Mud Room Mayhem #6: Vintage Sewing Machine Turned Entry Table

I had picked up an old antique Singer Sewing machine several years ago through Kijiji. I was attracted to this one in particular because it was only $25. Of course the low price was fair because it was in super bad shape.  The wood had been painted white and then left outdoors for an extended period of time. Needless to say it was warped and the paint was in horrendous shape. For me it was a steal because I really didn’t care about the cabinet or sewing machine. I was interested in the drawers and wrought iron base.

I had previously used two of the drawers as little storage containers in my laundry room makeover.

I was saving the wrought iron base for something…it just took me a few years to figure out exactly what I would do with it. When we finally decided to attack the mud room, I knew this is where its final resting place would be. This was a super simple project and it was so easy to make it a custom size to fit the space. The sewing machine base consists of two side panels. The size of the table is simply determined by the length of the boards you use. We purchased 3 planks and cut the two shelves, so that they would fit snuggly between the sides and rest on the old drawer supports. The third plank was slightly larger, so that it could sit on top of the supports and overhang slightly. We sanded, stained and urethaned them all and then secured them to the supports (which I had sanded and spray painted white). The finished result was a perfect sized shelve/entry table for our mud room! I couldn’t believe that I scored all of the baskets/trays at Dollarama for well under $30!

I feel like this mud room has been at a standstill for way too long, but with summer vacation around the corner I’m optimistic that we’ll make some headway. This summer my mantra is “finish old projects”. I feel like we have quite a list of jobs that are 90% done.  My plan is to take care of all of those finishing touches and try not to start anything new before these old projects are 100% complete. That would feel sooooo good!

Mud Room Mayhem #4: Feature Wall

Mud room feature wall

Mud room feature wall (The plant is not really part of the decor, but desperately seeking sunlight and hoping to revive!!)

Have I mentioned how disfunctional this space was? Not only was there no closet, the room was designed in such a way that you really couldn’t even add a nice wardrobe to solve the problem. In the end, I knew the only option that would work for this space was to install open hooks on the feature wall.

Shiplap Feature Wall:

The first step was to prime and paint the newly installed shiplap. I used my favourite, Simply White, by Benjamin Moore.

Upcycled Coat Hook Rack:

The next step was to install the coat hooks. I decided to make a base to mount the hooks onto. My mission in this mud room project was to incorporate reclaimed pieces that I already had on hand. For this, we used one of the boards from the old piano we had previously dismantled. I think it was the one that sits vertically above the keys and opens automatically when the cover for the keys is opened up. (You can tell I am no musician by my lack of piano lingo). I wanted a ledge on top for art or some other kind of accessory and was fortunate to find an old oak mantel for sale on Kijiji. I actually can’t remember what I paid, but I know it was cheap…maybe $15? So, I painted both the piano piece and the mantel for the top. I bought the antique hooks from Candle & Co. out in West St. Paul. We managed to fit 7 hooks across the middle, so it really provides ample room for the coats we use on a regular basis. Being that it is winter, it is impossible to “stage” it like you see in so many mudroom/entry shots on Pinterest. Our coat rack is pretty full and will remain that way for 6 months of the year. Perhaps by next summer the coat rack might look prettier, but for now it serves the purpose it was designed for….it stores our winter gear!

I tried several different pieces on top of the mantel and in the end I opted for an old bevelled glass window. I love the impact of the dark green in an otherwise very soft colour pallet. The best part was, it was yet another piece I was able to rescue from my basement storage and incorporate into the space at no extra expense.

Upcycled Single Headboard Bench Conversion:

Below the coat rack is a simple bench that we constructed from a $10 Kijiji headboard and more old piano parts. I can’t say I love the bench, but it will do for now and isn’t bad for our first attempt at making a bench. There are so many great repurposed bench designs and for me this would only be about a 5/10 in terms of the look I was going for. I really would have liked a piece with more “weight”, but we are confined to a small space, so I had to stick with a single bed and there weren’t many available at the time. This bed didn’t come with a footboard and my preference would have been to use the footboard for side rails on the bench. All in all, not exactly what I wanted. The wall is tall and a heavier looking, larger piece constructed from a queen frame would look amazing, but I can’t afford to loose the space under the window for extra storage. I will continue to watch for a single bed frame that may be more to my liking, but for now the one we have is fine. If you are interested in converting an old bed into a bench, check out My Repurposed Life for inspiration and detailed tutorials. I always find great ideas on that site!

