Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Surprise In Law Visit

This past weekend we had a surprise visit with the in laws.  About a month ago Jason sent me an e-mail asking about Mom's house and if she is interested in selling it as they were interested in buying it.  At the time I haven't told my children that their grandmother bought a house in Meeteetse.

He said that things are pretty tough out in California and that they are looking to move to Hardin.  I tried to talk some sense into them, that moving to Montana is fine but not Hardin, there is nothing here.  Billings would be a better fit for them.  Anyway, I told Jason that I would relay the message to his grandmother and she could contact Jeni's aunt Susan, this way I am not the middle man.

Jeni called me on the 14th and asked if I would look at a house in Hardin that they are interested in buying.  I talked to Susan and got the particulars on the house.  The address is 420 W 5th St.  The listing said 4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, a two story house but there was no information about the bedrooms with size and location.  Susan said that her dad would be moving with them and he needs a bedroom on the main floor. Grandpa would be buying the house anyway.  No problem I could call the realtor for them and make an arrangement it would have to be on Saturday.  My counter tops were getting installed on Monday and I have to work the rest of the week.  That would be no problem.

On Monday the 16th Jeni called and said that she and Susan are coming out to Hardin to look at the house, would I have room for them in my house.  My spare bedroom is in shambles, still have quite a bit of my kitchen in there.  I asked Mom if they could stay at her house, but that wouldn't work as Mom's house is organized chaos. She doesn't have any dishes or bedding in her house.

It was decided to make a motel reservation for them and Mom and I would pay for it.  I called Jeni back and told her, now her grandfather is coming too.  Jeni said that they would arrive in Hardin on Thursday and be leaving on Monday.  I made the motel reservation for them, got two rooms for four nights.  I put them in the Rodeway Inn (American Inn).  Since it is under new ownership, prices have gone up a bit.  The guy gave me a 5% discount on the rooms, which just paid for the taxes.  I had to fill out a credit card authorization to pay for the rooms.  Yikes when I tallied up how much it would be I about died, $728 for the motel. 

Jason didn't come with them, someone had to stay and take care of their animals.  It was just Jeni, Susan and Grandpa.  They arrived on Thursday and had no problems checking in.  It turned out that they stayed three nights as Grandpa had to be back in Oxnard by Tuesday. 

It was a bad weekend to spring this on me, we had class on Thursday and on Friday we had the HOG Chapter appreciation at the dealership.  Wouldn't be spending too much time with them.  I did take Friday afternoon off to spend some time.

Their appointment with the realtor was for Friday at 2:00 pm.  Gary and I were invited to look at the house with them, they ended up looking at two houses.  Gary and I met them for lunch at McDonald's on Friday (Susan treated).  Grandpa had already made up his mind that he was going to buy this house.

It is a nice house and very well kept for an older home.  I didn't like the kitchen, it is very tiny and no dishwasher.  The house had two bedrooms on the main floor and two upstairs.  There is a full basement with two rooms that can be made into bedrooms.  Has a fenced back yard and a two car detached garage. The asking price on this house is $159,900.  The address is 420 W. 5th St.

The other house they looked at was on the other side of the block, a large brick house on the corner of 4th & Crawford.  I didn't like this house, rooms were long and narrow and I did not like the basement at all.  Grandpa didn't like the house, too hard for him going up the stairs with his walker.

It was decided on the blue house, they went with the realtor to wheel & deal, Gary and I got ready for our thing in Billings.

Saturday Jeni and her family went to the Battlefield.  I didn't go as my allergies kicked in and I wasn't feeling well anyway.  I had a throbbing headache and I don't think the brats I ate at the appreciation were agreeing with me.  I told Jeni for Grandpa to check into getting a park pass.  Since he is a senior it would cost him $10 and I think because he is handicapped it would be free.  He qualified for the free pass.

Their offer was accepted, the current owners will pay for the closing costs and will install handrails in the stairway heading to the basement.  Grandpa has to get the inspection done by Oct. 1, the realtor gave him a name and then they need to get approved for financing.  Jeni is excited.

