Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am a BAD Blogger (Update #5 on progress)

I truly had planned on more frequent updates but I have been busier now than I have ever been. There is always something to do and updating the blog keeps sliding down the list. I really wanted to get this post out now so that I can wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Around Thanksgiving Jo and I realized again just how thankful we really are, and odd as it seems we are somewhat thankful for the economic crisis. If I was still working I know my retirement date would be slipped due to the downturn. Since I am retired it has forced us to cutback on some spending and for the most part are living off of our pensions with a little dipping into our non-401k savings. Full-timing will be cheaper than living in our old sticks and bricks so we may be able to go for a few years without touching our 401k's allowing them to rebound. If there had not been this downturn we may not have adjusted our spending and when the next downturn hit it could have been a disaster for us as we would have depleted our 401k's in the mean time.

There has been no time for blogging since we have been working on the inside of the house now that the arctic blast has hit. We have finished our office/bedroom including revitalizing the old woodwork, the hollywood bath and are finishing the upstairs master bath. That only leaves the master bedroom and the guest room upstairs and a fresh coat of paint on the finished basement. When it warms up in spring we will have yet another garage sale, put a coat of paint on the front stoop since the new concrete patching clashes with the old concrete, and sprucing up the landscaping for better curb appeal.

I hope my next blog post will be travel related; I am hoping to do my historical review of Albuquerque in the very near future so stay tuned.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Update on progress towards fulltiming - Part 4

Flexibility is key when working on an effort this large. When the weather was hot we worked indoors painting and when the weather cooled off nicely we went back outside for more yard work. Now as the weather turns cold we will head back inside.

As I write this I am sitting in the garage running our second garage sale in two weeks. I cannot believe how much "stuff" two people can jam into all the nooks that exist in a house. The office/bedroom is a perfect example. We were going to clean it out and move everything out so we could paint. When finished painting just the stuff for staging would be moved back in. In the office we had two bookcases, a loveseat sofa sleeper with ottoman, filing cabinet, computer desk, rolltop desk and of course the closet. It took us a week and a 1/2 just to get the stuff out of the ottoman, filing cabinet, computer desk, rolltop desk and the closet.. By that time it had cooled off so we went back outside.

Neglected maintenance accounts for most of the work that is being done, especially in the back yard. Whenever we had the gumption to do work outside we invariably concentrated on the front yard and then pooped out when that was finished so the back yard suffered. For the longest time we needed to clean the concrete in both the front and the back so the cooler weather allowed that opportunity. The powerwasher and a neat attachment for cleaning flat surfaces got a work out on the driveway, sidewalk and stoop in front, the patio and deck in the back.

After patching some of the concrete in front that had been eaten away by salt and after the concrete and the deck were cleaned we then sealed them. We may decide in the spring to paint the concrete in the front for better curb appeal but at least now we won't have to clean them again.

While it was still hot we cleared out the coat closet in the foyer and the linen closet in the hallway. All the wall hangings were removed and the furniture (hall tree, welcome posts, etc.) were moved out. The hall tree was in the country style so we chose a paint color in the same family but a lot darker and painted the hall tree. The walls were patched and painted and the closets were painted white. The bare minimum of stuff was returned to the closets so that we don't have to do that again.

In addition to garage sales we have attempted to sell some items on craigslist or ebay. For the longest time nothing sold but here recently things are picking up. We put things on craigslist and ebay that would be hard to sell at a reasonable price at a garage sale since everybody is bargain hunting.

We also found some time to visit our local RV dealership since they just got in a brand new floorplan that is appealing. We were able to see our favorite from this brand and the new floorplan and compare them side by side. Later this month we are driving to Chanute KS to visit the factory of our other favorite brand and see three floorplans we like there.

As more and more stuff heads out the door we can begin to see how big the place really is without too much stuff we had in it. We can also start to see the end of the trail, that is getting the house on the market, happening in early Spring. We did not waste an opportunity for marketing and hung signs in our garage sale stating house would be on the market in Spring 2009. We got a couple of nibbles because of the marketing so we are encouraged by that. Both nibbles are a couple of months away from seriously looking so our timing just might mesh with theirs.

I hope my next blog post will be travel related; I am hoping to do my historical review of Albuquerque in the very near future so stay tuned.

