Monday, November 01, 2010

Greetings from Eatonville

Hello!  Can I go ahead and add a P.S. at the beginning of this post instead of the end?  

I have finished writing and am about to publish, but I want to offer fair warning.  This long, rambling missive basically goes something like this:

1.  Whine, whine, whine, poor me, poor me, whine, whine, whine
2.  Here are some pictures!

I guess I needed the cathartic experience of writing about everything that's been going on, so thanks for humoring me, but if I were you I'd skip #1 and go straight to #2!

 Oh my gosh, I've missed you!

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be here today.

Because I disappeared for six weeks.

Now I didn't plan on disappearing.  I planned on transitioning smoothly into my new home in the Pacific Northwest with excitement, humor and ease, sharing lots of blog posts, pictures, Facebook updates, and emails.  This was going to be a lot of fun and I wanted to share my journey with friends and family.

Seriously.  That's what I envisioned.

So what happened?

Basically, intention and reality did not sync up AT ALL.

It will take a number of posts to fully explain, but in an effort not to bury the lead any deeper I'll begin by saying that the last six weeks have been the most ________ of my life.

Okay, I've been pondering that sentence for a few minutes and I can't decide on THE word to use.  I've considered:


Where are the happy words?  Where are the words like Exciting or Adventerous or Amazing or Incredble?

Well, here's the thing.  While those might not be the words I'd choose to describe my last six weeks I can say that this weekend I have for the first time finally felt a glimmer, a modicum, a teeny tiny ray of hope that things might...MIGHT...begin to even out soon.  Just knowing that things might be evening out (note that I didn't say "back to normal"...I'll just settle for "evening out" at this point) has had a calming effect on me like nothing else has in the last month.

Dramatic, much?

But you know what has made me feel the most encouraged?  I FINALLY  HAVE THE INTERNET, A LAND LINE, A CELL PHONE THAT WORKS, AND TV!  All of these glorious, precious things finally came together for us last week and the fact that I can easily communicate with the outside world again is a wonderful thing.  I have stories to share about what life has been like without technology but for now I'll explain by saying that my inability to communicate easily has been because I live 10 miles outside of Eatonville, Washington.

Yes, Eatonville.  You should check it out on Google Earth.  You will see that it is a teeny tiny town in the woods about 45 miles from Tacoma.  AND THAT'S THE THING.  I kept telling people I was moving to Tacoma!  Of course I knew that our house was out in the country.  But I had only seen it once and in my excitement during that short visit it didn't really register with me how very rural we really were.  And how long it takes us to get to Tacoma (about an hour).  However, I knew that the Air Force base was in Tacoma and that is why we were moving in the first place so I just told people I was moving to Tacoma.

I figured it was like saying "Oklahoma City" instead of "Edmond" or "Austin" instead of "Pflugerville".  Everyone has heard of Oklahoma City and Austin.  I figured everyone had heard of Tacoma and Seattle so that was the point of reference I used when telling where I was moving, never thinking that there was that much difference between Tacoma and Eatonville.

There is a difference.

Oh but yes, there is a difference.

Let's just say that the harsh reality of how very rural we really are hit me so hard when we arrived here four weeks ago that I had a serious panic attack for the better part of three days.  (The first two weeks of my last six week were in Texas - more on that another time.  We've been here for a month.)

Living 10 miles outside of Eatonville, in the woods, in a house surrounded by nothing but 100 foot fir trees and country roads has meant no cell phone service, no TV, and no Internet.  Pretty much complete isolation from news, information, and contact with family and friends.  Off the grid!

But that's just the beginning of it.

For the first two weeks, Randy and I lived in his trailer (oh, the stories) and during that time we were racing against the clock to get our home prepared before our furniture and things arrived fourteen days later.

We don't have a mansion by any means, but we have a 2,100 square foot, two story house, and in two weeks just the two of us had to completely tear out every bit of carpet, prep and paint every single inch of the inside the house, install wood floors in every single room, replace blinds, light fixtures, and doors and get the land directly around our house reswailed because of a drainage problem!  (Hey, did you know it rains in the Pacific Northwest?) 