Upcycled bench

Upcycled bench created from a single bed headboard and old piano parts.

I can’t wait to add a few more accessories when the space is completely finished!

A Look Back:

Couldn’t finish the post without a quick look back to before and after shots of this wall. Oh my….was that awful!!

Mud Room Mayhem #3: The Shoe-lution!

Having no closet and dreading the thought of using some sort of messy shoe rack, I had my heart set on hidden shoe storage. I had planned this out long before the mud room make-over was ever really in the works. I had seen this idea years ago on Pinterest and knew that someday my mudroom was going to have drawers in the stair risers to hide the vast array of shoes that constantly littered our mud room floor.

Tim had already removed the old stairs from the kitchen down to the mud room. He custom built the stringers and stairs to fit the space between the kitchen door frame and the door leading to the back yard that sits at the base of the stairs. We decided to opt for simple 2″ X 12″ construction for the stairs and then sanded and stained the stairs to match the oak floors. We were super pleased with how the stairs turned out despite the fact that they were made very economically without spending on high end wood.

For the drawers, Tim re-used planks from our old wooded futon frame for the sides of the drawer boxes and then old 1/4″ fir for the base and drawer fronts. The fir was removed from the walls of an old walk-in closet/storage room in the basement when we reconfigured some of the basement several years ago. We had kept the wood for future projects and it came in handy for these drawers. Although the fir has much more grain and an orangey/red hue, the dark stain took beautifully and I actually love the fact that the drawer fronts stand-out from the stairs and aren’t so “matchy”!

Best of all, the drawers provide ample storage for our shoes, and short boots will even fit when placed on their sides. So thrilled!! Using stair risers for hidden shoe storage might be my favourite Life Hack yet!! Thank you Tim!

 

Puppy LOVE!

HersheyThe holidays are flying by, but luckily we still have one month to go! Summer is generally the time that I plough through my giant list of things to do, but not this year…..July has been spent training and caring for our new puppy!

After approximately 4 years of debating the pros and cons of getting a dog…we finally did it and couldn’t be happier! Tim and I always wanted a dog and of course the kids have been begging us for years, but the truth is we were terrified of the commitment. Although our kids insisted they would take care of a dog, their track record with past pets (fish, toad, crayfish- yuck!!) would state otherwise. I believed they’d help out, but the reality was… it would be Tim and I taking on the responsibility. We knew that we didn’t want to be dog owners that don’t walk their dog or leave him/her kennelled for hours on end. I finally decided I was ready and it was time…we needed some positive energy in our home and what better way to bring that in, than with the joy and excitement of a new puppy! Tim was still hesitant, but left the final decision up to me. The kids and I went to meet the one remaining puppy from the litter and absolutely fell in love. I must say, I NEVER in a million years could have anticipated falling in love with a dog. I am now officially a dog person! I could never understand when someone said they had to get home to the dog or spent oodles of cash on vet bills and yet, here we are obsessed with the health and well being of our precious Morkie-Poo ~ “Hershey”! Although there are times, when I feel tied down by the commitment (especially now when we are still training him), 95% of the time, I am thrilled to take him for a walk, play with him or just cuddle. My shortfall is easily consumed with the abounding  love and affection of Tim and the kids!

I honestly can’t believe what he has brought to our family. He is calming, funny, affectionate, playful and a smile maker! There is plenty of research supporting the positive impact of owning a dog on both physical and mental health. Owning a dog can reduce stress, cholesterol, high blood pressure, risk of cardiovascular disease and help relieve depression and anxiety. There is also evidence stating that infants that are exposed to dogs develop stronger immune systems and are less prone to allergies. If you’ve been tossing around the idea of getting a dog, check out these two articles to learn more about what a dog can bring to your home…. extending far beyond the love and companionship you’d expect.