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Update on progress towards fulltiming - Part 3

I had previously mentioned that the logjam of the basement had been finished. The problem with logjams is that they can re-form downstream. After almost two months the great kitchen disaster of 2008 has mostly been completed. I have a message for all those that thought someday Jo would wise up and realize what a dope I am and that would be the end of our marriage; well if we can survive the kitchen I think we can survive anything - but this did come closer than any other event has ever come.

The comedy of errors known as the great kitchen disaster of 2008 actually began a few months ago when I mistakenly thought that 23 year old appliances could be a part of the home sale. In my defense the appliances were black and stainless steel which is all the rage now, but mostly black instead of stainless instead of the current rage of mostly stainless steel. I felt that with a little spit and polish that they would be fine. As 23 year old appliances are prone to do they began failing in earnest over the last few months. As June rolled around we only had one burner on our cooktop that worked pretty good; an oven that got hotter but you never knew which temperature or how even the heat was and a microwave we were afraid to use because the next time it broke it probably could not be fixed. So for those keeping track we now have had to replace a furnace, oven/microwave built-in unit and a cooktop this year already.

As it started to heat up outside we moved our activities inside and painted the kitchen ceiling in late June. Then it was on to the wallpaper. I feel that whomever invented wallpaper should be dug up and have their bones scattered all over the four corners of the earth but first I want to dance on the grave. This is the second room where we have had to remove wallpaper and although we hate to admit it this wallpaper did come down easier than the other room. Once we tried to remove the glue though the paper on the Sheetrock starting to disintegrate so our only option was to sand the glue; a huge dusty mess even though we tried to place tarps over everything the dust got everywhere. What we did not realize was that this was going to be the small mess (more on that later).

About this time the oven/microwave was installed and the cooktop was on order. A few years ago we had Granite Transformations put a countertop around our sink and on the island with the cooktop. It took a lot of research to find a cooktop that only required slight modifications to the cutout and one that expanded the hole which was easier than making it smaller. Granite Transformations wanted the cooktop on hand so that they could measure it exactly. Now it has been said that every cloud has a silver lining and the silver lining of the great kitchen disaster of 2008 has to be the modification of the cutout; the technician was right on time, used cool tools to do the job and even attempted to cleanup after he was done even though the glue dust was everywhere. The cooktop slid right into the slot and then I began installing it.

For those that do not know this I used to be a project manager one thing that has been said about projects is that they always take longer than the estimate. Well I estimated this job to be about a couple of hours since there were only two connections to worry about; electrical and the venting for the downdraft and both were already there. We had disconnected both to get the old cooktop out so we were familiar with the setup. Projects take so much longer because of the unexpected; the electrical connection was from the front of the new unit instead of the back like the old one and the conduit would have interfered with putting pans in the island so the junction box would have to be moved. Turns out this was the easy fix because the venting for the new downdraft went in the opposite direction than that of the old. Since the space was tight it was impossible to get one elbow on each end to be able to connect. After 4 trips to various hardware stores and a few days the 2 hour job was done. A shout out needs to go to Smith Brothers hardware in Raytown. I have been in town almost 30 years and whenever I needed a part that no one else had I was able to get it there.

While dealing with the frustrations of the cooktop installation I began to use joint compound to patch all of the areas damaged by the wallpaper removal. Because of the less than stellar results of our first wallpaper and painting effort I decided to liberally apply the spackle and then sand it even. Well the last liberal thing I had done prior to this was to vote for Jimmy Carter in 1980 and that was a mistake too. I should have taken the time and built up the areas slowly instead of the mudslide effect that I used. If we thought that sanding the glue was dusty it was absolutely nothing compared to the dust raised by the sanding of the mountains of mud. The kitchen looked like China during the Olympics and we must have looked like people during the SARS scare with our masks on. So much dust was raised and moved throughout the house that I am quite sure that five years from now we will open a cabinet in our RV the dust will have followed us there. The sad part is that there were still areas that could have been better.

So we now think we are in the home stretch as all we have to do is prime and paint. As we started putting the primer on; after setting up the tarps for the umpteenth time, the primer was not adhering so it was off to Sherwin Williams. We were using latex primer since we try to avoid oil-based as much as possible and the latex was interacting with whatever glue was left over. With oil-based primer on brush and roller we proceeded to prime all the walls including all the nooks and crannies prevalent in kitchens. We then made choices to improve our coverage; darker tone of paint, different rollers, type of paint, etc. and painted the kitchen hoping we were done. We now know for sure that we are not great painters because a second coat was needed but the result was better than expected after looking at the walls after sanding.

