Gone Vintage and the El Rancho Hotel

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There is nothing like the excitement of going on holiday.  I love the lists of things to remember and dreaming of places to come.  My friend, Mindy gave me one of these suitcases and the other I inherited from my Grandma.  To me, they represent the golden era of travel with sleek, hard covers, ready to take on the world.  Since we are taking a road trip, the cases fit nicely in Fernando the Fiat.  The beautiful landscape of New Mexico flies by the window.  Clouds that seem painted on the flat, domed sky.  Red rocks and Creator-made walls of horizontal color schemes.  Breathtaking country.

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Just under ten hours into our trip, down the historic Route 66, we arrived at El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico.  It was such a pleasant surprise.  You don’t always know what you are booking on the internet and this place is just too fun.  Dozens and dozens of old, autographed head shots and photographs from movies being filmed here line the walls.  Some of my favorites.  Some of the greats, Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Doris Day, Humphrey Bogart.

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The hotel is still like it was in 1936.  A historical beacon carefully crafted to impress the Hollywood set of the era.  The décor is rugged southwest.  Stone and Pendleton and wood.

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We waited in the elevator for the attendant.  The original elevator takes some skill to travel exactly to the correct floor.

 

Memorabilia of a bustling time remain set around the lobby.  A player piano, a place to get your shoes shined, a cigarette machine, and stamps at a fraction of the current rate.

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My vintage looking hat cocked to the side and my beloved old turquoise pleases me as I stand atop the curved wood staircase with red carpet or sit in the lobby with a cocktail imagining the comings and goings of the movie elite and the glamorous upper set with suitcases and sunglasses and perfect 1940’s hair.  A cigarette confidently smoking between fingers and laughter and parties.  I would have loved to have seen it.

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There is rich history in this state that I love and there is more where we are going.  Today we head off to Arizona.

(El Rancho Hotel and Motel, 1000 East Highway 66, Gallup, New Mexico)

 

 

A Day in Salt Lake City (temple and ghosts)

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Hi, I’m Katie and I’ll be your guide today as we explore Salt Lake City!  We actually had a fine tour guide in Rodney who was Mormon as a child.  We headed to Temple Square after breakfast.

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The grounds were amazingly serene, filled with the aromas of fresh flowers, towering trees, and sweetly cut grass.  The day was warm and sunny and made for a perfect day of exploring.

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This is Saint John the Baptist blessing the children as they have a huge part in the Mormon church.

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I love bronze statues.  They are my favorite form of art.

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I love the outfits that these statues are wearing!

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The Mormons came across the country with very little as they looked for the place they would build the temple.  Many walked across the land with mere carts.

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Construction on the temple was started on April 6, 1853 and was completed forty years later on April 6, 1893.  The stone for the temple was carried by oxen over twenty-three miles.

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The average person, even the average Mormon, is not allowed in the temple.  It is quite an architectural beauty.

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There were plants growing that I have never seen before and the ones I did recognize were larger and more vibrant.  Does anyone know what the next two plants are?

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This is the leaf of a large tree…

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If one is down they should travel with Pat.  She bubbles over with mirth.  I have never met anyone as kind, generous, or so connected with physical sensations and being present.  Her happy spirit is contagious.

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Around the grounds and visitor’s center and as our tour guides of the house and offices that Brigham Young occupied are many young people from around the world eager to answer questions and connect with you later.  All languages are spoken there and no one would be left unable to learn about the religion as there is someone from every country present.  “They are all kids,” Pat whispered to me.

Young's home that he lived in with one wife and seven children.
Young’s home that he lived in with one wife and seven children.
The office that connects to the house plus an addition that Young added on.
The office that connects to the house plus an addition that Young added on.

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The bee is signified everywhere.  Busy as a bee is a common thread.  Here it was intricately carved into the doorways and pocket doors.

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Rodney enjoyed himself as he knew the answers to many of our questions and really felt comfortable in the atmosphere, peaceful even.  We went to the Tabernacle where the infamous choir practices and saw a demonstration on the acoustics of the dome shaped building.  Without a microphone we could clearly hear the speaker and even pins dropping.

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We then walked around the city in search of an eatery open on 4th of July.  We walked through an open mall with water features.

Grammie in the fountain

My husband is an amazing photographer.  I joked that he could be the IPOD photographer available for parties and events as his new career.

