North Rim of the Grand Canyon Part 1

North Rim, AZ – October, 1996 Our initial destination for this summer’s adventure was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We’d visited the north rim once before over 20 years before but we’d never SEEN it. Let me explain.

Jim and I took our first real vacation for our 5th wedding anniversary in October of 1996. Other than our honeymoon in Branson, Missouri and some road trips to visit family we had never really gotten away. So only five years after our nuptials my cousin graciously agreed to watch our youngest and we flew to Las Vegas for a 5 day weekend.

Jim and I had done very little traveling up to this point so to say we were green would be an understatement. We enjoyed what Las Vegas had to offer but we very much wanted to see the country and the Grand Canyon seemed like an attainable goal. I had been there once when I was too young to remember it well and Jim had never been.

The North Rim must have looked closer on the map because that is where we set our sights. We rented a car in Las Vegas, a white Mustang convertible, and we headed north east. We planned to make this a day trip.

On the way we drove through Zion National Park. Then we pointed the car toward the North Rim in Arizona. We knew little of altitude but we learned quickly when white stuff started falling on us as we ascended the Kaibab Plateau. It was time to put the convertible top up and look for some warmer clothing as we were dressed for the desert.

We stopped at the turnoff to the North Rim and bought sweatshirts at Jacob Lake Inn. We spoke to a park ranger who said that the road to the north rim was currently open but that snow was forecast all day and it could close at any time. We’d come too far to stop now!

Snow flurries continued to fall as we made the 45 mile drive from Jacob Lake to the North Rim. When we reached the rim all we found was the North Rim Lodge, all boarded up for the winter, and an expansive parking lot with only a few cars in it. We hurried to the rim for a view of the canyon but we were standing in snow laden clouds and we could barely see 5 feet in front of us.

We stood on the precipice of one of the world’s natural wonders but we couldn’t see it! We hurried from one viewpoint to the next with no luck. I was cold and returned to the car but Jim stayed on the edge furtively hoping the wind would blow away the mist and allow him one good view. The only view he got was when he brushed the snow off a sign like this one and it revealed what he would normally see from that viewpoint.

He finally gave up and returned to the car. We were the second to the last car to leave the parking lot that season. It was around 4 o’clock when we left and with the falling snow it was almost dark.

The snow began falling in earnest and before we knew it it was almost a foot deep. It was hard to tell the sides of the road from the meadows and we were getting anxious. Jim switched the headlights on and that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

There appeared to be an electrical problem with the Mustang. The headlights only worked intermittently and then not at all. The car began to lose power and eventually Jim had to pull over to what he supposed was the side of the rode.

We were woefully unprepared for the conditions. We were underdressed with no back up plan and white stuff in every direction. Thank goodness there was one car behind us.

Within a half hour a couple pulled up and offered us a ride. This may be politically incorrect but it would be remiss of me to not mention that they were a flamingly gay couple. Jim has come a long way since the 90’s but at the time he was seriously homophobic. So suffice it to say that we only got in the back seat of their car as a very last resort.

They kindly dropped us off at Jacob Lake Inn. Jim headed for the payphone (yes they still had those) to call the rental car company. I headed for registration to request a room.

Jim was told the rental company would send a tow truck from Las Vegas as soon as possible. I had less positive news. There were no rooms available and the lodge was closing within the hour. I was told that when the lodge closed we would be forced to wait outside the lodge in the snow for the tow truck.

We anxiously waited to be evicted from the warm lodge. Just a few minutes before the anticipated expulsion I was gratefully ushered to the registration desk and informed that they had one no show. A cabin was available if we wanted it.

Jim made a quick call to the rental company to tell them where they could find us and then we were ushered out of a back entrance of the lodge but with the key to a cabin. Upon exiting the lodge it was pitch black and we were wandering toward what we hoped was our room. We soon questioned that this was our salvation as it began to resemble a scene from Deliverance.

Apparently that time of year the lodge is taken over by deer hunters as we were soon assaulted by hunting dogs tied to bumpers. Trying to avoid the hounds, I almost ran in to a skinned deer hanging from a tree. We finally made it to our assigned cabin, a single room with a double bed on one side and the facilities in the corner. Above the sink, instead of a mirror, was a sign that read “do not clean fish in sink”.

