5/21/16 – We’re back….

We’re back…  The blog was exploited by hackers who made a big mess out if it.  Spent the past week moving it to a new hosting company and starting to piece it back together. Still have some work to do but all of the postings and photos are back.  Google will be turning off the Picasa photo sharing site – so will need to update all of the old blog postings to use Google Photos instead…

Derek and Ethan enjoying a cap nap.

Derek and Ethan enjoying a cap nap.

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5/23/2015… Farewell?

Greetings all,

Well, first I guess I want to bring you all up to speed on some pretty major changes in our world.  Some of it has been reason for our “Blog Silence” as well.

Late last year we decided we would “test the market” on our rental property in West Des Moines.  It was spurred by a request from the realtor that sold us the place as he wanted to show it to someone looking for similar property, and asked for a favor.  When we did show it, we started to think about where we were, what we wanted, and figured it couldn’t hurt to test the market…  Well, we did, and ended up selling the building, and closing in April.

No snow on the ground when we moved.

No snow on the ground when we moved.

That spured a move to Downtown.  I have always wanted to live in the heart of the city, not that Des Moines is that big of a city, it has a nice downtown.  We are renting a loft on the southwest side of downtown now.  Derek will put a few pictures in here.  It is about the same size as our apartment in WDM, but one room.  Its been a little adjustment, but so far I think we both like it a lot.  For us, it would be the perfect apartment if it had a bedroom, but it will do for now.  In a perfect world, if we were to buy a condo, it would need to have indoor parking, as well as a little more room, so not sure we will be here long term.


View of building from street


Building foyer


Our front door – not sure why we have a porch light for the hallway?

View of new home

View of new home




View from deck


We are on top level – second from the left


Kitchen / Living room area.


View down Mulberry street from shared deck.


Shared deck on top of the building.


View from back of loft to deck.


Odd photo – mirrored wardrobe closets on both sides, into shower/sink area with lav in the very back.


View from the left of deck

So, the building was sold, our tenants were a little upset with us…  Business is business, but I did feel bad.  I don’t miss being a landlord.  I worry when I don’t have shit to worry about, when I do I worry about everything…  Derek didn’t mind it so much.  Really in the end I am glad we did it, and glad we came out OK, even if we hit some bumps in the sale at the end.

The sale was really the prelude to the next big news, as we wouldn’t have been able to do it without it, or winning a large sum of cash…  We sold the motorhome.  Yes folks, we are done camping for the time being.

Reasons are both lifestyle and financial.  The truth is after we stopped full-timing, we didn’t use the camper as much as we wanted to.  It was a great full-timer rig, but as with all class A diesels, they are expensive to maintain.  They also deprecate at a unbelievable rate, and once they reach that magic 10 year old mark, they are really not worth 1/2 their book value, simply because no one can get financing on them.  Add to it that about the worst thing you can do to ANY RV is to NOT use it, and we had a problem.  Last year we took it out 3 times?  That was 3 really expensive camping trips!

So, the house sale allowed us to pay it off.  We ended up selling it (giving it away) to a really nice young family that will love it as we did.  They have plans to remodel it and make it all new again.  We got a little more than the dealer offered to buy it back, and we are happy it went to people who will enjoy it.


Nice photo of MoHo the day we sold it – before the new owners arrived.


Last photo of the MoHo as the new owners drove turned onto I-35 North and we headed South.

As far as camping goes, while I miss the “Good ‘ol days” of the “Midwest RRV” Chapter, and camping almost every weekend, we really didn’t have the time or (me) the drive to go much last year.  The other part comes down to that we don’t know many people in general here in DSM, and those we do know are rarely here, or always busy.  I never did care for going camping alone, as we just sat and stared at each other, we can do that here…  So for right now, as we enter this “redirection” phase, we are camperless.  If we get the itch again we might go look for a small trailer, but right now we are thinking it might be more fun to travel via hotel and airplane and see some places we wouldn’t get to on the highway…