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We finally found a place open and had a delicious lunch.  The food in Salt Lake City is spectacular.  We did not have a bad meal the entire trip.

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Red Rock is a brewery with eclectic food offerings.  Doug and I shared bites, my favorite way to eat!  Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon, Welsh rarebit, and smoked salmon on crostini and house made beer.

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This friendly guy was hanging from light post in reminder that we are all stewards of the earth.

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After rest, a swim, and some time to read our respective books, we looked for dinner and found Ichiban Sushi.  The food was delicious and the price was incredible.  Four people ate sushi for $26.  If we lived here we would lose Doug and Rodney there regularly.  I am afraid the name though gave us fits of unexplained laughter, a carload of junior high students on a retreat is what we would have been reminiscent of.  Ichiban turned to Itchy buns, then turned to Itchy butt, with us all hooting with laughter.

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We went on a ghost hunting tour.

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There were two devices that were passed around called EMFs that could pick up the electromagnetic field of spirits.  It would go off at the sites that we were taken too.  You can imagine how excited Pat was when she got to hold one first!

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It went off as we passed the old Railroad station.

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The streets were lined with homeless people, blocks and blocks of them in tents, many of them strung out, many tired, and lines and lines outside the Catholic charities soup kitchen.  I found that more haunting than the train station.

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We went to a Holiday Inn where a woman threw her children off a balcony.  It was rather sad.  Then we went to the City and County building where a bride had jumped to her death after being stood up by her groom.

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Nothing, nothing, then the indicator went off.

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Rodney shot a picture on his phone where the face recognition went off on a place where no one was standing.

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Of course we had to visit a cemetery.  We had an amazing view of the city below and fireworks across the horizon.

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Spirits are everywhere and I don’t think they just pop up on cue for tours but the guide was very entertaining and the history of the city came alive with his stories.

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The city was lit up and glimmering last night.  The sound of celebratory fireworks all around us, the air still warm as we sat in front of the temple looking for ghosts in the photos we took and basking in the joy of vacation and friendship.

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I am stronger today.  I am filled with gratitude. I know that just because our name isn’t on a lease doesn’t make us homeless.  As I sit here typing on the patio of the hotel, about to go in and meet my friends for breakfast before our eight hour journey home, I realize I am here in clean clothes, healthy, with my sweet husband, and a cup of hot coffee.  Life is good and adventures await.

 

Ponderings From the Road

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What is home?  Long drives leave one with little more to do than ponder such things.  To visit with myriads of emotions.  Scenery passes swiftly as we zoom down the corridor to Utah.  The scenery is very much the same among New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, only slight variances arise.  The rocks become more ornate as we drive on.

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We pass dilapidated homesteads that have seen pioneer faces and harsh winters, wood fires in the hearth and babies born on spring mornings.  Shelters falling into the earth from whence they came. We want not much more than a one room homestead, a large open fireplace and wood cook stove, animals near the barn.  Nothing expansive.  Oil lamps will do.  A cat curled up by my feet.  A stew in the open hearth in the Dutch Oven.  Such a simple dream and as attainable as a mansion in Hawaii.  Did I bring such visions of how life could be from a past life?  Does it even exist anymore?

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Rodney plays swing music and jazz.  Pat rests her head on the seat in front of me. Doug looks out the window. Silent reverie among friends.  I am lulled in and out of slumber.

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The railways run for miles and I imagine cowboys riding alongside the Iron Horse of old.  Parties arriving in the unchartered prairie with packages and children in tow.  Long skirts stirring dust in the wind.

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The wind farms we left behind have found us in Wyoming.  Miles and miles and hundreds across the prairie. More wind farms coming than food farms and I am suddenly alarmed.  I must have a place to push in a seed, to pull up strangling weeds, and to water soft earth.

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I am homeless this week.  Not for lack of working, friends.  When I return Monday I must empty the house of all my belongings either by sale or give away.  We will put our cats in carriers and head to a new location.  What is homeless?  Our hotel is gorgeous.  A new Embassy Suites in Salt Lake City.  We walked back from dinner and was passed by a homeless man.  Shatteringly dirty, mix matched, and focused on his tasks.  Will that be us?

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We worked so hard and helped so many giving of our time and thousands and thousands of dollars of medicine to those that needed it and could not afford it.  We have not been complacent or sloth.  What keeps us from the streets?