We gratefully laid down in the bed to rest. A few hours later came a knock on the door. I didn’t want to be left alone in that place but Jim insisted I rest and that he would soon be back for me.

He hoped that he would just be collecting our new Mustang in front of the inn and returning for me. Instead the rental agent insisted that they had to first recover our broken down rental from the side of the road before he could hand over the keys to the new car. Jim reluctantly climbed in their tow truck.

So the rest of this story is what Jim told me the next day and what he has repeated to family and friends over the years. Jim has never been prone to exaggeration so I’m sure you can believe every word of the following story.

Jim was picked up by a young man who was born and raised in Las Vegas. Since corporate policy dictated that he not come alone he had invited the receptionist from their office to join him. Neither had ever seen snow.

Jim opened the passenger door to find a Latino woman in a leopard print miniskirt, 6 inch heels, and super long fake nails. She scooched over to the middle and they headed down the snow laden road to find our lame car. There were no snow plows as the road was destined to be closed for the season. At one point the large truck started sliding on the snow and before the driver regained control Jim swears the young lady peed her pants.

When they finally reached the car they handed Jim the keys to our new ride and he hopped up on the tow truck and backed her off. He then took off like a bat outta hell leaving the tow truck driver to do his job. He last saw him in his rear view mirror scratching his head.

It was about 3 in the morning by the time Jim got back to our room. Neither of us wanted to stay there another minute so we hopped in our new green convertible and took off for Vegas. We reached the rim of the city just as the sun was rising and we headed to our hotel room and slept until checkout time.

Obviously we had to return to the North Rim at some point and we decided this was the year.

Westward Ho

Missouri to Arizona – July, 2017 We left Missouri and headed west. The first day, we drove all day and put the entire state of Oklahoma behind us. Then we slowed a bit, averaging about 3 hours a day, and only taking one day completely off during that first week.

It wasn’t a bad trip but it wasn’t terribly exciting either. There certainly wasn’t much to write home about. We found Tucumcari, New Mexico the most interesting stop of the trip.

We pulled in to the Cactus RV Park before lunchtime.

We thought it was one of the more interesting RV parks we have stayed at. RV spaces are in the courtyard of an old Route 66 hotel originally known as the Cactus Motor Lodge. The property was built in the early 1940’s and originally included a dance hall.

The motel rooms are no longer in use but are still cool looking.

They have some neat features including this detail in the handrails.

It’s a shame the buildings have fallen into such disrepair. Here is a postcard I found online promoting the hotel in its heyday.

Tucumcari turned out to be an interesting little town full of similar establishments. Some were in operation despite being a little rundown.

Others were lovingly restored.

There were some fun gift shops with classic Route 66 souvenirs.

We walked the strip a couple times, first in the afternoon, and again early in the morning while some of the neon still glowed. The Blue Swallow is a 1939 built motor court with garages attached to most rooms. It is beautifully restored.

Following is my favorite picture of the Blue Swallow. I took some liberties with it and the photo editor app, Snapseed.

The town of Tucumcari is relatively flat but is lorded over by the imposing Mount Tucumcari. You can see it from almost any place in town. We thought we might drive up it but didn’t get too far before the rough road made us turn around.

I doubt we could have entertained ourselves in Tucumcari for a whole other day. But it was a pleasant stopover on a long road trip and we certainly would stop again. The Cactus RV Park was peaceful and clean and you can’t beat $20 per night for a full hookup site with a Passport America discount.

More time in MO

May –June, 2017 – Springfield, MO I can’t believe we spent seven weeks in Missouri and I’m having trouble accounting for where all that time went. The first week was committed to cleaning up the flood damage to our family’s river house. But the remainder of the time was something of a blur.

We visited all our doctors. We helped some friends move. And we, or I should say Jim, helped our friends with various home improvement projects.