Jennifer and I met them for supper on Saturday and we ate at Pizza Hut (Susan treated).  It was nice visiting with them and I apologized for not being able to be a good hostess.  Grandpa said I helped out quite a bit, especially with the motel rooms.  Susan said that she is going to send me money to help pay for the rooms. We said our goodbyes here as they were leaving bright and early in the morning.  Susan wanted to be on the road by 5:00 am, Grandpa wanted to make it as far as Mesquite NV.

I have my reservations about this move.  1). They have always lived in the city and moving to small town Hardin they are going to be quite bored.  I think Grandpa & Susan will adjust fine, but Jason & Jeni are going to be bored.  2).  They have never experienced winter and will be in for a treat when winter does come and have to heat that house.  It is a large house.   3)  Jobs are hard to find here and there are not that many.  4) Grandpa qualities for VA Health Care and the closest ones are either 50 miles away in Billings or 85 miles away in Sheridan.  Think about driving the roads in winter.  5) I think they are paying way too much for the house in Hardin.

I am happy for them and it would be nice to have the kids closer.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kitchen Remodel Part II

I finally got my counter tops installed last Monday, had to wait 9 weeks for them.  I started this project on Memorial Day, that was when I ordered everything.  It took 5 weeks for my cabinets to arrive, which I knew that.

We did our own demo of the kitchen, figured that would save time for the contractor.  I had hired a contractor in May to install the cabinets.  I kept him informed on when the cabinets would be at the house and everything, just had to wait for him to call me back.  Every time I called him he would put me off, so I found another one.  I'm still waiting for the phone call from the first contractor. 

I hired Clayton Fortune to install the cabinets and he got them done in two days.  He had help his son was his helper.  Once I got the cabinets installed, then the counter top people came down to measure.  That was on July 16th when he measured.  Clayton was over to finish up some work by putting up the molding on the cabinets.  I asked the counter top guy how long it would take and he told me about 6 weeks, could be sooner.

They don't keep the material there, don't know why, they have at least the ball park figure when I ordered the cabinets.  Well, my 6 weeks turned into 9 weeks which I wasn't happy with at all.  Got irritated with the counter top people but they finally got them installed.  The material didn't arrive in Billings until Sept. 5 and then it took them the 10 days to cut it.  I had to pay for everything up front even the mileage for two trips from Billings to Hardin.

I got tired real quick of washing dishes in the bathroom, silverware and glasses in the bathroom sink, pots and pans in the bathtub.  I never take a kitchen sink for granted anymore.  Also got tired real quick eating off of paper plates and bowls.

The counter tops got installed last Monday the 16th, the guys were only here for an hour, didn't take them long at all.  Jennifer and I installed the faucet and sink baskets. Had to buy the water hose and we got those installed too.  We had to wait for Gary to get home to get all the plumbing done.  Jennifer and I weren't much help in this department, our neighbor came over to help. 

Had a few leaks at first until things got tightened up, but it all works.  We just have to install the fill spacers around the dishwasher and get it anchored.  I did run it one day to check for leaks and it ran smooth, no leaks.

All that is left to do is paint and put up the backsplash, I just haven't figured out what color I want.  I love my new kitchen and it is all thanks to Spuddie & Roy, so everyone needs to plan a trip to Hardin to have a cup of coffee in my new kitchen.

I will never do another kitchen remodel in my life time, this will stay forever.

Here are some before & after photos:
Old Along the window wall

New, hickory cabinets with quarts counter tops, we extended the length along this wall.

Old by the stove

I didn't put new above the fridge, wasted space, got a built in micro wave to give me more counter space.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9-11 Remembrance Ride

Sunday Gary and I rode in the 9-11 Remembrance Ride sponsored by the BASTARDS Motorcycle Club from Laurel.  This was their 8th year for this ride.  It is a short poker run and all the proceeds go to the Laurel Home Town Group.  This group sends out care packages to Montana service men and women serving in the wars.

