Most people, who follow my blog, already know; a few years ago, I, along with my girlfriend, Ashley, decided to pursue our lifelong passion of aviation. Our goal: Get paid to fly an airplane. To me, all aspects of aviation are fun. I enjoy maintaining planes [almost] as much as I enjoy flying them. I enjoy flying low and slow or high and fast. I enjoy Piper Cubs and I enjoy SR-71 Blackbirds. I love helicopters and fixed wing. I enjoy the physics of flight as much as I like the engineering of rivet placement. Even avionics fascinate me. To make my point clear: I love aviation and I love to fly.
Over the last two months, a lot has changed in my life and it’s all because of my love of aviation. This past June, I received a call from a mid-sized airplane manufacturer offering me a job flying their airplanes. At first I was reluctant to consider the job because I was enjoying my life in Houston. Life was good; my friends and family were close and I was comfortable. A few days went by and I hadn’t thought much about the offer. That’s when it happened, I ran across a quote on my desk that was given to me by one of my professors at T.C.U. The quote read,
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
I thought about those words for a second and within the hour I was calling the company back agreeing to visit the headquarters.
To make a long story short, I visited with the company, loved the people I met, loved the area, and loved what the company was all about. I asked for a week to consider the offer and talk it over with Ashley. When I got back to Houston, Ashley and I left on our Montana Piper Cub Adventure. On that journey, I was quickly reminded how much I love the excitement and unknown of exploration. I decided that moving 2300 miles to the Idaho/Canadian border to work for an airplane manufacturer would be a grand adventure. Some people asked why, and I replied with, “Why not?” Why take the “normal” path? Why now? My entire life I have always taken the road less traveled. This opportunity was hardly even a trail in the woods, but half the fun of adventure is charting my own path and exploring what’s out there.
The end of that week I sent in my signed offer letter and, just like that, a new chapter in my life began. I hadn’t really thought of the work involved uprooting my life and moving to North Idaho until after Ashley and I got back from our Piper Cub journey. As I get older, the truth in the saying, “ignorance is bliss” becomes more evident. Think about it, how many of the great adventurers would have set out on their adventure had they known how difficult it was going to be? Would Columbus have set out in search of a new world? Would Lewis and Clark have volunteered to explore the Louisiana Purchase? Sir Edmund Hillary? Magellan? Darwin? The list goes on and on. For me, the trick is optimism. Certainly I am not naïve to the work involved in moving, however, staying positive and “tricking” my mind into thinking it’ll be easy is the key to always saying “yes” when a new adventure presents itself. Those who over analyze and find the reasons not to do something are the ones who never do it.
June 26th, 2014 Ashley and I picked up our 17’ Penske from Home Depot, drove to our storage unit, and began loading. The most common words among anyone who has ever moved have to be, “we have to much STUFF!” I tend to be a minimalist; however, I was amazed by how much crap I’ve accumulated over a short 25 year life. A full day of packing later, we were headed west, without a worry in the world.
All was great until 11:00 a.m. on I-40, 97 miles east of Albuquerque. I noticed, in the side mirror, our right fender on the car carrier seemed a bit looser then it was when we set off. At the next exit we pulled off and my suspicions proved correct, we blew a tire. Quite literally, the tire blew up. There was nothing left of the back right tire on the trailer and the front right was rolling on wire. Another few miles and that tire would have blown, who knows what would have transpired had both trailer tires blew. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, we had to wait two hours for the truck repairman to drive from Albuquerque. It gave us time to explore the desert, search for snakes, soak up the sun, and enjoy being sandblasted due to high winds. The time flew by…. But soon enough we had two new tires and we were on our way.
The next day we made it to Telluride. A trip west is never complete without a stopover in my adopted hometown. Telluride has the ability to melt worries away and relax the soul; just what Ashley and I needed. We spent a few days there seeing great friends, taking in the views, and hiking/biking as much as possible.
Days later, albeit too soon, we were on our way again, journeying into the unknown. A few hours outside of Telluride we stopped in Moab for lunch and visited Arches National Park. Ashley had never been to Arches, and I had never been to Arches in a 17’ truck with a trailer – so it was a new experience for both of us. 8% grades are given a whole new meaning when you’re hauling 15,000 LBS in an undependable rental truck. The yellow Penske prevailed and allowed us to spend hours hiking through the beautiful sandstone moonscape.
Our stop that evening was in Salt Lake City with our great friend Brad. Brad lives in Austin, but out of pure circumstance he was on a business trip to SLC. He saw one of my Instagram photos from Arches and told me we should stop by SLC for the weekend. I said, “Funny enough, we are two hours from SLC, headed that way.” Seeing that Brad is an awesome guy, he immediately offered us a place to stay at his Dads house, south of town. The power of the internet and instant communication is wonderful – here we both were, a thousand miles away from our homes and within two hours we were having drinks and crashing at an epic house overlooking the entire Salt Lake flats. [Brad, thank you, again, for the kind hospitality!]