We checked on all our rental properties and performed maintenance on those that were in need of it. One tenant gave notice and moved out during this time so we were able to get the home cleaned, painted, and re-rented ourselves. Another tenant that had been falling behind all winter agreed to move and we were able to get him out without involving the courts which I doubt would have been the case if we hadn’t physically been there.

We attended numerous social events. We visited with our son and his family. And we spent some quality time with our favorite granddaughter. She’s the one in the middle.

We did devote some time to getting our new home and ourselves organized. We had moved in such a hurry that we weren’t really sure where everything ended up. We took the rig to get a new AC unit because the factory installed one just wasn’t cutting the mustard and we also got new tires on her before we left.

Looking back on that list it’s a wonder we did get it all done. We primarily stayed in Springfield but we did leave for a few weekends. While in Springfield we stayed at a familiar campground on the south side of town.

Ozark Highlands Mobile Home Park is conveniently located in the southeast part of Springfield. Last year we came and went from this park and at the end of our visit I realized we spent enough at their weekly and nightly rates that we could have stayed there the whole time at their monthly rate for less money.

So this time I made a month long reservation. The park was kind of a pain, actually requiring a 6 page application! This was the first rental application I’ve ever had to complete for an RV space.

But in the end we saved some money. The monthly rate was only $450 plus electric and when I needed to extend our stay for two more weeks I assumed it would be at the weekly rate. Instead they prorated their monthly rate so the extra days were only $15 per day.

Two of the three weekends we did leave we only moved 30 miles to our friends’ 40 acre property in rural Lawrence County. It’s a great place for all our friends to gather. They all own travel trailers now so we circle the wagons and just hang out.

One morning while Jim helped with an electrical project I found myself free as a bird. The weather was surprisingly cool for late June so I happily took an hour long stroll on some county roads. It was a beautiful morning.

Flowers were blooming and the birds were singing.

I was soon making friends.

This pair was a little more shy.

When this fellow and his brother came barreling across a lawn at me I felt a twinge of anxiety. My fear was momentary as they just wanted to say hi but I will likely remember my club next time I’m walking alone in a rural area.

It wouldn’t be a walk in the countryside without a red barn.

This old mailbox has seen better days.

This was only one of many flags displayed along the way.

So that’s all I have to show for two months in Missouri. Next up, we head west for the summer.

An Epic Flood

May, 2017 – Bonita Springs, Fl to Doniphan, MO In all our plans for leaving Florida we had a date in mind that we hoped to go, May 5th. This was two days after my last day of babysitting and the day our rent was paid through. But we didn’t have any hard commitments that required us to be anywhere.

So we figured when the flip house got done, when Lance got sold, when we’d visited sufficiently with our daughter, and (after we made the offer on our new trailer) when we got everything moved and the Alpenlite sold or ready for storage, then we would leave. This all changed when we learned that our own Current River was forecast to peak well above the highest flood in written history.

My family and I own a lovely little home there in Doniphan, Missouri. I’ve mentioned it briefly a couple times in my posts but it is actually a very special place. My family (my father, Jim and I, my three brothers and their wives, along with the help of other family members) built the home as a tribute to my dear mother. She loved the river and the property she and my father owned for nearly 30 years on its banks and she always dreamed of a home there but died of cancer in 2008 without that dream ever being realized.

We built the house over several years. Much of the work occurred in 2010. We started it that spring and got it roofed and sided by fall. Then we spent the next several years finishing it out as time and money became available.

I didn’t realize how few pictures I had of the house until we faced losing it. But here are some over the course of its construction.

The view from the riverfront. Eventually we extended the deck across the full length of the house and got that last piece of fascia on.

And here is the front which faces the road.

The kitchen cabinets were the last thing put in. My brother built and installed the lowers a couple years ago but just finished and installed the uppers a couple months ago.

So you can see why we were concerned and why we continued to make preparations to leave Florida but with a lot more urgency.

We checked the page on the internet often where they record the water gauge in my hometown. It also forecasts when it will peak and how high it will get. We helplessly watched for several days as both numbers went ever higher, surpassing the initial estimates by many, many feet.