As the paint was drying the next job tackled was the antique brass knobs throughout the kitchen which did not match the new stainless decor. Replacing all the knobs and hinges was not practical due to their unique nature and the cost. A can of spray paint to the rescue after deciding between three different varieties. We decided to leave the hinges alone and leave some brass on the knobs. I setup a painting station in the basement with nails to hang knobs on for spraying and drying since there was 42 knobs to paint.

When the second coat of paint was dry we pulled the painters tape off and began the massive cleanup so that we could put the kitchen back together. All the dishes in the cabinets had to be washed even though the cabinets were covered with tarps during sanding. As we are working room to room we are beginning the decluttering so more stuff was identified for our next garage sale. A new under cabinet light fixture for the desk in the kitchen was added and all the freshly painted knobs were put back on. A good before picture is not available but here is the after picture. We will do our final staging of the kitchen as we go out the door as well as paint the pantry.

The kitchen has not been our only activity as a huge dent has been made in our library. When cleaning out the basement I found a dozen boxes of books to go with our hundreds of books in our bookcases. My old college books were donated to Better World Books ( who among other things directly sent more than 1 million books to Books for Africa, the National Center for Family Literacy, and Feed the Children. Our other books will be offered to family members and then sold to Half Price bookstores.

We have started watching staging shows on HGTV and believe we will try that for ourselves and then get feedback when we interview the realtors.

Even with the setback of the great kitchen disaster of 2008 our target is still doable which is the house on the market in early spring. I was listening to Dave Ramsey recently and he thought that once the election is over and the grass starts coming up next year that the housing market will get better and that suits our timing just fine. While it is still hot we will work on going room to room (office, foyer, etc.) and then when it cools off finish up outside (deck, siding, etc.)

Till next time,

Bob & Jo

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Seattle area (Historical 2001-2003, 2005-2006, 2008)

We have been coming to the Seattle area since we first came here for our 10th wedding anniversary. We chose the Seattle area because the weather in July on average is absolutely perfect for us; little or no humidity with an average high of 70 degrees, overnight low average is about 50 degrees, and about 1 inch of rain for the entire month of July and August. The first year we planned on being downtown with no rental car but got a huge jolt when I called all the HHonors properties in the area. The first few had no rooms available and when I finally found some rooms available the lowest rate I could get was $199 and could have spent up to $299. Turns out the MLB all star game was in Seattle at that time. After about 2 dozen phone calls and multiple web searches I was getting desperate. I finally called the Pacific Reservation Agency and told them what kind of places we generally liked and right off the bat he knew of a couple of places. We ended up choosing the Silvercloud Inn in Mukilteo ( about 30 miles north of Seattle and we could not have been happier in fact 2008 was our 6th trip to the same hotel. We had to skip 2004 due to the evaluation trips for the ESN (formerly ICSI) procurement and our 2007 trip was superseded by the ESN Enterprise meeting in Portland OR in July so we vacationed in Oregon after the meeting.

A couple of stories will really show why we like the weather here. On one of our trips we were walking back from our anniversary dinner and the tide was coming in with a strong breeze in our face and we got a little chilled by the experience. The temperature at the time was 70 degrees. When we called back to KC to talk to family we asked what the temperature was there and the comfort index was 115. The last trip in 2008 was a little warmer than usual and a little more cloudy and rainy than usual. The weather forecaster mentioned that it was going to be hot the next day; 75 degrees, and that a new high for an overnight low could be set if the forecast of 62 degrees was met. Contrast that to KC where everybody cannot seem to wait until it is in the 80's.

There is an abundance of sightseeing opportunities in the Seattle area. No matter where you are you are a short distance to mountains or islands or the coastline. The snow line in the mountains at this time of year is about 11,000 feet so you pretty much can see snow capped mountains year round. Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most scenic areas that you will ever see. Drive along the 400 mile self-guided driving tour called the Cascade Loop from the waters of the Puget Sound in Seattle across the Cascades and the Bavarian community of Leavenworth and into the Columbia River Valley which is a high desert climate that has excellent orchards for cherries near Wenatchee. While in Wenatchee also visit the Ohme Garden which Herman & Ruth Ohme developed themselves and maintained for over 40 years. Ohme Garden sits on a vista and is an evergreen oasis in the high desert. After visiting the garden continue on the loop back into the Cascades and alpine lakes and then loop back to the Seattle area and the waters of the Puget Sound.

