Beach House

Sarrah delighted in all aspects of going to the Peninsula.  She usually sat up and looked out the windows the entire way there, to watch the world as it went on by.  The journey from where we live starts with on average an hour of ‘freeway hell’, racing with the self absorbed rats on the paved necessary ugliness, known as Interstate 5.  Then off onto Highway 101 where it gradually devolves from too much civilization and overpopulation into a sort of peaceful time travel back through the woods and near a few old small towns, too tough to die.  This leg of the journey is packed with many little things that busy people miss or find “boring”.  These things like mountains, forested land, rivers, cattle, wildlife; deer, coyotes, porcupines, elk, eagles, hawks and even bears were all noticed and points of interest mentally noted by my road wise companion.

Another perk around this area is the constant salted air and its medicinal affects.  We knew it when we first explored Ocean Park and what remains of the historic town of Oysterville at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula, this was the place.  We came back a couple of times and narrowed the search to a community named Surfside Estates with a few rules (Covenants, Codes & Restrictions) to protect values from individual expressions.  This little development of Two Thousand Eight Hundred subdivided lots is comprised of; about one-third with houses (mostly vacation, several retirement), one-quarter “seasonal camper lots” and the rest vacant, overgrown with dune grass and coastal pines.  The community has approximately three miles of beachfront and a small lake (pond) with long canals that run the length of it.  There are walking trails running East to West with foot bridges over the canals, creating easy access for all “members and guests” to the beach which extends as far as the eye can see… to the South and North.

We quickly found the one, close enough to the ocean to hear its methodical constant mumbling and an easy walk away.  It was new enough to not only become a dreaded nest of repair projects.  A cozy little two-bedroom house that would be greatly appreciated as-is, customized over time into “our place” and enjoyed along the journey through time.

September Two Thousand Five Nissa closed the deal, and we came out for our first three-day weekend and camped with Sarrah, in the empty one-year-old house.  On this stay we personalized it by painting the garage floor, making it into more of a warm multipurpose room.  This tan coating also has its share of the ever-present small black and white hairs permanently sealed into it.

Sarrah instantly liked the new little house and it quickly became her preferred home.  She was delighted with being able to roam the whole place and sleep closer to me.  Upon each arrival and inspection of the Beach House, her toys and the yard she would relax on her overstuffed bed and smile.

As a group we decided that the best spot for Sarrah’s bed was next to the sliding glass door, on the east end of the Great room.  This gave a comfortable vantage point to guard the front door, see all that went on in the house and watch out for wildlife trespassers as they regularly strolled through ‘her yard’.  One of the best perks of this spot was the morning sunshine, perfect for soaking up a little bright warmth.

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Paradise

The combined goal was to have a getaway.  Our own place to escape from home; gather experiences to build on and collect layers of memories with family, friends (old and new), by ourselves and of course with Sarrah.  We felt the need to have a destination to long for, when elsewhere and in need of a daydream.  The kind where, when you close your eyes and turn off your ears, magically… you are there.  A retreat in our world where time is put in its place; less measured and untracked, removing deadlines and the forces that push them, in order to simply enjoy moments.  As well, to be our familial gathering site for holidays, birthdays and for the best event, no special reason at all.

One main requirement was for somewhere that had ‘enough’ so that boredom wouldn’t sneak in, but ‘much less’ than where we live and work.  Another priority was for somewhere that other people would be interested in joining us, on occasion.  We wanted and needed a better connection with nature and land, perhaps even where land meets water. Near enough for an after work escape and the occasional early morning return “Cannonball Runs” back to reality.  A peaceful spot to let human springs unwind and recharge batteries, repair the mind, refresh the body and I suppose nurture the soul.

We frequently reviewed the pros and cons of making this kind of investment.  All of the traditional points of retirement planning and age-old wisdom were mulled over.  Was this a wise investment?  Would there be resale value if the need came?  Should the required funds be squirreled away instead for later in life?  As living Life reminds us all too often, Death usually arrives uninvited and often earlier than envisioned, erasing long term plans.  The constant tricky challenge of maintaining the balance between “Save for a rainy day” and “Seize the moment” will always persist, with only the benefit of time passed to judge.

As we leaned toward the decision to enjoy some of life’s rewards now and along the way, our belief that the dividends from these experiences would payoff for the rest of our lives became clearer.  It felt like the right thing for us to do.  We chose to enrich our lives and those important to us, Now.  Who knows, a working life retreat may become a retirement haven packed with the comfort of fond memories.

After a couple of years of leisurely exploring the quiet coast, small lakes and rural mountains of Washington, we narrowed our focus to the Long Beach Peninsula.  The miles of beach, quiet unlit roads and laid back locals enable this area to drip with comfortable solitude.  This area is around one hundred fifty miles or more importantly measured with time, around four hours drive, each way from where we reside.  This distance is greater than we had initially hoped for, but it also enabled affordability (Seattle/Distance=Price).

Time = Money

As Albert Einstein is said to have deduced, “Time = Money”.  I had a growing accumulation of funds in the traditional retirement accounts and contributed regularly, a nice chunk in an investment club that I founded and presided over, as well as other unconventional small hoards of cash for rainy days and holy crap moments.  Altogether, these investments brought a hedged, strong sense of a secure fourth quarter, in the game of my life.

Having more than enough money and the assumed promise of a financially comfortable future brings many things; the best being the most important resource, Time.  More time to do what you want and how you want, became the winner in my balance of the scales.

My favorite part of how I earned a living was the lack of time structure.  If properly managed, I was in control of it.  This control (or illusion of) my time combined with more money than was required, created opportunities to take some off, the easiest and often best escapes coming in the form of long weekends, sneaking away for mini-vacations in which to escape normal life.

Our little family took many weekend trips to explore new areas.  These short getaway escapes to smaller, quieter places, reaped big rewards and brought us closer together.  Sarrah, well, as you can imagine loved the jaunts into the unknown.  Packing the car (even) was full of pacing and squeaks of excitement.  Sarrah knew when we were loading the car for a road trip.  She would pace, pant, bark, twirl, howl and run around the yard with overflowing exuberance like a happy kid at Christmas time.

Nissa and I began to daydream, out loud.  We began to wonder about having a little place of our own, for more personal escapes.  So we tailored our long weekends toward a search for a vacation property.  We pondered over the idea of a second home for many months and found the mental exercise to be a daily life sweetener.  If nothing else, the experience of looking and dreaming was a set of nice excuses to explore our state’s rural areas.  Despite spending most of my life in Washington, there are many interesting places I do not recall hearing about, let alone visiting.  Several I had been to in my youth, some of these favorites deserved another look.

Our part-time explorations came in many forms.  Some treks were one-day whirlwinds: Lake Cushman (100 year leasehold only), Twisp (too far away), Leavenworth (a possibility) and Roslyn (recently too popular).  Others were simple stopovers’ along our way: Leavenworth (still a possibility), Astoria (more populated), Ocean Shores (too quickly populated, without a sense of soul).

The best of our adventure trips being long weekends, three to four day getaways’.  We stayed at Pacific Beach (remote possibility), Leavenworth (yet still a possibility), Moses Lake (too far East) and a few other unmemorable places.  Sarrah wasn’t really much help, as she loved going anywhere; any road trip (except over the bridge to the vet) was good and fraught with potential for greatness!  As with many worthwhile life experiences, the exploration and pursuit is valuable to setting the stage for the goal.  Our adventures were enjoyed, by all of us.