We chose to go with a smaller breed and one that was non-shedding, as I knew the dog hair would drive me crazy. We definitely consider “Hershey” when planning any outing, but know that this will be less restricting once he is trained and can be left alone for longer periods of time. We chose to kennel train him and that has been wonderful. His kennel is his safe place and it helps us to keep track of him throughout the day/night when he’s sleeping. This also helps to make bathroom training easier as he always “needs to go” after a nap. The “cons” list seems to have dwindled in our eyes, but those things that remain would really be limited to the occasional inconvenience when you need to be out or are trying to tackle a big project and would prefer not to be interrupted with “puppy business”, as well as the financial expenses associated with owing a dog (food, toys, kennel, bed, blankets, treats, leash, collar, vet bills, etc.). The bottom line is that “it is all worth it!”  Tim and I took a long time to make our decision and most of our concerns were “logically based”, but you can’t possibly calculate in the positive emotional impact that a puppy has on your family life. It is so much more than a point on your “pros” list ~ a puppy literally has the power to change the dynamics and relationships within a family. Hershey brings joy to our home everyday! This positive energy is created by observing and interacting with him, as well as sharing in the stories told by other family members experiences. You have new topics for conversation, share many “ooh’s”, “aww’s” and laughs and have far less time to focus on the issues of life.  For us, it feels like it has allowed us to take our eyes off that which can sometimes drag you down, and instead direct your focus on the fun and playful nature of a new puppy.

Getting a puppy was truly life changing for our family and the best decision we ever made! If you are sitting on the fence and like us are having trouble making the commitment ~ take the plunge and just do it! I promise any compromises will be worth it!

Happy Father’s Day!

As always, the service at Springs Church was excellent today. The praise and worship team did a couple of special numbers, both of which were fabulous tributes to DADS.

Eden managed to video this performance, so she could show her dad later today, when he gets up for work. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did…..so hilarious (and true)! They sang this parody based on the Brittany Spears song “Hit Me Baby, One More Time”.

PS Dads, you may think you have us all figured out….don’t bet on it!

Happy Father’s Day!

 

Spare Room Make-over: Scrapbooking Storage Bench

When planning out the space, we decided that the spare room would become my dressing room as well as my new scrapbooking room. I already had a scrapbooking room located off the back of the spare room. I loved the room as it was banked with a wall of windows and offered great light. However, it wasn’t very functional and I found most of my projects were done in the evening and I rarely got to enjoy the windows anyway. After years of contemplation, I finally relented and we both decided that the benefits of main floor laundry far out weighed my reasons for keeping it as my scrapbooking room. So I needed to create a space that was visually appealing, functional and could be kept neat and tidy.

Once again, I decided that in order to make this really work, I had to go through the painstaking task of sorting through all of my scrapbooking and project supplies. Although I still had Marie Kondo fresh on my mind, it was impossible to follow the same steps I used for sorting my clothes only two days before. This job involved literally hundreds of small items that needed to be sorted, organized and in some cases tossed or donated. I literally went through every piece of paper and brad I had in my possession. Purging my clothes was a big job, but this was a monster. It took me two very long days to get through everything, but in the end, every item would have a proper home.

As I cleaned and sorted, I tried to think about how I was going organize everything neatly into the new space. The scrapbooking albums were a bit of a challenge to figure out. They are large and needed a shelf that would be about 14″ deep and approximately 3 feet long. They are very heavy and the books themselves are several different colours. I really wanted the colour scheme to be very neutral with white accessories. After pondering for a few days, I stumbled upon a bench seat that had been given to me by a colleague. She thought I might be able to use it for a project some day. Although the bench was rather plain and needed some work, it was sturdy. I was so excited when I tried an album and discovered that it held my whole collection perfectly. I decided to give it a fresh coat of white paint and upholster the top to create a comfortable seat to use while dressing. Here is what the bench looked like before I started.

