We have an offer on the house.

We have an offer on the house!!  

This has been such a torturous road.  Not the one we just drove back to Park City from Moab, that one was nice in a rocky desert sort of way.  The home selling road I mean.  I could not flip houses for a living or a hobby.  Perhaps repetition and lack of attachment would make the process more palatable, but still…no.  I don’t stress out easily, but something about the combination of dealing with such a high-priced asset, having its valuation seem so arbitrary, getting occasionally harsh feedback on it from potential buyers (and real estate agents), and on top of all that having such a personal connection to the thing you’re selling…  Like most people, I’ve heard both the aphorism “it’s just business” and the less common but to me more resonant “it’s never ‘just business.’”  Try as I might, I’ve not been able to detach from the process and accept that housing markets, like most markets, are both efficient and impersonal.  So this past 15 months have taken a toll.

For some time now, to anyone who would listen, I’ve launched into multiple extended rants about the “comps” in our mini-subdivision, the frustration of being on what feels like an ice-cold islet surrounded by a sea of supposedly red hot housing market, and various other things that are equally beyond my control.  Through her frustration, Tacco has heard me out patiently and lovingly each time, even when the rants weren’t directed her way.   So I’ll refrain from launching another into the ether here.  Instead I’ll just say that it’s a massive relief to have an offer that looks legitimate and promising, even if not lucrative.  No endless chains of contingencies, no ongoing criminal record for the potential buyer – in fact they (the buyers) look a lot like we did a few years ago, in that they’re a Navy couple moving to the area with young kids, about to start a stint teaching at the Naval Academy.  Not breathing easy just yet, but this looks promising!

Park City, though… we’re back to Park City.  Though a stroke of luck (and possibly a computer glitch) I was able to reserve a full hookup campsite for ten nights at Jordanelle State Park, including the 4th of July.  As we learned after receiving an automated vacancy notification from the website and quickly making the reservation, this particular campsite is normally blocked off for campground volunteer workers.  Not sure why it popped temporarily onto the open market, but after calling and asking about it, the State Park informed me that it was indeed a mistake, but they would honor it.  Sweet!

Despite our strong draw toward Bend, Park City is still very much on the final list of potential future homesteads, and like Bend, it’s a fantastic place to spend the 4th of July.  Along with the continued town auditioning, our plan was to relax for a while after the frenetic activity in Moab, visit some friends and family, check out the parade down Main Street on the 4th, and watch fireworks from the dry slopes near the resort’s base.  

I also had a five-day work trip to fly, and had set up an appointment with a local “back guy” (sports chiropractor, in this case, but with a unique treatment modality that a local friend of mine swears by).  Though my sciatica has finally shown signs of easing, likely spurred by Tacco and her friend’s aggressive acupuncture treatment in Albuquerque, it’s far from gone, and I really need to stop hurting.  I’m hopeful.

Jordanelle is just a bit outside of town, as I’ve previously described, but it sports a large reservoir on which there’s tubing/skiing/wakeboarding, as well as decent fishing.  There’s also a view of Deer Valley’s ski slopes, whose widespread groves of aspens turn vibrantly yellow and red in the Fall.  Relaxing comes easy there, and the cool evenings brought on by the 7,000’ elevation were a welcome change from Moab’s heat.

Before leaving on my trip, I was able to link up for a bike ride with an old friend who lives in town.  I say “bike ride,” but that definitely undersells it – his wife (another old friend) drove us and the bikes up to 9717’ Guardsman Pass, where we joined the Wasatch Crest Trail and rode the 13 miles to his house via the ski resort’s relatively jagged ridge.   Whoa. 

He had advised me to “bring some film along” as the views were non-stop and spectacular, and he was correct. 

Fortunately for me, the ride was net downhill by about 1500’, but that didn’t stop us from having to tackle several climbs, one of which, he informed me just before downshifting and grinding away, is called “Puke Hill.”  For the obvious reason.  

We finished up with some cold drinks and long-overdue catching up in he and his wife’s backyard, through which, true story, wayward moose often wander and pause to be photographed.  I was very curious to get their take on living and raising kids in Park City, and was able to get what felt like a pretty solid picture of it.  Positives: climate, recreational activities, ski slopes in your lap, athletic/outdoor orientation (I believe Park City counts more Olympians as residents than any town in the US), and well-appointed schools, due to all of the property taxes collected.  Others: Expensive housing, potential lack of water, traffic in town, and the money thing – i.e. there’s a lot of it around, and though most of the owners of the truly ludicrous 8-figure ski cabins are part time residents at best, it’s still quite a “rich” town, which can be a mixed blessing.  More on that later.