Robert had received care packages from them so Gary and I do our part to help out.  It is always fun and a lot of bikers show up.  We start in Laurel and ride to the Courthouse in Billings for a short ceremony.  This year they had all the veterans and active military step up to the front.  There were only 3 women in the group.  Most were veterans and some came forward to give a short talk on what 9-11 meant to them.  Most were younger, veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Gary said I should have stepped forward with my history.  Daughter of a WWII vet, wife of a Viet Nam vet, mother of an Iraq War vet and being a vet myself.  Not to mention that when 9-11 struck I was working as a 9-1-1 Operator for the Sheriff's Office and was in Kalispell attending 9-1-1 school at the time.  Food for thought.

After the ceremony it was on to the next poker stop at BugZ's bar in the Heights, then we went to the final destination at Tiny's Tavern.  There were only 3 stops on this poker run, so two cards were drawn in Laurel.  I had a good hand going until the last stop.  I had a pair of 4's and Queens.  Just needed one more of either one at the last stop.  I drew a 3.  Figures.

Tiny's Tavern put on a good feed for us, we had burgers and hot dogs with baked beans, chili, cole slaw and potato salad.  It was announced that Tiny's didn't charge the BASTARDS for the food, it was their donation. We met in the outside patio at Tiny's, very nice.  We estimated that there were about 500 people that started on the poker run, not everyone ended up at Tiny's, must have been about 200 there.

We are going to have to make a point of going to Tiny's again.  We have heard that they do have good dinners.

This ride was also on the same day as our HOG Chapter Mystery Ride and meeting.  Gary refuses to go on any more mystery rides since the fiasco two years ago. 

All in all we had a fun day, spent with our good friends.  We can honestly say that we went the whole riding season without getting wet.  That's right, no riding in rain storms this year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yellowstone Park & Chico

This past weekend was the HOG Chapter's annual Yellowstone Park Ride with an over night stay in Chico Hot Springs.  This is always a fun ride and we thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

This year we spent Friday night in Billings, we met our friends Marty & Vickie Davis in Billings for breakfast at 7:00 am.  This meant that we would have to leave Hardin bright and early, getting an extra hour of sleep won.  Besides we didn't have that cool ride to Billings.

We ate a good breakfast, not knowing what route we would be taking as it can change from year to year.  We met everyone at the dealership around 8:00 am.  We milled around and visited.  The host for this ride is Gary & Dawn Squires and they said we were leaving at 9:00 am sharp. 

Had a good turnout for this ride this year, I counted 20 bikes and about 34 people.  This year we went to Cody for a brunch this way we could spend more time riding in the Park.  Looking forward to next year when Gary will get his Senior's Pass for the National Parks. 

We had brunch at Grannies in Cody.  They do a real good job about getting our large group in and out fast.  Not everyone will get to sit together but we are usually in groups of 4.  Since we had a big breakfast in Billings, we just shared a caramel roll.  Good thing because they are huge, it was all I could do just to eat half.

Had a very nice ride to the East Gate at the Park.  The ranger had all of us get into one line, then she took our money and passes, as we rode through the gate she then gave us all our receipts and maps.  We pulled over in a small parking lot to regroup and take a break.

From the East Gate we then make our way to Old Faithful, it seems to take forever to get to Old Faithful with the speed limit of 45 and traffic.  Traffic is usually not a problem this time of year in the Park.  We got to Old Faithful and had about a 25 minute wait for the eruption.  We remembered the mess up from last year when we got separated, so we stayed with the main group this year. 

We went into the Old Faithful Inn and got a drink from the cafeteria then we sat out on the porch to watch the geyser erupt.  It was very nice.  I wonder if this is the same cafeteria where Mom & Dad worked in the Park. 

As we were leaving Old Faithful, we saw the storm clouds south of us and it didn't look good, those clouds followed us all the way to Chico, we didn't get wet but it sure threatened to. 

