Our first hotel and restaurant review…

 

This quaint old fashioned motel, the Sandia Peak Inn Motel run by the most charming woman on the planet was well worth the $100 (plus 13% tax) nightly rate.

Halfway to Albuquerque by 1:00 pm, we searched for a hotel on my Android smart phone during the intermittent times we had a signal. Driving across the barren lands of Texas we expected to settle down for the night around 5 pm after another 525 mile day.

Only one day from Scottsdale, our destination for the next two months until we leave the US, we were pleased that we had traveled about 1300 miles in a little over two days.  

Our original plan had been to take our time getting to Scottsdale by the 4th, the day our vacation condo is ready.  On a whim, the day before we left I called Spencer, the real estate agent, asking if we could get in a day early.  We could. 
Searching for an Albuquerque hotel was slow and laborious, continually losing the connection as we traveled across Texas and New Mexico. Anxious to ensure we had a comfortable place to stay when we were able to connect, I selected an old fashioned motel a few minutes from  Highway 40 in Albuquerque’s Old Town. 

We agreed that the price of $100 for a motel, the Sandia Peak Inn Motel seemed on the high side but the reviews online were astounding, as high as a 9.5 at Trip Advisor.  We signed up online for the $100 king room.  
Delightful Kate, manager of the Sandia  Peak Inn Motel, hugged me when we checked out, moments later running out to our car to hand us a crisp red apple along with well wishes.

No words can describe the delightful property manager Kate, other than “wow.”  She couldn’t do enough for us!  Her charming demeanor and concern for our comfort reminding me of times past.  
The adorable motel and our king room, not a disappointment in any manner, was reminiscent of the 50’s and yet updated with modern conveniences including HD TV, working wireless Internet and a newer over-sized Jacuzzi tub . Our room was spotless, spacious and comfortable. We couldn’t stop smiling over this surprising find. My painful shoulder thanked the Jacuzzi.
Starved by the time we were situated, Kate recommended a Mexican restaurant that we hesitated to consider, based on it’s 9.5 miles from the motel.  She insisted we wouldn’t be disappointed. Easy to locate using “Maps.” we found our way there in less than 15 minutes.  

Kate was right. Garduno’s of Mexico, Restaurant and Cantina was exactly what we needed; an extraordinary environment, fresh succulent Mexican fare, cold beer, and yes, we cheated…all you can eat  homemade crispy corn tortilla chips with lip puckering salsa.  

The atmosphere was astounding, a cleverly designed replica of a Mexican restaurant in a warehouse district with high ceilings and a tasteful decor.  The servers, although busy, were pleasant and knowledgeable about the menu, doing their best to accommodate their multiple tables, mostly occupied by seniors, like us.  

Us old-timers can be quite demanding at times. Tom and I made a pact to make every effort to be gracious wherever we may be, the US or abroad.  The old stereotype of the “ugly American” will not apply to us!

Determined to stay as close to our limited diets as possible, I ordered the shrimp fajitas, skipping the tortilla.  Although I don’t normally eat starchy foods, after a few handful of chips and a cold light beer, my reserve went out the window resulting in my devouring half of the re-fried beans.  It was well worth it!
My fajitas dinner minus the tortilla. Fabulous!

Tom had the tender pot roast stuffed corn tacos, although “Mr. Picky” won’t eat Mexican beans or rice.  What a waste.

After a good night’s sleep in the comfortable king bed, we decided to hit the road early this morning while it was still dark.  

An hour into the drive on Highway 40 we were rerouted to famous Route 66, when a tanker truck overturned ahead of us spewing a dark cloud of some toxic chemical requiring  Hazmat trucks, fire trucks, police cars and ambulances speeding to the scene.  Luckily, we made it safely out of the area with only a half hour delay.

Another productive day of driving behind us, we made it to Scottsdale around 2:00 PM.  We were confused about the time change, referring to our phones for accuracy.  Arizona, (most of it) does not acknowledge Daylight Savings time.

There’s a one hour time difference between New Mexico and Arizona. Plus, the clocks change tonight but, not here in Scottsdale.  In our tired condition, it was difficult to figure out the time. We’ll go with whatever our phones say in the morning.

The last time we changed clocks was the first time I wrote this blog, March 14, 2012.  If you’ve yet to read from this blog from beginning, this date is listed in the archives on the right side of this page.  
Contained in those archives since March 14th, we share with our readers the long process of getting to this point. Today, we are exactly two months from the date of January 3, 2013 when we officially leave the US.  