Upholstering the top what quite easy. I just removed it and added foam and padding from an old leather chair Tim had just dismantled. It was really just a matter of using a staple gun to secure the padding and fabric. I then added a piece of white material to give it more of a finished look when you lift the lid. The fabric was discounted and I managed to pick it up for around $7.  After adding the extra piece of wood along the front and upholstering the top, the bench boasts a whole new look. Simple, but lovely.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished bench. I am so glad I figured out how to make the albums accessible and yet out of site. The thought of having all of the different coloured albums up on a shelf was just not the look I was going for. Can’t wait until the whole room is pulled together. Just a few more projects and it will be done.  Stay tuned for the next project I have to share from our spare room make-over.

Spare Room Make-over: The Purge ~ Clothing Cast-a-ways!

As mentioned in a previous post, one of the struggles with an older home is the lack of suitable closet space. I never realized how disorganized my clothes were until my friend Robin began sharing with me some of what she learned by reading Marie Kondo’s book on how to organize your life. While we painted the spare room, she shared some of Marie’s thoughts on how to de-clutter and free yourself/life of the weight of all of those things you’ve collected, but don’t really need or even use. I must confess, I haven’t yet read the book. Never the less, I decided to take action and apply some of the tips I learned. I got up the next morning feeling inspired and began to tackle my clothing problem.

Clothing Cast-a-ways:

Step 1:

Collect all of your clothing and I mean all. Every stitch ~ from off-season to outerwear. Dump it all in the centre of a room on the floor. This is key – you must see it all together in order to be able to truly sort it. pile of clothes

I have never felt that I own many clothes. I hate shopping and seem to add only a few new items a year to what I already own. I don’t believe in waste and am not one to spoil myself. Having grown up with very little money, I learned at an early age how to stretch a dollar. (This is not always good, sometimes we need to learn to break free of the belief systems from our past as they can in fact hold us back in life ~ I’m still working on this.) I regularly donate clothes that we no longer wear and I honestly didn’t believe that this would be too big of a job for me. Wrong.

Step 2:

Sort the clothes into three piles: keep, donate and toss

Keep Donate Toss

The far pile is my “keep” pile, the one to the right for “donation” and the smallest was what I deemed garbage. (You can see the bottom two shelves of the armoire in the background ~ this is a mad mess of board games that now have a new home – yay!)

Step 3:

Toss the garbage and bag up the items to be donated.

Left over hangers

Here is a tub with the left over hangers.

I was astounded when I ended up with one black garbage bag of clothes to toss and three more to donate. How was it even possible that I had 4 black garbage bags of clothes that I didn’t really want or need? I felt like I had been through my clothes regularly, but the difference really was having it all in one place. One of the things that my friend shared that really helped me to part with items was to stop and ask myself how a particular item made me feel when I wore it. If I didn’t love it and feel great in it, then why keep it. I quickly realized that I had kept many items that I would try-on and end up hanging back-up because I really didn’t like the way it made me feel. Some of the items were virtually new and just never made me feel good about myself when I put them on. It was so freeing to finally just allow myself to be honest and discard what I really didn’t like without feeling guilty. After all, someone else might embrace that same item and be blessed by it.

Step 4:

Sort the “keep” pile ~ t-shirts, pants, scarves, underwear, socks, etc.

Step 5:

Fold and organize all of the clothing that you are planning to keep.

Traditionally, I have hung most of my clothes. I don’t know why I opted to hang, but I think I believed that it would save me having to press everything before wearing it. I’m a pretty low maintenance person and the thought of ironing all of my laundry was just not going to fly. I spend enough hours doing laundry as it is and my iron is used only on a “as necessary” basis. However, when your clothes are crammed onto hangers and squeezed into closets that are too small, they rarely escape without creases. The idea of folding everything seemed almost foreign to me, but I decided to do what Marie suggested and give it a try because what I was doing just wasn’t working. I even followed her suggestions on how to fold the items. I was already doing the vertical folding, but this took it all to a whole new level. She doesn’t believe in storing clothes and says you should be able to see every item of clothing you own.