About Gibson Meadows there were buffalo on the side of the road, no problem as long as they stay on the side.  One old buffalo was lumbering along the road.  Naturally traffic was stopped for pictures.  It didn't take long before the buffalo decided he wanted on the other side of the road, he split our group in half.  We were the second bike stopped.  Things went well until some jackass from California decided he didn't want to get caught in a buffalo jam.  The jackass drove on and when he did, he herded that buffalo right into our path.  The rider in front of us had to get off his bike, that buffalo sure was close, almost on top of his bike. It could have been a disaster if that old buffalo turned his head, would have knocked that rider down.  We all managed to get around the buffalo and the rider in front of us was safe and able to get back on the road.  Our friends were the last bike and couldn't figure out why the motorists were taking pictures of us.

A bit further up the road there was more buffalo and one was lumbering on the road straight towards us, Gary was able to get around and we all got by without any problems.

We stopped in Mammoth for a short break, then in Gardiner for gas.  The storm clouds were right over us and it didn't look good.  I put my rain gear on to guarantee no rain.  It worked we didn't get wet, but it sure did get cold.  We could see the huge storm clouds by Livingston.  We arrived at Chico dry around 6:00 pm.

We got checked in and settled in our room, met everyone for supper in the bar.  Every weekend Chico has live music and this weekend was a band from Cody called Honky Tonk Heroes.  They were good.  We drank a lot, ate good ribs(not as good as Big Jim's), played shuffleboard.  We didn't get into the pool as our friends Marty & Vickie don't do the water thing.  It was in the bar when we heard about the bad storm that hit Billings.  Gary called Jennifer and all Hardin got was some wind and rain, nothing like what  hit Billings.

On Sunday morning we left around 8:30 and ate breakfast in Livingston.  The original plan was to eat at Chico for their Sunday brunch, then ride back into the Park and over Beartooth into Red Lodge.  With the storm and road construction Gary and Marty were not going to ride this way.  Marty & Vickie were worried and wanted to get home to see if there was any damage to their home.  They live by a creek and was worried about flooding.

The price for the Sunday brunch at Chico was $16 per person, there is no way that we can eat that much.  Marty & Vickie really wanted to get home and check on their house.  Fortunately they didn't have any damage at all, just some tree limbs in their yard.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

MDA Poker Run

Last Sunday we rode in the MDA Poker Run.  This was the 24th year that our chapter has hosted this event for MDA.  It used to coincide with the telethon, but since they stopped airing that we just ride. 

We met our friends for breakfast at the Muzzleloader, sign up for the poker run was at the Powder Horn bar which is right next door.  We only played one poker had, it can get rather pricey at $20 per hand. 

This year the route took us to Huntley, Worden, Custer, Hardin and then back to Billings at Montana Chad's.  We made it to the first poker stop in Huntley, that is where our friend Marty's bike broke down.  It just wouldn't start.  On nice thing about being a biker is that he had plenty of help.  No go.  Fortunately the Harley shop was open but only until 3:00pm. 

Gary and Dale Butterfield flipped a coin to see who would run and get their pickup and trailer.  Huntley is about the half way for each, Dale won.  We stayed with Marty & Vickie at the bar.   It was fortunate that they broke down here instead of on the side of a highway somewhere.  We only had to wait for about 2 hours for Dale to get back.

Wouldn't you know it, once Dale came with his truck and trailer, Marty's bike started.  But who knew for how long.  Marty & Vickie are going with us on the Yellowstone Ride with an overnight in Chico this weekend.  The Harley shop was able to get him fixed up before the Yellowstone trip.

We arrived at the dealership and his bike still started, naturally we are at the Harley shop.  By this time we just made our way to Montana Chad's, we were all able to finish playing our poker hands.  Ate a good lunch  and just enjoyed our time visiting.

No one in our group won the poker hands, but Dale did win a hat in a drawing.  We had a good time, Marty & Vickie felt bad about ruining everyone's ride.  No problem, better to have this problem now instead of this weekend while we are in the Park.

Turned out that the staters in Marty's bike went out.  All I know about this is that they are part of the charging system on the bike, sort of like an alternator for a car.  Marty does have his bike, the Harley shop had it finished on Tuesday.

I felt that we had a low turn out for this ride this year.  A vote was taken of the group this year and it was decided to keep the ride on Sunday instead of changing it to Monday.  It was reminded that not everyone has the holiday off, some people have to work on Monday.