And with that big news, the little Jeep that rarely could is also gone as of last weekend!  The Jeep was always supposed to be a transition vehicle for us–  It met my demands of being Diesel, 4×4, and towable.  It was a good car for a couple years, and got us through, but the repair bills in the last few have gotten ridiculous.  It was an oddity, and it was hard to find qualified people to work on it, and the Chrysler dealers here were bought by a conglomerate which completely ruined them.    After bad dealership experiences here, I doubt I will ever look at another Chrysler product again…  Anyhow, we went out car shopping last week with the idea of a large SUV.  I compromised and removed Diesel from my list of must haves.  We were looking at Tahoes, but my heart skipped at the used cost of them, in not great condition they were still way over what I was willing to pay.   I had initially discounted the Toyota 4Runners because we both pretty much loath the Camry’s we often get stuck with at the rental car places, mostly because they are built for little people, and are among the most uncomfortable cars ever built.  A friend told us to go drive one if we could find one…  We did, in Ankeny at Karl Chevy.  We found a 2013 Limted.  It was a super clean car, and drove really well, but also had a pretty high price.  He wasn’t going to deal much on it, and frankly it was just a bit more than we needed and we didn’t want to borrow money on it…  Then he pulls out this 2010 SR5.  Not quite as many toys as the limited, but loaded for an SR5.  It had all the stuff we wanted.  The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the color, it’s black…  But a very clean car, and drive well.  Its significantly bigger than the Jeep, and comfortable for a longer trip.  Now we are downtown, I walk to work a lot, so this will fit the bill for now, and should cut are maintenance costs significantly.  But yes, I gave up my diesel (Why Toyota does bring their excellent D-4D to the USA???), and my winch (That might be back?)…  Derek said I’m becoming more “normal”.


Okay then.  That’s the big news, we are settled into our downtown loft, and have sold off all our crap again.  Why? I think we both needed some excitement, and we also wanted to align ourselves to become as flexible as possible.  I’m really leaning towards making another big jump here soon, long the lines of moving to a warm weather state, but that will all depend on employment opportunities, etc…

So the title, I am sure you all noticed that it says Farewell…  Well, its been 9 years (yeah, really!) nearly a decade of blogging and adventures.  Well, as the last year or so prove, our hearts really aren’t in keeping this blog up.  As all things do, this must come to an end as well.  Derek and I want to thank all of you for checking us out, keeping up with us, etc.  We started this mostly as a catalog and communication tool when for family/friends back when mobile internet was hard to get.  It resulted in meeting many really cool people from all over the country (and even further).  So sadly, we won’t be updating this any longer.

We still want to keep in touch, so reach out to us on Facebook, or if that isn’t your thing drop a line to the blog email address with yours, and if your not a robot, I’ll send you our private addresses.  If your really old school I might even write you a letter once in a while 🙂

The plan is to keep this URL active and keep the blog up for at least a year yet for archival purposes.  We will likely burn it off to disk after that, but feel free to use it for any reference you need.  Of course, its still our content, if you want to use any of it, please ask permission first.

That said, FAREWELL great readers, and I leave you with wise words from Andy in The Office:

“I wish there was a way to know you were in the ‘good old days’ before you actually left them.”

John & Derek…  sk..sk..sk



Greeting from a snow covered evening in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Yesterday we received 5 inches of the white stuff and it started to snow again this evening. Not sure how much more we are expecting, but it already looks like enough that I will need to get up early and shovel the sidewalks, again.  Shoveling snow I’ve noticed that I’m not getting as winded as I did last year – not having to stop to catch my breath and etc.  Small indicator that going to the gym is helping – yeah me…

Snow glows white on the mountain tonight...

Snow glows white on the mountain tonight…

Grocery shopping in the snow sucks

Grocery shopping in the snow sucks

John is still not feeling well.  He called in sick the past two days and spent the day sleeping and coughing.  Not a nice way to spend this birthday last Friday.  He was absolutely miserable on the train. Hoping he makes it to work tomorrow, but not counting on it.

Starting to get a new routine ready for the Central Iowa Figure Skating Club’s spring show in March.  This time they have a theme of Mama Mia! – the songs of ABBA.  Going to be skating to Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! – this should be interesting…. Could they have picked a gayer theme.. I mean really… Waiting for a parent to complain about me skating to a song about waiting for a man after midnight. 😉

Here is video of the skating routine I did in December, where the theme was Masquerade Ball/Phantom of the Opera.