In the meantime we kept very busy. We hired out some work on the flip house that we had intended to complete ourselves, we finalized the purchase of our new camper long distance as the owners were home in Michigan, and we began packing for the move to our new trailer.

There wasn’t much we could do about the house but watch and wait. By the time our family realized the rising water was really a problem there was very little that could be done. The road to the neighborhood floods well before the houses do so even if someone had wanted to go retrieve any property they would have had to make that decision well in advance.

Noone imagined it getting as bad as it did. We have watched the water rise so many times in the past and seen flood forecasts that looked ominous but never got as bad as they predicted. Even if we had been there it is likely we wouldn’t have moved much.

Here is what the page looked like that we kept checking. At this point on April 30th, the river was almost 29 and a half feet above normal. We knew then that it was in the house. At that time they predicted it might go as high as 39.5 feet, which would have pretty much swallowed our house up. You would have only seen a little of the roof above the water if that had come to pass.

So we were quite relieved when it actually crested at ONLY 33.13 feet a day and a half later. This was more than 6 feet over the historic flood of 1904. Our house was one of the newer ones in the neighborhood and we built the floor just above that flood level. Most of our neighbors were several feet lower and many live there full time so we knew their troubles were way worse than ours.

We hoped that the flood water hadn’t reached our ceiling level. If the water reached the ceilings it would double the amount of work required to restore our home. But we had to wait another two days, until May 3rd, before the road was passable so my brother could go assess the damage.

My closest brother lives in Springfield, Missouri so he got down there that afternoon. Here is his initial view when he walked through the front door.

And here was our new kitchen.

He was surprised it was actually hard to tell where the water had reached. There was not an obvious water line. He finally determined it had gotten about 6 feet up the walls. There was a thin layer of silt over every horizontal surface but the vertical surfaces were surprising clean.

My other brothers from Texas showed up that first weekend and together they did the majority of the demo. They cut off and removed the drywall at 6 feet and removed the kitchen cabinets. They saved the uppers and believe they are salvageable but had to throw out the lower cabinets.

One of the biggest issues was finding a place to dispose of the trash. They were relieved when some volunteers showed up with trailers and offered to haul off all the furniture. That was a huge help.

There were no dumpsters available anywhere. They heard of a dump site on Sunday and loaded up a trailer full and hauled it there. That site was soon full. The rest of the debris, they had to throw off the front porch.

While they worked hard on the house, we worked our tails off to get moved into our new 5th wheel and on the road to Missouri. We finally left Florida on Monday, May 8th. And we were never more relieved to see this sign on Thursday, May 11th.

We stayed in Doniphan a week and our good friends, Amy and Terry, generously took a couple days off work to come help. My brother and his wife came back for the weekend. Our friend’s mother, Cindy, lives nearby so she visited almost every day bringing us amazing desserts, actually doing a load of laundry for me, and even taking a couple items we were about to throw away and cleaning them; that quilt hanging on the living room wall and my wedding dress that I had stored there.

We cleaned and continued to sort through what was left, deciding what was worth salvaging and what was a loss. We were able to finally get a dumpster and we moved the mountain of debris in the front yard into it and finished cleaning out the house. I found someone to haul off the appliances. And then we cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned some more.

We got all that was salvageable into one room so it will make it easier to work in the rest of the house. We are not sure when that work will take place. Primarily we have to reinsulate, redrywall, and install new doors and trim. We may start it this fall or it may wait until next year. But right now we are just letting the house dry out.

The community of Doniphan along with many others along Missouri’s riverways took a real beating this spring. So many suffered so much. Just in our own neighborhood there were more than a half dozen homes severely damaged, all much worse than ours.

A hard working couple next door have an older home that was built several feet lower than ours so the water reached into their rafters. But the worst part was their windows didn’t hold like ours did. So instead of the thin layer of silt we had to deal with, the river deposited 4 inches of slimy, nasty mud in their home. The home of an elderly couple who had lived there as long as I can remember was severely damaged and their kids used the flood as an excuse to finally move them to the city and put what was left of their home up for sale.