My plan was to use the armoire which had previously housed a mish-mash of items including my pants, board games, linen, fabric, batteries and a few other odds and ends. This meant finding new homes for everything that didn’t fit into the category “Cindy’s Clothes”. The armoire has mesh wire doors and you can see into it. I know Marie suggests using containers/boxes you already own, but I wasn’t okay with this since they would be visible. I didn’t spend much, but did pick-up a few containers to add to what I already owned. I really just wanted them all to be white. I began the process of folding my clothes with the goal being to fit everything in one cabinet and one closet.

In the end, I was able to downsize considerably. I no longer store my off-season clothes in a huge tub in the basement and was able to give up the dresser I was using in the master bedroom. I now have almost everything in one place. The armoire is full, but completely organized and not cluttered at all. It contains both my summer and winter clothes. My main closet has the few items I chose to hang. All of those easily fit on the top bar in the closet. The bottom bar was completely empty, but I decided to move my hoodies from the hook on the back of the master bedroom door to the bottom bar in the closet. I do still have the closet in the master bedroom for longer items such as dresses. It isn’t very full, but the length doesn’t allow them to fit in my main closet in the spare room. My outerwear is still kept at the back door.

It feels so light and airy with all the extra clothes gone. So far I haven’t missed one item. Everything I own is at my fingertips and visible. The change is dramatic, but I will admit it took me a long time to complete this job. I was so busy that week that I honestly don’t remember exactly how many hours I worked on this from start to finish, but I think it was more than 10. It is a huge task, but the payoff is tremendous. I love how accessible everything is and find that I spend so much less time getting ready in the morning because I only kept items I like!

The time spent definitely took away from the time I had to work on transforming the spare room, but was completely necessary if the make-over was going to be successful in the end.

If you are interested in learning more about what Marie has to say in her book, but aren’t ready to buy it, check-out One Kings Lane for a post outlining 8 of Marie’s decluttering lessons. I for one can’t wait to read the book!

Dutch Elm Disease: The Destruction of a Neighborhood

BEFORE Dutch Elm Disease

Just updated the post with this photo. A great shot of our street in July 2012.

I have to admit, I’m no “tree-hugger”. I like camping and appreciate the beauty of nature, but by no means consider myself to be any sort of activist. However, today I can honestly say….I’m saddened to the core. I fell in love with our street long before we ever bought a house here. The heritage homes were beautiful, but what captivated me most was the incredible canopy of hundred year old trees that lined the street. It was simply gorgeous in the summer when the leaves of the huge trees were fully grown and the expanse of green foliage created a tunnel-like effect when looking down the street. In fact, I remember telling Tim, “Someday I want to live on Machray.”

Although I have oodles of pictures, it amazed me that I had few that really captivated the beauty of the street. I guess that is often how life goes, you don’t truly appreciate what is before you until you lose it. I managed to find a few pictures that give a bit of an example of how our street looked clothed in the beauty of those huge trees.

Over that past few years, we’ve watched as the city has “tagged” the odd tree here and there, indicating it has been infected with Dutch Elm Disease. Eventually, the crews would come and remove the tree, to the disappointment of the entire block. However, this fall things took a huge turn for the worse.  We watched as tree after tree was tagged and how the process seemed to quicken from months to mere weeks. Last week, on my day off, the usual silence of our street was disrupted by the sounds of chain saws and falling trees.  I would have prefered to be at work.  It was bad enough to come home at the end of a work day to see which trees had been removed, but clearly the city was trying to beat the snow and seemed to be on a mission. I listened as the chain saws fired up, felt the shake as those near our home hit the ground and looked on with a deep sadness as our street evolved into something more reminiscent of a war zone.

One of the workers said our street had been one of the hardest hit. I am not surprised by this news. The initial length of time between tagging and removal seemed like a long drawn out process ~ with plenty of time to for the disease to spread from tree to tree. Although they are now working diligently to remove the infected trees in a timely manner, it is much too late for our beautiful street.