I deleted the Retirement Countdown Free app on my phone.  We no longer are counting the hours, the days, the weeks and the months.  Every moment will be treasured now that we are free, together at long last.

Aboard ship for 59 days in the first 5 months…

On January 3, 2013 we’ll leave the US to embark on our first cruise. Over the next five months we’ll experience a total of seven cruises totaling 59 days at sea. Later, we’ll post more details about these upcoming cruises and house rentals.

First 5 months after leaving the US:

Cruises                                  #Days          Start Date        End Date
San Diego to Panama to Miami    15              01/03/13        01/18/13
Fort Lauderdale to Belize Cruise    8              01/21/13        01/29/13
Belize to Miami Cruise                  3              04/09/13        04/13/13
Miami to the Caribbean                7               04/13/13       04/20/13
Miami to Barcelona                     11              04/20/13        05/01/13
Barcelona to Mallorca                   3               05/01/13       05/04/13
Barcelona to Venice                    12              06/04/13        06/16/13
Total cruise days                        59
Homes included in above dates:
Placencia, Belize                         60              01/29/13         03/29/13
Ambergris Caye, Belize                 9               03/29/13        04/09/13
Majorca, Spain                           30               05/04/13        06/04/13
We’ll spend November and December, 2012 living in a lovely first floor condo overlooking the pool in Scottsdale Arizona, a commitment we’d made long before we decided to travel the world. That commitment created extra expense and inconvenience but we chose to honor our agreement.

We’ve decided to utilize these two months in Scottsdale to purchase and set up our new laptops (awaiting Windows 8 release soon), our new unlocked smart phones (being released into the market in November) and other technological devices that we’ll describe later upon purchase.

 

To take advantage of these two months we’ll prepare as much as we can of our 2012 taxes, forwarding everything to our accountant in Minnesota. We’ll get new passport photos taken (outdated after six months), apply for our second passports and visas, download 100 or more movies onto our portable external hard drive and get Tom’s new eyeglasses at Costco (great deal).

With the condo only 25 minutes from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, we’ve decided to follow our doctor’s orders and arrange appointment for Tom in gastroenterology for one last check (as recommended every few years) when one has IBS and Celiac Disease. Although he is symptom free due to our diet these two tests can confirm provide us with peace of mind; a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.

Tom’s sisters spend the winters in Arizona, about an hour’s drive and we’ll visit them. In the first half of November we’ll drive to Nevada to establish residency, apply for NV driver’s licenses and visit family, later to spend eight days at Christmas in a house we’ve rented in Henderson to be close to family and friends for one last time.

We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in Arizona. In Nevada, on December 20th we’ll have our teeth cleaned. We’ll observe the Mayan Calendar’s End of Time on December 21st (hopefully, not really the end!), Tom’s 60th birthday on December 23rd, and of course, Christmas, away from “home,” the first time as true vagabonds.

A year ago, we would have laughed aloud at the thought of leaving behind everyone we love and everything we own, except for a gaggle of suitcases and hearts full of memories. 

Here we are, packed to the gills, totes filled with memorabilia currently scattered about the house for our kids to store for us. Our paperwork and photos are scanned, our documents and spreadsheets bursting with pertinent data stored in Dropbox for safekeeping, accessible from anywhere in the world.

 

Yesterday I spent an entire hour scanning a lengthy booklet from our well known national bank on wire transfer procedures, accounts which we’ve set up in both of our names. I inquired as to whether this booklet was online to be downloaded. “No, not yet,” they say. “Gee…kind of behind the times,” I thought.

It’s this little tasks that fill up substantial portions of my everyday. As I sit here in my comfy chair, writing this today, I tapped my Android smart phone (on its last days) to take yet another peek at the handy app on my home screen, Retirement Countdown Free and today, it reads: “1 Month 18 Days.”

One month and eighteen days from today we close the door to our home one last time. We leave behind our loved ones, the lives that we’ve known, our three little dogs buried in the yard, the friends on the peninsula, the eagle swooping in the trees in the summer, the coyotes hovering hungrily in the winter and the gentle fluttering call of the loons.

On a lighter note, we joyfully leave behind six foot snow drifts often trapping us for days and, mountains of goose poop. Yes, mountains of goose poop!