What idiotic chumps who have no idea how to even begin to install wood floors or sliding closet doors or paint at lightening speed think they can do all of this in two weeks?

Here!  Right here! The chumps are right here and we are the Culvers!  It's all HGTV and Home Depot's fault - oh they make it look so affordable and manageable and doable.  I have learned that HGTV and Home Depot are for chumps like us!

Anyway, I'll be sharing more about the home improvement projects soon, but here are a few highlight pictures of the action.

Every single thing had to be covered, removed or taped off before the paint gun could be used.  The prep work before painting and putting everything back together after painting was much harder than the painting itself.

I don't know how I will be able to convey how hard it was laying the floors.  Randy became a master at it, however, while I pretty much cursed and cried my way through the rooms I did.

Having to get the land work done was completely unnerving and not at all what was expected.  And hey...nothing like trying to figure out a way to keep your brand new dark wood floors clean when you are now living in a mud pit until spring when you can put in a yard!  Because, did you know it rains a lot here?

Dot was a big help, however.  She could pull up carpeting like a pro! Oh wait a minute, that is she could SIT on carpeting like a pro.

So somehow we got it all done.  We were so tired, sore and beat to a pulp by the time our household goods arrived that I thought we weren't going to make it.  But the good times had just begun.  We got to unload not just my house full of stuff but Randy's house full of stuff, too!  Since we didn't live together before we got married we had never combined our stuff.  Wow.  Talk about stressful!  That's a future Dotopotamus post for sure.

By now it was week three and Randy had to go to work and I had to start the job search process while we were also trying desperately to deal with the mountain of boxes and furniture that were out of control.  I had to come off the mountain and out of the woods and figure out how to get to Tacoma and find my way around and all I can say is thank goodness for TomTom.  But the hammer came down so hard that week we were just pummeled.  Highlights include such things as having to saw down 7, 100' fir trees, finding emergency treatment for Dot, me having to get a tetanus shot, trying to figure out why my mail hadn't been forwarded in some way that didn't involve being able to call or email, having to get my car inspected (long story), and Randy suddenly having to go to Oregon for two days.

But best of all?  Finding out we were going to be moving to New Mexico in six months!  Yeah, that punch to the gut almost killed me.  And then after getting to process and deal with that emotional burden for almost a week finding out "just kidding!  You're going to stay here Randy but we're going to give you a really great job in this different squadron and you are going to have to fly a lot now and by the way, your first 10-day mission leaves on Tuesday!"

And through it all, no cell phone service that worked at home, land line, TV or Internet.  I would do laundry in Eatonville on Sundays and could sometimes get cell phone service there so would call my mom and dad.  They told me that concerned people were calling asking where I was!  I am so sorry everyone.  If you called my cell or sent me a text, chances are I didn't get it and email has been out of the question until this weekend. 

So finally last week when we drew the line, said "enough", and figured out how to get those things.  Our new cell phone service still isn't great because it's hard to get service when you live in the middle of the woods, but the land line works well.  And after taking down 7, 100' trees we were able to get satellite TV service!  And thanks to the phone company in Eatonville finally installing fiber up our way, we can get some Internet.  It's slow as Christmas, but it's the Internet!

So that brings us to the present.  Randy is somewhere in Africa tonight and will be gone for another week, but Dot and I are here in the middle of nowhere Eatonville, Washington on a mountain in the woods trying to regain some perspective and find my sense of humor that I lost a couple of weeks ago.  And because I'm missing my friends and family, my colleagues, my job, and familiarity with my surroundings, I have stopped unpacking boxes and putting things away so that I can reconnect to everyone.  I'm afraid to open Facebook for the first time in six weeks for fear it might explode!

I apologize for the length of this missive.  I guess it's been cathartic for me so thanks for letting me get it all out.  I think the thing that still surprises me the most is how DIFFERENT this experience has been from how I thought it would be.  Major life changes are a younger person's game!

In an effort to be more positive, I'll give you a brief tour of my drive to Eatonville.  The countryside here is absolutely stunningly gorgeous and I am in awe of its glory every time I set foot outside.  Mt.  Rainier is just amazing and I get to see her first thing when I leave the house.

Here is the meadow down from our house, the first time I get to see this gorgeous sight.