We were lucky in so many ways; that the home was built as high as we ever imagined the waters reaching, that every member of our family is in construction and when we choose to rebuild we can, that the water heater and electrical systems still work and the HVAC appears repairable. Mostly that this was our second home so noone was left homeless and we have the option of walking away and catching our breath before deciding how to proceed.

Florida Roundup

May, 2017 – Bonita Springs, FL So we said adios to Florida after a full 7 months parked in one spot. You’d think I’d have a lot of inside information now on living in Florida and I do have a few insights although it is going to take more than one season to get to know this area. So here are some random thoughts, parting shots, and disorganized ramblings on the subject.

We LOVED our RV park. Bonita Lakes RV Resort is a gem! And if you are ever in the area off season I suggest stopping by for a while. But be careful, you may not want to leave. We met so many people that came for a week, or just one season, and now live there full time or have been coming back every winter for many years.

What makes it special are the people. The managers are the kindest, hardest working, most genuine people you could ever hope to meet. And the rest of the staff are equally nice and will go way out of their way to help you.

The residents are pretty special too. We wish we had had more time to get to know them and participate in more activities. There was certainly never any excuse to be bored.

The activities we did try we were made to feel more than welcome and invited back again. Game night, aerobics, kayak club, bean bag tournament, water aerobics; all things we only tried once because we got caught up in remodeling a house.

Some of the residents were pretty camera shy.

We did finally have a few good sightings.

Some of the more plentiful and less shy inhabitants were the lizards.

And the bunnies.

I have always wanted to see a roseate spoonbill and one afternoon right before we left one stopped by the park for a short visit.

We can’t claim to have experienced Florida during what they call “in season” because from Jan to April we were commuting 20 miles back and forth to our job site almost every day. The RV park did get awfully busy during those months with every site occupied and many parties sometimes late into the night.

The one thing that took some adjustment for us was driving in Florida. They have the streets designed in such a way that U-turns are often a necessity. You know our truck doesn’t U-turn well so this was something of an inconvenience for us.

But more importantly, if you were making a right hand turn you had to be very careful that noone in the left hand turn lane of the road you were turning onto was making a U-turn. I almost made a costly error a couple of times. Eventually I didn’t want to make any right hand turn when they had the green light often to the chagrin of impatient drivers behind me.

The other thing that was hard to get used to was the large number of pedestrians and bicyclers. They were everywhere, even more so near our RV park. The nearby neighborhoods had a large Hispanic population and walking or bicycling seemed to be their primary source of travel.

This was also primarily an issue when making right hand turns. Of course, if we hadn’t been working, we wouldn’t have been driving so often and it wouldn’t have been such an issue. And we learned to be extra cautious and attentive which we should be anyway when behind the wheel of an 8,000 pound machine.

Every local, full year resident we spoke to for any length of time had something to say about how different life was there during the other 8 months out of the year. I got the feeling that many of them shared the sentiment that this person advertised on his bumper. “Welcome to Florida. Now go home.”

So the verdict is in. We love Florida (always have) and we’ll be returning next winter. We don’t plan to be in one RV park for 7 months this time. But we will be back at Bonita Lake RV resort for some part of next winter.

We want a do over. We plan to experience Florida the way we intended to this year before we got caught up in the rat race. We expect to have lots of time to be active and healthy, to meet people, and to spend with family.

Anybody ever wonder what happened to Lance, the truck camper that we bought?

Well, we only took the one trip to Cape Canaveral with it. We did make some repairs to it. There was some water damage around the kitchen window and Jim fixed it which messed up the wallpaper. That gave me an opportunity to do a project I’ve always wanted to try, adhesive plastic tile squares.

It was so easy. The only tool necessary was a pair of scissors. And I think the results were a dramatic improvement.

When we bought the flip house we put the camper in the drive and used the kitchen to prepare our lunches until we got the kitchen in the house remodeled. We used the truck as a second vehicle, mostly on the days that I was babysitting so Jim could go his own way. We sold the topper and then the truck a week before we left.

If you don’t count the value of the work Jim put into it we almost broke even. But we did learn a valuable lesson: we’d be OK with a smaller rig in the future. We might get one to finally make that trip to Alaska someday or if we ever get tired of the road and move back into a house we’d consider a small motorhome or trailer for travel. But it does have to have a bed on the main level. We are too darn old to be climbing in and outta that over-cab bed and we ain’t getting any younger!