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It is humbling to be in position to ask for help.  Our upbringing frowned on being a nuisance to others or for requiring help.  I would never dream of asking for money.  My pride is some bruised.  To write at the bottom of the well, a place we never imagined to be, is embarrassing.  But what good would it be if I only wrote of rainbows and sunshine and how to plant collard greens if the real stuff in life were not intertwined.  A heartbreaking story I hope ends in redemption.

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drinks

The mountains rise up all around us here.  We sit on the patio of the hotel with cold drinks and comfortable silence with our oldest friends.  Strength and lessons to be sought.  I cannot let this consume me.  I cannot become bitter and angry.  I trusted and it stung us to the extreme.  Perhaps losing everything will get us to where we were trying to go.  The sheep on the beer bottle makes me cry.

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We go through shops and I cannot buy a thing.  There is no home to decorate.  How strange this is.  What is home?  Dear readers, what is home to you?

A Day in Laramie, Wyoming (travels, microphones, and jail cells)

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A road trip is always a fun adventure and we were happy to be headed out on one!

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The scenery was beautiful as we drove two hours from Aurora to Wyoming.  The beautiful red dirt, ornate rock formations, and green grassy hills set against the mountains were heavenly.

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Laramie was there before we knew it.  One night at the Best Western was reserved.  We quickly dropped our things off in our rooms and headed back to the car!

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First stop was Roxie’s for lunch.  They had a terrific menu, and though a little pricey, the food was great.  Our server was from Elizabeth, knew our daughter, Shyanne, and grew up next door to Shyanne’s boyfriend, Jake.  It was definitely a small world moment!

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We walked around downtown and admired the buildings from the western 1800’s and turn of the century.

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I wonder if I will ever stop shopping for wood cook stoves.  I wonder if we will ever get a homestead again.

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We stopped in this lovely apothecary.  I love that everywhere we go more and more apothecaries are coming up.

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Next stop was the Laramie Plains Museum.

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A residence for a small family, then a boarding school for girls, this mansion is an impressive collection of period furnishings and décor.

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These wide pianos were throughout the house.

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One can tell that music was a big part of entertainment back them.

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I bet they threw some lively parties!

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So much pride and detail went into building and design.  These old houses and museums that Doug and I visit are masterpieces in art.  The quickly built, same as the next houses of today will never come close to the loveliness of even the most simple home from these time periods.

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I wonder if Bill Nye, the science guy, named himself after the real Bill Nye?

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This style was in both museums we visited yesterday.  The wall paper design ends a foot from the ceiling, a similar pattern is carried to the ceiling, and a slightly contrasting paper covers the ceiling.

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This was our lovely guide, Skylar.  She is a middle school honor student that volunteers her time to lead folks through this beautiful place.

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Built in shelves and hutches always catch my eye!

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Another wood cook stove….

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The sink is original to the house.  One could do a lot of dishes or wash a baby comfortably in this sink!

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30 pounds of butter, anyone?  I have seen butter churns but not one in a barrel form.  I thought this piece was very interesting.

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The refrigerator was a built in hutch with a screened bottom.  Ice was placed below the hutch and it kept everything in the cupboard cold.  Here, Skylar models the lined flour bins that held a hundred pounds or more of flour!

The house looks just as it did.
The house looks just as it did.

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This staircase is like the one in Santa Fe that was built without nails or supports.  It is a gorgeous staircase and one that we had to come down dramatically.

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A collection of dresses from the 1950’s boarding school era.  I wore my grandmother’s pink dress to prom that looked very similar to the green one!

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The desk is the oldest piece in the house. It is from the 1700’s.

Of course, one must have  fainting couch.
Of course, one must have fainting couch.

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This shower cost the equivalent of $10,000 but was only used twice due to the very poor water pressure!

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I love this ornate tile.
I love this ornate tile.

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Upstairs held a collection of this and that.  Old remedies, a barber chair, large paintings, and more history…

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These paintings inspire me to paint.

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The borders on them are painted.

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Skylar then took us outdoors to see a very old schoolhouse that was moved to the property.

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This is a painting of what it looked like in its original place.
This is a painting of what it looked like in its original place.

Then I am afraid we went behind bars…

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We went and toured the Territorial Prison where the likes of Butch Cassidy spent time.

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This was the law enforcer’s office.

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The large kitchen that fed the inmates was light and beautiful.

