Friday, September 25, 2009

Putting Down Roots

For the past few months I have waivered between wanting to find a new home to purchase, and continuing to be an apartment dweller.

But every time a neighbor got off the elevator talking at full volume at 1:00 a.m. or was having a party on their balcony at 3:00 a.m., and woke me out of my sleep I'd swear never to rent an apartment again. I just am not cut out for this shit anymore! I am far to impatient with these younger people who really are so inconsiderate. Just this past week someone dropped a big jar of spaghetti sauce in the parking garage and didn't even try to clean up the mess. I notified the front desk and sure enough, no one had reported it. There was shattered glass and spaghetti sauce right in the path of traffic. I mean really. Accidents happen but pick your shit up and put it in the trash that is nearby!

So...knowing that my company had extended the benefit to pay closing costs on a new home to January 8th, I began to search the Dallas area market again. I was limited because I wanted a townhouse with a two car attached garage, that wasn't built in the 50's and wasn't smack in the middle of the ghetto. My search kept bringing up this particular community in Grand Prairie. I had been in that area before doing some "neighborhood drive by's" so I knew that there was new development there (shopping, housing, etc.) and the drive to work would be about 20-25 miles each way. There was also another neighborhood of townhomes nearby that I had also been keeping my eye on because they were more in the range of what I wanted to pay and several had come up for sale in the past. One Saturday I took a new friend/coworker with me to drive around to check out these communities because I was going to ask my realtor to set up a showing. The newer community had it's gates open and the model homes were open so we parked and got down to check them out.

I fell in love with all the bells and whistles...it was just beautiful. Not quite as big as I would like, but certainly big enough for me. But I was concerned with the price. You see, because they were still on the real estate searches, I assumed these were available townhomes that just couldn't be sold and we'd be able to talk the builder down a lot. Not so. This three year community had completely sold out of Phase 1 and were building and selling Phase 2. It's such a quiet community that the times I drove by before, I never saw anyone and figured it was pretty vacant. So..obviously no low-balling on the sales price would be had.

While I was still contemplating, in my mind, the price and whether I could afford it...the sales guy is explaining all of the free upgrades for Phase 2. And then I asked what the HOA fee was. Because in Dallas it ranges from $45 a month (to maintain a pool area) to $400+ for really old complexes and you don't even get a yard. So the sales guy says "It's $100 a month and that includes outside maintenance from the roof to the foundation, front and backyard mowing and we have built in water sprinklers and the HOA pays for the water."

That was all she wrote, I was sold! It is completely unheard of for an HOA to mow your back yard, and pay for the water for your lawn! And at such a low HOA fee.

So, after learning from my realtor that the other, less expensive, townhomes had a high turnover (9 had been sold in the last 6 months at really low prices) and were losing value; I set my sights on the new townhome and signed the contract yesterday.

I am extremely excited. I am also extremely sick to my stomach. Not just because I'll be putting down roots here, because I know that I will be here for a while as the job market in San Antonio is just not booming, but because I'm doing this solo....again. I just get extremely nervous that I won't have enough money, when logically I know that I will. I might be eating tuna and ramen noodles for a while and Christmas gifts will be sparse, but I know I'll be fine.

I know that this is meant to be because I can't stop beaming about this place everytime people ask me about it. I wanted to fall in love with my new home, like I did with my first home, and I did!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

U.S. City Tour Trip #3 - Denver

Over Labor Day weekend I flew to Denver with my friends Katherine and Gilbert. On Saturday we drove to Pike's Peak near Colorado Springs. The drive was gorgeous...trees everywhere, so different from Texas.

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We took the Cog Wheel Train up Pikes Peak and were warned of the altitude sickness that we would likely feel. The top of Pike's Peak is 14,110 feet above sea level and I felt all 14,110 feet as soon as I stood up from my seat when we reached the top. It wasn't the Rocky Mountain High that John Denver sang about...I was dizzy, was working hard at breathing and felt like I was going to throw up. And it was cold as hell! I quickly tried to take pictures because my fingers were starting to turn blue but I did love the little bit of snowfall we got. It brought back memories of Germany.

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After we got back down from the mountain, we drove over to the Garden of the Gods. It was gorgeous and while we were no longer high in the sky, breathing was still not easy.

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On Sunday we drove north of Denver to the Rocky Mountain region to go rafting down the Upper Colorado river. The drive was the most amazing drive I have ever been on. I was in awe of the natural beauty for the entire two hour drive. It was a completely different look than south of Denver. I was driving so I couldn't take any scenery shots out of the car window. But just soaking it in did my soul good!

I haven't developed the water camera film yet so I will try to describe the view of the Upper Colorado river. FUCKING AMAZING! How's that? We did see two bald eagles on the trip and learned that they mate for life and return to the same spot every year to have babies and make the nest larger each year. This prompted Katherine to say she wants to come back in her next life as a bald eagle because she would have a mate for life and get a bigger house every year. I really wish I had my camera and telephoto lens with me when we saw them. They were majestic and so serene watching over the river. The rapids were calm, a few level 1's and 2's and one 3. But Katherine and Gilbert had never rafted before, and the last time I did it was like 15 years ago, so we were quite alright with just paddling and enjoying the view. Our rafting company had 4 boats go out that day and they make a pit stop so people can cliff jump if they want. As we approached the guide pointed out the 30 foot cliff and I immediately thought "hell-to-the-no!" so I asked if there was a lower cliff from which to jump. It's called the Punk Rock,it's only 7 feet high. Katherine and I decided we could handle that. We knew the water would be freezing as we'd already been splashed, but we rented wet suits and river shoes so that would help a little. Somehow I end up climbing this rock with the guide first. And I must say, that was pretty scary because it was very difficult to maneuver around while holding on with my feet and hands and with a big life jacket on. Once we got to the spot I immediately got nervous. The jump looked like it was at least 3 times higher than it was! And the ledge from which to jump from was not even flat, so I felt unsteady. The guide had pointed out which direction to jump, so as not to jump into the cliff and said "smile, cuz the photographer is across the river taking your picture." The last thing I wanted to do was strike a pose when my knees were visibly shaking. I didn't know why I was up there but I couldn't climb back down because it was too dangerous and about 40 people were watching, waiting for me to jump. Finally I stopped thinking about it and just jumped. The water was ice, ice, ice, ice cold! But once I was in motion to jump, I wasn't scared anymore. I did, however, scratch the shit out of my nose from holding it shut. I guess when I hit the water I squeezed really hard and my little nails dug in. War wounds. Oh well, makes the story funnier. I'm glad I got over my fear, it's something I can put in my "you did what?" file.




















After the river adventure we drove thru the Rocky Mountain National Park, and I'm glad Gilbert was driving at this point because it was so curvy and narrow and high and there were a lot of sections that had no guardrail and the edge of the road just dropped! But it was stupidly beautiful! We even saw Elk, and heard the male elk try to catch a female elk's eye. It was the funniest sound!

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On Monday we finally spent a little time in Denver, and a friend from high school met us for lunch. It was great to see her after 22 years. Colorado is such a beautiful state, I need to go back for more exploring and I want to take the boys because they would love all the outdoorsy stuff. And when I win the lottery, I'll buy a house in the mountains!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Delinquent

I've been so delinquent on posting to the blog this year, sorry!!! Facebook has officially taken up all my extra time. It's addictive.

Anyway...no time for a real post, I'm working on the pictures from my recent trip to Denver, and am getting ready for my quick trip to Seattle this weekend. After that I'll have a free weekend to clean, rest, work on pics and blog.

Until then.....