Welcome to Our New Home

Bonita Springs, FL – May, 2017 We had been mulling over the idea of a newer 5th wheel for a few months. Not a new one, mind you, but a newer one. We had managed to put the idea on the backburner for more than a full year since our brush with temptation in Palm Springs back in November of 2015.

But the idea kept creeping back into our psyche. We told ourselves we were just keeping an eye on the market. You know, in case something disastrous happened to our rig and we had to replace it.

We finally agreed we would seriously consider a newer rig if the flip house sold. We hoped to find something that would cost no more than half our profit from the flip house, around $14,000, plus whatever we could get out of our Alpenlite, maybe $10,000.

Ideally we would wait until we got back to Missouri because the house couldn’t possibly close until after we left Florida. This would also give us plenty of time to market the Alpenlite in a favorable market we are familiar with. So we weren’t seriously looking in Florida but we weren’t not looking. lol

We saw a 2014 Mesa Ridge by Open Range in our park that they were asking $30,000 for. We looked the 345RLS model up online and I really didn’t like the layout of the living room. I’d seen one like it before and just didn’t think it was what I wanted. And we weren’t seriously looking anyway so we forgot about it for a while.

I was talking to the manager of the RV park and mentioned we’d probably get a newer rig sometime this year. He said we’d be crazy not to look at that Mesa Ridge. That it was the best deal he’d seen in a long time. And that the owners had hardly used it and had taken meticulous care of it.

We went and looked at it and really liked everything about it. It did look brand spanking new. We decided the layout would actually work well for us.

Our favorite part is the private bath, the main point of contention with our old floor plan. We loved all the finishes, the storage, the beautiful kitchen with movable island!

It is so roomy. The living room slides are 42 inches deep!

I love having a full time dining room table again and a fireplace with heater.

Jim did some research on the brand and was satisfied. We offered the owners $25,000 and eventually settled on $28,000. It’s a little more than we hoped to pay but the rig is so much newer than we expected to find.

So there was the small issue that we were spending money we hadn’t yet made. Not very responsible of us. The flip house was under contract and the sale was going well but there were a thousand things that could go wrong. We threw caution to the wind and did it anyway.

We needed to leave Florida in a week so we didn’t have time to market the Alpenlite. No problem. Since the campground is so empty most of the summer you are allowed to leave your rig on your site and only pay $100 per month storage fee.

We figured we could sell it long distance in a month or so with the help of our daughter. But the park workers knew some full-time residents who had been living in a motorhome and were looking for more room. We sold it to them for $9500.

We’ve had a few problems with the Mesa, mostly related to it sitting for two years in Florida. The salty climate there is rough on exterior metal. It was very difficult to get the jacks up the first time. We’ve been working with them and applying lubricant and it keeps getting better but we still use a crow bar to get them to move sometimes.

The tanks were hooked up to sewer and the valves were just left open. The tanks were probably never rinsed. So the valves didn’t work and neither do most of the sensors that should tell us how full our tanks are. This is also getting better with time and care and will hopefully resolve itself.

Jim had read that a lot of people have trouble with the slide motors going out and he has already had to replace one. The good news is the replacement parts are said to be hardier than the ones originally installed in the factory. Also they are relatively cheap, less than $100, so we bought an extra.

We love some of the features available on this newer unit. My favorite is the electric awning.

If you’ve ever gotten up in the middle of the night to take down your awning because the wind unexpectedly picked up, you will understand my glee.

Jim’s favorite feature is the self-leveling jacks. At the push of a button (or several) it levels the rig and stabilizes it. The best part is it remembers the height where we pulled the truck out and returns to that position when it’s time to hook up.

It was hard to find everything we wanted without getting into a bigger rig. This one is just under 35 feet, almost 3 feet longer than our last one. But we had a rack on the back of our old one that stuck out 3 feet and held our kayaks.