Don’t like watching myself skate – it feels much different going through the moves then what it looks like.  Plus I can instantly point out all of the flaws… every… single… one… 🙂

Doing these shows is lots of work.  Have to mix/chop the music using Garage Band so it is around 1 minute and 30 seconds long (regulation for most competitions), work with coaches to block out the choreography and come up with an outfit to wear. Then lots of practice sessions where I try to remember it all and rehearse over and over so it becomes second nature. Each time they like to push me to do something more difficult.  Last time it was a small waltz jump.  This time I want to try doing a lunge…

I was pretty down on taking the Amtrak train from Kansas City, MO to San Bernardino, CA.  By the first night I was not comfortable and my lower back began to hurt.  Sleeping in coach chairs sucked – felt like I was in a train car of horny refugees.  Waiting until 8:45pm to eat supper each evening also did not help, but was all that was available to us…

To do the train right you really need to spend the money on a roomette in one of the sleeper cars.  You then get first seating in the dining car where the cost of the meals are included with your ticket.  You also get flat fold out beds in a private room. Problem is that it makes the trip much more expensive, but much more enjoyable.  That is the only way I would do an another multi-day train trip.

Here’s some random photos from the train trip:

From Observation Car

From Observation Car

Pretty Scenery

Pretty Scenery

More precious sights

More precious sights

Not much else going on tonight.  Glad to be blogging again.



Made it home to West Des Moines, IA today by 1:00pm. Train ended up being close to 2 hours late to Kansas City this morning.

The drive home sucked – I was tired from not sleeping well on the train. John is too sick and medicated to drive – so he had to endure “Derek’s taxi service”.

I spent most of last night attempting to sleep in the observation car because “trashy mom” talked loudly all night long. Think she ended up having sex in bathroom with young man sitting across the aisle from me.. They had a long make out session in their seats at 2am before heading downstairs to the bathrooms. So tragic…

Apartment building and the cats are fine. Prince would not let me pet him – kept running away when I got close. He insisted on John petting him first.

Will blog/post more later. Right now at the walk in clinic with John. He is very very sick and I hope the doctor gives him some shots and strong medications…

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A big Happy Birthday to John today.  The world became a better place 41 years ago 🙂 Unfortunately he is spending it being sick on an uncomfortable Amtrak train heading back home.  We will arrive in Kansas City tomorrow morning.

I had a pretty wretched evening trying to sleep in my coach seat.  Would get comfortable with my ear plugs in and sleeping mask over my eyes, until… My back started hurting, my arm would start to go numb, people next to us started talking loudly at 1:00am for 20 minutes, guy behind me started to snore, my lower back hurts more now, then we stop at a train station where large group of people de-trained, then another group got on, then just not comfortable at all – figit around and then I finally got adjusted and slept from 3:30am to 6:00am.  Better then nothing.  Sigh….

Today I found that if I unbuckle my belt it makes my lower back feel better.  Would love to change out of my jeans and into some comfy shorts but the bathroom floors are way to sticky, stinky and gross to attempt it.  I’ve seen things in the bathrooms that I’m having a hard time forgetting.

The plus side is that the scenery is pretty – lots of rugged dessert with a dusting of brite white snow. Will be arriving in Albuquerque, NM in 30 minutes. Looking forward to seeing a gymnastics team de-train.  They have been annoying like freshman college girls…. 🙂


The weather forecast is calling for snow in Kansas City and Des Moines.  Hoping we don’t behave to much trouble driving the last leg home…

Happy Birthday, John!


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Happy New Year!

Tapping out this blog entry with my iPhone while waiting in San Bernardino, CA for Amtrak train to arrive for our trip back home.  Will spend the next two nights sleeping in coach chairs – my back will be sore once done.

We took the train out here to attend Dave and Mitch’s annual New Year’s Day party.  We spent yesterday helping them prepare for it and today executing the food and etc. for it.  I joking referred to myself as “kitchen bitch #1”.  Did enjoy helping Mitch cook and prep.

John was quite sick and miserable for most of the train ride here.  He saw a doctor at a walk in clinic and obtained some medicine.  He is slowly getting better and I hope he can enjoy the trip back to some degree.