Right across the Possession Sound from Mukilteo is Whidbey Island where you can visit Coupeville where Practical Magic was filmed and eat the best mussels that you will ever have, the Penn Cove mussels. Langley is an artsy community on South Whidbey that takes you back to the simpler times in the Pacific Northwest. Many buildings there are on the National Registry of Historic Places and the eating establishments are top notch, especially the Fish Bowl. If you are staying at the Silvercloud, or you park your car in the nearby parking lot, you can walk onto the ferry and a bus will be there to take you directly to Langley (the Langley express) or anywhere on the island for free. A can't miss place to visit is the Deception Pass and the amazing bridge on the northern most point of Whidbey Island.

Right in Mukilteo is the Mukilteo Lighthouse (or Elliot Point Lighthouse) that is just steps away from the Silvercloud Inn. Mukilteo is a local Indian word for "good place for camping" and I find that ironic since we love this place so much and we are embarking on a lifestyle of camping across these United States. Although the lighthouse was recently turned over to the city the navigational equipment is still utilized and maintained by the Coast Guard.

The Washington State Ferry system takes you to a lot of places not accessible by car, or more convenient on the ferry. One place not to miss is the San Juan Islands. This is one of the longer ferry rides where your destination is still within the United States; depending on your departure location it can be as long as 4 hours. But along the way you will see incredible scenery and the very good possibility that your trip will include whale watching as close to 90 of these wonderful creatures ply the waters near the San Juan Islands. We drove to Anacortes and walked on to the ferry there and although we did not see any whales on this trip the scenery was worth the trip. We arrived at Friday Harbor and walked around. We ate at the Downrigger which served excellent fish sandwiches on the waterfront. We visited shops, a bakery, just sat looking at the water, all in all had a great day and then we boarded the ferry for our ride back to Anacortes.

If you are visiting downtown Seattle the first place to see is the Pike Public Market. This is a daily farmers market that has seafood and other artsy booths. This is where you can see the fish tossed from behind the counter to the buying customer, but try to catch it better than Niles Crane did in the classic Frazer episode. Near Pikes Market is the original Starbucks with the risqué logo that was toned down once Starbucks went national. There is an aquarium, maritime museum, and countless shops and restaurants along the Alaskan Way.

I struggled whether to list sightseeing first or food first because the eating in the Seattle area is probably the best in the country. During our six trips here (I was also here twice on business trips where Jo did not join me) we have had the best of the following dishes:
  • clam chowder (cream based) at Ivar's (multiple locations)
  • clam chowder (broth based) at Fish Bowl in Langley
  • fish and chips at Ivar's (multiple locations)
  • halibut at Ivar's or Arnie's in Mukilteo
  • salmon at Ivar's or Arnie's in Mukilteo
  • mussels; Penn Cove mussels
  • fish taco at the Tin Fish in Mukilteo
  • oysters
  • sourdough bread from the Alaskan Sour Dough Bakery on the waterfront
  • cherries from an orchard near Wenatchee; be sure and try the Van and Lambert varieties in addition to the Bing and Rainier
  • cookie; the gold rush from the Alaskan Sour Dough Bakery
  • fudge from the Rosehill Chocolate Company in Mukilteo
In addition to those mentioned above I would also recommend the following places to eat:
  • Old Spaghetti Factory (Lynnwood and Seattle)
  • King Ludwig's in Leavenworth for German food
  • Crab Pot in Bellevue or on the waterfront; get the Seafeast for multiple people
  • Elliot Oyster on the pier
  • Winslow's Way on Bainbridge Island; get the seafood wrap
  • Padrino's Pizza & Pasta; free delivery-recommend the pasta bella and the baked spaghetti
I have a lot of things identified to do when we are back in the Seattle area in our fifth wheel and have a couple of months to get everything done. Here are just a few of the items:
  • Skagit Valley; tulip festival in April
  • Snoqualmie Falls; Salish Lodge has a die for expensive brunch that you can sit at the window overlooking the falls
  • eat at Dahlia's Lounge
  • eat at Fisherman's on the waterfront
  • eat at Voula's Offshore
  • eat at Cafe Nola on Bainbridge Island
  • eat at Shanty Cafe on Elliot Blvd; great joint serving great homestyle breakfast and lunch since 1914
  • Mount Baker
  • Mount St. Helens
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NOTE: See more photos from this and other places we have visited at