The next morning we set about on our journey to Northern Idaho. At this point we were running out of time and we were focused on making it to our destination. I made no prior arrangements once we arrived in Sandpoint – no hotel reservations and I certainly hadn’t found a home to live in yet. If need be, we had a huge box truck with two beds and a couch to sleep in! We strolled into town just as the sun was setting on July 2nd. Luckily, between my dad and me, we have a few points with Holiday Inn and they were able to squeeze us in for the night.
5 a.m. on July 3rd I began my quest to find a new home. I had no preconceived notions as to what I wanted or needed, just a budget in mind. This attitude proved to be invaluable since I quickly found out real estate and rentals are hard to come by in Sandpoint during the summer. As an example to personify my point; we looked at a 3 bed, 2 bath home for rent. It was beautiful new construction about 20 minutes from work. It was renting for $1300/month according to the advertisement.
Once we got there the gentleman said, “It is available starting September 1st.”
“Hmm, I’d really like something in the next few weeks, if possible?” I said.
He seemed surprised and said, “Oh, in that case, it’ll be $1300/WEEK until September 1st.”
That was how the next three days went. Ashley and I looked at approximately 14 different houses/apartments/condos/houseboats/cabins and they all wanted double or triple rent until the fall months. On the flip side, we found some newer apartments that were cheap – come to find out that they backed up to the county jail and 90% of the units were reserved for Section 8 housing (low-income housing). It was frightening to see how many registered sex offenders lived in those units. As the days wore on, I was beginning to get discouraged.
“Maybe,” I thought to myself, “I should have left my stuff at home and crashed with friends until the fall when I could find decent housing.”
Luckily, Ashley kept my spirits high with her gleaming positivity and onward we marched. On July 5th, we were headed west to Priest Lake for dinner. On the way out there we drove by a nice looking place with a For Rent sign posted behind a bush. At this point we had nothing to lose and we pulled in to have a look. The owner of the unit met us there and brought us in and within seconds Ashley and I looked at one another and knew this was it. It was a brand new townhouse, 7 miles from the airport, just outside of town, and just across the street from the river. The price was incredibly cheap and the landlord was incredibly kind. In fact, over the next two weeks she had us over for a home cooked meal every other night. She even took Ashley to lunch a few times while I was off at work. We signed the lease that night and moved in the next day.
Once the lease was signed, I had to take a step back and take in all that had happened on the journey thus far. As I looked back, I realized, this entire trip was largely unplanned, yet everything fell into place a lot better than I could have ever planned it. What is great about “not planning” is that when an opportunity is presented, nothing needs to be canceled to seize it. I used to be a “planner.” As a converted “non-planner” I can say, first hand, not planning is always more fun! I must thank Ashley and her family as well as aviation for converting me. In aviation, nothing ever works out as planned, so usually there is no point in planning. On top of that, the Atkinson’s, are the epitome of spontaneity. The way they live their life is contagious. It’s too bad it took me this long to figure that out, but better late than never!
It was a huge relief to sign a lease prior to starting my new job. We were even able to get the keys and move in on Sunday, the day before my first day. Ashley and I successfully unloaded everything from the Penske and got it inside. Over the next week, while I was a work, Ashley unpacked all the boxes and decorated my entire townhome. She moved furniture, put beds together, hung pictures, organized closets, hung clothes, made beds, did laundry, cleaned and dusted for days, made breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a thousand other small things. I think the only thing I had to do the whole week was hook up the wires to the TV and set up the wireless router.
I have to take this time to thank Ashley. Without her, this transition would not have been near as easy or even possible. Her support and physical help were a godsend. Like I said, she, literally, moved me into my new townhome. On top of that, she recently finished helping her parents move houses a few weeks prior. She dropped a couch on her foot when we were taking it out of the truck, and other then a grimace, she didn’t complain once – that is how cool , calm, and collected she is. She is tough and tender all in the same package! On top of that, she kept me in check emotionally and mentally. She is the most positive, caring, kindhearted individual I’ll ever meet. When I began to get overwhelmed, she reminded me to look at the bigger picture. She always looks at the bright side and constantly reminded me to enjoy the journey, instead of focusing on the destination. Above all, she is my companion and best friend. I don’t care how cliché that is, because it’s true. We started best friends long before we began dating and that is what we remain. People ask us all the time, “Why don’t you guys get sick of one another when you take such long trips in close quarters (like Cub trips or this trip)?” That question will always flabbergast me… I wouldn’t want to share that adventure with anyone else BUT her! What fun is an adventure if you don’t have anyone to share the experiences with?! I think the best way to sum it all up is this; our love is shared by a High-Five as much as it is by a Hug. THANK YOU Ashley, without you this move wouldn’t have been possible.
I also must thank my great aunt & uncle, Jim and Claudia. We spent the 4th of July with them and their wonderful group of friends and neighbors. They welcomed me to North Idaho and made it feel like home right away. They also opened their doors and let us stay a few nights as we transitioned into my new home. Thank you both for the warmth and hospitality.
I’m now in my third week of work and it keeps getting better. I love my job, the people I work with, and the new area I’m living in. It is a bit lonely since Ashley is staying in Texas, but the good news is, we are both pilots and only within a few hours flight of one another. Plus Skype and cell phones are great at keeping us connected. In the grand scheme of things, if that is all I have to complain about – LIFE IS GOOD!
Welcome to Sandpoint!