Have two New Year’s resolutions for myself –

#1 Blog more.  Got out of the habit of blogging because my computing habits have changed.  Find I use my iPhone to surf the web and read emails much more then in the past.  Sitting down at my computer in the evening to write blog posting just is not happening.  Going to make an effort to use iPhone and iPad to do postings on a regular basis.  Going to try using voice recognition for this.

#2 Eat more whole foods. Try to cut back on processed food that is high in fat and carbs.  Have lost 12 lbs from working out at KoKo Fit Can’t lub, so think this is the next step….  Want to try to eat squash once a week.  Acorn, butternut and spaghetti varieties.  Will see if John protests…. 🙂

Train will be arriving – so going to get this posted and use a “real” restroom one more time. Will post more about our trip soon.







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Hello all, John here.

Argh, again neglected you all for 2 months…  bloggers curse– When we have stuff to write about not enough time, and when we have time, nothing to write about.  Ugh.

Anyhow, All is well here.  We did loose another tenant.  Lease was up, and she chose to move on to a bigger yard for their growing family.  I can understand that.  They left the place almost as good as they were given it, and we only need to do a few repairs and some touch up.  Finally, not a total disaster… Which is good, as financially we couldn’t have dealt with another complete remodel this year…

Hopefully we will have the For Rent Sign up Monday or Tuesday.  I am a little cautious though, we haven’t had to rent one this late in the year yet, so hopefully we get it filled quickly…

On to other things, Derek has been the skating queen, and has his big Christmas Show coming up.  I am sure he will do just fine, though he seems quite concerned about it.  He enjoys it, but sometimes I think he gets a little too involved…

Work has been, well work.  Still not thrilled with the company, but I have made some progress at positive change, as well as some progress on the Apple front.  I am not sure where it is going to go, but I am trying to make the best of it even though most days I come home and feel like I just went through war.  When I decided I was done with trucking, and went back to school, one of the driving factors was the passion for ones work and the level of expertise that one could surround himself with to continue to grow.  Sadly, in transportation I felt that I was nearing the end of being able to learn new things, and better myself–  The challenges were gone, and most of what I did, as well as what I could see on the horizon to do would be repetitive, and challenges that have already been overcome.  In IT, I find lots of new challenges, lots and lots of things to learn, at times it tends to be very overwhelming, and I have found a few people that I can gain new perspectives from…  Anyhow I am going to stop there before I digress into land of negativity…  I am trying to be a more positive person, but those who know me, know how difficult that can be!

Good news is I passed another Apple Cert today.  Apple released the ACA for 10.10 Yosemite.  It really isn’t a very difficult test, and is done non-proctored.  I am not looking forward to the ACSP and ACTC renewals, which I expect in March…  I have pre-ordered the books already, but they are not quite released yet.

I also am starting a new course on Lynda.com (a training site that has all sorts of very good training– it cost $25.00 a month for unlimited access, which is really cheap in the scheme of IT training).  The course is focused on the UNIX command line, and using Unix with OS X.  Now, I get most people simply don’t care, even if you are in IT, but having a good understanding of what is going on “under the hood” if you will, is pretty valuable, and one of my projects at work is assisting in the development of a product around Macintosh Managed Services.  A Large part of that will deal with the ability to send scripts against these machines remotely, and having a greater understanding of that will make or break the idea…


Anyhow, I wanted to get something written.  I should go down and help Derek for a while…  Hope all is well with everyone!




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Greetings from a nice sunny fall day in Iowa..

Temps got into the upper 60’s today – felt pretty good with the sun out.  Its the type of weather where you can’t decide if you should wear a sweatshirt outside or not..

I’m really stiff and store this evening.  Was planning on heading to KoKo Fit Club for a work out yet tonight, but decided against it because of the soreness I feel.  Two weeks ago I took a fitness test at the gym, and they calculated my strength went up 26%.  Now the work out sessions have me lifting heavier weights.  Can do it but I feel the burn…. then feel sore the next day..

One of the KoKo Training Machines.

One of the KoKo Training Machines.

Have also been doing lots of ice skating.  Taking lessons at two places – Buccaneer arena and at Metro Ice.  Both places take different approach to the lessons – feel like I’m getting well rounded training.  I’ve had almost every skating coach in Des Moines at one time or another.  Think my skating ability is kind of a “community project”.