I returned to Davista exhausted in the best possible way, and couldn’t help remarking to Tacco how extraordinary it was that I had ridden Slickrock with Keeper two days ago and the Wasatch Crest with my friend today – the abundance of it was nearly overwhelming, and I tried to make a mental note to remember this feeling when discussing future lifestyle and residence choices with Tacco.

After a pleasantly uneventful work trip, I returned to the family and the next morning visited the chiropractor down in Salt Lake.  He asked an extensive set of questions and put me through various contortions in an effort to determine the source of my pain, and seemed to come to a highly confident conclusion that the source of my sciatica was muscular (glutes) rather than spinal.  This was good news, and jibed with Tacco and her friend’s sense of my issue’s source as well.  It’s no less painful, but far easier to treat.  His actual treatment is difficult to describe, but involved more (and more precise) contortions combined with sustained pressure on very specific points.  Just as he had warned me it would be, it was quite painful.  But it seemed like a good pain – a productive pain.  I left his office feeling somewhat better than when I came in, and more importantly, optimistic that I’ve turned a corner.

Our plan for the 4th was to drive into town to see the parade, then to meet up with the friends with whom we had hung out on our last visit (and in Montana), as they were throwing a mini party in a condo overlooking Main Street.  Then we would make our way to the base of Park City Mountain Resort for a bit of play time (live bands, etc) while we waited for night time and the firework show. 

Traffic, as it turns out, really is a factor in Park City.  While it’s unfair to judge it by what is arguably the busiest day of the year, the fact remains that due to geographic constraints, there are only two roads into town, one from the east and one from the north.  They gum up quickly.  Our intention was to do the smart/responsible thing and park on the outskirts of town, taking the free shuttle bus into the center.  It didn’t take long to discover that we were at least an hour too late for that to be a workable plan – given the number of people waiting for the busses, the speed at which the busses were able to get into town given the traffic, and the number of busses running, the parade would be long over before we even left the parking lot.  So back in the car we went and braved the gridlock.  Frankly we’d have been far better off riding our bikes from well outside of town, and we filed that away.  

We managed to find parking near and soon enough to enable us to reach and then briskly walk the parade route in the opposite direction of parade flow in order to see the entire parade, more or less.  It wasn’t optimal, but it was somewhat festive, and we were able to find our friends and join them for the party.  

The festival at the base of the resort was more spread out and less frenetic.  The kids were able to do some rock wall and ropes course climbing, as well as get their faces painted and meet some other kids with whom they ran around the hillside, always a welcome activity.  


We laid out blankets on what would, in a few months, become the ski area’s shallow-sloped beginners’ area and watched as the fireworks were shot more or less right over our heads.  If there’s one thing I appreciate on the 4th, it’s a firework show that I’m right underneath.  I’ve been known to say that I want my eyeballs compressing with the explosions – watching a faraway burst followed a few seconds later by a weak “pfoof” disappoints me.  Park City’s show emphatically did not disappoint.  The kids, fortunately, shared my enthusiasm and we oohed and aahed and clapped un-selfconsciously while bundled up against the mountain air’s chill.

So how did Park City do audition-wise?  Tough to say.  There was a vibe there that was noticeably different than Bend’s, and as previously hinted at, it seemed to center on money in a vague way.  One of the things we would like our kids not to dwell on while growing up is socio-economic status.  To an extent this may be both unavoidable and representative of naivete on our part, not to mention a form of sheltering.  Still though, one thing about Bend that stood out to us, whether projected or authentic, was an emphasis on good living, by which I mean the outdoors, clean air, clean water, good food, physical exertion, natural beauty, etc etc.  Shared passion for all of the above and no pretense.  Someone later asked me about the general political bent there and my answer was that I didn’t know, but that more than anything it seemed completely beside the point in that sort of place.  Park City is similar, but seems less so due the veneer of glitz, or at least the high-elevation version thereof. 

This characterization may be completely off the mark, but Tacco and I got there independently, so I want to be careful not to ignore these impressions.  We still love it — the slopes are world class and the climate is ideal.  We have friends and family nearby, and the convenience of the nearby major airport may tip us back over the edge.

In the meantime, we’ve reached an interesting stage in our travels.  We’re almost at the one year mark, which as initially planned, was the end.  With the offer on the house, Plan Sun has gotten a huge boost, and if we do go that route, then we head to the Pacific Northwest now and we stay there.  It’s hard to imagine that.  We have become so accustomed to this life that it’s nearly as difficult to imagine stopping as it was to imagine going in the first place.  A lack of a defined end (both destination and date) contributes to the general ambiguity as well.  I’m starting to realize that planning and executing our re-entry into “normal life” will require almost as much effort as getting on the road did.

Baby steps, though.  What made doing this manageable was breaking the whole into measurable subtasks, and what we need to start thinking about now, particularly if we’re not 100% ready to choose a stopping point / home base and act accordingly, is getting back to Maryland to vacate our house for good – no small task, that.

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