Sights, Food and Disappointment

hills are alive

The Property. Vance and the boys are the small reddish object, Lassen Peak in the distance. We went so often, by mid trip, Brendon exclaimed, “Don’t tell me we’re going to the property again!!”

We billed our ten day trip to California as our post retirement fact finding mission, partly because there’s been an unsettled feeling brewing the closer we get to our military separation date. After living at arms length from family since 2001, it’s been hard to wrap my mind around living within minutes of family on a daily basis.

The days were largely spent touring elementary and pre-schools, their adjoining neighborhoods, mixed with lots of family time, dinners, and numerous visits to “the property”, our undeveloped lot in Sunset Hills.

nut basket

You know how to keep two little boys busy? Put a bowl of unshelled almonds on the table. On the right: Clearly I have been shopping at the commissary too long. I was blown away by this modern cup holding innovation.

To really up the stress, I also scheduled my California Supplemental Exam so I can practice architecture in the state of California. No matter that I currently hold two different state licenses and have been previously licensed in four states, California has its own ideas. At the end of the brutal 3.5 hour exam, the test center proctor informed me I failed the test by two points (equivalent to THREE questions!!!). I was so disappointed. It was the first exam I’ve failed since 9th Grade AP Biology. A humble pill to swallow.

CSE card

Clearly, I do NOT know!

I wasn’t disappointed in my self or skills as an architect; I know I’ve gotten stale over the years of not working full-time, but the thought of sitting through the 3.5hour exam again. Ugh. I don’t even want to contemplate that at the present. Turns out there is a mandatory 180 day wait to retest, which times out very well for our move in late Summer. At least a couple months of reprieve before I start studying again. Can’t say my future business partner was too impressed, but at least he won’t hold it against me.

pizzaI soothed my post test should with some delicious wood fired pizza at Cinders, located in the redeveloped “old Mall” in downtown Redding; a recommendation from Mr & Mrs Shakey. Well worth the visit! Unfortunately the downtown area is currently experiencing an influx of crime, drugs and homeless, which keeps the place from reaching its potential with some urban housing lofts and alternative housing developments.

cousins“We had more fun than I ever could have imagined!” said Brendon, after staying with Auntie Carmen and kiddos for two hours one evening.

To say the boys enjoyed seeing their cousins, is an understatement. The ability to roam free outside, chase goats and having willing playmates was priceless. They are ready to live near family and excited to move to small town America.

Brendon wheels


salsaAs for the food. Oh dear me. My jeans were pretty snug on the return flight after 10 days of laissez faire food consumption. We visited El Marachi in Red Bluff (Vance insists on calling it “The Bluff”), finding out how well Brendon can actually read with the incentive of free ice cream. The food and service were better than I remembered in past visits. We stuffed ourselves silly and then topped it off with a giant deep fried ice cream (each).

A stop at the Frosty is a must when visiting Cottonwood, although every meal tarnishes my memory and diminishes my love for their burgers and coveted fry sauce. I don’t foresee many post relocation visits to the Frosty. The place just isn’t the same without Adolf and Stacey.


Had a visit with our first baby, Winston. He was super excited to see Vance after two years. John really loved Candie (right).

We did peruse some other beloved stores not found on the island, namely Trader Joe’s, World Market and In-N-Out Burger. I could feel the money of my future flying out of my pockets just roaming the aisles.

hair and valentines

My sis did a great job on my do! Botox bangs and all. Vance and Papa George took the boys to Turtle Bay for the day. I hear they loved it.

A fruitful trip that calmed the trepidation of moving near family and into the currently “unsafe” Redding area. Ultimately, it’ll depend on where Vance finds employment (he’s retiring in name only) and we find adequate housing that will drive school decisions and actual town selection. Redding, Cottonwood or even Chico are top contenders. Who knows, we could even end up in the compound on Geearbee Lane.


6 thoughts on “Sights, Food and Disappointment

  1. Wow. Reading this gave me a little anxiety thinking about our retirement in the future. Knowing Mike though, he will probably become a 4 star general. Ugh! The thought of that givese anxiety too!

  2. Really enjoyed seeing all of you! It never feels like enough and leaves me wanting more. Now I know how my mother felt living so far from us. Looking to the day you get moved here. I will finally have all my girls home, this mother hen will have all her chicks under her wings.

  3. Your hair looks great!!! I totally forgot to ask about it! It looks like the boys had a BLAST being with their fam. And your property is so beautiful. It looks peaceful. There is a reason you didn’t pass that test, I’m just sure of it. Not sure what that reason is, but at least you know that you’re not the only one who doesn’t pass that crazy hard test the first time. I wish I’d have been there with you though cause I could have totally told you the answer to that test question. (That you somehow got away with taking a photo of?!) 😉 P.S. For some reason, I just LOVE photos of the family eating pizza. I just do.

    • Ah, that was from my study cards. Although, I do love the though of me getting contraband photos of the test! You know how the McNultys love their pizza!

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