Blog 2: Taking the Leap

So where were we? Of course, how could I forget? Do we give up life as we know it? It’s comfortable, routine, safe. Those words used to sound good to me, but more recently they’ve begun to sound much different – like something a little closer to prison life. I’ve realized I just don’t want to live like that anymore. I don’t think we’re meant to live like that, to live in a way that doesn’t feed our souls. So, fuck it! Let’s do it! And as the saying goes, we only live once. While I don’t actually subscribe to that belief (a bit more on that in a later blog I’m sure), it does sort of help put into context why we’re deciding to take the leap. So now that we’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and move to Costa Rica, what do we next?

When you can’t figure out what to do next, you draw a unicorn. Katie drew it and Gemma is about to add to it.

Katie’s massage therapy school starts in just over 7 months (it’s the middle of June now). We’ve already got a really busy schedule this summer, so that limits some of our prep time. We’re heading to the Black Hills in South Dakota for a few days over the 4th of July, and then every weekend in August plus another weekend in July are booked up for various personal or family events. The biggest item on our list is selling the house, but there are positives and negatives for trying to sell quickly versus waiting until the fall. Given our busy summer schedule we decide to sell in the fall. We put our target of listing the house no later than October 1st.

First, a bit about our trip to South Dakota. On the drive there, somewhere in the middle of South Dakota while burning rubber down I90, we watched a wicked looking storm off to the north. We saw the southern edge of it and it looked far enough to the north that it wouldn’t be a problem. Then it shifted. We could see the southern edge pass over I90 in front of us, but we could also see the western edge a little further up. We ended up in the storm for about 5 minutes, but it was pretty harrowing. The straight line winds were no joke and others were pulling off the road to wait it out. With what I saw, there was no way I was going to follow suit. Luckily we made it through pretty quickly and the rest of the drive was smooth sailing.

Not my photo, but picture this only with the dark sky spread for as far as you can see coming toward you.

The rest of the trip was not, however. We had grand plans to have fires every night, get some sightseeing in, and also hike Black Elk Peak. Plans. Ha! We did manage to have a fire the first night, although it wasn’t very strong as everything was wet from the earlier rains that passed through. We didn’t have a great first night’s sleep in our tent. We had gotten a really nice compartmentalized 10-person tent for our 5-person family at Costco a couple months earlier. Katie weatherproofed it, which was a good thing because it stormed a lot that first night. We managed to get a little sight-seeing in on the 4th, despite more off-and-on rain. But that night was bananas. We got back to the campground after dark. It was raining again. Shocking, I know. Since it was coming down pretty hard, we decided to stay in our van to wait it out while the kids watched a movie.

Then we received tornado warnings on both the van and our phones. Let me set the stage here. We’re in the very back in the lowest area of the large KOA. The KOA is in a valley surrounded by the Black Hills on either side. We’re in our van with nowhere to go. The sky turns green and everything gets calm. This is not good. Then we watch as the storm’s winds move from the front of the campground to the back where we were. We watch as several tents collapse and get shredded. The front half of our tent completely folds in on itself. It sounds like a freight train running through the campground. We’re praying, calling on the angels for protection. Landon was pretty scared. We’re trying to hold it together. Katie has always struggled with bad storms (a product of her growing up in tornado alley). She’s not doing well, but she undoubtedly has angels looking out for her.

Depiction of our campsite

It finally blows through, but our campsite is demolished and under water. There’s no room at any hotels within an hour of our campground. We end up driving up to Sturgis in the middle of the night to stay at a motorcycle dive. The rest of the trip wasn’t a whole lot better, but we tried to make the best of it. The hike the last day was probably the best part of the whole trip. The weather was finally gorgeous and we were able to make it a little ways up Black Elk Peak. The kids derailed any chance of making it all the way up, which we knew wasn’t a possibility going in. But nonetheless, it was beautiful. We left a little earlier than we planned as we wanted to get back home so we could get everything dried out, and to get some rest because we were exhausted. I’d like to say everything that could go wrong went wrong. But that’s looking at it from a negative perspective. We were truly lucky to have made it through that ordeal with no problems other than some wet stuff and having to spend a few hundred extra on hotel rooms.

One of my photos along the trail up to Black Elk Peak

So after our interesting trip to the Black Hills, we (and by we I mean mostly Katie) spent much of July going through our stuff so that we could figure out what to donate or sell. It’s truly amazing how many clothes we had that we either didn’t wear for various reasons or didn’t like anymore, because we ended up donating a dozen large 30-gallon trash bags full of them. That was just the tip of the donation iceberg, however, as we had at least double that amount of toys and miscellaneous household items that we ended up dropping off at various donation facilities. We honestly felt sick about it all, not because we were getting rid of so much but because we had all that stuff in the first place. So unnecessary. So wasteful. So good to be free of it though. Then after over a month of not getting much accomplished, we got back to a full court press in September.

I’d like to say I underestimated how much we needed to do before we could list the house, but deep down I knew it was going to be a little overwhelming. The next 5 to 6 weeks consisted of packing, small repairs, touch-up paint, and tons of cleaning. A major shout out to Katie because I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that she did the majority of it while I was at work. And some may try to make excuses for me because I was working, but doing all she did while keeping up with the homeschooling of our kids and dealing with the craziness that surrounds them was not even in the same universe in terms of difficulty. She got the short straw and I got the easy side by far. I am extremely grateful for her and all she does.

Our house ready for listing!

We ended up missing our listing target by a week and a half, but not too bad considering how much we got accomplished in that month and a half. We listed with a long-time realtor who new the area of town we lived in really well and we agreed to price to sell, especially given our need to close within a couple months. It was crazy, good but crazy, how fast and furious the showings were. In the first 30 hours of listing it we had 15 showings and 3 offers. All 3 offers were between $5,000 to $10,000 over our asking price (gotta love a seller’s market). Within 36 hours of the listing going live, we came to an agreement on a counter-offer and we were onto the next phase. The inspection was waved, as we had already had our own inspection done prior to listing, and we just needed to do a couple of small repairs. So far things were looking good. Now we really need to focus on the final surge of packing, cleaning, and even more purging.

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