We decided to get rid of the rack and keep the kayaks in Missouri where we use them most. We have enjoyed having them with us in our travels but have not used them enough to justify dragging them all over the country. We’ll carry our new inflatable kayak with us and will rent kayaks when necessary.

We have had our home for a month now and we are very happy with it. We moved into it in a hurry, then drove it back to Missouri in only three days. This is way faster than we prefer to travel but we had pressing matters to attend to at home.

We are going back and forth on what to do about solar power and/or generators. We definitely will install a solar system but can’t decide on whether to go with a very basic one or the fanciest one Jim can pull together. We’d love an on board generator that comes on with the touch of a button from inside but we haven’t really had that many occasions to use the two generators we have been carrying around. Decisions, decisions…

Flippin’ in Florida

January-May, 2017 – Naples, FL As I mentioned in my post about babysitting this winter, Jim was not twiddling his thumbs while I brought home the bacon. He did consider a part-time job and even inquired about a few but he never really got serious about it. He was sure he could find a way to make more than $15 per hour and not punch a clock.

He toyed with several ideas of how to make some money without working for someone else. He thought about fixing up an old camper and reselling it but just never found the right opportunity. He considered doing handyman work but pursuing a contractor’s license in Florida was too much of a hassle. He tossed around several ideas but hadn’t landed on one when fate intervened.

We had picked up some used bikes at a garage sale and were enjoying riding them around the Bonita Springs neighborhoods each morning. We rode into one cul-de-sac and stumbled onto a house for sale. It looked distressed, just our kinda place!

So I called the realtor and found out it was a foreclosure and was being auctioned on one of those online auction sites, zome.com. We took a look at it and really liked it, almost too much. We were sorta fantasizing about a pool and furnishings. The best feature of the house was there was just enough room to park our RV beside it.

Long story short, we lost the house to another bidder. We moped for a day or two. Then we admitted it was probably for the best.

Were we really ready to be that tied down? NO! We agreed we were not. But we did decide that buying a rental in the area, maybe even one we could eventually see ourselves living in, was not a horrible idea.

So when the realtor that had helped us with that first auction said that he had another property we should check out, we agreed. The second house he showed us was in nearby Naples in a working class neighborhood the opposite side of the interstate from the ocean. We liked it and agreed it would make a good investment.

We weren’t very optimistic about the auction process but we told the realtor how high we were willing to go and let him handle it. And he got it for us, for $7500 less than we were willing to pay. And that’s how we ended up owning real estate in Florida. Isn’t it beautiful?!

We decided to fix it up and try to resell it.

And if it hadn’t sold it would have made a great rental with good cash flow. Rentals are in high demand here.

We closed in only two weeks on December 28th. We immediately went to work. We were excited to polish this diamond in the rough and see it shine.

What? You only see coal? How bout now?

We hoped to have it mostly finished in 3 months, giving us April to sit back and enjoy our re-retirement Florida lifestyle. Of course that didn’t happen. We both worked on it pretty much full-time for the rest of our stay. Even when I babysat in the morning, I would usually go work on the house after that.

We were pretty pleased with the results. And we got really good feedback from everyone that saw it. We put laminate floors throughout.

The house didn’t have a garage but made up for it with a mother-in-law’s quarters, making it a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home, unheard of in this neighborhood and price range.

We skimped everywhere we could, painting the original bath vanities, salvaging as many of the bath fixtures as possible. We had a best case scenario budget and a max budget. We ended up scraping by just under our max budget and still didn’t do everything we wanted to the home.

We hoped to install a lanai but thankfully the eventual buyers were perfectly happy with the back yard as it was.

The sacrifice was big. We wanted to spend more time with our daughter. We hoped to explore much of the state. We certainly never imagined we’d spend the whole winter in Florida and not do any scuba diving.

Thankfully the payoff was pretty great and made up for most of it. We netted $28,000. We have worked way harder for way less before.

This was our most profitable short term flip ever. We’ve made more on homes we’ve held for a couple years but of the ones we bought to fix up and immediately resell, this is by far the winner. We have no regrets but aren’t in any hurry to do it again right away.

We are tired and ready to be re-tired again!