast in the previous years and had not lost our enthusiasm for the area.  We did a lot of research on the Downeast area trying to decide where to start our search.  We knew that the farther downeast you go from Bar Harbor, the more affordable the land.  We also knew that as we aged we would need good health care nearby and we knew we would like to have some adult education, volunteer, and cultural opportunities.  We settled on Machias as the epicenter of our land search.  Town of Machias  At the last census, Machias had 2200 inhabitants, a small hospital accompanied by a veteran’s home, a nice array of family practice physicians and specialists, and the University of Maine at Machias.  And it doesn’t even have a traffic light!  It would be a welcome change from the congestion and traffic of the Houston to Galveston corridor! Of course, some of our family and friends thought we were nuts for considering moving to such a cold climate but we moved forward with our search.

We arrived in Machias in September and met up with our real estate agent Karen from Remax.  Karen cheerfully and patiently showed us about 10 properties in the area, and drove us back to our favorite two to see them at low tide.  The first lot we chose proved too difficult and expensive to build on because of a lovely little stream that ran through it on its way down to the bay.  Maine has very strict laws about building near any body of water and img_1435unfortunately the little stream ran right through the middle of the property.  We ended up making an offer on the second choice (which actually was my first) and it was accepted after a little negotiation.  The lot is 5.6 acres on Little Kennebec Bay on Holway Point.  The owner of the lot sent word that she would entertain offers on the second adjacent 5.6 acre lot so we ended up buying it too!  The original lot had a driveway in already, a clearing for a home, a well, and electricity to the building site.  We were now owners of our little slice of Paradise!  Now on to decide what kind of house to build!

In the beginning….

Hi – my name is Carole.  In June 2004 my husband Bryan and I made our first trip to Maine.  I had always wanted to live in Alaska, but had given up on the idea because it was impractical and we needed to stay close to the Houston area to help my aging parents as it became necessary.  As an RN, and as the only daughter in the family, it was a given that I would provide or at least organize my parents’ care.  On that first trip as soon as we drove away from Bangor International Airport and headed towards Ellsworth, we both started to fall in love with Downeast Maine.  Besides the beauty of the area, we were struck by the friendliness and kindness of the locals – very much like Texans!  By the time we returned to League City, Texas we had started to formulate a plan to someday relocate to Downeast Maine when we retired.  This is the ongoing saga of undertaking the monumental task of relocating to Maine and building a home.  Special thanks to our friend Bev for giving me the idea for the title of my blog!  She and her family are now entitled to one free stay at the dream home …. soon!