Practice time at Buccaneer Arena

Practice time at Buccaneer Arena

I’m also preparing a new “Adult Light Entertainment” routine for the Cyclone Country Championship being held in Ames on November 8th.  Attending “club ice” time so I can block out the routine and practice the different elements in it.  This is the third routine I’ve done -so it is starting to feel like a step by step process.

Not much else going on… I’m heading off to watch TV for a bit…



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Wholly Crap.  I had no idea it’s been this long since we posted.  Wow.  Sorry all.

Summer in general has been a bit of a whirlwind.  Weather here in Iowa wasn’t great for most of it…  We haven’t really camped anywhere all summer…  I blame it on work and Derek’s constant Ice Skating.

I guess the big news is we flipped another apartment.  We lost a tenant at the end of last month, our last “inherited” tenant.  In general they were good people, and always paid on-time, but…  It was time for them to go too.  Near the end of June I got into a bit of an argument with him over his “third” car.  Our lease specifically limits number of vehicles– we don’t have that much parking room.  I had made an exception for him as did the last owner.  In short he wanted to get another car, and I said no.  This is also the same one who we let store “2” bikes that multiplied to 7, and had similar issues with.  The lease came due at the end of August, and I simply did not want to deal with more confrontation, and I ended it.

Of course they didn’t make it easy–  The left another disaster for us to clean up.  No effort at cleaning, and total disrespect for our property.  Seriously I would like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but being property owners has seriously made me even more cynical.

Labor Day weekend we “gutted”.  We were smart this time and got a big dumpster.  More 4 year old carpet destroyed! Yippee, $2900.00 out the window.  We pulled out the cabinets, the 3 damaged doors, 3 sets of closet doors, and anything else left behind…

Of course we had to paint the ceilings again.  Seriously?  Is it some sort of a renters game I was never told about?  How much crap can we stick on the ceilings?  sigh.  Got that done, and got all new lighting installed.  Prepped for Dad and Besty’s arrival the week after…  They did a great job of getting the new kitchen installed in short order.

Pretty much had things wrapped up by last weekend.  So it now has new floors, new lighting, all new kitchen appliances, all new cabinets, new bathroom vanity and sink, fresh paint, 3 new interior doors, 3 sets of new closet doors, replaced all the outlets and light switches, and removed the cruddy bathroom tub door.  Not bad for shy of 3 weeks work.  Derek did a lot of it, and redid all the woodwork too.  I’m glad its done, but I don’t want to do another one!

So had it on Craigslist and the sign in the yard.  Dealt with a few crazies, but I hope we found a great new tenant who is moving in next weekend.  Maybe my stress level will drop a little now.

Well here are a few pictures.





Anyhow, Sorry for the long gap.  We’ll try to post again soon, and hopefully we will have a camping trip in here too.



Greetings from an overcast day in West Des Moines Iowa.

John is outside pressure washing the siding on the apartment building and I just got done cleaning the bathroom.  Decided to do blog posting while my head clears from all of the cleaning products.

Spent the last two weeks getting my knee back in shape to skate at the Heart of America Invitational in Kansas City.  Practiced four times last week and found the knee brace really helped.  Club practice ice is from 5pm to 6pm each evening – so I take a taxi there, then John picks me up after work.  He usually arrived a bit before 6 and waits in the parking lot for 15 minutes. The taxi drivers with Cab Trans are quite chatty and seem like they enjoy driving me to practice.  They ask me lots of ice skating and hockey questions.  Costs around $13 for 15 minute trip… so not the end of the world.

Took Friday as a vacation day from work.  Spent the morning playing Minecraft, getting rental car (white Nissan Altima) and packing for trip.  At 1:00pm meet John and one of his coworkers for lunch.  We took a short walk on the skywalk to the Big City Burgers and Greens.  Enjoyed a black and blue burger with fries drizzled with truffle oil.  Was pretty good and was nice to meet one of John’s coworkers

After lunch I hit the road for Kansas City.  Was an easy drive – just take I-35 South for 3.5 hours.  It was nice to hop in a car by myself and drive somewhere – something I don’t do much anymore.  Bad part was that I hit Kansas City right at rush hour – so had to contend with unfamiliar roads and stop and go traffic.  The last 15 minutes the GPS took me through a maze of interstate roads until I arrived at hotel in southern suburb of Shawnee, KS.  To save money went with a Motel 6.  Came to $54 a night and it was “just fine”.  It was an older hotel but my room was clean and updated in past year.