Saturday, July 12, 2008

End of an era; our last airline flights

As I write this my wife and I are packing for our last airline flights and we could not be happier. When you are working you need to be able to get someplace fast so you put up with the incredible hassle of flying. For someone who traveled a lot for business and for vacation via airline flights you get used to the hassle but it was even beginning to wear on me. As much as I was looking forward to 2008 being a low business travel year for me at work I cannot begin to express how happy I am being retired and the progress being made to getting our home sold, but more on that in a later post (part 3 of the ongoing saga towards fulltiming coming soon!).

The worst thing about using airlines for vacations, even more than the packing and prep work for flying, is that we leave our babies behind. Our cats JJ and Sandra stay in our home and Jo's friend visits them every other day but we miss them, did the feeders work? did they run out of water?, etc., and they miss us. The best thing about our new lifestyle is that our cats will be going everywhere with us.

The hassles of travel begin as you are preparing; 24 hours in advance you need to get your A from Southwest. I can say I am not a big fan of the new boarding process. In the old days when I traveled a lot I was able to get a lot of exit row seating. Now with the new process I go from too early to clicking again immediately and ending up with A35 when I used to be an A2 or A3; I am convinced that somehow there are folks electronically ahead of us in queue!! This has happened the last two times I have flown; both on vacations by the way.

After the boarding pass you begin packing so that you can lug heavy suitcases to the car and then to the airport. I noticed that airlines have started weighing bags, ours came in at 44.5 pounds or we would have had to pay, whew. Now I see where some airlines are beginning to charge just to check bags. Then you have to go through security and wait for the privilege of being crammed into seats way too small and aisles way too narrow, only to be jostled about by turbulence along the way to your destination. Once you get there you have to wait for your checked bag; if you are lucky that is. At breakfast during our current vacation we overhead a family that has been without luggage for two days already. They were planning on moving to another hotel and the airline was going to charge them to get their bags to the new hotel; the airline said the deal was to the hotel when the luggage was lost. The airline was also balking at paying for clothes and necessities for the family because it had only been two days. Just makes you want to travel more doesn't it?

Once you get your luggage and rental car and get to your hotel you have to unpack everything you packed and try to get used to a new bed and pillow. I usually do not sleep very well the first night because of all the hassle and this vacation was no exception.

The new era of travel will begin when we start fulltiming in our fifth wheel. There will be NO packing involved as everything we own will be with us. We will be sleeping in the same bed every night with the same pillow. Moving from location to location will involve disconnecting from water, sewer and electricity and pushing a button moving the slides in. Then backing up the truck and connecting the fifth wheel to the truck and off we go. We plan to drive no more than 200-250 miles per day and staying at some campgrounds for up to a month.

As promised earlier I will periodically have tips of various natures to share; this one is for business and personal travelers who use National Rent-A-Car. Honeywell and National have a contract that allows you to bring the car back and not have the tank full. National will only charge for the amount of fuel used at an agreed to rate. With gas prices climbing higher and higher you can usually save my tax dollars if you do not put gas in the tank and let National do it. For my recent vacation the going rate for gas in the Seattle area was $4.43/gallon. I was charged $3.81/gallon by National. That is not the biggest difference that I remember; once I was charged $1.99 in Albuquerque and the going rate then was about $2.85.

So to all those that are still taking airline flights wherever you we wish you luck and we will be thinking about you as you deal with the ever increasing hassle of travel.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tip on shredders

I plan to include any helpful tips in the future in the main posts that I create but this one is so good I decided to make it a separate entry.