The canopy that first drew us here has been stripped away and the dreary day seemed almost fitting to the mood on the street. A piece of our neighborhood is gone, but our spirits won’t be broken. We are blessed to have such awesome neighbors and although it will never be as beautiful as it was, we can not let the absence of trees ruin the street we have grown to love and appreciate so much. I know deep down it is not the trees that make a neighborhood, but rather the people who live here. I was actually surprised by my own feelings as I watched it all unfold, it feels like such a significant loss. Despite this,  we will continue to love this street we call home. Hip-Hip Machray!!

Thrift Store Score!

I have been totally ignoring my blog over the last couple of weeks because I’ve been crazy busy trying to get through everything that needed to be done after being on the road for 3 weeks and with school just two weeks away. So, here’s a little update on what I’ve been up to.

After spending about 3 days unpacking, doing laundry and reorganizing the camping gear to be put away for the season, it was crucial I moved on to my giant “to do” list before the summer ended. So, with the trip behind us, it was time to start the “back to school” list. You know… doctor’s appointments, eye appointments, back to school shopping, renting instruments, picking up supplies, writing cheques for fees, fall activity registrations and for me getting into my classroom, as well as doing computer and prep work at home. Eden came to school with me for a whole day and although it was a long one, we got lots done…she was so much help.

drum shade

A drum shade is one that is not tapered, but the same diameter on both the top and bottom.

Aside from all of this, I’ve been arranging my errands and knocking of “jobs” between paint coats. I was bound and determined to repaint the vanity in my bathroom…a big job that really needed to be done and was daunting because of the amount of work and upheaval it would cause. To make things even more hectic, I still had projects to complete in Eden’s room.

One of the projects I wanted to do for her new room involved upcycling an old lamp and it required a drum style shade. I made my rounds to my favourite thrift stores as well as a few garage sales, but unfortunately have come up empty-handed so far. If any one has a small (6″ to 8″) drum style shade that is collecting dust in your basement ~ let me know as I really need one. Although I wont’ get to it before school now, I’m thinking I might need to resort to building one. I really don’t want to pay top dollar for a new one because I may ruin it completely in my attempt to create the look I want. In reality, it is only the bones that I need. I thought Michael’s might have lamp kits or something, but in looking on-line it doesn’t seem like it.

So, this brings me to my thrift store find. I have an ongoing shopping list that is specifically for thrift stores (and/or garage sales). Although I love to browse when I have the time, I often whip in and check for the items on my list and nothing more. It sometimes takes months for me to find the things I’m looking for, so they are often future project items or pieces that I would like, but don’t need. Such was the case with the following.

Board Game Snag:

We have a cupboard packed full of awesome board games and to my dismay, my kids complain about how boring “bored” games are. I love games! Aside from sleeping and reading, playing board/card games is one of my favourite things to do. I’m an early to bed person, but get me in a game of Settlers of Catan or Canasta and I can pull an all nighter….seriously ~ I love games and my kids don’t. How sad. They will enjoy the odd game of Apples to Apples and a few others, but one round and they are literally begging release like I’m inflicting bodily harm or something.

Last winter, I thought that maybe I’d give Rummoli a try. I loved Rummoli when I was a kid and although the chances were slim, I thought I might be able to hook them with it. I refused to pay top dollar for another game that would probably serve as nothing more than a dust collector in my games cupboard, so it went on the “thrift store list”. Needless to say, I’ve been on the look out for months and not a one. Recently when out searching for the drum shade, I finally came across a Rummoli game at Value Village. There was also a traditional Monopoly game that was in mint condition ~ perhaps never used. The kids used to like Monopoly when they were younger, but the Princess version was sold in a garage sale years ago. I decided to pick-up both. The Rummoli game was $2.99  which was actually kind of a rip off when you consider that it only comes with a plastic mat and a deck of cards as compared to the “mint” condition Monopoly game that was selling for $2. I always check the games because the last thing you want is a game that is missing pieces. As mentioned, the Monopoly was perfect and looked brand new. The Rummoli box was kind of falling apart and felt surprisingly heavy. I opened it up to check and to my surprise it included a bag of money! (Not such a bad deal after all!)