That evening was able to go to public skating session at the Kansas City Ice Center so I could practice on their ice and get a comfort level with their facility.  Found their ice to be a little faster to skate on then at the Buccaneer Arena.  Could really notice it when I did a simple two foot spin – easier to start spinning and would go faster.  Practiced for an hour and was happy with things – was able to go over routine several times without music and practice certain parts over and over.

On Saturday got up early and headed back over to the Ice Center for 8:00am practice ice.  They let you spend 15 minutes on the ice with 11 other skaters and go over your routine once to music.  Gives me a chance to get “my skating feet” back for when I do routine for judges later.  Is a bit intimidating to be out skating on the ice with 11 girls who skate and zip around the ice really fast.  Just blocked them out and did my thing.  One girl gave me the stink eye as she almost hit me trying to do some sort of jump… Oh well..

Next was waiting around until 10:00 and changing into skating clothes.  Then they let you go on the ice with 7 other girls for a quick 5 minute warm up.  Gave me another chance to “get my skating feet back” and practice some of the more difficult elements one more time.

Then we all exited the ice and I was up first.  They announce your name, you head out on the ice alone, strike a pose so they know to start the music and go through the routine.  Was not nearly as nervous as at the last competition.  Routine went as planned, the very ending where I do a simple waltz jump was a shaky but did not fall.

Then changed out of my skating clothes and waited 15 minutes for results. I won a first place gold metal.  Coach Elena said if I did not fulfill the requirements for Adult Light Entertainment, then I would have received a lesser metal – being only skater in category does not guarantee you first place. Ordered a few photos of my performance from professional photographer who was rink side – will post when I receive them.  Believe there is a video of performance taken by one of the coaches – will post if I can retrieve from them.

Prince modeling my gold medal

I then stayed at the competition for two more hours watching the other skaters in our club compete.  Most received metals for their performances.  Was nice to see the club skaters being able to compete well with the other clubs in the area.

Started for home at 1:00pm.  Trip back was easy once I got out of Kansas City.  Stopped for a quick lunch at Wendy’s then made it back to West Des Moines by 4:30pm.  Had John pick me at car rental place and was glad to be back home.  Ethan kept by my side for the next two hours meowing – like he was telling me everything I missed…  I asked John to refer to me as “Gold Medalist Derek” for the remainder of the weekend – he just groaned and muttered something about being the only one in my category…

Decided to make supper at home – we were both tired of eating out.  Made fetuchinne with red sauce, meatballs and french toast.  In the process of cooking I splashed boiling water on top of my left foot.  It really hurt.  I immediately put ice cubes in my sock and that helped me get through supper.

After enjoying supper, got the kitchen cleaned up and watched the first two episodes of the second of Orange is the New Black on Netflix.  Kept an ice pack on my foot while watching TV – see some the skin has blistered.  Is sore, but not bad enough to need medical attention.  So far I’m liking this season just as much as the first one.  Like how they go into the back stories of the other characters and let you see how they ended up in jail.  Many times I watch a series, love the first season, but hate where they have taken the story line in upcoming seasons – like with the TV show Weeds….

This morning we both slept in until after 8 and had simple breakfast at home.  Think John will be done with pressure washing soon.  He was having problem with breakers being thrown – believe water got into some of the outside plug-ins.  The siding gets dirty because grass does not grow next to the building.  The wide overhangs prevent rain from falling on it.  One of my projects for this summer is to put stone pebbles around the building along with landscaping fabric and a stone border.  Once done it should help keep the dirt from flying when it rains.

Next Thursday through Saturday I’m participating in the Des Moines Charity Hack 2014.  It’s a 48 hour event where computer programmers get paired up in teams and work on IT problems/solutions for various non-profit organizations.  It’s a marathon programming session – where you work for two days straight to do as much as possible.  Their web site explains a bit more.  Thought it sounded fun – so taking next Friday off of work and going for it.  I will probably be the old guy with a bunch of 20-something computer savants but oh well…

Not much else going on… Think we will probably go out for a mid-afternoon lunch, get grocery shopping done for the week and then head back home to finish up laundry.