While shredding the mountain of material I began to worry that we would have to buy another shredder after we burned the existing one out. That is when I got an excellent tip from my wife's nephew and that is to buy lubricating sheets for your shredder from Office Max or Office Depot. Since our shredder had never seen a lubricating sheet I immediately ran one through and could tell the difference right away. After about 1/2 the recommended time between sheets I ran another one through and then one at each recommended time so now it is only occasionally that a new sheet is needed as our shredding pile is greatly reduced.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Update on progress towards fulltiming - Part 2

I know it has been awhile since my last post but I was waiting until we could declare victory on the dreaded basement, and now we can! Finishing the basement coupled with our first garage sale (more on that later) has finally broken the logjam in our very cluttered abode. Imagine approximately 1000 sq. ft. of unfinished basement stuffed from floor to ceiling with only a couple of very narrow paths to navigate through. Now imagine a corner of that same basement with stuff for the next garage sale, Christmas in October, and another corner with stuff accumulated from the relatives that will be gone through before the next garage sale. The rest of the basement is clutter free and ready for the furniture and other stuff that the professional house stager tells us to remove for the sale showings. Depending on timing this furniture and stuff will be for the next garage sale or the estate sale at the end.

The garage sale also did wonders for removing some of the clutter. There were good bargains to be had, about $1000 in exercise equipment for about 10 cents on the dollar but hey it is gone and is now a place to hang cloths in somebody else's basement :) Although we did earn almost $300 it was a lot of work, so much that we decided it on only one more garage sale.

To keep our eyes focused on the prize we recently journeyed to a local RV dealership to look at 2 of our favorite floorplans. One of the them had just sold so it was in the shop getting prepped for the new owners. Seeing them outside you do not realize how big these units are so seeing them in a garage was an eye opener. The slides were also in so we got to see how cramped it is with them in and also how easy it is to open the unit up, simply at the push of a button. We plan to keep visiting every few weeks because we left there so fired up!

I am also pleased to note that I have been keeping in touch with some of those I left behind and are still working. This of course involves food as you know it had to as we meet for lunch. I also keep up with goings on at the old plant via the RIN (Retiree Information Network) and I got to say it is pretty good.

We are still working on the outside work while the weather cooperates. The new grass seed is doing quite well, the trees have been trimmed, new plants have been added, retaining wall was fixed, and tons of mulch added. Have some edging and mulching left to do along with some brush cleanup. Then we will tackle the painting and cleaning of windows and doors, cleaning the siding and concrete. At some point we will get a professional home stager to give us some advice.

I imagine some are wondering if we are still planning on fulltiming with the gas prices and supply questions swirling about. To be honest it has caused us to pause a little but I think that has been good. We have talked about how we may have to stay longer in places and thus move more slowly across the country but we are still planning on it and really looking forward to it. Our fulltiming 'carbon footprint' will be significantly less even with the diesel. Instead of trying to heat and cool a 3500 sq. ft. home and all that goes with living in a sticks and bricks we will be in a 400 sq. ft. RV in 70 degree weather. Every time a situation arises which may impact our fulltiming plans we talk it through and so far have emerged each time more determined to live this lifestyle.

Finally I have made some updates to the KC list based on some suggestions.

Till next time,

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Update on progress towards fulltiming

Although progress on getting the house ready for sale has been made it has been slow going since my last day on January 22nd; I cannot believe it has been almost 6 weeks already! Think about how fast time seems to go during Christmas break or vacations and then double or triple speed is how fast retired time goes!

It has been a little too cold to spend a lot of time in the basement which is the first really big task so we have concentrated on the inside of the house. We organized the pantry & cleaned out all the refrigerators and freezers. We worked on the filing in kitchen desk, office desks, computer desks with stuff ending up in the shred pile, garage sale pile, recycling pile and throw away pile. I think I have shredded more in these 6 weeks than while I was working and have recycled a lot of paper. With all of the stuff we have accumulated over the years we are going to have a huge garage sale as part of the subdivision garage sale weekend in May. I then organized our 7 years of receipts that we will have to maintain. For this we used the Ziploc large bags and crammed one year into one bag. That way I can get three years in a box that used to hold only one year. Each year I will then shred the oldest year and relabel the bag.

Other news of note since I retired. I am drinking less caffeine, doing more exercise and getting more sleep. One of my Lenten obligations this year is no sweets and I am dieting per Weight Watchers and the "Eat This and Not That" book resulting in an approximate weight loss of 8 pounds to date with a lot more to go. Our 22 year old furnace bit the dust last week so that was an unexpected expense but a brand new furnace has to be more appealing than an ancient one.