Then she comes into full view.  I can't imagine ever getting used to seeing this.

I turn the corner and I pretend I am driving straight to the top of the mountain.

Then I drive through lots of woods on a hilly, twisty road.   It's beautiful.

After about 8 miles, I get to the Eatonville turn.  I love this sign.  You can see that my little town has food!  And fuel!  And espresso!

But once I make the turn I have to slow down to 25 mph for the last two miles.  Why so slow, Eatonville, why so slow?  Sometimes I feel like telling Dot to take the wheel and meet me at the grocery store because I can get out a walk faster than we are driving.

But then Mt. Rainier comes back into view and I know I'm close. 

When I get into town I first pass the library, the police station and the post office on the right before getting to main street. 

Here's the cute bakery in town with the as advertised espresso.

We have the Roxy movie theater that is open Friday and Saturday nights showing one flick.

This is the restaurant Bruno's but it's the building with the mural that I will always hold near and dear as it has a teeny tiny laundromat in it that I got to know well those first few weeks. 

And this is the one stop light in town.  It's not even a real stop light.  It's just a blinking red light that creates a four-way stop.  But you can see the grocery store from here.  I LOVE the grocery store.  Super small and right out of 1972.  A future blog post, for sure.

And by the gas station, I saw this sign.  I didn't have time to explore, but my curiosity was definitely piqued!

So hopefully this ends my communication black out and I look forward to catching up with everyone and hearing what's going on with you!  I'll be posting frequently now because there is a lot to share. 

Even though I've whined and cried my way through this post I have to say that underneath all of the anxiousness and stress, I do feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to live life with Randy.  I look forward to exploring this beautiful part of the world, finding a job, making some friends, and making it our home.  Hopefully you all will come up for a visit!  In the meantime, I just wish I could find in what box I packed my blow dryer.



  • At 11/01/2010 , Blogger Amelia said...

    So glad to hear from you...yes, people were wondering if you had just fallen off into the Pacific ocean.

    The scenery looks gorgeous!

    Hugs from me in Oklahoma


  • At 11/01/2010 , Anonymous Holly said...

    You would love some of the stories we made up about you when we never heard from you. Okay, I made up the stories and they weren't very believable, but they made me feel better than thinking you just decided to cut us out from your life.

    I'm glad my stories and my fears were wrong. I'm glad you're okay. I have emails to send you with not-so-interesting updates from around here. I look forward to more updates from you! Talk to you soon!

  • At 11/01/2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm so glad to hear from you! We must be careful in life, of our "unrealistic expectations" of how things will be - cause its so hard when they turn out their own way!
    Just the thought of how much you planned to get done in two weeks makes my heartrate increase. I think I told you about my multiple meltdowns just painting my bedroom & hallway!
    Glad to hear things are calming down and you are enjoying the scenery. Can't wait to read more updates!
    Miss you evermore ...

  • At 11/01/2010 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think that what you have experienced is a very strong case of "culture shock"!!!! Glad to hear life is almost "normal". The pics are gorgeous! How wonderful it would be to see Mt. Ranier every single morning. Lucky you!!!! I look forward to hearing more of your experiences!!!!


  • At 11/01/2010 , Blogger Daisy Bee said...

    Love and miss you! I am so glad you made it through the first round, thinks are looking up, to the top of that majestic mountain, one of my favorite places in the world. I officially cannot wait to come visit and get ready to hike! Glad to have you back on the grid! XO - AB

  • At 11/03/2010 , Blogger Susan said...


    I'm just stunned. deserve a medal or something. I cannot believe all you've had to go through and you've worked so hard!!!!

    *pets you*

    Poor thing.

    Your last paragraph holds all the truth. You will find a job, make friends and will love your new home. Tacoma isn't that far away that you can't swing into the city for a civilization fix.

    Like Holly I thought you'd just moved on and forgot about us, but I DID think of you and wonder how you were. HOwever, i pictured you super busy with establishing a new life and loving every minute of it.

    I'm praying for you guys (especially for you) and I know that glimmer you're starting to see will soon become an engulfing light.

    I loved this post and the photos. Very entertaining and gorgeous. Keep it coming.

    *tight hugs*


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