So in the end, I left with a pillow case ($2), a black fleece throw ($4) and two board games ($3 and $2). When I got home, I was curious enough to count the money and was surprised to find $10.41 worth of Rummoli change. So, I paid less than a dollar for it all ~ SCORE!!

On Saturday night, a friend came for the evening and she loves games just as much as I do. She is a close friend and an “Auntie” to my kids. We will often try to get them playing games. She was totally up for a game of Rummoli and so we insisted the kids joined us at the table for a post dinner game. They weren’t excited about the prospect of another “bored game”, but loved the idea of spending time with “Auntie”. We fumbled through the first round or two until they got the hang of it and they both loved it. Shay wanted to play again on Sunday and insisted that 8 o’clock is much too late to start a great game like Rummoli. Even Eden was happy to set her iPod aside and was totally engaged in the game. I think I finally found a game that we can all enjoy ~ YAY! You really can’t put a price on that ~ there’s nothing like quality family time that everyone agrees on.

Road Trip 2015: Chapter 9 ~ The Final Chapter

Day 19

My dad has travelled to several places throughout the world and he’s always said that of all the places he’s been Lake Tahoe is one of the most spectacular, so it’s been on my bucket list for years. Although it meant a significant detour, I really wanted to visit Tahoe. We arrived there in the early afternoon and were blown away by the amazing views. It is truly a magnificent place, but we only had the opportunity to explore a very small portion. The lake is quite large and the water is the most amazing colour. It’s nestled in the mountains, so the atmosphere is serene and relaxing. The plan was to spend a few hours on the beach and then begin our trek back to the coastal highway. We had only been there a short time, when it was unanimously decided that we would all happily abort our original plan to drive the rest of the Pacific Coast Highway, see the Redwood Forest and visit Fort Bragg, in exchange for more time in the beautiful Lake Tahoe. We were lucky enough to find a great campsite and ended up staying the night and most of the following day enjoying the lake. It is the most beautiful, clear, clean lake I’ve ever been to. We will definitely be back to Lake Tahoe. We stayed at D.L. Bliss State Park. The campsites were large and had flush toilets and showers (although not usable because of the drought conditions.) One thing that was different was the “bear locker” in each site. You were required by law to remove all scented items (food, lotions, soaps, chapsticks, sunscreen, etc.) from your tent and vehicle and place them inside your campsite’s bear locker. This was a bit of work, but well worth the effort.

We entered the Lake Tahoe area from the south and then headed up the west side towards Tahoe City. The campground was located just a bit north of the spectacular Emerald Bay. We were close enough to hike to Emerald Bay and did do a portion of it, but didn’t have the time to do the whole 4.5 mile hike each way. Instead, we spent the time relaxing on the campground beach and playing in the water. The water was cold, but nice once you got in and super refreshing. We all loved Lake Tahoe!

 

Days 20 to 22

The last 3 days were mostly spent on the road. We planned to drive about 8 hours per day and really only stopped for food and gas. We took I84 East to Pocatella, Idaho and then took I90 across to Billings, Montana. Just after Billings, we continued our journey east on I94 to Fargo and then straight up I29 to Winnipeg. We stayed in Twin Falls, Idaho at a really nice Best Western and then camped the following night in Billings at Yellowstone RV Park. It was a little more expensive at $36 (similar to a KOA), but had flush toilets, showers, pool, hot tub, laundry and of course, the crown jewel…..wifi! We had planned to stop for our last night just west of Fargo and then do a bit of shopping before completing the short drive home on the last day. By the time we reached our planned destination, it was still early and we were all feeling excited to get home. We weren’t expecting the shopping to be that great and all agreed it would be worth it to push through and drive the rest of the way home, so we ended up arriving home at 1:30 a.m. on the 22nd day. We had just driven through the “time change” in the last day, so we were still on California time and to us it seemed more like 11:30. 

The trip was fabulous, but we were all glad to be home. We were so fortunate to have had such great weather, no sickness or injuries, safe travels and a life time of great memories. We are so blessed!