We attended the RV Show at Bartle Hall and was a little disappointed that one of the floor plans on our short list was not there but the other two were. There were also a couple others that caught our eye but right now our current leader (subject to change w/o notice, etc.) is the Carriage Cameo F35SB3. We will not be buying on until the house is on the market at the earliest so it could be a while.

The next two big tasks to tackle are the dreaded basement and yard work.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Kansas City is NOT boring (restaurants, sightseeing)

When I think back I became real serious about restaurant lists and well known for it when I was made aware of a comment quite a few years ago that Kansas City is too boring a location to have a complex-wide meeting. I developed this little travel guide, the world according to Baskerville as it were on KC and sent it out. After this I began to be looked at for identifying the best places to eat whenever I was on a business trip; sometimes asked about a location even if I was not going to the meeting. So without further adieu here is your travel guide (both restaurants and sightseeing) for KC. Please note I did add a vegetarian section in response to a comment.

Top things to see or do (in no particular order)

  • Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Home, and Farm
  • Zoo
  • Arabia Steamboat Museum (1850's steamboat sank in the Missouri River, tons of artifacts salvaged, restored, and on display)
  • Local Theater (WSJ calls the New Theater Restaurant one of the best Dinner Theaters in the country, American Heartland in Crown Center, and others keep talent in the KC area - the shows are excellent!)
  • Liberty Memorial (WWI museum)
  • Union Station (restored to 1930’s glory, now has Science City and other attractions with good restaurants – connected to Crown Center via walkway)
  • Professional soccer (indoor and outdoor)
  • Professional baseball
  • Professional football
  • Nelson Art Gallery
  • Crown Center
  • Plaza
  • Alexander Majors House (he founded Pony Express)
  • Lyric Opera
  • Gambling on River Boat Casinos
  • more multiplex cinema houses than you would believe
  • Missouri Town
  • Kansas City Museum
  • Toy and Miniature Museum

Here are the best places to eat (in no particular order)

Best BBQ - anyplace in town but the most authentic is Bryant's at 1727 Brooklyn and Jack’s Stack’s menu includes lamb and fish.

Best Steak - Hereford House, Majestic

Best Filet - Main Street Inn in Grandview

Best Mexican - Manny's or any place on Southwest Blvd. for authentic Mexican, but it is not New Mexican, it is Mexican.

Best Italian - Il Trullo, Lidia’s, Carmen’s, Milanos, Garozzo’s

Best Breakfast – Corner Café (local) or First Watch (chain)

Best Chicken Fried Steak - Stroud's

Best pan fried chicken - Stroud's

Best Sunday Brunch – Peppercorn Duck Club

Best Desserts – Andre’s (local) or Chocolate Bar at Peppercorn Duck Club (local) or Cheesecake Factory (chain)

Best Reuben - Pumpernick's

Best Pizza - D'Bronx

Best Mashed Potatoes - RCs

Best Salmon Patties - Family Cabin

Best French Restaurant - Tatsu's

Best German Restaurant - Rheinland

Best Chinese – Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Grill at 39th & Bell (local) or PF Changs (chain)

Best Mongolian BBQ – Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Grill at 39th & Bell

Best Seafood – Bristol (local) or McCormick & Schmicks (chain) or Bonefish (chain)

Best "joint" – Main Street Inn in Grandview MO

Best upscale – 40 Sardines

Best Tenderloin sandwich – Main Street Inn in Grandview MO

Best sport’s bar – Nick & Jakes

Best vegetarian – Bluebird Bistro (local) or Sweet Tomato’s (chain)

This is a lot to absorb so I'll summarize the things to do and places to eat for you.

Overall Top things to do

Truman Library

Steamboat Arabia



Nelson Art Gallery

Crown Center/Union Station

Liberty Memorial

Overall Top places to eat



Main Street Inn


Il Trullo



40 Sardines

Jack’s Stack

I know I probably left out some places to see or eat, but these are my personal favorites, others may have differing opinions, especially on BBQ


Monday, January 28, 2008


I plan to update this blog periodically on our travels; updates will probably be infrequent as we are working on house selling portion of our plan. After the house sells and we begin traveling in our Fifth Wheel as a full-timer I will include sightseeing and restaurant information. Before that I will be adding my known restaurant recommendations.