Back in the Saddle Again
It has been two years since our dreams of retiring and moving to France were dashed. So much has transpired in this time. When I left off here with my last post, we had explored Eugene, Oregon and found it to be a very acceptable substitute for our French country life plan. Then we made the big move. We were on the cusp of moving into our new home. That was a very exciting adventure, but, as anyone who has ever moved knows, it’s quite a task. While our new home was pretty much turnkey, there were many aspects on which we wanted to put our own stamp. Getting unpacked, organizing our belongings (and sorting them yet again), painting some rooms, decorating and furnishing, and taking charge of the yard and garden occupied all of our time the first several months. The summer and fall of 2017 are pretty much a blur but with very positive results. It’s just how we work together. We go at everything full speed though we seem to expend a lot more energy doing that these days.
At the same time, we were also busy establishing ourselves with new doctors and getting various health issues addressed. I was fortunate to find a remarkable new rheumatologist who understood my disease well and recommended treatment I would not have received through my insurance plan in California. Norman, who has been battling scoliosis for quite some time, had a laminotomy to relieve the pressure on his spine and ultimately alleviate some of his back pain… a procedure his California doctor said couldn’t be done. We also got back to working out at the gym — not my favorite activity but a necessary one made a little more pleasant by the fact that I don’t have to do it after a long day at work anymore. I can’t help but think that we are both much better off having moved here for so many reasons — lifestyle, cost of living, and health — in ways we didn’t expect.
Now and then we have had time to begin exploring this beautiful state. Eugene lies at the southern tip of the Willamette Valley which stretches north to Portland about two hours away. The valley contains the majority of Oregon’s largest cities and 70% of the state’s population — a mere four million people in total. Meandering lazily through the valley is the Willamette River. As we live right on the edge of the city surrounded by farmland, we have access to a tiny slice of the river via a small park located within easy walking/biking distance from our house. It’s perfect! Like living in the country without the mess… equivalent to camping at the Marriott. Yes, I am spoiled.
Much like our beloved Dordogne Valley in southwestern France, Eugene is classified as having an oceanic climate. In fact, the coast is just 60 miles away. This past year, we have enjoyed several short trips to Florence, Yachats, Cape Perpetua, and Depoe Bay. While these areas possess nothing like the warm, calm California beaches to which we are accustomed, the rugged grandeur of the Oregon coastline is a sight to behold. It’s a photographer’s delight.
Now that we are fairly settled and my health seems to have stabilized (the doctor says we are keeping the bad stuff quiet)… in the immortal words of Gene Autry, I’m ready to get “Back in the Saddle Again”. Assuming my health continues to cooperate, next June we will be off for one more European tour through Spain and France. I hope many of you will come along on this adventure. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of new experiences to report on here at home.