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Doug inquiring on rental rates.
Doug inquiring on rental rates.

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Minnie’s story struck me as quite sad.  A young woman and her husband were ambushed and framed for murder by their neighbor who wanted their land.  She spent five years in prison, and her husband was there for ten years.  All because of a horrible neighbor!

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This young man’s story struck me as well for how young he looks.  He was twenty-one and was caught forging a check.  Was his family hungry?  Was he an outlaw?  He was released after three years.

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The prison was restored but the ghosts of the past still wander the halls.

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Outside our car awaited…

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But we couldn’t find our horses.

It was then that Doug and Rodney joined up with a local gang.

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We ended the action filled day with karaoke and went to bed rather late!

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Now, off to Salt Lake City….

Plans, God’s Laughter, and Ghosts in Utah

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I really need to stop making plans.  For some reason the universe has something magnificent planned for us and apparently none of my plans are fitting into that scheme.  I must follow my gut feeling.  That I have learned.  I must listen to Doug’s too.  There aren’t really any details to share, just that at the end of next week we will officially be vagabonds (aka homeless).  I forgot what plan we were on…plan M or something?  I just know plan A, B, C, D and so on fell treacherously to fate.  Doug always says the old phrase, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  My school will still be alive and well as it follows me.  But I hate to utter that for fear the universe hears I have a plan!

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We are grateful, for it could be much worse.  Neither of us are ill, no cancers, no injuries.  Our children are great and healthy and alive.  We will be able to keep our cats for the time being.  And we are blessed with many, many great friends.  We are just going to have to take this one day at a time.  There will be many delightful adventures to write about!

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It has been awhile since we have gone on a field trip!  And you readers are going with us!  Our dear, dear friends that you either know or have read about here, Rodney and Pat, offered us a nearly free vacation this weekend.  We are all hitting the road tomorrow for Salt Lake City and you are coming with us!  So pack your bags, we have eating, window shopping, ghost hunting, and sight seeing through northern Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah to do.

We’ll move on to the next great adventure when we get back but this weekend is just for rest, play, and celebration of life and friends!

Freedom or Fear? (what to do when everything changes)

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There are no laws saying that one can’t lose their farm in June.  It seems that one should be able to move in winter so to avoid missing even one precious day of the growing season, but that is not always the case.  Our plans, goals, and dreams could be coming together in one incredibly synchronized song only to have the universe shake things up a bit.  Nothing is permanent.  Death, job loss, or home loss could change everything.  Or a letter.  We lost our home and our job in one swift typing of words.  One couple had the power to crush what we were building.

We took a risk and spent almost all of our money on the wood stove so we wouldn’t freeze again this winter, and in advertising to build this farm and homestead.  We have school groups scheduled, classes filling up, events that folks are excited about.  I felt like this was really going to work.  But I should know that even if you manifest something it doesn’t mean that it is a given to stay.  Nothing is permanent.

I knew something was coming.  There have been many signs that a farm and family here is not what they had envisioned after all.  By simply doubling the rent, they made a fine statement.  It is their property and they have the right to do so.  We could get desperate or angry.  We could panic.  We could feel like martyrs in the great world of small farmers trying to make it.  But, then we wouldn’t see the opportunities that the universe is obviously bringing forth.  Nature provides everything we need.  I am not afraid.

These are the possible scenarios and choices that we have:

1. If anyone could change someone’s mind, it’s Doug.  He is the most well-liked person I know.  Everyone loves Doug.  He wrote a letter back.  I, personally, cannot see it changing their minds, but you never know.  Well, I kind of know.

2. We miraculously (which is our middle names sometimes) find a farm this very week and get the gardens moved, get moved, and classes just get moved.

3. We find that piece of property someone will let us homestead, finance a shed and move on in.

4. We update our resumes, give up on all this simple living, and head back to suburbia and jobs.  Or jail.  You may as well send us to jail.

5. We sell everything we own.  Head out driving across the country.  Travel like we always wanted to do.  Go visit friends, family, fellow bloggers, and farms along the way.  We will document life on small farms across this beautiful country on our blog.  See how other people live.  Meet new friends, get inspired, find out what our next move is, write, be a couple, see the stars.

If the universe sent in a strong ripple that upset your entire life, lifestyle, plans, goals, and dreams, what would be your next move?  Would you be brave and pursue something that could really impact your life?  Or would you play it safe?  What would you do?